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.


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.

Changing in the AEC Industry with BIM

30 years ago the introduction of computer automated drafting in the AEC industry transformed how  projects were delivered. This change is a minor tremor compared to the earthquake created by the introduction of BIM tools. In 20 years the industry has been radically transformed: in 1998 a couple of guys in Wellesley, MA sat down and started writing code for a new piece of 3D software called Revit,  in 2000 Autodesk buys Revit and in 2016 we are still trying to get firms to change to a new workflow process.

A few weeks ago, I realized the most used phrase in my office is “Change is Hard”. I started to think more about it and I thought it was time for a little research, and so I’ve been reading paper after paper on the Stages of Change and how to modify behaviors/attitudes. The more reading I do the more I realize there is a need for a change in the way we initiate and implement BIM.

Unfortunately, the changes firms made 20 years ago to shift from drafting by hand to using CAD left a lasting mark on the industry. When we had to move to this new Electronic Drafting software, firms didn’t understand the need for someone to manage the software.  Adoption was painful, slow, and costly. In time, it became clear that larger firms needed a CAD Manager to create protocols and workflow and help team members control their drawings sets. When offices began to implement Revit, many assumed their CAD Manager could handle the new workflow process. CAD Managers were sent to Revit training and came back to the office crowned as BIM Managers. This trend led to Revit users being guided by CAD Managers who do not understand the complexity of the role of BIM Manager. The title has been degraded to the point some firms will not even use it. It’s time to take back this role and recreate the definition and position.

This brings us to my research and a better understanding of how the AEC industry can learn to take advantage of BIM Technologies.

Let’s start with adapting the Transtheoretical Model to match BIM. I will revisit this flowchart and adjust based on new information that comes to light. Over the next several weeks I will be outlining my ideas and plans for each stage of BIM adoption to review how to minimize the failure and maximize the success of every team adopting BIM.


Time to be a BIM leader


It’s time to be a leader; time to take control of this BIM rollercoaster and set it on the right course.

To quote Wesley Benn “Is BIM Better… er… er?” Currently there are a lot of misconceptions in BIM and too much leaping before looking. As BIM advocates and innovators we need to educate our teams so that they can learn to harness BIM strategies instead of being overwhelmed.

“A leader has to bend and shape his or her leadership so people can be encouraged, engaged, energized, and mobilized in a way that works for each of them individually. It is not easy, but it does pay off.”

Mark Kiker, AUGI World, October 2014

So let’s get started… but how? The best way I know is to break the process down into manageable chunks.

Step one: Create an implementation plan that sets a clear path to BIM.

  1. Teach the proper definition of BIM to all staff. Many teams get stuck thinking that BIM is just software instead of a holistic project management system.  Using a 3D modelling tool is not BIM; using 3D modelling software that allows users to design a building and access building information from a database IS BIM
  1. Create a BIM curriculum for Lunch and Learns. I was able to tailor the curriculum based on my conversations with staff members. By laying out a curriculum based on staff knowledge (or lack of knowledge) of BIM, I was able to target their weak areas and present to their skill level. Each topic was presented at a lunch time session and recorded for those that missed the original presentation.

 An sample BIM curriculum:

1.       Understanding BIM and its uses.

2.       How to start your project using BIM

3.       BIM Tools

4.       BIM Design Methods

5.       Standardized Documentations

6.       Multidisciplinary Coordination

7.       Sustainability and LEED

8.       Extending BIM Beyond Design

Step two: Become an integral part of the project kick-off or project execution plan.

  1. If your company does not have a project start or execution plan, it’s time to put one together. BIM belongs on the table before any project starts, prior to software being used. The choice to use BIM will affect the information within the model, how the project will interact with all members of the team and the project requirements.
  1. Get the project team thinking about using BIM tools and working towards BIM execution requirements. Often teams don’t realize that BIM is just as powerful during the design phase as it is during documentation. During the design phase the team can link the 3D model to cost estimating software, allowing real time changes that keep the project on budget and on time.

Step three: Don’t let the tools or the idea of BIM get in the way.

My job as a Design Technology Manager is to make sure BIM is easily implemented and that users are able to use these tools effectively. Technology and how BIM is used is continually advancing, make sure you keep an ear to the ground and keep up with technology for Architecture.

Now lets all go out there and get everyone on the right road, stop all this BIM madness.

Time to stop the BIM madness

I received an email last week asking me for some advice on BIM Requirements in a contract. I guess I should say lack of BIM Requirements in a contract. This is a prime example of what we face today, MISINFORMATION. When a client says they require BIM on a job you need to know what goals, and development they are talking about. BIM is a big umbrella so what exactly are you required to provide. Usually when someone comes to me and says the client requires BIM my first question is “did they tell us the goals and the development they want?” Usually the answer is no, so the we simply model in 3D, which after all is the basis of BIM. moving forward

To me the biggest reason BIM is so difficult to implement in most firms is the misunderstanding of what is required form the client. Personally I would love to have a BIM conference for Owners, Operators, and AEC Management. There needs to be something that can help with this kind of misinformation.

  • Is it required to submit the Revit models for the client if it is not stated in the contract?

