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.