BIM is Simple

The question I hear the most from people is “Why does BIM fail in some companies?” The most straightforward answer is too much complexity and not enough education. BIM is most successful in companies that understand the value it provides: this value is unlocked when implementation is simple to understand and incorporate.  

If your team wants to use BIM, you have to start slowly, and make sure that everyone has a chance to learn why and how your system functions. This is key to full adoption. Your team may have different levels of expertise and understanding, but the right kind of education will help them work together successfully.

 So: what do you need to educate your team? The first thing is thoughtfully creates documentation. I like to create my documentation and my curriculum’s around the idea I’m trying to explain BIM to my Grandma. She is far from stupid, but she needs background information to understand how BIM works.

 Usually when we start a new job, BIM leaders will create a standard BIM execution plan and standard procedures for the tools. So, by all means go ahead and create that 60 page all encompassing BIM execution plan. Now proudly put your bound manual at the back of a drawer: it’s time for some serious editing.

This is based on a project example I received:

      • Reduce the 13 page introduction on the purpose, objectives, goals, definitions, references.. blah blah. You need 1 page of why and how for your project. 
      • Reduce 8 pages of BIM contacts to 1 page. List each person only once. If you wouldn’t contact them to talk about technical model problems, take them off the list.
      • BIM Goals and BIM uses should only be one half of page.
      • Cut BIM Tools to one page: list only tools being used and how information should be transferred.
      • Remove the BIM use Deliverable Process: Think about the necessities on the project.
      • Remove IT Requirements – I personally never understood why this belongs in the BIM execution plan, if you are doing BIM you likely have all the required IT.

 

Now that you have a simplified BIM execution plan, test it on your first project by asking these simple questions:

      • Do all parties understand BIM? 
        • If not, time for an overview presentation to the whole project team. The introduction to BIM should be as simple as the videos you find online about “What is BIM”
      • Do all parties understand the BIM goals? 
        • Make sure the whole project team understands what the BIM goals are and why you are requiring them. When you get a team that doesn’t understand and believes you are wasting their time the project will suffer and the model will suffer.
      • Why are we requiring specific levels of BIM and LOD? 
      • Does the client understand why this project is being modeled to the selected Levels? Does the team understand?If not, it’s time for a presentation that clearly explains the difference between LOD 200 and LOD 500 or Level 1 BIM and Level 3 BIM.

 It’s important to focus on what you need to get done, but make sure you are also addressing team concerns, like what is the purpose of each component? Always ask these questions to make sure whatever you’re doing is simple and easy to use.

 If you take a bunch of users that have been in AutoCAD their whole lives and you throw them in a Revit project as it should be delivered,  you’re going to have a lot of issues if the BIM part is not made very clear to your team. Focus on little steps: little steps make things easier for your team, and doing things simply means that you get the project done quickly, on time, and under budget… which means you prevent future issues from the future and there are less problems moving forward.

If you want your first BIM project using Revit to be successful, start simple.  Make it easy. Help your team understand. With this, you will have the best foundation possible for an on-time and on-budget BIM project delivery.

buildingSMART International Summit

When I first jumped into BIM and worked to understand what it all meant I quickly realized the array of tools could be an issue. I found the buildingSMART.org website and dove in reading about a worldwide industry body driving digital transformation of the built asset industry. Imagine an organization that brings the worlds visionaries in the built environment industry. After being a part of teams that continually fought over internal company standards and how to protect people from stealing them yet getting others to use them it was refreshing to read about a collaborative community from around the world.

My recent move to an international company gave me the opportunity to attend one of the summits held twice a year. This year I was able to attend the spring session held in Dusseldorf Germany.

buildingSMART Dusseldorf

buildingSMART focuses on standardizing processes, workflows and procedures for BIM on a worldwide stage. We are a community of volunteers from around the world made up of industry users who have a passion in BIM and want to create Open Standards. I could spend several blog posts discussing the value and the goals of buildingSMART so please take a look at their website to see if your company would like to submit a project for use case, or better yet,  win an award.

The Spring Summit began with an opening Plenary. There were 4 keynote lectures:

1st Keynote lecture: Industry insights on the state of digitization by Carsten Lotz (McKinsey & Company),

2nd Keynote lecture: Digital Twin for buildings by Peter Löffler (VP Innovation and Industry Affairs, Siemens Building Technologies),

3rd Keynote lecture: The Digital Twin for Infrastructure by Mark Enzer (CTO Mott MacDonald)

4th keynote lecture: Future of Cloud Technology by Andy Verone (Global VP Industry Strategy and Innovation, Oracle).

