BIM+ launches exclusive report on government mandate – What do clients really think?

To mark the arrival of the BIM mandate, BIM+ and Construction Manager have launched the largest piece of independent client-focused BIM research to date: a qualitative research exercise focusing on BIM clients and an online survey of industry opinion.

The report is available to download here

Detailed telephone interviews and a contemporaneous online survey covered around 100 construction clients from central government agencies, local authorities, and the health and education sectors, as well as private developers and key project management firms advising clients on BIM.

Together, the client respondents alone are commissioning projects starting in 2016/17 with a total construction value of between £5bn and £10bn.

Meanwhile, the comprehensive online survey had a total 557 respondents across the industry giving the research a unique viewpoint of client and supply side attitudes to BIM.

Highlights of the research:

  • Clients are paying, or being asked to pay a “BIM premium” – additional costs to cover the supply of BIM data. (This response came out of the qualitative aspect of the research and was not a survey question)
  • Clients have seen less benefit from BIM in their own budgets or profits – 28% reported results in positive territory, compared to 40% overall.
  • The NBS Digital Plan of Work gets limited support.
  • Clients are less likely to perceive benefits in terms of time savings on the project: 32% had experienced reduced design time (versus 55% overall); 43% thought that it reduced time in the construction phase (versus 60% overall).
  • In operational efficiencies, 49% of clients reported positive signs or good results, higher than the 44% in the overall sample.
  • Clients are also less optimistic than the rest of the industry that BIM would achieve the various targets set out for it in government strategies, on shrinking programmes’ times, cutting costs and reducing carbon emissions.

CM and BIM+ editor Elaine Knutt, co-author of the report, said: “Is a picture emerging of a BIM mandate where the benefits are being unevenly distributed – and residing more within the supply chain than the client side of the industry? That would be an ironic outcome, given the purposefully client-led nature of the government’s BIM adoption programme.  

“While the mandate is likely to be implemented with inconsistencies and gaps, and the supply chain response will vary in capability and enthusiasm, it’s clear that the adoption so far has been sufficient to change the industry’s culture, and with enough momentum to bring further progress.”

It’s clear that the adoption so far has been sufficient to change the industry’s culture, and with enough momentum to bring further progress.– Elaine Knutt, BIM+ editor

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  1. Here in Australia, the BIM movement is so far being driven largely by architects who recognise it as a massive improvement over traditional approaches. Clients (mainly Government) are now starting to introduce enhanced BIM requirements on large projects, but only on a very small selection of projects and there is no mandate… yet!

    The note in the article about supply chain getting the benefits is also true here although it’s the main contractor that is benefiting and not the architect, consultants or suppliers. The jury is out on the client / owner – not enough data yet. Unless we can resolve the benefits mis-match, BIM adoption will be slower than it should be, although I still think it’s inevitable.

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