Are There Problems in Construction Worth Solving?

Posted by Don Henrich on Sep 7, 2012 12:47:00 PM

Tags: quantities by location, conceptual estimating, construction automation, production control, evolutionary estimating, concept-stage estimating

In any industry that is continuously working to improve performance you have vendors proposing ways to solve problems that plague the company with its current processes.  This desire to improve creates an easy discussion between the company with the problems and the vendor with solutions.  


The discussion typically centers around problems that occur repeatedly and their cost to the business, whether it is in actual revenue and profit or stress on the employees or goodwill to the customer.  One thing I have noticed in the Construction industry is that many firms do not believe they have problems that they should invest in solving.  Is it any wonder that profit margin of 3% is seen as successful in construction while other companies such as auto manufacturers earn 30% profit margin or higher?  Now surely there are many differences between these two industries but there is definitely a lot of room for improvement.


Let me pose a few questions......


  1. How many construction firms have an automated procedure using historical data, combined with simple BIM's to generate initial quantities and costs for projects that are in concept stage?
  2. How many companies can systematically and easily evolve that cost plan as the design process continues and at any point compare what they have today with what they had at an earlier point in time?  And by compare I mean at a line item or sub-line item level.
  3. How many companies can split the quantities easily by locations to calculate and plan procurement, delivery, and the number of crews that will be needed to work the project?
  4. Finally, how many have a system in place to track the work weekly and easily report on how much is complete and recalculate the rest of the schedule based on actual performance of the crews?


It is my experience that not many companies have this type of automation in place, and while that is not that surprising since the solutions for this are rather new it is very surprising that so many people think there are no problems in construction worth solving.  So if someone with solutions contacts you and wants to share with you automated ways to solve problems, gain efficiencies, and lower project risk maybe you should take an hour and have a discussion!


Do the Math: Lean Coordination Delivers the ROI

Posted by Don Henrich on Apr 29, 2012 3:27:00 AM

Tags: Lean Construction, coordination resolution, 2D installation drawings, lean coordination, 6D FM model


We first started introducing our Coordination Resolution process back in June of 2010 – just as the economy was bouncing along the bottom of the trough.  Two years later, I'd like to encourage you to investigate this process again.  Why?  It is still paying huge dividends on projects. 


Let me tell you about a few key figures… 


The cost of this Lean Construction approach to Coordination is averaging less than 0.185% of the cost of the construction project.  And it includes providing high quality fabrication information and 2D installation drawings, as well as fully-documented 6D (Facilities Management) model.


If the total cost of your subs fees for coordination exceed 0.15% of the project, you are missing out on an opportunity to increase your profit per project. 


For the past four years, Team Vico has been working on a better way to perform coordination.  Don't get me wrong, using 3D models and a clash detection system as many firms are doing today is a huge improvement over the 2D-centric coordination process of the past.  But, based on work with Healthcare and other customers, we have pioneered a process that has shown an average of a 40% reduction in overall coordination time and a huge reduction in coordination expense. 


We have some great resources to help you better understand the process:


Webinar: Coordination Resolution - a Lean Approach to Clash and Coordination

Webinar: Managing Clashes in 2D, 3D, and 4D


Service: Coordination Resolution

Outputs and Deliverables: 2D Installation Drawings

Outputs and Deliverables: 6D BIM Models for Facilities Management


Blog: Coordination Resolution is 40% Faster than Traditional Clash Detection

Blog: Rethinking 3D BIM Coordination

Blog: What Is Clash Detection and Coordination?

Blog: Lean Coordination: Good Intention - Better Process

Blog: Do the Math: Lean Coordination Delivers the ROI


If you are interested and want to learn more, please let us know.

How Does Your Firm Stack Up with BIM?

