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New Filter Editor Capability in Vico Office Cost Planner

Two weeks ago, we released a new point release for Vico Office: Release 4.1.  As customers are deploying the new features, we wanted to call your attention to one of our new favorites – the new Filter Editor in Cost Planner.


Every estimator recognizes the situation: you know that you included a material code or labor code several times in the estimate, but you need to know where it was. Or -- you know that you used a certain quantity a couple of times in the estimate, and now you want to double-check to see if that was correct.


The difficulty is that cost estimates can grow to hundreds, thousands of lines, and it can become difficult to find the line items that you are looking for.


Filtering helps out, and Vico Office 4.1 has new functionality that provides powerful filtering capabilities. Each of the columns in Cost Planner represents properties of the line items in the estimate (aka Assemblies and Components), and each of them can be queried by defining conditions.


Defining conditions is done in the new Filter Editor, which can be accessed by right-clicking on any column header and selecting “Show Filter Editor.” This will open a dialog in which you can pick the property that you want to search for, as well as the condition that needs to apply.


The example below shows a filter that searches for all line items in the estimate that begin with the word “Concrete.”


using filter editor in vico office 1


You can combine conditions, too. For example, if you are looking for all line items that begin with “Concrete” AND have a quantity value that is greater than 600, you can easily find these items with the following filter:


using bolean descriptions in vico office filter editor 


As mentioned, all visible columns can be used for querying, so the possibilities are endless… Good luck as you start using this new tool!


If you need any assistance with the download link for Release 4.1, just let us know – we are more than happy to help your team. You do not need a new license file – just the download link which was delivered to your license administrator – the Vico Office R4.0 license remains valid for all R4.x releases.


Enjoy your new version of Vico Office!


Here are some additional resources for Vico Office R4:

Article: What’s New in Vico Office Release 4

Article: The 5D Workflow in Vico Office

Blog: 4 Favorite Features in Vico Office 4

Product: Vico Office Layout Manager

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Taking Charge of Your VDC Destiny

Editor’s Note: Whether your firm uses the acronym BIM, VDC, or even Virtual Building to describe how models impact preconstruction and field operations, this article reminds us that proper deployment requires executive sponsorship, a core group of champions, attainable goals, and sharing the success.


It seems that the days of "exploring the benefits of BIM" will soon be behind us. Companies that are serious about adopting new technology and processes are using Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) to replace traditional practices today. Traditional practices include parallel cost estimating and scheduling work, working based on non-coordinated design information, and "4D schedule simulations" put together for the sole purpose of "wowing" the client.


Companies that roll out technology and processes that prepare them for the next 20 years are thinking about value for the owner through an integrated planning approach, which allows for better communication with the client, improved feedback to the designers and subs, and higher overall predictability and manageability of their projects.


An important question for companies who are not ready to compete with VDC early adopters is: "How do I start and what are the steps?"


One benefit of not being an "early adopter" is that there is an opportunity to learn from the struggles and successes of the BIM Pioneers.  A path to VDC usage can now be defined by looking at the things that did and did not work for the trailblazers.


BIM trailblazers 

Caption: BIM Trailblazers like Webcor, Hartela, Hathaway Dinwiddie, Hoar Construction and many others have discovered and honed Virtual Design and Construction best practices.  Now the construction industry can learn from their experiences.


When planning your VDC rollout, it is important (as with adoption of any other disruptive technology) to recognize and assign the following roles within the organization:

  • Executive sponsor (e.g. CEO, VP of Field Operations, ...)
  • A VDC Director (a strong leader who is able to unite preconstruction, estimating, scheduling, and field operations)
  • VDC Experts (team members willing to initiate and drive company-wide process change)
  • Pilot Project Team (a group of committed and supportive employees who work on their project with the VDC Experts to test the designed new process)
  • Other Project Team Members (employees working on other projects where VDC is not yet used; use of VDC on the Pilot Project should trigger interest and excitement about "the new way")
  • Ideally, there is a "push" from the executive level, resulting in sponsorship and funding, combined with a "pull" from users - first pilot project team members and later other project team members - who recognize the benefits and see how the existing process can be improved by adopting new tools and planning methodologies.