Being able to hear from different technology companies from around the world helps give perspective.

The second and third day are about ‘Rooms’, the rooms are divided into 2 categories; Technical Focus and User Focus.

The Technical Focus Rooms includes; (from the buildingSMART website)

Building Room’s core mission is to create open digital standards and solutions by enabling intelligent data that either contributes to the planning, design and construction of buildings, or the ongoing operations and maintenance. This will enable process and data integration for the buildings for the entire lifecycle.

Infrastructure Room’s purpose is to combine, enhance and develop open standards for intelligent data, which enable process and data integration for infrastructure.

Product Room’s purpose is the development and provision of processes, templates, tools and functionality to enable the robust and efficient use of the product data, relevant third party standards, classification system and other forms of structure content for openBIM

Technical Room has overall responsibility to explore and coordinate the investigation and where desirable facilitate buildingSMART’s engagement with fundamental technical advancements which may enhance or accelerate the provision of robust openBIM solutions to users.

 

The User Focus Rooms includes; (from the buildingSMART website)

Airport Room’s purpose is to develop and deploy open digital standards for the airport environment. The unification of digital airport standards will enable more efficient working form the common supply chain and create a uniform approach to the industry.

Construction Room’s purpose is to advance site productivity, lower construction costs, and improve construction safety through the use of BIM and the application of open data standards.

Railway Room’s purpose is to accelerate and exploit new digital opportunities for railway systems and create a comprehensive and applicable digital representation of the entire railway ecosystem that will support all phases of the lifecycle.

Regulatory Room’s purpose is helping project owners and regulatory authorities benefit from the use of openBIM.

There is also a bSI General Room where we received updates and overviews of what bSI is implementing and working on. Each of the rooms have a steering committee to create the work goals and remits of the room. Going to the rooms give us the opportunity to hear where they are headed, ask questions and give any feedback they require.

In order to advance the notion of OpenBIM we need to collaborate as a whole. Getting everyone from around the globe who are passionate about open standards and getting the industry to move forward is exciting.

 

Industrial AR/VR Forum Skype Presentation

I go to Autodesk University almost every year. It’s a great way to keep up with BIM trends and people, and I love learning about all the new things they are working on. A couple of years ago, I played with an AR app they had in the Hub. Ever since then I have wanted to learn how to create an app for my company that would project a building on a client logo. Unfortunately, I’m not good at learning through Youtube or by reading books online; I need someone watching and showing me.

So, late last year I looked up a class I had heard about at the AR/VR Summit held here in Vancouver BC called “VR/AR Development with Unity” by Circuit Stream. There are two classes a week, and it’s geared to anyone who wants to learn Unity and create VR/AR apps. This class also gives the student 1 class a week spent one-on-one with a trainer who helps develop your app with VR or AR. I loved the class, and think it’s fantastic.  I learned how to use Unity and to program actions in the scenes. The class showed me what was possible and how to get there. The class includes 20 online sessions online – my class has 4 students. I had never used Unity prior to the first session, but by the end of that session I was able to create a landscape.

Circuit Stream approached me a few months ago to talk about my experience in their online class, and I was delighted to present at the Industrial AR/VR Forum held in Houston on Monday March 4th. It was a pleasure to support Circuit Stream and their AR/VR Unity class.

Unfortunately I was unable to go to the conference as I already had a vacation booked to New York City with my Mom, and we all know vacation comes first. The conference was very accommodating by allowing me to Skype in so I would be able to promote this fantastic class.

My opportunity to talk about Circuit Stream was focused on:

    1. What I was building
    2. Why I was building it
    3. My experience with the class

1. What I was building:

My first goal was to develop an app that would allow the client to “take” the building with them. I wanted to find a way that I could get their business card or another graphic to show them their building. Once I started to learn Unity and and understand this idea was possible I moved into  building a floor plate and developing sliders to cut through the model. I am continuing this work during my one-on-one instructor time.

2.Why I was building it:

I’m always looking for a way to improve my ability to sell our design and concepts to the clients with 3D representation. A few years ago I was introduced to the idea of AR and VR in our industry, and since then I’ve been thinking about ways I could use this technology to help advance our firm. It is very difficult for our clients to visualize the end product or even understand what we are trying to accomplish with our design.

