Does the Digital Plan of Work mean the end for BIM managers?

Who is best placed to initiate and take the lead and what qualifies them to lead? Who has the knowledge and best insight into the process? – Peter Barker, BIM Academy

Following the launch of the BIM Toolkit, Peter Barker, managing director at the BIM Academy, asks where it leaves BIM in terms of leadership.

“Will #DPoW spell the demise of the BIM manager and hand leadership back to the architect as lead consultant – discuss!”

I sent this slightly provocative tweet recently following the launch of the BIM Toolkit in beta format at BIM Show Live earlier this month.

The BIM Toolkit and Digital Plan of Work (DPoW) have been heralded as the last piece in the jigsaw allowing the industry to attain the goal of effectively planning and managing the delivery of a Level 2 BIM project. More control over the management of project information. More transparency, definition and less ambiguity.

But who is best placed to initiate and take the lead and what qualifies them to lead? Who has the knowledge and best insight into the process? I posed the question as the DPoW terminology itself has architectural origins. Could this prompt the architect to regain the initiative in project leadership – a role which has sometimes been relinquished, perhaps eroded, since the advent of the project manager in the late 1980s. This combined with the tendency of some in the architectural community to regard design and project management with disinterest and sometimes disdain.

Architects are well placed as the instigators. When BIM emerged into the mainstream at the end of the last decade (yes, it is that long ago) it was an opportunity for the far sighted to seize the initiative and plan and deliver better designed, greener, better documented buildings. Never waste a good crisis noted Andrew Wolstenholme and some took that opportunity.

BIM was often misconstrued as a specialist technology-focused role, supplementary to existing disciplines, not embodied in them. Not surprisingly as the market has matured, the industry is waking up to the fact that BIM must be an approach, a methodology, a way of working if it is going to stand any chance of success. It is madness to attempt to retrofit BIM onto a traditional workflow mid-project.

As a result of this realisation, the separate BIM manager/coordinator role which emerged over the last few years is now becoming absorbed within the expanded duties of existing disciplines, attracting additional fees in some cases where value can be demonstrated.

The purpose of my slightly flippant tweet was to speculate whether architects have exploited this opportunity or have missed the boat and are allowing the opportunity for the leadership role to be acquired by others. Judging from the retweets it obviously struck a chord and one of the responses declared that leadership is of lesser importance than collaboration. Understandable, but both are essential.

After all, collaboration doesn’t happen without leadership and successful projects require informed and inspired clients and creative leaders. Whoever ends up leading the charge, let them absorb the new specialist duties but let’s not create a new profession. 

And don’t confuse leadership with management, which is what project managers, contractors and just about every other member of the supply chain do every day.

It remains to be seen how the industry will respond to these opportunities but the vital need is for us to switch the collective mindset to promote team working and joint effort through inspiring and creative project leaders, not just technical managers.

Story for BIM+? Get in touch via email: [email protected]


  1. Sadly we are still discussing the same question that was asked in the sixties, who should be team leader, when what we should be talking about is Teamwork through which we can provide a product that the end user wants to the exacting standard we want that is profitable
    to all concerned..

  2. @Roger Amos, Eventually a team needs one to coordinate it. It’s almost inevitable or you get losses from the lack of cohesion.

  3. Interesting thought but I don`t think so… BIM Managers and BIM Project Managers (BIM Savvy PMs) will have a complementary role within the project and the BIM Management (Info. Management or Coordination) role will be part of the Lead Designer/Contractor appointment.

  4. An enjoyable read. Peter shows some of his unique perspective having one foot in a BIM enterprise and the other in an architectural practice.

  5. I have completed my Doctoral Dissertation in February 2015 with topic: “Factors that influence project team members to use BIM and IDDS in the construction industry”. The purpose of this mixed-methods triangulation research study was to discover factors that influence project teams to use building information modeling (BIM) and integrated design and delivery solutions (IDDS) in construction projects, determine the reasons for slow acceptance of IDDS and BIM by project team members, identify necessary process changes for faster acceptance and use of IDDS and BIM by all project team members in the construction industry, and recommend solutions. The value of the construction industry globally is $5.6 trillion (McGraw-Hill Construction, 2012a). The organizational structure in the construction industry is rigid and top down, which does not easily permit fast acceptance and seamless use of the latest technology. The construction industry requires open communication, close relationships, expert knowledge, experience, and teamwork among all participants and stakeholders (Sumner & Slattery, 2010). The mixed-methods research study involved collecting data through administrating a Web-based survey with closed- and open-ended questions sent to professionals in the construction industry. The study included simultaneously combined qualitative and quantitative phases. The quantitative and qualitative findings indicated the following factors influence the use of IDDS and BIM by project team members in the construction industry: project requirements, cost, project schedule, project complexity, and BIM and IDDS benefits awareness. Reasons for slow acceptance were lack of software knowledge, BIM and IDDS complexity, and slow learning process. The needed process changes identified were making IDDS and BIM project request-for-proposal and contract requirements. IDDS and BIM requirements should become new construction industry standards to ensure getting quality projects professionally done on time and budget. It is the Project Manager to manage the process.

Comments are closed.

Latest articles in Analysis