Recommended team structure:


Organization Chart for Virtual Design and Construction Teams 

Caption: The VDC Director manages all BIM initiatives in the company and works with Modeling Experts, Cost Experts, and Scheduling Experts to accomplish the desired level of integration. Experts are involved on a part-time basis. The VDC Director is assisted by VDC Experts/ Trainers and reports to the Executive Sponsor who promotes wide-scale deployment of integrated construction planning throughout the organization.


With the described roles recognized and assigned, we recommend the following six steps:


Step 1: Initiate

VDC Experts learn about successful use of VDC in other (usually competing) companies and propose exploring and usage. Developing a plan for approval by an Executive Sponsor (a VDC Investment Plan) is recommended at this point. (Let us know if you would like to see an example.) The plan preferably contains a budget, broken down into required labor hours and technology cost (which contains a hardware and a software aspect) to prevent hold-ups later on in the process.


Step 2: Select Technology

VDC Experts define required functionality and contact technology vendors to explore options. Required software and hardware purchases are mapped out and compared to the budget  defined in Step 1. Technology vendor(s) are selected and perform benchmark tests that are aligned with targeted goals.  If you would like to include Vico in your selection process, we have a 4-week Structured Evaluation Program for your team.


Step 3: Purchase Technology

Sign-off on selected technology and purchase by Executive Sponsor. The purchase is preferably based on the documented selection process by the VDC Experts to provide insight in expected benefits.  And because purchasing software should include more strategy than simply signing a check, we offer the Vico Customer Success Plan to keep everyone focused on your firm’s goals.


Step 4: Plan First Project

The BIM Implementation plan prepared by the VDC Experts should include goals and expected results for the first project; based on these goals the appropriate project (or project scope) can be selected.

Planning also includes assigning team members and hands-on training to master the selected software.


Step 5: Deploy

Use VDC on the first project with participation of the VDC Experts. During this step, workshops are organized for further training and assistance on the project, as required.  If it turns out that the overall project size is too much to handle, select one to three scopes to work on. It is recommended to define intermediate milestones that can be validated on a monthly basis to keep the team on track and to be able to adjust goals if needed.


Step 6: Disseminate and Expand

Share the results realized by the team within the company through internal newsletters, e-mails from executives, a publication board, and "lunch & learn" sessions.


Key Learnings

It is undeniable that combining training and workshops with direct use on a real-world project is the best way to adopt VDC. Preferably, the VDC process is used to replace the traditional process, and not run in parallel or stopped as soon as “normal work” becomes more important.


Following up on training with a real project also makes it possible to share experiences and results throughout the organization that are based on work that other employees can relate to. This makes it easier to understand what deployment on the next project might involve and can result in.


VDC involves integration of information produced by various roles in the company. It does not replace one tool with another but it replaces the existing process with a new process. Approaching the adoption of VDC with a company-wide, executive-supported, and planned process is therefore instrumental for succeeding with BIM beyond the "low hanging fruit" of clash detection and bid day 4D simulation movies.


Vico can help with planning for successful adoption by leveraging the experience of 8 years of VDC and truly integrated design, cost, and schedule planning tools. The knowledge that we have obtained over the past years has been converted into a Customer Success Plan, which provides companies with the right resources, materials and support to help your organization go through the outlined steps successfully.


Caption: Some people think that buying a copy of Photoshop will make them a better digital photographer. Does owning a copy of Microsoft Word make you a better writer? Yet many construction executives believe that if they buy the requisite BIM software, they will become trusted VDC experts. But changing your firm's DNA involves serious process change which cannot be taught with simple software training. Just like all positive changes, it requires hard work, dedication, and high energy.