No it is not, we did not submit AutoCAD dwg’s until they put them in the contract, in fact most companies still charge to disperse the dwg’s. The Revit model is used to produce the required documentation for the project: 2D flat drawings, be it CAD or Paper. If they client wanted the Revit model they should have stated the LOD of the model elements and the requirement in the begining. BIM is a process not a file, therefor you delivered per the contract using a BIM process.


  • Even if the client requested to have a BIM model what wouldbe the submitted format (.rvt, .ifc or any other format)

If the client requested a 3D model at the end of the job, and since BIM requirements weren’t laid out at the beginning I would have given them a dxf. This is a 3D model, it’s just not editable, it still has the information but a little cleaner.

  • If the contract does not state the LOD requested, what shall be done at this stage where we have finished the project

If no LOD requirement was put in the contract, or there was not a BEP developed for the job you would model the project using your office standard LOD. My office standard LOD is between 100-350. No model can be fully 300+, it is not possible to make all elements in the model to that Level. I would argue with the client that the LOD, and the BIM goals were not stated in the contract, therefor you cannot be held to his “idea” of BIM requirements.

  • What is the common protocol regarding the clash detection report, and is it required to submit a Design Model having a clash report with Zero clashes at (0”) tolerance. When I checked some blogs, they all mention that clashes to be highlighted but couldn’t find what our client requested, a clash free model at 0” tolerance when running the clash detection.

It is impossible to develop a model with a tolerance of 0”, you can’t even do that in the real world. The standard clash tolerance is set out at the beginning of the project by all consultants. Correcting clashes can end up costing the team a lot of money. There needs to be a list of clashes and requirements for each in the BEP. Most Engineers will only work to certain clashes, for example pips and columns, and depending on the pipe diameter the clash tolerance is set.

It’s time to move forward, and stop throwing around BIM Requirements without understanding what we are asking for.


Time to move forward

AU 2016 Proposals submitted.

Of course I had to wait until the last day to submit, and now the waiting game starts. Having finally made it into the speaker realm at AU last year I want more. My experience was amazing and the people I meet in my class where great. Whether or not I get chosen I plan to start a blog series on these topic in the coming weeks.

BIM excites me, and the progression of BIM and the technologies is exciting. However if we want to successfully get to our Level 3 BIM Maturity we need to change the old school thought of project workflows.

Quotes About Moving Forward 0004-6 (6)

I came up with these proposals because of my transition, or awaking in 2016.

My year started with interviews, and me writing a proposal for a new role in a different firm. Coming to a new firm has given me new perspective on what my world looks like. The change has rejuvenated me. The freedom within an Architectural environment that believes in Technological advancements and understands the value of spending money to make money (in Technology), has opened my eyes to new workflow ideas. This new adventure is where I came up with my proposals, and hopefully the Autodesk people will focus on the needs for new workflow in Architecture and not just on their products.

My first proposal is on rethinking the Design process and workflow in the AEC industry. I think it’s important that industry take a step back and rethinks how the projects are delivered. more to come on that can of worms.

For my second proposal I jumped into the deep end explaining the importance of BIM Leads. No longer can the AEC industry believe they only need to hire Architects. Time to open our eyes and look for those people that can lead BIM and all its glory to the project finish line. Time to understand BIM Leads are not overhead, they are an integral part of the project.

These two topics are similar in the fact the Architecture world is changing and it’s time we all take that giant leap forward, as Henry Ford simply stated:  “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” Let’s all collaborate on a BIM future and make our project better

VCC presentation prep has opened my eyes to a new topic along the path to Open BIM

I will be presenting today to Junior Drafters getting ready to graduate and go into the world of AEC. I was asked to give them the bigger picture of Architecture and what to expect when the get out. As I prepared my presentation I realized this will be an important topic to share with everyone in the Architecture industry, and struggling to provide BIM.

I realized in my thoughts and preparation that in order to get our industry to Open BIM we need to change the thought process of projects. Yes I’m sure many have gone there before, but the light bulb finally came on for me. We need to flip the process 180 degrees, more time in the Design phase and less time in the documentation phase, Revit gives us the power why not use it.


Now that thought is brewing so we need to teach the clients a new pay schedule and fee structure. How can we get the industry as a whole to change the fee balance? I’ve looked at the AIA providing BIM clarification (E203-2012). I’ve looked through the National BIM Standards V2. I’ve read through the information from the UK Government BIM strategy, and any other document I could find on Implementing BIM on projects. None of them mention the change in the project process, the change in deadlines and fee disbursement.

I believe this lack of documenting the change in the project workflow, in regards to phases, and fee disbursement, is a failing on our part to reach Open BIM.

I think I have found a proposal for AU this year, this is an idea that needs to populate through the industry and be explained to clients. As long as we struggle with the software and ignore the process we will continue to struggle in our Open BIM realization, or even just our ability to fully utilize the BIM process and technologies.

Deep Friday Thoughts

Hello all and Happy Friday, time for a BIM thought….

I am on the mailing list for the LEAN Construction Project Delivery Methods – Job Order contracting, IPD, 5D BIM. This morning I received an email for a new post, I felt this post shows the issues we are all having with BIM in our industry… owner education!


Please take a look it’s very interesting to see how far we have yet to go in the client relationship and education of BIM. I think I just had an idea for my AU 2016 proposal.

Have a great weekend.