BIM certification is a recipe for confusion

2 July 2015 | By Terry Gough

With three different BIM certification providers in the market, and the possibility of others in the future, it’s time for a single, national BIM award where everyone knows what’s being assessed, says Terry Gough, managing director at Swiftbuild.

Personally I do not feel that the current BIM accreditation solutions being offered [by BRE Global, Lloyd’s Register and Ocean Certification] actually deliver anything other than a nice piece of paper with the words “certificate” written on it.

I think the current accreditations on offer are utter nonsense, as in each case they’re only assessing one company.– Terry Gough

I think the current accreditations on offer are utter nonsense, as in each case they’re only assessing one company. One company acting on its own, does not make level 2. The criteria that they are being assessed against – simply BS1192 or PAS1192-2 – is ludicrous. What about all of the other PAS or BS documents that make up the full lifecycle of BIM?

How do the assessors determine the structure of information or indeed what information is required at each information exchange/data drop, or is this something that is viewed as being within the other PAS documents therefore is not assessed nor accredited?

Companies are being accredited against systems and procedures: if that’s all it takes to deliver BIM then we should all be accredited to BIM Level 2 standards. But what about the supply chain and what about all the stakeholders?

Maybe we just need to sign up to ISO 9001? [in Quality Management] Where companies have ISO 9001 systems and procedures already in place, why do we need this additional BIM accreditation at all? Does it prove anything different to the current ISO accreditation or should BIM be incorporated into the quality system?

My view is that we should be incorporating BIM processes within existing company processes and not re-inventing the wheel which the construction industry is really good at.

Three companies now provide BIM certification, but who has or is ensuring that they are delivering consistency? [Editors note: BRE Global, Lloyd’s Register and Ocean are themselves all accredited by the UK Accreditation Service, UKAS, but the BIM certification products they offer will not be consistent with each other, and are not mapped to a UKAS standard]. If not nipped in the bud now this trend could become a huge issue as more and more accreditation companies spring up and claim to be certifying companies that they are capable of delivering level 2 BIM.

We may see lots of BIM accreditors flogging their wares to unwary customers who think they are actually getting something that means they meet the government mandate of Level 2 by 2016, but actually it gives them very little.      

Can trust be maintained with any such unregulated solution? I am sure this debate will rage for a number of years or until the BIM community is sucked in by accredited companies who say “we can deliver what’s on the BIM tin” but actually only deliver one of the ingredients.

A certification accredited by UKAS or some other governing body should be offered so that we can ensure that the certification actually means something and is not just lip service.

I fear that at this point in time the accreditation offered is nothing more than a slip of paper that you can hang on your wall to say that you “just might” have gained Level 2 understanding in BIM.

Let’s all raise the bar here, good people of the BIM community, and let’s get some form of recognised approval for companies to ensure that we lead the way when it comes to all things BIM.