Posted by Don Henrich on Nov 8, 2011 8:18:00 AM

Tags: BIM Scorecard, BIM Score, calculate your BIM Score, 2D-3D-4D-5D BIM, BIM capabilities, BIM competition


We all know “the D’s of BIM.”  2D BIM organizes construction drawing sets and pinpoints changes.  3D BIM includes modeling, clash detection, and quantity takeoff.  4D BIM is all about planning and scheduling, locations, simulations, and production control on the jobsite.  5D BIM covers quantities by location, iterative cost planning, and budget tracking.  And having an integrated 5D construction management workflow means having “all of the above” plus the critical Owner deliverables and reporting that ties it all together.


Have you taken the first steps of BIM?  Many GCs and CMs that come to Vico have tried some modeling and clash detection, perhaps even some schedule animations.  These firms approach Vico with a number of concerns: perhaps they haven’t realized efficiency gains or they have lost a couple of new projects to a competitor touting BIM.  These firms want to see what it takes to be successful with BIM in their geographies and how to win and perform new projects.


We developed the BIM Score to help GCs and CMs compare their capabilities to their competition. 


The first step is to prioritize BIM capabilities.  Are you most interested in change management, scheduling, estimating, or reporting? 


The second step is to grade your firm’s current solutions and practices.  We use a simple multiple choice format where there is no right or wrong answer, just an accurate description of real-world workflows.


The third step is the BIM Score calculation and identifying opportunities for improvement.  Our Team evaluates your answers and provides this information back to you in a graphical format to share with your colleagues.


As a fourth step, you might choose to take the same test and answer the questions as you believe your competitor would.  After all, if you want to do a gap analysis, you’ll need to know where/how their capabilities differ from yours.  This is probably what the Owners see when they award projects.


And finally, you’ll want to decide if you want to improve your operations.  In Vico-speak, we call it “moving the needle.”  How far and how fast do you want to implement better BIM capabilities?


how does your firm stack up with BIM


So we challenge you:  How well does your firm stack up in terms of 2D-3D-4D-5D BIM?  More importantly, how does your competition?  Grade your current solutions for coordination/clash, scheduling, and estimating in terms of capabilities, best practices, and integrated workflow.  Then see where your BIM Score falls and determine how far and how fast to move the needle.


This is your opportunity to prioritize your BIM initiatives and see how well you are incorporating BIM best practices throughout your firm.  And in this tough economic climate where every win counts, it is also a way to see how your firm stacks up against the competition.


Reference these other resources on the topic:

Calculator: Determine Your Firm's BIM Score

Blog: BIM Is Bigger Than You Think

Blog: Granite Countertops and BIM


Blog: Does the AEC Need the BIM SATs?

The Customer Success Plan: an Insurance Policy for BIM Deployment

Posted by Don Henrich on Nov 4, 2011 8:35:00 AM

Tags: Customer Success Plan, BIM insurance policy, BIM Training, BIM Certification, BIM Workshops, 5D workflow


Wouldn’t it be great if 3D, 4D, and 5D BIM could be made easier and could result in numerous new project wins for you and your team?


What if you could take out an insurance policy for your BIM deployment?


your BIM deployment insurance policy


The Vico Customer Success Plan is our guarantee to your firm to help you become as successful as possible with 5D BIM.  This means embarking on a one-year plan together that includes executive workshops, software training, mentoring, and support.  The program is designed to help your firm keep the enthusiasm and momentum high in order to achieve your stated goals for integrated quantity takeoff, coordination, scheduling, estimating, and production control.


Vico provides the organization and structure with the optimal level of content and prioritized support.  You provide the right people at the right time, fully committed, and ready to learn.  The program is consumed in one year with monthly progress reports guaranteeing success, despite the inevitable fire drills that could disrupt other rollouts.


During the last five years, Vico’s customers proved for themselves what we know to be true about the benefits of 5D BIM. Innovation was what drove new project wins: our customers exploited 3D modeling, clash detection, model-based coordination, rigorous content planning, multi-model management, change management, and model-derived block drawings. Some went further into 5D with model-derived quantity takeoff, cost estimating, and location-based scheduling. It is no exaggeration to say that the Vico customers who “went the deepest” are the same companies who reaped the most benefit from the technology. They literally picked the jobs they wanted to win, developed the best plans, recruited the best teams, executed more effectively in the field, and delivered a new and exciting owner experience.


