A 10-point guide to starting BIM

Over the last decade, governments around the world have noticed the advantages of BIM, and increasingly are mandating the use of BIM on public projects. Here in the UK a mandate already exists that requires collaborative 3D BIM on public sector projects by 2016. 

Other countries, including Finland, Norway, Brazil, China, Korea, Singapore, and the United States, have issued similar BIM mandates of varying scope. And the European Union recently issued a directive to its 28 member states recommending the use of BIM on public projects. 

While there’s no one right way, we’ve identified 10 common steps that help to both accelerate the process and reduce the disruption that can accompany change.

It’s not just governments looking to BIM, however. As the public sector mandates BIM, private industry has shown more interest in working with BIM-ready teams. Increasingly, lead contractors “mandate” BIM on particular projects – even in countries where government mandates are not yet in the works. 

All over the world, design and construction firms that have yet to adopt BIM are planning their move. Many of these firms worry that their ability to compete will suffer if they don’t transition sooner rather than later. But some firms are also concerned that adopting BIM will prove difficult and disruptive. This could be holding them back—or leading them to over-plan their moves.  

At Autodesk, we’ve talked to many firms about how they successfully adopted BIM. While there’s no one right way, we’ve identified 10 common steps that help to both accelerate the process and reduce the disruption that can accompany change.  

  1. Get to know BIM. Designate one or two people at the firm to learn more about how BIM will affect the way your team works. For instance, in the 2D world, many firms leave the details to the later stages of the design process. With BIM, many design details need to be worked out much earlier. 
  2. Communicate the change to your people. High-level firm leaders should take a leading role in letting people know the firm is definitely transitioning to BIM. The message is “we are moving to BIM because it’s critical to our future” not “we’re trying BIM.” Be sure to communicate the anticipated benefits of BIM  – it will be easier to rally the team around a compelling future vision than by talking too much about mandates. 
  3. Account for software and hardware needs. BIM isn’t software; it’s a collaborative process that relies on intelligent 3D models. But you’ll need software to create those models. Take the time to explore available software, and consider whether your current hardware has sufficient processing power. 
  4. Develop a change management plan. This plan should document at a high level how your team anticipates BIM changing established workflows, who needs training and when they’ll get it, and how you’ll support people when they have questions and issues. Support is probably the most important item; organisational change happens faster and more successfully when you help people adopt new ways of working. 
  5. Start a pilot program, and provide training to the pilot team. If you do dozens of small projects each year, you might consider completing one pilot and capturing lessons learned before running several more pilot projects. A firm with just a few massive multiyear projects might prefer to capture lessons learned from an initial pilot as it happens, while also initiating all new projects in BIM. 
  6. Document preferred processes. As your pilot project (or projects) progress, have the team document BIM processes. Work with other parties in the supply chain to understand your required outputs and how your team needs to do BIM to support them. It’s tempting to try to focus on applying the UK Government Level 2 standards immediately or potentially creating your own standards during or before running a pilot. But your understanding of how to leverage standards will evolve as you use BIM in particular the role your organisation plays in the BIM lifecycle. Starting with standards could slow your team down and complicate the BIM adoption process unnecessarily. 
  7. Cultivate BIM champions. You’ll find that some people in your firm are excited about BIM—perhaps they even learned about BIM as part of their education. Try to put BIM champions on every pilot project, and provide them with the additional training and support they need to help teammates adopt BIM. 
  8. Train and transition other teams. As people are about to begin a BIM project, provide training. A common mistake is to train the whole firm at once, but then transition to BIM project by project over the course of a year or two. People on later projects will have forgotten much of what they learned in training. 
  9. Integrate with other models. You’ll see the most benefits from BIM when you share models with other firms that are also working in BIM. Many firms find that integrating models into a single, shared model accelerates the coordination process and opens the door to a new level of collaboration. It will be particularly beneficial if your teams undertake this by understanding how to correctly share model data within a Common Data Environment as described in standards such as PAS 1192:2 and BS 1192:2007.
  10. Expand and innovate with BIM. As you use BIM, you’ll find that it enables new visualisation, coordination, and analysis capabilities. Look for ways to turn these new capabilities into value—and new service offerings—for clients.  

Refer to the steps above to get started, but don’t view them as rigid suggestions. Many steps will overlap, and you may decide to skip or alter some. When facing a mandate, the important things are to get started —and keep focused on your goal even if you need to modify the plan along the way.

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  1. What exactly is BIM. I have yet to see its full name and not the abbreviation.(BIM)

  2. It appears that not many companies have bought into BIM despite it being around for over 10 years now. Why hasn’t it taken off?

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