Here are more resources to help you learn more:

Blog: When Estimators Block BIM

Blog: Resistance to Change in 5D BIM Implementations

Blog: 10 Things Every BIM Manager Should Know

Blog: 10 Reasons PMs Should Champion BIM

Blog: Superintendents Just Get Vico

Blog: What Role Do YOU Play in the BIM Strategy?

Blog: Can You Say Change 24 Times?

Blog: BIM Staffing Options

Webinar: The Vico Customer Success Plan featuring Hoar Construction

Program: Vico Office Structured Evaluation Program

Program: Vico Customer Success Plan

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5 Quick Steps to Compare Cost Plan Snapshots and Even Revert Back to an Earlier Version

Are you still using the Save As button in Excel as part of your cost planning strategy in order to organize multiple versions and track changes for your estimate?


Vico Office Cost Planner allows you to save full versions of your cost plan for every iteration.  How?  It's a database with a complete history function; not a set of files.


The Compare & Update function is the "Swiss Army Knife" in the Vico Office platform. It can be used to compare current project data to another project on your Vico Project Server, to copy data from a Reference, and even to copy published Building Information Models from one project to another!


Another clever use of the tool is for reverting your cost plan back to a previously saved version.  Going back to an earlier version can be done in five simple steps:


Step 1: Once your cost plan has been developed to a point where you would like to save it for future reference, click the Save Version button in the Cost Planner Ribbon. Enter a short description to make it easier to find the desired version later.


Step 2: Continue to work on your cost plan by adding more detailed information, replacing manual quantities with model-based quantities, and checking alternative options.


Step 3: Repeat step 1 to store the "furthest development status" of your cost plan.


Step 4: When you now want to go back to the version stored in Step 1, delete everything in your current Cost Plan view, so that only the Project Name ("node level 0") remains.


Step 5: Start the Compare & Update view from the Workflow Panel and run a comparison with either "Cost" or "Cost and Takeoff" profile. Just select the version of the cost plan that you stored in Step 1 and compare the current version to it. Now click the "Update All" button to copy all content that existed in the saved version to your current cost plan. Note that formulas (Takeoff Items with Takeoff Quantities) will use the current set of quantities and will not show the quantities that you had when you saved the version you just restored.


To complete restoring of the saved cost plan data, go to the Plan Cost view and make sure to activate the required Assemblies (Assemblies are inactive by default after using the Compare and Update function).  This cool trick helps you quickly go back to earlier cost plans, or evaluate options for your project!


Take a look at the video below to see what I mean...


Video Caption: There are several ways to create "what-if" scenarios for a budgeting meeting with the Owner.  This video explores how to use the Compare & Update feature in Vico Office Cost Planner to examine two different versions of the construction estimate.  So instead of flipping through pages and stacks of Excel printouts, you can quickly compare the two options on your screen.


You can also explore these resources to learn more tips and tricks:

Webinar: Model-Based Estimating Basics

Training: Cost Planning Video Training Series

Our Products: The Vico Office Estimating Solutions

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Quickly Update Unit Rates for Materials and Labor in Vico Office


Unit rates for materials and labor are moving targets; costs of these resources are changing constantly and can have a tremendous impact on project cost. For example, there might be a positive or negative shift in steel prices, or a new labor contract for trades people in a particular city.


Estimators need to have an eye on commodities and building materials prices. They also need to have strong relationships with their Subcontractors so they better understand how these material costs or new contracts will impact productivity rates and/or labor costs.


For Estimators working with Vico Office, we have a powerful solution for quickly amending your cost plan to reflect the current market conditions. This means that you can answer the Owner's question, "How much will this cost me in terms of time and money?" in a matter of minutes.


The solution only requires five steps and can be completed in less than ten minutes. Who's the hero now?


Step One: Generate a cost plan report using the Vico Office report editor which contains the "Resource" Components that should be updated; a "Resources" report with one level of Components filtered works most efficiently.  Save the report as an Excel spreadsheet.