How does the plan work?


Part 1: Executive and departmental briefings.  Our BIM Path workshops cover the entire 5D workflow and our virtual construction best practices condensed from over 400 projects worldwide.  We start with the Model Progression Specification for working with extended teams of designers, engineers, and subs.  We then cover Constructability, Cost Planning, Scheduling (including flowline theory and location-based management), Production Control, and a special workshop designed for the CIO and IT team.


Part 2: Comprehensive training, follow-up assignments, and certification.  Your teams are rigorously trained to understand and use Vico Office for integrated construction management.  Then specialized team can pursue advanced topics.  We also offer training to your personnel who will be running the BIM projects – these champions will be well-versed in selling your new capabilities as well as executing upon them.  Those who complete their follow-up assignments and exercises with passing grades will become Vico-Certified and eligible for our exclusive Vico Office user group to discuss the very latest technology developments and best practices.


Part 3: Project-Based Workshops.  Our one-day onsite workshops focus on building expertise throughout your departments.  Whether you select Custom Reporting or a deep-dive on building out your estimating database or a workshop designed to gather production agreements with your subs, you will feel the enthusiasm for these best practices excite your team and make them hungry for even more workshops.


Part 4: Planning, Reporting, and Support.  As a Customer Success Plan member, your team receives accelerated support and consulting.  The consulting work extends to annual goal setting and the monthly reporting to keep your team on track.  We do not let you pass up opportunities to keep the momentum growing – we consider it our job to push you to meet your goals.


As a Customer Success Plan participant, you receive access to all our content, our expertise, insights, and experience – all at a very affordable price.  But we do ask that you commit to management support, stick to the scheduled dates, and consume the entire program in the one-year timeframe.


Take out the only BIM Insurance Policy in the industry and guarantee your firm’s success with Vico’s integrated 5D BIM. 

Keeping Construction Practices Connected

Posted by Don Henrich on Oct 14, 2011 6:14:00 AM

Tags: Standard 5D Warehouse, 5D BIM, BIM Score, Enterprise BIM, 5D Data Pack, Standard 5D Library

Why is it that many companies in the AEC industry do not believe that using the same data throughout a construction project will yield benefits?  After all, what is "Lean" about performing an initial pricing exercise in Excel, later doing a more complete cost estimate in a different estimating system, and then finally having your operations personnel take off quantities and prices again for purposes of setting up procurement schedules and coordinating the many tasks related to the project? 


I can tell you the answer, "Nothing!"


While it is understandable that construction companies operating on relatively low profit margins wish to keep their overhead costs low, the lack of insight into the duplication in  their business processes seems short-sighted.  For example, you get or you build a BIM model for part of your project, do you have a data set that automatically connects each BIM object to your quantities?  Do you also have a data set that then furthers this quantity connection and classifies your estimating line items by system using Uniformat or another popular standard?  Then, does this data set extend the quantities (now) divided by locations and using standard subcontractor crew productivity data calculate durations for each crew by location and pump them automatically into your schedule or do you "create the schedule manually?"


Finally, can all of these "reports" for cost, schedule, procurement, resources, clash, and drawing sets be linked to the project, tracked in time, compared for differences and formatted to be tied to your financial accounting system?  If you cannot do this today, you are like many other firms, but what about the "other" firms, the ones that are growing?  The ones that are winning big jobs?  Of course, some of this success is based on their skills as builders, their experience, reputation, and their teams BUT, I can name 25 firms that are aggressively working to create an integrated enterprise where data is standardized, used by everyone, and flows through a typical project process from pursuit to completion, from department to department.   Hartela and Webcor are just two firms to announce this concept of BIM for the Enterprise.  Will these firms win more business in the future?  We'll see………it looks pretty good for them today!


One option for organizing your data is the Vico 5D Data Pack - comprised of the Library and the Warehouse.


