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10 Things Every BIM Manager Should Know

Posted by Holly Allison on Fri, Nov 26, 2010 @ 04:09 AM


There’s no denying it – it is very exciting to be in construction today.  Projects are going up around the world that are pushing the envelope with design, materials, and sustainability.  And technology is keep pace: new BIM software makes these massive projects doable – from 3D visualization to construction-caliber quantity takeoff and even Lean scheduling with flowline theory and evolutionary cost planning.


It’s a great time to be a BIM Manager, too.  It’s a chance to carve out strategy with your firm and help everyone with the tools that they need to win new business and successfully execute profitable projects.  It’s a chance to combine your love of construction with the latest technology…and add your own common sense and expand your business acumen.


BIM Managers play a key strategic role for GCs


Too often, though, we’ve seen BIM Managers stumble when they try to introduce BIM to other departments. 


Here is a list of 10 things every BIM Manager should know:


1. Learn early that spinning models can only get you so far.  The true value of BIM has nothing to do with your laptop configuration and having a ripping graphics card.  Develop your communications skills and presentation skills, and above all, listen to the question.  Being a key member of the presentation team is an honor because you are representing your company’s history as well as future.  Treat the future BIM strategy with as much respect as you honor the past.


2. Speaking of strategy, articulate yours.  Many BIM Managers craft a mission statement, post it on the company intranet, and forget about it.  Just as the papers you wrote in high school look dated and antiquated now, so too will your original BIM strategy because the technology is evolving so quickly.  This doesn’t mean, however, that you update your strategy every time a vendor announces a new product.  Know how far you want to take BIM…and then push it farther.


3. You should know the pulse of Owners in your geography and the types of deliverables they need.  Your goal is to balance output: what deliverables will cement your relationships with Owners AND helps your firm deliver a profitable project? Our experience tells us it’s a model tied to budget and schedule so that the Owner can see how a design change impacts cost and time. It’s a constructability report showing the clash and resolution in 2D and 3D. It’s resource-loaded schedules to prove to Subs and the Owner that the schedule works. It’s a work in place report. It’s a cash flow forecast. 


4. Respect your elders and learn all you can from them.  You probably don’t have construction field experience, so learn as much about means and methods as possible.  All the BIM software in the world won’t help you if you don’t have building in your blood.


5. Where do you get your models now? And where will you get them in the future? In our experience, you’re starting to receive models from architects, engineers, and subs, but they are all at different levels of detail.  Start researching the Model Progression Specification and develop a plan for working together with outside firms and partners.  This is an opportunity for you to play a key role in leading these relationships.


6. You have probably defined your firm’s process for clash detection and coordination.  Consider taking it a step backwards AND and a step farther.  Implement a drawing check-in process and identify changes in construction drawing sets before you start modeling them.  Basically, you’ll be clearing up clashes before you ever model them.  Then consider learning about Coordination Resolution and how to run your meetings much more efficiently.


7. Speaking of taking coordination farther…now that you have coordinated models why don’t you use them for model-based quantity takeoff?  The more precise the quantities, the more precise the estimate and schedule.  For example, you could create a quantities by location report which could save your operations crew hundreds of planning hours.  This will help you drive BIM across departments and out to the jobsite.


8. And speaking of the schedule, you are probably asked to create sequencing movies for some pursuits.  Instead of manufacturing a movie to fit an artificial schedule, consider deriving a schedule from the aforementioned construction-caliber quantities by location and introduce a new Lean scheduling technique called flowline


9. So now you have the model geometry and properties from which you can derive the quantities.  Using this information and the model you can help the PM inspect the subs’ bids for accuracy.  Tying together these disciplines with BIM at the core will set your firm apart from others in your geography.


10. Designs and models change ALL the time, so don’t be misled by “linking” instead of “integrating.”  Your BIM information needs to be seamless.  Every time the model changes, your budget and schedule should update automatically.  You should not have to go back and manually update all the links.  That’s not strategy – that’s glueware.  See the big picture and evaluate your IT choices accordingly.


As you can see, there’s a lot riding on your role in the company.  It’s time to stop spinning models and cowboy up.  Buy yourself a copy of The Pocket MBA (or get the iPhone/iPad app) so you can learn how your BIM strategies impact the rest of the business.  Start forming your opinions over what will become commoditized and what you want to keep in-house.  Think about how you can do coordination better.  Consider the role that quantities play in both scheduling and estimating and take a stand.  Respect that adopting new technology is less about learning where to click than learning a better process and how to work in concert with other departments. And know that BIM is about winning new business and keeping the projects profitable.


Step up to the plate, batter, and knock this one out of the park.


Vico Community, what’s your advice to BIM Managers?  Post your comments to this blog below.

Topics: BIM, 3d bim, bim manager, 5D BIM, model progression specification, 4D BIM, construction-caliber quantities