Step Two: Open the Excel file and edit the unit rates (for example, by applying a percent price increase to a selection of Components).  Save this new version of the Excel file.


Step Three: Create a New Project in Vico Office. Open the Import from Excel workflow item, select the "Cost Planner" view as import target and import the updated Resource unit rate data.


Step Four: Now open the project you are working on and click on the Plan Cost workflow item and activate the "Project and Reference" tab. Open the new project with updated Resource unit rate information in the Reference window. Now create a new, temporary Component in your original cost plan. Call it, for example, "unit rate update." And now drag and drop the Components (all or only the updated ones) from Reference to your current project, into the just created "unit rate update" Component.


Step Five: Cost Planner will alert you that Components with the same code already exist in the project. To update the existing unit rates, check the "apply to all conflicts" option and select "Overwrite Existing." And finally, delete the "unit rate update" Component - it's no longer needed.


After completion of the copy operation, your cost plan now contains the updated unit rates! To see the impact of the unit rate changes on project cost, create a cost plan version before and after you copy the updated Components into the project.


To follow along with your own copy of Vico Office Cost Planner, please use this Unit Rate Report Template, and hit the play button on the video below.


Video Caption: How do you prepare a construction project estimate when there are spikes in commodities and materials costs due to market demand?  How do you factor in new labor rates for subcontractors in your area? Here is a quick tip for updating these unit rates in your Vico Office estimate.


So literally, in ten minutes, you have a complete cost estimate to answer the Owner's question. All of a sudden, Estimating just got cool.


You can also review the Vico Office Video Training Series which walks through building an estimate, schedule, and reports step-by-step in Vico Office. The videos are short, only 2-5 minutes in length, but highlight each piece of functionality in the workflow.


What other tips and tricks would you like to see?  Let me know by posting your comments to the blog.


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Who Cares about Subs' Productivity Rates in Construction Schedules?


I ran across a question recently on a LinkedIn discussion group for construction planning.  The question was, “Besides the subs, who really cares about their productivity rates?”


Wow.  That has to be a hard question for an Owner to hear because everyone knows if the subs don’t produce, there will be claims and increased risk that the job will be late.


A core component of Vico Office is flowline theory which states that the goal of superior construction planning is to have locations free and clear of disruptions so that subs can work through the area at their maximum productivity rate.  So what that means, in essence, is that EVERYONE cares about the subs’ productivity rates: the GCs who are orchestrating the flow of trades on the jobsite and the Owner who is always looks for building efficiency to shorten the schedule and reduce costs.


Last month, I attended the "Construction Tech 2011" event in the Kimmel Center at New York University.  The theme of the event was "Subcontractors to Owners - Transparency in Action” and it was sponsored by the Greater New York Construction User Council and the Subcontractor Trade Association, along with CURT, NYC BIM, the National Subcontractors Alliance, BIMplex, the Associated Specialty Contractors, and the buildingSMARTalliance.  I wanted to hop on LinkedIn and answer the question with a photo of the event along with the caption “THIS is who cares about subs’ productivity rates!” 


nyc subcontractor productivity rates


Caption: Owners, GCs, Subs – everyone cares about subs’ productivity rates!


I was part of a panel presentation at the event entitled “Validations in BIM: Design Intent to Means and Methods to 5D Contracting.”  Obviously, with the event in New York City, many in the Vico Community couldn’t attend, so I would like to share the discussion here and hear what you have to say.


The first question we received was: What is one of the misnomers or myths surrounding BIM that you run into often with Owners, Subs, GCs, and Designers?


Of course, this is the myth that any Building Information Model will do.  The truth is, a design intent model is just one type of model.  GCs need to include means and methods data in their models so that they can do clash detection, scheduling, and estimating.  And Subs need to model to a much, much higher level of detail for fabrication.  


So what we wanted to stress for Owners is that just because you see a 3D model on a computer screen does not mean it is made for construction.  How do you get that means and methods data into Subs and GC's models?  It's important to be able to harness the available intellectual property in each firm and capture that data in the models.  This knowledge (think: productivity, unit rates, consumption) can be stored in a database so that it is readily accessible for all projects.