3. My experience with the class:

When I started this class, I had never opened Unity. I can now create AR and VR apps. Now I know how the software works I’ve got lots of new ideas about what I can create. The online class format lets you ask questions and work through problems you are having on the homework as a class, which makes the learning fun. The students in my class had different backgrounds and so asked questions I had never thought of, which helped me think differently and understand several parts of Unity.

Once I’ve completed the class I am going to focus on my own VR app that will let my client to see how equipment works in their space. Proving design concept is key for owner/client approval. Now I can put a headset on a client and show them that the 60 ton and 20 ton crane have enough room to lift the enormous Rad from the ship and put it in the maintenance area (for example) – this is going to make it a lot easier to get their approval.

Unity is a powerful tool, and harnessing that power to give clients better access and understanding to the project has been a goal of mine for several years. Thanks to this class from Circuit Stream I now understand how Unity works and how I can use it to better explain my projects to my clients.

 

Creating my BIM Manual Part 1

In my last post BIM Manager Superstar I talked about my presentation for Ideate Software. My presentation touched on the creation of my BIM Manual. As I mentioned in my last post I will begin to explore the creation of my BIM Manual for Infrastructure Engineering, Complex Buildings.  

Although it may not cover every situation, your BIM manual should outline what happens at each step of your project. It should also include standard contractual deliverables from your firm. For example, your office may decide that every project created will deliver 4 rendered elevations, or all projects must be capable of O&M handoff.

Putting this part of the BIM Manual together is a team effort. The contract language for BIM should be discussed and understood by those doing proposals and reviewed and discussed with BIM Manager.

Your manual should start with BIM Use deliverables in contracts. Next, you will need a section that covers non-standard BIM Uses. In my BIM Manual I have two sections for each.

BM_BIM Use Standard

BM_BIM Use Extra

Being flexible with your BIM Manual will allow your firm to be adaptable during new BIM requirements from clients and government entities.

One of the best ways to achieve this flexibility is to list deliverables without specifying software. Don’t tie your Manual to a single tool. Make your tools work towards the deliverables and come up with processes and workflows to use them effectively.

For example I used Revit server setup by my IT department. Each Revit Server has to be on a separate Windows Server in order to maintain project security. There are specific security settings the IT department setup and maintain in order to secure the projects. Once BIM360 became our preferred resource we removed the Revit Server workflow in our BIM Manual and replaced it with a BIM360 workflow. I did not have to change any of the information in the BIM Manual; I only had to replace the Revit Server worksheet with the BIM360 worksheet.

The key to every BIM Manual is keep your manual flexible enough to be universally applicable to all the types of project in which your office is involved.

BIM Manager Superstar

A few months ago Ideate came to me and asked if I would give a presentation on how I use their tools for my projects. Given I love to share and help others, I agreed. I discussed how to create a BIM Manual and use Ideate tools to help maintain my BIM standards.

The presentation BIM Manager Superstar was very well received, with some great positive comments.

Laura’s explanation of how to create a standard process made a lot of sense. That with how she used Ideate tools to get productivity out of the workflow helped me better understand what I can do to improve my own BIM process. Tadeh Hakopian, HKS

It was a great presentation. we are already using ideate. This presentation gave me more confidence to work with the software more. thanks Laura. Janhavi Padalkar, MC

Just a fangirl and wanted to say hi to Laura Kay Smith 🙂 Jennifer Thomas, VIATechnik

The section on BimLink was useful. I’ve had a hard time understanding the usefulness of this tool, but Laura’s example helped me to understand. Melissa Hansen, Tiscareno

I like seeing how she combines both bimlink and sticky to get accurate information in the correct format. Erica Spicer, Gensler (she’s the one asking if they can hire the programmer 😊)

I found value in her problem solving skills. She has given me ideas to further leverage Ideate Software. Doran Smith, Limbach Engineering and Design Services

The BIM manual suggestions were very helpful. Gustavo Amaris, Severud Associates

I like what she said about you kind of have to get lost in potential solutions to figure out what works for you and your workflow.  Not one answer for everyone. Travis Vaughan, Klai Juba Wald

Thanks to Ideate for giving me the opportunity to share. This presentation made me think more about what goes into creating a BIM Manual.  and since I have received lots of questions on this topic I will explore the creation of my current BIM Manual at my new firm in my next posts.

Collaboration of the Many

OPEN BIM is a universal approach to the collaborative design, realization, and operation of buildings based on open standards and workflows. OPEN BIM is an initiative of several leading software vendors using the open buildingSMART Data Model.