The Vico Standard 5D Library

The Library gives users a standard collection of formulas and values suitable for combining 3D BIMs to our 4D scheduling and 5D cost estimating applications.  The Library is organized by the set of activities required to construct each building element and the sequence in which tese activities are performed.  The Library includes average productivity rates by trade and standard formulas for deriving labor and material resource requirements.  By combining the Library with model-derived quantities and contractor-supplied unit prices, users can automatically calculate task durations for project schedules and costs for project estimates.  Users can overwrite any part of the Library with their own proprietary data or calculation method.


The Library includes construction activity sets for over 3,000 building elements which are coded by CSI Uniformat.  It also includes formulas to derive labor and materials resources for over 6,000 construction activities classified by CSI Masterformat 2004.  The Library also contrains industry-standard productivity rates and resource requirements for over 2,500 construction tasks.


The Vico Standard 5D Warehouse

The Warehouse gives users a standard collection of coded building elements suitable for connecting their 3D BIMs to our 4D scheduling and 5D cost estimating applications.


The Building Elements contained in the Warehouse are coded using the same nomenclature and classification systems as the Vico Standard 5D Library, so they work together seamlessly.  Users receive both an Autodesk Revit (TM) version of the Warehouse and a Graphisoft ArchiCAD (TM) version of the Warehouse.


Caption: The Vico Office Data Pack includes the Standard 5D Library and Standard 5D Warehouse. This predefined integration provides customers a very comprehensive estimate in a matter of minutes. Now your properly formatted BIM model is completely integrated with the properly formatted estimate. At Vico, we call the Data Pack our shortcut to full 5D BIM. 


As you can see, there are many ways to improve the flow of data through your construction firm and propagate its re-use.  The 5D Data Pack, as we've said before, is truly a shortcut to 5D BIM, and a way to move your firm from a BIM Department to a BIM Enterprise.


Curious about how your firm stacks up?  Consider calculating your BIM Score to see how well-connected your operations are.


Then be sure to research these additional resources on the subject:

Product: The Vico Standard 5D Library

Product: The Vico Standard 5D Warehouse

Blog: A Shortcut to 5D BIM with the Vico Data Pack

Webinar: Should You Build or Buy a Knowledge Base?

Webinar: Applying the 5D Data Pack to Your New Project

Webinar: Understanding the Model Progression Specification

Webinar: The MPS 3.0

Webinar: Applying the 5D Data Pack to Your New Project

Webpage: The Virtual Construction Toolkit - the 5D Data Pack

Webpage: Inside the 5D Data Pack

FAQs: 5D Data Pack FAQs


Change the World

Posted by Don Henrich on Oct 7, 2011 1:16:00 PM

Tags: choose your influences, kind words, Rachel's Challenge, eliminate prejudice, dare to dream, chain reaction


I went to a presentation at my son's high school last night on "Rachel's Challenge" which is about about a wonderful high schooler named Rachel Scott who was unfortunately the first victim of the Columbine High School killings.  Out of that tragedy her parents and some of her friends have built a charitable institution that is focused on changing the lives of millions of people around the world through "Random Acts of Kindness."  To learn more look at


What struck me after attending the presentation is that this girl from the age of 10 or so had a vision that she could change the world.  And even though it was only after her death, the results have been extremely impressive.  Her challenge had a list of five things shown here that came from an essay of her ethics and her code of life, this girl was very kind, compassionate, intelligent and deep.


Rachel's 5 Challenges

1. Eliminate Prejudice by looking for the best in others

2. Dare to Dream, set goals, keep a journal

3. Choose your Influences, input determines output

4. Kind Words, small acts of kindness = huge impact

5. Start a Chain Reaction with family and friends


So what does this have to do with the business of Design and Construction?  Here are a few thoughts that came to mind:

1. In general we often don't do a good job of trusting each other so we write iron-clad contracts that limit our partners ability to innovate. 

2. We often say, not on this project.  Why not say, "let's do it on this project!"

3. Do we set goals for how much 3D/4D/5D/6D BIM we will use and by when?  Do we have a strategic plan?

4. Which influences in a meeting help decide our actions, the guys who are negative on any kind of change, or do we listen to people who want to change the process and believe it can be done?