What is Vico doing to help make this type of data more accessible for GCs?   Even if you don't have complete data, a "means and methods" data set is possible.  Vico can supplement your information with our 5D Data Pack that includes both the building elements for your models and the tasks to install those pieces represented in average productivity rates.


We also have a model checking service – what we call our Quality Assurance and Refinement service.  For a flat fee of $2,000 we interrogate your BIM model to see if it is up to snuff for use in construction.  We inspect eleven different aspects of the model and grade it accordingly.  A grade higher than 70% means that it will work for downstream construction activities.  And anything under a 70% needs correcting – and we can give you a price for that.  The basic premise is that in under two weeks, we can help the design team, the GC, the subs, and the Owner determine if their BIM models are at the level of detail necessary for coordination, scheduling, and estimating.


Second hot topic: How does BIM change the way contracting is done?


Contrary to question from the LinkedIn Group, Subs and GCs should work together during the buyout, sharing models and sharing productivity rates.  From these conversations, GCs can build out the 4D schedule and 5D estimate. But more importantly, GCs and Subs need to work together on-site to try and achieve these rates.


Again, this is another key tenet of Vico Software – the schedule doesn’t end in Preconstruction – it goes out to the field and is amended every week with real-time data inputs.  Because we measure quantities by location multiplied by productivity rates to get our calculated durations, we can quickly see how our field actual productivity rates are impacting the schedule.


control chart for real time productivity reporting

Caption: As the Superintendent walks the site each week, s/he can mark the percent complete for each location and quickly see any areas that need to be addressed.


With a quick meeting in the trailer, the Superintendent can work with the Subs to correct the problem and get the schedule back on track.  This on-site production control is a very important piece of the pie for Owners – this real-time data means better input for progress reviews and informed decision making.


The third item we discussed was: What are some of the BIM deliverables that Owners can expect from Subs and GCs?


The goal of the conference (and the goal of 5D BIM) is to make the construction process more transparent to the Owner.  The construction deliverables that mean the most to Owners are:

- Cost-loaded schedules

- Manpower charts

- Gantt chart

- Cash flow forecasts

- A Resource-based cost report

- Resource forecasts for each subcontractor for the upcoming month

- Percentage of production complete compared to the plan

- Answering what-if scenarios in terms of impact to the schedule and budget


All of these reports are available in Vico Office, along with any others you would like to design.  Because Vico Office is a database and our solutions span constructability, scheduling, and estimating, we produce comprehensive construction management reports.  Learn more about the Reporting Engine in our webinar about the topic or hop on over to our video training tutorials on the subject.


This conference couldn’t have come at a better time as a counter point to the LinkedIn discussion.  In fact, everyone cares about the Subs’ productivity rates because they contribute so highly to the overall schedule and budget.


Do you or don’t you care about Subs’ productivity rates?  Post your comments to this blog article.

