Does the Commercial Construction Industry Need the BIM SAT's?

Posted by Mark Sawyer on Mar 11, 2009 4:07:00 PM
My seventeen year old son, a junior in high school, is in the midst of his PSAT's, SAT's, ACT's and all manner of prep for what will largely determine his college choices next year. (For the benefit of my international colleagues - these are standard exams in the US that are used by our colleges and universities to determine a student applicant's suitability for enrollment. An exam score is not the only factor considered when a college accepts or rejects a student's application, but it is unquestionably one of the most important factors informing their decision. The higher the student's score, the further down the road he is to "Accepted" at his college of choice.)


So knowing that I'm a BIM-for-Construction geek, you can see where this is going.  Thankfully (and I mean that on multiple levels, :)) there are now many builders around the world with deep experience in BIM. And there is a rapidly growing appreciation for that expertise within the owner/developer community. But when choosing a contractor how does an Owner ascertain the difference between a builder who talks a good BIM story (my son would call these firms, the "posers") and one who actually practices what they market (continuing with my family's dad would call these firms, the "genuine article")? You have to admit, in the pursuit phase a poser can make his facile stuff look pretty good.


Well if the Owner is the equivalent of the College Admissions Office - deciding who to accept and who to reject - then the pursuing contractor is the equivalent of the student hoping to score well on the entrance exam. Don't we need some kind of scoring mechanism so that the posers and the genuine articles are easily differentiated? The manufacturing supply chain did this with ISO9000 in their pursuit of constantly improving quality. The software industry did this with CMM in order to bring some science to bear in qualifying vendors and software outsourcers. (Version 1.0 of the Capability Maturity Model, or CMM, was developed by the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. SEI continues to expand the model for process improvement. And, perhaps closer to all of us, the US Green Building Council did this with LEED rating systems.


What do you think? I'm asking builders, architects, owners/developers, engineers, construction managers, and subcontractors alike. Should we leave one's "BIM Maturity" or "BIM Rating" open to persuasive argument, or should we entertain the idea of an independent rating or certification? Such a score would not be the only factor considered when an owner awards a contract, but it could be one of the more important factors informing their decision. The higher the contractor's score, the further down the road he is to "Awarded." 


I know my son wishes he could talk his way into Dartmouth. And there is a reason it doesn't work that way.


BIM certification testing


At Vico, we've the BIM Master Class Series to help GCs "cram" for a BIM test.  It's a 7-session series for GCs and Owners to learn more about BIM technologies, methodologies, and best practices, including an in-depth look at contracts, coordination, model-based scheduling, and model-based estimating.  We'll continue to add courses to this series, so stay tuned.


If you want to see how your firm stacks up across seven areas of BIM expertise, please considering calculating your BIM Score.  And let us know if your score is what you expected.


So what say you?  How should the industry reward/distinguish GCs who make an honest investment in BIM?  Please offer your comments or feel free to email me directly.


If you're interested in this topic, you'll also want to research:

Calculator: Determine Your Firm's BIM Score

Blog: BIM Is Bigger Than You Think

Blog: Granite Countertops and BIM

Blog: How Does Your Firm Stack Up with BIM?

Blog: Talk the Talk AND Walk the Walk with BIM

Blog: Differentiating Your Firm with 5D BIM

Blog: BIM Doesn't Come in a Box

Blog: 5D BIM Versus 50-Yard Line Tickets

Blog: The Top 10 Reasons to Do 5D BIM

Blog: The Top 10 Ways to Derail Your BIM Initiatives

Webinar: The BIM Master Class Series

Webpage: The D's of BIM

Webpage: The 5D BIM Checklist

Tags: BIM Certification, 5D BIM, Virtual Design and Construction, BIM for Construction, BIM capabilities, BIM Checklist