5. Do we take small steps (small acts) that can lead to a chain reaction of interest and enthusiasm?  For example do we agree to a 30 day structured evaluation with possible partners to take a step forward and to learn more about what is possible?


Again, I don't know how well I have expressed the thoughts I had last night.  But basically it was that if this young girl can do so much to help so many people around the world with nothing but her own mind and support of her friends it sure seems to me that we can change the world of construction to be a more efficient and positive system for all of us.

The Silk Road Again

Posted by Don Henrich on May 26, 2011 6:01:00 AM

Tags: 5D BIM, Virtual Design and Construction, Virtual Construction


Several millenia ago there were thriving civilizations in India, China, and Europe, but they were prevented from easily trading their goods and sharing their knowledge due to the harsh mountains, deserts, and weather.  Eventually aggressive and entrepreunerial rulers in China, India, Pakistan, and Afganistan pushed west and Europeans pushed east respectively until they linked up a network of roads that became known as the Silk Road.  Once this road became heavily traveled the pace of moderization picked up.  The Chinese got larger horses from Afganistan, the Indian people started to profit from their spices and gems, and of course, the Romans got involved and started building roads, outposts, and alliances.


Today there is a rennaisance in the exchange of advanced ideas from West to East as 5D BIM has made its way to Asia.  I just returned from a 10 day trip to Shanghai and Singapore that helped me to understand how Virtual Design and Construction will effect the entire world. 


I was invited to speak with experts from Disney, Stanford University, and Tongji University about how 5D BIM could be used to help manage the construction projects in China as they continue to aggressively expand cities like Shanghai.  The meeting was organized to help Disney who had just announced a partnership with the city of Shanghai to build the 6th Disney theme park explain to the local market how they have been using VDC in their projects.


tongii unversity explores 5D BIM


Caption: Here is the marquis at Tongii University announcing the Virtual Design and Construction seminar.


The reception of the construction companies attending this event was overwhelming. First, the auditorium was too small so the presentations were simulcast into a second area. Then there was simultaneous translation from Chinese to English and vice versa so we all could participate, ask questions, and have a great dialog.  The key message by all the presenters was, "this is a better way to work that is less error prone and of greater efficiency."


What was started about 10 years ago as an advanced idea has now become a solution for the AEC industry known as Virtual Design and Construction or 5D BIM and it is accelerating in its deployment and once again traveling along the Silk Roads.  The knowledge of how to better design and manage construction projects is being passed along again and we'll probably find the pace of change increasing as it has in the past. 


After China, we met in Singapore with groups from Malaysia, Thailand, India, Korea, and Beijing which reinforced the point that the Silk Road is active again and 5D BIM technology is flowing along the routes.

Integrating Better Construction Business Processes with Vico Office

Posted by Don Henrich on Apr 20, 2011 7:44:00 AM

Tags: quantities by location, bim estimating, BIM scheduling, vico office, constructability analysis, flowline scheduling



Take a look at great businesses that you deal with every day. Let's take for example.  They know what you like to read, they remember your address book, and they store your credit card number.  So buying something from them is easy for you!  And serving you well is even easier for them!


Why?  Because they have integrated the process of buying things from them.  They remind you when something is ready, they ship it automatically, and they do this with less people then you would imagine!  Why?  Because they have integrated many processes into a great customer experience.


location based management construction on kindle

Caption: Amazon even knows that I've already purchased Dr. Seppanen's book, Location-Based Management for Construction, for my Kindle!


Functional alignment of applications for the construction enterprise will serve to improve the business as it has in all other modern industries. And the challenges critical to construction today cross application boundaries, such as how can I lower my General Conditions without sacrificing quality or service?  Order-to-cash for a sales and distribution company or design-to-production in manufacturing are examples of what other industries watch.  A process-centric approach recognizes the importance of streamlining critical operations and provides a pragmatic approach to changing the business and enabling enterprise transformation.