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5D BIM Predictions for 2012


Contrary to what Nostradamus or the Mayans prognosticated, I do not think 2012 will mark the end of the world. However, I do foresee some pretty significant changes on the horizon for the construction industry, of which we have seen the first signs in 2011.
CAD Managers Become BIM Managers
How many discussions about BIM Managers’ job descriptions have we seen this past year?  Too many to count...  A sign that Building Information Modeling and Virtual Construction is no longer "a trend,” assigned to someone in the company with an interest in "CAD and computers,” who can do this on the side. It is now taken seriously, in many cases by completely transforming the way that preconstruction and production processes are being managed.
I predict that the BIM Manager will begin to do more than manage models, and start to manage how the project stakeholders interact with them, how they drive better, more integrated processes, and how they enable new efficiencies for the GC.  I predict that the GC’s BIM Strategy will be focused on 4D, 5D, and 6D, and how all departments contribute. This is in stark contrast to planning the upgrade to the newest release of boxed software.
BIM Will Redefine Business Processes
Like I was saying above, I predict that the BIM Manager's responsibility reaches much farther than design coordination and constructability management.  BIM is more than 3D models: the cost and schedule data aspects are closely related and have to be considered to take full advantage of integrated 5D data. To accomplish integration and obtain more powerful tools for project management, the BIM Manager will be one of the main orchestrators of a redefined business process for construction firms.
As the Director of Customer Success here at Vico, I get to dive into our customers’ projects.  And what I see over and over again on our 5D projects is that the preconstruction schedules and estimates are not thrown away – rather they are refined by operations and updated with real-time information out on the jobsite.  This is the 5D BIM Workflow that results from each piece of data being so tightly integrated with its downstream actions.  The BIM model geometry determines the quantities.  The quantities by location and the Subs’ productivity rates determine the durations.  The schedule plus the material and labor costs determine the estimate.  Tracking the progress onsite keeps us on-schedule and on-budget. 
ERP and BIM Will Be Connected
ERP needs BIM inputs.  Budgets, schedules, and resource requirements are all products of 5D Building Information Models and required inputs for ERP systems.  And many construction firms have acquired these ERP systems and are rolling them out.  Why would anyone want to manually input data when we can integrate the entire process?


BIM Outputs Are ERP Inputs


I predict that 2012 will be the year that these two technology platforms are connected.  The ERP will be fed with the location-based input and visual 3D feedback which makes the 5D planning data available for operations.  Even something as simple as the accounting clerk being notified by super on the jobsite that the steel sub can be paid because the last beam is in place is an incredible efficiency.  Now imagine that multiplied across all of the GC’s projects and you see why the combination of ERP and BIM is inevitable.


It's going to be an interesting year - I am definitely looking forward to it.  Happy 2012!

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Virtual Construction Engineers Wanted!


Did you reconnect with your college friends during the Thanksgiving Holiday?


Do you have a friend or family member who is the type of person that just gets software and can use it to its full potential in no time?  Do you have someone you call everytime you need to troubleshoot a computer issue?


Vico is looking for a new team member with exactly that type of quality to join our fast-paced global company as a Virtual Construction Engineer and work with our customers around the world.


As a Virtual Construction Engineer, you:


  1. Become part of our internal team of experts who design and test real-world environments and work flows;
  2. Provide on-site and web-based training to new Vico customers, manage follow-up assignments and certification;
  3. Provide technical support for Vico's customers around the world;
  4. Perform software demonstrations to new client prospects for both the Vico direct sales team and Vico resellers worldwide;
  5. Develop software support and implementation tools such as documentation, tutorials, blog articles, etc.


Do you have what it takes to become part of the BIM/Virtual Construction revolution? 

  • IT experience with networks, firewalls, database systems, software installation, computer problem-solving
  • Excellent customer support skills and problem-solving abilities
  • Excellent CRM skills
  • Prior experience in a B2B software company


Check out the Virtual Construction Engineer job description on the website and then contact us for more information!

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BIM Is Bigger than You Think


At Vico, we believe that BIM involves much more than just creating a 3D model and spinning it around on the screen. It might be better defined as a new, integrated construction planning and management methodology, also referred to as Virtual Construction. Although 3D coordination is an extremely valuable capability that many firms have adapted by now, we think that it is only the beginning of planning and managing construction projects in a more efficient, effective and understandable way.


Therefore, when we started the development of our BIM Score Calculator, we began by defining the aspects (or areas of proficiency) that we believe should be part of an integrated construction planning and management approach, which ranges from design team engagement to cost and schedule planning and project/enterprise management.


The 7 categories of BIM proficiency include:


                1. Portfolio and Project Management

                2. Cost Planning

                3. Cost Controlling

                4. Schedule Planning

                5. Production Controlling

                6. Design Coordination

                7. Design Team Engagement


7 aspects of BIM performance measurement


Portfolio and Project Management involves the creation and use of project status reports that provide managers insight in planned versus actual progress, material and resource usage, as well as forecasts based on the performance so far. Portfolio Management contains a roll up of this type of reports to the enterprise level.


