BIM certification sets industry benchmark for Level 2

Paul Oakley, associate director for BIM at BRE, responds to a recent article questioning the value of BIM certification by arguing that independent third party schemes are the most effective way to drive the market to BIM readiness and set the BIM Level 2 benchmark.

The Level 2 BIM deadline for 2016 is now less than a year away. A recent survey on BIM by BRE and UK Construction Week that questioned more than 1,200 architects, contractors, developers, engineers and product manufacturers revealed a number of uncertainties over BIM, with 74% of respondents believing that the industry is not ready for Level 2 compliance. Worryingly, a further 62% replied that they did not understand what is needed, while 96% of respondents felt there was a need for more support and training on BIM.

There is a clear need to drive the market to take action and move to a digital approach to construction. We also need to stamp out the ubiquitous “BIM wash” which is hampering progress, with organisations claiming BIM competency on the basis of a day’s training or ludicrous claims of undertaking BIM Level 3 and so on.

The reality is that many are novices taking their first steps on this complex BIM journey, trying to get to grips with the software, but yet to understand the standards, methods and processes required to meet the delivery need for structured life-cycle data.

A core component of the BIM Level 2 strategy is the requirement by the employer to assess the capability of their supply chain. This exercise can be a costly process for both the employer and their supply chain, specifically if undertaken on every stage of each project. Most employers lack the knowledge or the skills to undertake this and the most effective way to drive the market to BIM readiness is through independent third-party quality certification schemes carrying out a single annual audit.

There have been various articles, blogs and tweets relating to BIM Certification and creating many fallacies, myths and misconceptions. Having been heavily involved in the BRE Global BIM Business Scheme I can only comment upon this scheme which is aimed at assessing a company’s BIM capability as defined within PAS 91 Table 8. This cites third party certification against PAS 1192-2:2013 as the appropriate standard. Its aim is to remove the employer’s requirement to assess the capability of the supply chain. Instead, BRE undertakes this assessment and validates it with an onsite audit using its BIM experts.

BRE does not certify BIM projects. However, case studies are reviewed to confirm a company’s capability for undertaking the process. Our approach is to assess the business systems, people, tools, processes and methods in place and ensure these can be delivered on any project, as opposed to just assessing the BIM capability of a company’s “A team”.

BRE is uniquely placed within this area to undertake this role. We have in-house staff who have sat on the appropriate BS committees, we have decades in industry expertise in BIM implementation, standards, methods and processes, as well as enabling the UK and Ireland chapter of buildingSMART, the international body for open BIM standards.

BDP and Interserve have achieved the BRE BIM Business Certification scheme and there are a number of other companies that have started the process. These two companies have taken the leap of faith to have a third-party assessment of their documentation and processes. They have shown how these have been implemented on projects, but have stood up to independent third-party audits from experts who live and breathe these requirements.

Certification sets an industry benchmark for BIM Level 2, which provides employers with a capable supply chain to deliver their requirements. A standard assessment approach approved by UKAS and carried out by industry experts is the only logical approach to driving the industry towards better BIM adoption.

The reality is that many are novices taking their first steps on this complex BIM journey, trying to get to grips with the software, but yet to understand the standards, methods and processes required to meet the delivery need for structured life-cycle data.– Paul Oakley, associate director for BIM at BRE

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  1. This is all well and good and a national certification can give clients a degree of comfort, but at what cost? I understand BDP and Interserve are certified for particular offices only and the BRE costs for just one office are high. We see no benefit in this as certification of all our offices is essential to enable full collaboration. This however comes at a hefty price. Perhaps more competition would help the implementation of 3rd party BIM certification.
    Gareth Davies
    Stride Treglown

  2. BDP was the first organisation to achieve certification under the BRE scheme for our London office in summer 2014. This was then extended to Manchester and Sheffield in spring 2015 with certification awaited for Glasgow and Dublin following a review earlier this month. We are currently arranging assessments for our remaining UK locations with a view to being fully assessed and certified in the UK and Ireland before the end of 2015.

    Certification is an important component of BDP’s BIM strategy but the value is probably greater internally than it is externally.

    Whilst initially apprehensive about opening up our processes to external expert scrutiny these assessments have effectively validated our BIM Strategy, implementation, understanding and application of the emerging UK BIM documentation all at an individual office level. Considering the investment and commitment made in BIM to allow BDP to reach this point it required a degree of confidence in the decisions we had made.

    Having now been through the process BRE certification simply gives us confidence that we are progressing in a competent and increasingly more sophisticated manner when measured against externally set benchmarks.

    Given the Level 2 mandate and the fast approaching 2016 deadline I am surprised that many other organisations have not yet secured this type of certification.

    Alistair Kell
    Director of Information and Technology

  3. Can we stop with this BIM certification for companies, one company does not make BIM compliance. That company may have up to date internal processes or procedures in line with PAS or BS associated with BIM, but what about the rest of the stakeholders? .

    I would prefer to see individuals within these companies, or for that matter any other company, to be certified or accredited. The companies themselves would and should be 9001 certified which would take care of the processes and procedures.

  4. Edwards Architecture was a Practice which featured in a recent BIM Certification story so wanted to add to this debate.

    For us, a young practice which was founded on the principles of full 3D collaboration, it was fundamental that the BIM process was at the very core of everything we produced. We felt as a practice which was quietly pioneering our approach and educating clients, old and new, some form of ‘proof’ to back-up our claims was vital. We reviewed the market at the time looking for a certification set against the PAS1192-2 document. As an SME, cost was an important factor as was the need to make sure the company as a whole bought into the process and not just an individual.

    To ensure that the process was staff inclusive and fundamental, we went down the approach of incorporating the PAS requirements in to our QA system, which in turn has been UKAS certified as part of our ISO9001.

    We understand that we are only one cog in the BIM process wheel, but given that there is still so much debate, choice, information and misinformation out there, all we can do is ensure that we as a practice have the internal processes, linked to our fundamental quality assurance, which demonstrated that, within the elements we as architects can control, we are ready!!

    Andrew Bowkett
    Chartered Technologist & BIM Manager

  5. @Andrew This is exactly what I am trying to establish in relation to certification and that is UKAS accreditation as part of the ISO9001 should be the standard throughout the industry with BIM forming part of this.

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