The latest release of Vico Office Release 3 simplifies the process of construction management and gives customers the ability to use a process approach. For example, as I check the design for constructability I can feed this quantity information directly to estimating which then automatically cost loads my Flowline
schedule.  It removes the complexity associated with keeping all these key data sets synchronized providing a unified, complete, and easy to use solution for improving efficiency and increasing business visibility and agility.


See Vico’s integration in this 15 minute video.

All Aboard for 5D BIM!

Posted by Don Henrich on Mar 7, 2011 6:25:00 AM

Tags: 5D BIM, commercial construction. Vico Office, Virtual Construction


In discussions with construction companies around the globe over the last few months, I have noticed that 5D BIM interest is picking up steam (again).  Vico, as an example, has had an increased flow of inquiries and orders from many places including South Africa, Portugal, Sweden, Finland, Panama, Australia, Malaysia, Japan, and of course, North America.  More companies are starting to use Vico Flowline Schedule Planning software; and more people are interested in 5D BIM than ever before -- especially with the upcoming release of Vico Office R3


all aboard 5d bim


This increase in usage is to be expected, as even very conservative industries such as Construction, will change over time.  Everything changes over time (think of the Grand Canyon).  The recent pick up is great timing for construction managers and users of BIM in general as everyone needs a way to shine up their corporate logo, give their customers reasons to talk with them, and of course, let the most technologically-savvy and well-qualified companies win new work.  


Peeking behind the curtain and trying to ascertain why the interest in 5D has picked up so sharply can most likely be traced to three steadily increasing trends:


1. More Owners are requiring 5D BIM in their RFP’s. 

We had a call recently from a company that is not a Vico user.  They read an excerpt from an Army Corps proposal that said something like: Tasks and their extracted quantities from the BIM shall be broken done by their location (proximity in the structure) as well as the complexity of its installation.  Wow, even the US Government is becoming a fan of Location Based Management for Construction!

2. More employees are interested in using 5D BIM to “work differently." 

Some of these are experienced personnel inside the company who have experimented and learned about BIM over the last few years and now understand what the true potential of 5D is and are eager to use it.  Many of these are also new hires, young kids of the iPod generation, that are now graduating into the work force and do not want to sit all day working with 2D drawings when there is so much possible in 3D, 4D, and 5D.

3. Products are getting better. 

From modeling products to IFC, to connectors, to full 3D-4D-5D solutions like Vico Office, there are many very good product solutions good for either a single, simple task or for automating a big chunk of the construction planning and management workflow.


With the continual push from these influences, as well as the continued experimentation, testing, usage, and cross training of new BIM-based solutions, the Construction industry will surely become more productive -- just like other industries who have successfully leveraged technology to fight off competition and obsolescence.


It is a rising tide of 5D BIM that will help many companies float their corporate ships in this stormy and difficult time and steer them to growth and profitability.


When you're ready to go 5D, we've got the resources to help you meet your goal:

Methodology: The 5D BIM Playbook

Webinar Series: Getting to 5D BIM with Vico

Blog: 5 Pieces of Advice for GCs Considering BIM

Blog: BIM Doesn't Come in a Box

Blog: Get on The BIM Path

The 5D BIM Playbook

Posted by Don Henrich on Feb 2, 2011 9:04:00 AM

Tags: 5D BIM playbook, BIM path, executive workshops


Vico has been working hard on a new way to help our industry change and we have created a complete program to Discover, Pilot, Implement, and Support customers who wish to change.  I call it the “5D BIM Playbook” and it is an organized collection of about 100 presentations, processes, workshops, trainings, and other well formatted material used by Vico to help a General Contractor transform into a more efficient company that wins more Owner business than its peers.  The collection is available to any company that wants to learn from Vico’s field team.  It starts with a web briefing to help a few key individuals understand what is covered in the Playbook and it then progresses to a F2F meeting with the executive staff and key BIM contributors to discuss whether your firm is interested and ready for some process improvement. 

If you are interested in learning more about this please don’t hesitate to contact me.


5D BIM Playbook