Cost Planning is the evolution of estimating into a more proactive methodology to calculate and report projected cost, using the integration and cooperation with the design discipline to provide rapid and more frequent feedback to partners and owners.


Cost Controlling goes along with Cost Planning and is used to determine current status of the project's cost, as compared to earlier versions, as well as a set of cost targets per building system.


The integrated approach for Schedule Planning is more than just drawing bars that reflect the expected (desired?) duration of a task, which results in just an uncoordinated "window of opportunity" for subcontractors that come on board in a later stage.  It determines the amount of work by using BIM quantities per location and applying production rates obtained by measuring performance in previous and current projects.


Production Controlling using BIM means checking completion of the project per location, and deriving the actual progress from quantities rather than guesstimates. This actual production is then fed back into the baseline schedule to reforecast the entire job – based on progress to date. This means valuable real-time feedback for more accurate forecasting and decision making.


Most companies who have tried BIM today are already familiar with the Design Coordination category:  clash detections are run on the sets of trade models and issues are resolved by working with the various parties involved, to create a coordinated 3D model for all trades. Design Coordination also involves change management and constructability reviews.


Lastly, planning and organizing your design, cost, and schedule content to connect seamlessly and defining a process that all parties follow during the design phases of the project falls in the Design Team Engagement category.


For all of the categories, we have developed three questions: one about use of software, one about best practices and processes, and one question about the level of integration with other categories.


When you answer the three questions per seven aspects, the calculator cranks out your BIM Score.


We send you a detailed report after completing the questions in the survey.  We also point out areas where we think you have a "gap" between your current situation and potential BIM use. The maximum score is 100 points – so go to our website to calculate your BIM Score and let me know what you think!


My colleagues have also penned some interesting articles on the topic:




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Make Vico Your Trusted Partner for 5D BIM Success


In previous my role in Vico's Product Management, I have met with many customers to talk with them about their ideas about Virtual Construction, our software and our concepts. During these meetings, one point that consistently came up is why it is sometimes difficult to “get over the hump” of implementation. Typical feedback was, “we are too busy with our day jobs to create a good plan to get this rolled out and make it standard practice."


In my role as Director of Customer Success, my team and I are addressing exactly this problem: we took what we learned from our customers and developed a comprehensive plan to empower the organization with training, support, and one-on-one care, all built into a one-year “curriculum," that will help your organization adopt these new tools and processes.


Oftentimes we will hear from CMs and GCs during our first meeting with them that they have tried the prescribed couple seats of modeling software and clash detection, but there just isn’t a burst of new efficiencies or capabilities like they expected.  In some cases, creating a BIM Department and outfitting them with hardware and software has even been a sinkhole of time and money.


There has to be more to BIM than just hardware and software, after all, it’s about sharing information and accelerating project success.  Having performed over 400 BIM projects around the world during the past five years, we have codified what makes firms successful with BIM: discipline, executive support, and a trusted partner.  And we’ve turned our findings into our Customer Success Plan for your team.


The Vico Customer Success Plan is a one-year commitment to 5D BIM.  Your company agrees to proper training and support, unique executive workshops, specialized consulting, mentoring, and peer review.  Vico agrees to keep your momentum rolling throughout the year, building upon installation, implementation, training, and project success.  Together, this commitment results in your 5D BIM success.  Here are the key components:


Discipline.  Successful firms don’t dabble in BIM – they consume it, they inhale it.  It isn’t one department’s responsibility – it is pervasive throughout the firm.  Yes, there are going to be growing pains and agita over some new workflows and different ways of sharing project data, but as soon as you see the “big picture,” you know it’s worth it.


