Part 2: Change in the AEC Industry

Today I’d like to talk about how we can help the industry adapt to BIM. This is a big leap, and it’s useful to break down the changes into smaller steps. BIM is a popular idea that isn’t always well understood  and has yet to be fully realized.

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We start our journey to successful BIM implementation at Stage One (Precontemplation). At this stage, firms understand they have to change, but are trying to hold on for a while longer. This is often because they have been misinformed or have had a bad experience using BIM tools. A combination of miscommunication and unrealistic goals have many firms frozen between a desire to adopt new strategies, and a fear of out-of-control costs. The previous implementation of AutoCAD created a lasting scare for most firms, and offices that had bad experiences with the introduction of AutoCAD are more likely to avoid BIM.

Let’s start by addressing the role of the BIM Manager. CAD Managers are not BIM managers, and making a CAD Manager the BIM Manager by just sending them to Revit training will create a misunderstanding and misrepresentation of what BIM is and what it can do. For example, this year I had a conversation with a PM who was telling me how good his firm was at BIM. He said “We are one of the best Architecture firms with Revit, so yes we are using BIM”.  He didn’t understand that he was missing most of the tools that BIM provides. That, my friends, sums up the reason why BIM Implantation is struggling.

A BIM Manager’s main task is to make BIM Tools as simple to use as possible. If the tool gets in the way of any part of the Design process, staff will resist using it and default to previous strategies for solving the problem. The BIM Manager must also be at the beginning of all projects. Every project in the office should start following a BIM process, no matter who else in the consultant team is also doing BIM: what matters is the practice of the process. If all projects proceed with a standard BIM Process implementation becomes second nature.

BIM Managers must have a working knowledge of the tools they provide to staff, and the patience to work with users to help them understand how to make these tools an effective part of their workflow. In a feasibility study, for example, the AutoCAD process is long and is prone to calculation errors. If instead we use Revit to create a feasibility study we can design a massing plan for each area, extrude to the height needed, add a mass floor and create an area schedule and then link that data into an excel table that calculates the areas for us. Each tweak and boundary shift is then automatically recalculated, giving the user immediate updates of information that can both streamline their process and allow them to focus more on design.

I was able to convert several Architects into using Massing in Revit for their FSR city requirements by simply showing them how efficient this process can be. If we can create and teach processes that help users understand and use the tools successfully, BIM Managers can guide firms from the Precontemplation stage  into the Contemplation stage.

As a BIM Manager you hold the power to transition your firm successfully into BIM, or to simply let them suffer in silence.