Construction Management Software covers a broad expanse of roles and responsibilities. The key, however, is integration -- and how that integration is leveraged so one department's work feeds another throughout the entire organization.
Some people believe that BIM is only a model used for visualization. However, let's remember the "I" in BIM is the differentiator between models...between software packages...and between construction firms.
As the BIM acronym implies, much Information can be added to a simple 3D model, making it rich and ripe for many constituents. Visualization is the most cited benefit, but the benefits don't stop there:
Constructability and Coordination. Just as a car manufacturer needs to see if a door will fit properly on the frame, many BIM models can be compared against each other for interference and intersections where two planes clash. You can also check your models against building codes checklists to make sure you are in compliance. Resolving these issues in preconstruction results in more offsite prefabrication, tighter schedules without crew pile-ups, and fewer change orders.
Planning and Scheduling. By understanding the productivity rates, crew sizes, materials, and quantities by location, you can develop an optimal construction schedule, hedged for potential disruptions such as weather or a material delay!
Estimating. Cost plans can be developed from the conceptual phase and reiterated
as more and more information is learned about the project.
Budgeting. As an Owner's vision hones in on the final product, showing when, where, and which decisions are triggering an over-budget situation can help reign in design scope creep.
Earned Value Analysis. Cash flow management and predictability are key to any job site, especially when margins are thin. The model and schedule plan shows you exactly how much progress each trade should accomplish by a certain date, thus identifying created value.
Production Control. Making a plan and schedule are only half the battle. Sticking to that plan is quite another feat. Again the BIM model can be used to predict conflicts, alleviate them with alternate crew sizes/speeds, and keep the project flow organized.
LEED Points. Because we're working with a model tied to a database, all elements can be marked with their appropriate LEED rating/value. These points can be tallied, and even presented to show the cost/benefit/lifetime efficiency for green decisions. Owners can compare the energy analyses of different materials and structures with the construction budget and building lifecycle budget. Daylighting studies can influence material choices, too.
Seismic Bracing. How can we make buildings safer for earthquake activity, bomb blasts, hazardous material spills? These items can be modeled, analyzed, costed, etc.
Field Integration. BIM models can be so precise as to include the exact hangers and bracings, penetrations and sleeves. This information can be transferred to a Trimble LM80 and shot onsite with the robotic Total Station.
True 5D BIM extends the geometry of 3D CAD and enriches it with other critical information. How will you leverage the integration to your advantage? How will you do BIM?