The Customer Success Plan includes corporate training plans involving each department.  This training isn’t about where to move your mouse and click, though!  This training illustrates the 5D BIM Workflow through each department and out to the field.  The training includes separate follow-up assignments, grading, and mentoring, resulting in certification. 


The workshops designed for the implementation phase help your team to build upon the knowledge gained during the training sessions, and help you customize the 5D Processes for optimal results in your organization.


Executive Support.  5D BIM isn’t a purchase order.  It’s a decision to change the company workflow – how you pursue projects, how you perform projects, and how you leverage your firm’s experience and talent.  And that requires backing. 


We are keenly aware of this and have developed Executive Workshops to help your management team see where their expertise and leadership is needed.  To quote Vico’s own CEO, “Those who lead the change [to 5D BIM] and those who embrace the change must become the positive examples in your company that others are inspired to follow.”


A Trusted Partner.  We probably have one or two people in our lives who hold our feet to the fire when it comes to commitments and goals.  That’s the same approach Vico takes.  We coach you through the challenges of deployment and adoption.  We’re with you every step of the way to make you both accountable and successful.


Our Customer Success Plan includes quarterly goals with monthly progress reports.  We are doggedly consumed with your success and will keep you on track, despite the inevitable fire drills that come up during your year-to-year operations.


Learn more about our Customer Success Plan and see if it makes sense for your firm.  When you’re ready to get serious about transforming your team, we’re ready to help.

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Organizing Your Revit Model to Create Useful Takeoff Quantities in Vico Office


It is often the case that the team that is responsible for creating a building model in Revit is not in the same office or even in the same company as the team who will be taking advantage of the model-based quantity takeoff capabilities of BIM. The consequence of the missing communication between "producing" party and "consuming" party is that the naming of model content may not be optimal for use in construction quantity takeoff, cost planning and model-based schedule planning.


Vico Office provides 3 property options that can be used for the creation of Takeoff Items (groups of similar elements for which quantities are aggregated) from Revit models: "Family", "Family Type" and "Mark".


Family and Family Type are often used to define and organize a company's Revit element library and may or may not be a good way to name elements in the model so that Takeoff Items can be created for optimal use in cost and schedule planning.


The third option - "Mark" - is very suitable as a solution to prepare the Revit model for use in Vico Office without having to change any of the Family or Family Type names. The steps below explain a quick and straightforward way to do this, using Revit's "Schedule" functionality.


To begin, select the "Schedule/Quantities" function from the "View" ribbon.


Using Revit Schedule Functionality 1



Define a new schedule that contains the information that you need to assign a "Mark" description - the future name of your Takeoff Item in Vico Office.


Schedule Properties in Revit 2


Next, on the "Sorting/Grouping" tab in the "Schedule Properties" dialog, group the model content by the properties that should determine how they are going to be quantified in Vico Office. Make sure to uncheck the "Itemize every instance" option.


Sorting Grouping Revit Schedule Properties 3


After clicking "OK", a table appears that shows the content of your model, grouped by the criteria selected in the "Sorting/Grouping" tab. A "Mark" description can now be assigned quickly and easily by just typing it into the "Mark" column.


Multi Category Schedule Worksheet in Revit 4


When selecting an element in the model, the entered information will be visible in the "Properties" palette.


Revit Properties Palette 5


Items that do not have a "Mark" value will be activated and visible in Vico Office, but will not be assigned to any Takeoff Item. (They can be found by using a view filter, using the "Show Only Unassigned" option.)


After publishing to Vico Office, activate the model with only the "Mark" option selected.


Activate Revit Model in Vico Office 6


Your quantity takeoff is now ready for use in Cost Components and Schedule Tasks.


Quantity Takeoff via Revit Mark in Vico Office 7


Please let me know if this has been useful and what other approaches you have come up with to make sure that the quantity takeoff potential of BIM can be used in your firm!


This and many more tips can be found in the Vico Office Cost Planner video training series.


And don't forget to read my colleague's blog on the broader topic, What Can Be Done to Improve Model Fidelity.

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