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10 Things Every BIM Manager Should Know



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.


Klorman Staff reviewing Model Issues 475

Caption: BIM Managers need to see their role as the quarterback position - understanding how and when to apply different BIM workflows on their projects.


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. For an example of this, please see the recorded webinar on Hoar Construction’s and their adoption of the Trimble Customer Success Plan.


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.  What kinds of case studies are your peers publishing?  What kinds of case studies are your vendors publishing?  Consider comparing the two at an AGC BIMForum
conference like Miami or Denver.


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.  For an example of this, please see the recorded webinar on Reporting in Vico Office.  If these are the types of deliverables you’re after, consider upping your game.


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.  We even saw on Friday’s webinar that you’ll start creating 3D BIMs from laser scanning point clouds!  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. By mastering the MPS LOD Playbook and understanding how to roll out Primitives on your next project, you’ll be at the cutting edge of BIM project planning.


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 a model version comparison process to identify changes in construction drawing sets and models.  Basically, you’ll be clearing up clashes and identifying missing information before it ever becomes part of the project workflow.  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 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.  Look at ways you can harness this information from past projects, too, always learning from what worked and what
didn’t.  Learn how past project data can be shared between Modelogix and Prolog and used for quality control on new projects.  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.


Trimble Community,what’s your advice to BIM Managers?  Post your comments to this blog below.  And then be sure to check out my colleague's predictions about the BIM Manager's changing role.


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

Blog: The BIM Washers Versus the Real Deal

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


We also offer a step-by-step guide to our 5D virtual construction workflow with video tutorials. These videos are just 2-5 minutes in length, but illustrate how to use a particular piece of functionality. You can access the video library index and view just what you need, or download the complete set of training videos. We have training videos for Estimators, Schedulers, Supers, and anyone who does CM Reporting.


Regarding number 4 - how is anyone reaching the level of BIM manager without having a solid previous construction field experience? It should be one criterion for the BIM manager position, not something he can learn after he/she is hired. 
Posted @ Tuesday, November 09, 2010 11:09 AM by Elena
Elena, yes it's sad that this is the case in some places but at the contractors where I have worked there aren't many field guys that are interested, tech savvy or have the time to learn 'BIM' let alone all of the parts mentioned in this blog that are actually valuable!
Posted @ Tuesday, November 09, 2010 10:24 PM by Jacob
Jacob, I've worked both for a big engineering company and a general contractor one and in both cases I was encouraged to spend as much time as possible in the field - so no, don't bring the field guys in the office, make your office people go in the field and learn. Only after one does that, as a designer, one can move to the next logical step in the career, CAD/BIM manager. I would never hire a CAD/BIM manager, no matter how good, if all he/she knows is the software part. 
Posted @ Wednesday, November 10, 2010 1:06 PM by Elena
Owners want "faster, better, cheaper" projects."  
BIM is a very good approach to understanding lots about "putting a building together" by a good modeler, and then linking a construction sequence and costing. But if you read the 10 tips, most of it is about "good communication" of information and change management. BIM can assist with both of those, but LEAN thinking should begin the process of improvement of construction. As a simple example, RFI's show communication errors, yet not many contractors work to eliminate RFI's because they are often financially valuable for the contractor and subcontractor. So the architect and/or engineers gets pulled in, communication becomes circular, and the schedule lags. LEAN would suggest improve the process to eliminate the RFI. So BIM should eliminate the RFI (i.e. improve the communication-- that is--speed up the process) prior to construction.  
The LEAN "flowline" scheduling (#8)is valuable in that it identifies a productivity per unit time (I call it a production vector or production velocity) that allows an understanding of rates or speed of production. The are not visible on traditional CPM schedules. So flowline is about understanding how to increase speed. Yet speed is inverse to rework. So a LEAN thought might to eliminate rework. First measure what the rework is and eliminate the cause. BIM helps sequence work correctly. LEAN thinking helps identify the value of BIM.
Posted @ Wednesday, November 17, 2010 9:32 AM by Thomas Hartmann
I like "LEAN thinking helps identify the value of BIM"
Posted @ Wednesday, November 17, 2010 5:29 PM by Jason Hatch
I am currently a PM with 15 years of field experience. I am very interested in becoming a BIM manager. Any ideas or direction as to where I can obtain the CAD/BIM training I need to accomplish this?
Posted @ Tuesday, January 04, 2011 8:11 AM by Glen Moore
Hi Glen, 
The first step is to check your local community college for BIM modeling courses. You already have field experience, so you're ahead of the game! 
Here are some additional resources that you can find on our website: 
1.) 2009 BIM SmartMarket Report >>  
2.) 2010 BIM SmartMarket Report >>  
3.) Google for the McGraw-Hill BIM SmartMarket Report for European adoption rates 
4.) The D’s of BIM >>  
5.) The BIM Checklist >> 
6.) The BIM Master Class Series >> 
And be sure to check-in with your local AGC chapter. They also offer seminars and discounted training classes. And then for networking, consider the Vico LinkedIn Group, the AGC BIMForum, and your local construction roundtables. 
Good luck with the transition!
Posted @ Wednesday, January 05, 2011 10:32 AM by Holly Allison
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