I am a strong believer in helping all colleagues, going to conferences, and networking to better understand what others are doing in the field of BIM. I find asking questions and having conversations about the processes I am working on and how my role works helps me learn about approaches I would never have considered, and this in turn makes me better at my job.

A couple of weeks ago at Autodesk University I was having a beer and conversation with a couple of colleges. One had never been to AU and was talking in amazement about people presenting their projects, process, or workflows. He was amazed people would be so willing to share. The other colleague and I had been to AU several times in the past, and better understand why someone will stand in front of a crowd of strangers and present ideas that might be valuable if kept to themselves: sharing makes us better.

Resources, information, processes, and workflows all start somewhere.  Sharing your work makes everyone advance. My friend, Rodigo Freig, told us a story about his first Revit project and how he started out. He explained that while working on this project he was struggling using Revit. Another colleague of his knew a structural technician using Revit, Michael W. Sullivan and said that Rodigo should give him a call. Rodrigo followed through. Michael didn’t just offer to help Rodigo – he invited Rodigo to his office for a discussion and information session on how he was using and implementing Revit in his firm. Even though they were competing companies, neither were worried about intellectual property or had any problems with open collaboration.

When BIM managers from several different companies and disciplines get together to collaborate and share out workflow and process, magic happens. These opportunities move us forward to create a better BIM environment in our industries. These discussions enable us to share information between companies and share ideas which is the key to Open BIM.  This is what makes us move forward and makes us better.

I want to share the knowledge I have to help people in the BIM community. Sometimes I get pushback from my own office: there is a lot of discussion on intellectual property. I get a lot of questions on why my company would let me tell people what I do.  I usually respond that while I share my ideas, only my office has me, my style, my routine and my process, and that’s what makes my company successful.

Today’s projects are riskier than they used to be: they are more complicated and require more information. The tools, processes and workflows used today are different then they have been in the past. This collaboration of the many helps ease this risk and create a leaner and more

Value of BIM Support

Understanding your value and the value you bring to the firm is an important piece of providing quality BIM Management.

As a BIM manager It is likely you will find you are undervalued and the service you provide are not considered an integral part of the business. Some of you may get lucky and find a manager that understands your value and the importance of BIM and what you bring to the firm, but that is rare.

Throughout my career I have worked as a CAD Manager, Consultant, and BIM Manager. Each of those roles come with a challenge to prove my worth. From the start of my career I have heard comments like “the company sure is wasting money on your position.” Or “I can’t believe the company pays you.” Of course I hear the negative comments far less often than positive comments. The positive comments always consist of two simple ideas: “how could I have done that without you?” and “you saved me so much time.” I hear this from the staff I support and help day after day. People who work with the tools and process day in and day out understand my value and the need for BIM Support. Management, on the other hand tend to look at my role simply as overhead and the value I can bring to the projects. Of course management tends to have a different idea of value from the users.

So today’s question is: how do we show our value to Management? There seems to be a lack of return on investment (ROI) help out there for BIM Support, so let’s provide proof of our worth so management can understand where our value lies.

First Step: try to get costs for the following on a job you did not support:

  1. Design coordination
  2. Time spent remodeling
  3. Consultant coordination
  4. Document coordination
  5. Visualization of any kind, even if you are just providing backgrounds for others to work with.

Second Step: compare these numbers with a job that DID have your support. You may find that design coordination time was a bit shorter, or that less time was spent remodeling.

Third step: try to track if any items used in previous jobs have been used in other projects. Your team might be able to help you with this. It’s likely that components you helped develop have spread to other projects, or that the page setup or typical details have been quietly saved to be used by another team.  It may take a few projects for your value to become clear: as team members start to absorb your training and use the tools and files you have developed with them, their work becomes more streamlined. Find out if your office is developing any similar projects to the one you supported, and talk to this team: can you see how your support is affecting how they work?

It can be difficult to quantify time savings, so try to note when team members mention they are using your technique on a different project, or mention that they have saved a component to their desktop. Each time your work is reused and shared, it saves your team time (and money!). Work done by a truly great BIM manager will stand the test of time: even years after you have left an office, your files might still be used.

Fourth step: look at the breakdown of your time. Is it hard to get work done because people keep interrupting you? That’s actually a great sign. You may want to keep notes of what kind of help people need: in addition to being able to point out how you saved time for each of these people, you may find that there is a common thread in questions that you can address either with a new tool or more information.

Always remember on your journey whenever you feel under appreciated and wonder what is wrong with your manager, remember their focus is usually value-for-money. When you can show your value (and give them the tools to show your value to their boss), you help them see support saves money.