We don’t need BIM, do we?

IMAG0360 (1)We need BIM (Building Information Modelling/Management), don’t we?

Certainly from the attendance at the annual RICS BIM Conference, held on 12th February 2015, you would appreciate the significance of BIM and so be left in little doubt that we do indeed need BIM. This was the fourth RICS BIM conference and having participated in the previous events, it is evident the BIM journey has well and truly begun for many people in the industry. This term “BIM Journey” was used constantly throughout the day and it’s one I want to focus on in this post.

Where have we come from on this journey? Where is it going? And what if you’re not on board; do you even need to be?

1502_Stocks_Mind the gapWhere have we come from? At the first conference, there was a lot of enthusiasm and interest into what BIM is all about; but as the keynote speaker indicated to me, it’s not until people start complaining about BIM that he would know people are starting to get the message about the challenges involved. David Philp advocated everyone should get on board the BIM Train before it left the station, the message being start now or you’ll get left behind! In 2013 and 2014 it was more of the same; lots of enthusiasm mixed with presentations from those that were gaining experience of BIM.

For me in 2015, it was the excellent live demonstrations from Trevor Woods and Cathy Molloy that not only highlighted the practical challenges of using BIM, but also how far some people have progressed on their BIM journey.

So where is this BIM Journey going?

I was drafting this post whilst commuting into London and it made realise that the analogy of journey is really important. Would I prefer not to commute, to take this train journey? Probably, but it’s a necessary journey that I have to make as I’m required to be in the University to teach my students. In other words, it’s a journey that helps me fulfil my aims, which are my contractual obligations to my employer and, ultimately, to get paid! I do have other journey options, but the train is the most efficient option at the current time and will be until Scotty becomes a reality (one for you trekkies out there!) Moreover, I can use the commuting time to do other activities such as blog writing on my tablet.

So like my commute, BIM would appear to be a necessary journey; in which case you should ask yourself: where are you heading? How are you maximising the benefits of the journey?

To answer my first question, do we need BIM, you need to ask yourself what you are trying to achieve; what are your outcomes?

I would suggest that, if it isn’t already, BIM will 1502_Stocks_Big_picturebecome an integral component of the project life cycle. As Terry Stocks described in his keynote, BIM is an important part in the bigger picture alongside improving client capability, developing collaborative procurement practices, getting early contractor engagement, soft landings, benchmarking etc.All of which contribute to delivering better outcomes for clients and the supply chain. Is this where you are heading?

Whilst David Philp urged us to get on board the BIM train, I would also suggest that there is more than one train and it’s certainly not too late. But start your journey by being clear of your outcomes, and then look to get onboard your BIM journey as soon as possible.

Slides used with permission of Terry Stocks from his Keynote talk at 2015 RICS BIM Conference

Do we need another Contract Form?

As one lawyer said “if two lawyers are in the same room, you’re unlikely to get agreement”; so what happens when you have a room full of lawyer-folk!


Let’s cut to chase, my conclusion from the NBS Bond Dickinson briefing “Understanding Construction Collaboration Contracts” is that the lawyers aren’t that impressed with current collaborative forms.

But if collaboration is called for, aren’t collaborative contracts essential?

Ever since Latham constructed the team and Egan rethought construction, built environment professionals have been urged to find a different way of working.  If clients are to have successful projects, improvement must be through COLLABORATION!  Ad infinitum the message is that adversarial ways don’t cut the mustard anymore; the latest including the Government’s new procurement routes with collaboration at the heart; and if BIM is to achieve it’s full potential, “the only way is collaborate“.

I attended the NBS Bond Dickinson briefing Understanding Construction Collaboration Contracts because I recognise that if construction needs to collaborate, then collaborative forms of contract must be adopted. [Review my storify]

The briefing reviewed 4 contracts; three I knew about and one whose arrival had recently passed me by!  The NEC3 is 20 years old; it’s been around a while and is being used.  The PPC2000 has it’s plaudits and is shown in a favourable light by the Government Trial Projects.  The JCT adopted the Be Collaborative form as its own and hence we have the JCT Constructing Excellence form.  The new kid on the block is the CPC2013 (Complex Project Contract) authored by the CIOB.

NBS_UCCCx4The audience were treated to candid and informative series of presentations from principally lawyer-folk. My impression is that the lawyers aren’t that impressed with these collaborative forms. From their legal perspective, they didn’t appear to recognise the management rationale and instead focused on the fact that if the projects go wrong, the contracts will not stand up in Law; afterall what is collaboration in the eyes of the court! Certainly for anyone who attended the event, if they recommend a collaborative form potentially they could be held negligent given that barristers advised to stay well clear of one of the forms!

So I see we have a bit of stand-off.  We need collaborative forms, but what client advisors are/will be advising clients to use the current bunch?  In my opinion this is a pressing issue, and one that will affect the adoption of the new procurement routes and the implementation of BIM …

…. or shall we just leave the lawyers to have a reasonable disagreement!

This is a link to my Storify of the event.

Consolidating for Growth

This is a personal reflection on a recent visit to Byrne Group’s Consolidation Centre. ImageI first came across the principle of a consolidation centre when I was working at BAA on Terminal 5. The consolidation centre was the solution to the problem of getting everything needed for construction and mobilisation on to the restricted T5 site.  Rather than every supplier face the gauntlet of the bottleneck at the entrance to the site, a centre was created nearby where all suppliers dropped of their consignments for consolidating into full loads.
The principles and benefits are well captured in the following articles:
The principle has been developed and separate logistic companies have endeavoured to replicate the operation in London and elsewhere.  I recently became aware that the Byrne Group had also adapted the principle for their purposes. It is promoted on on their website and has received recognition in the form of the “Best Practice in Management category at the Plant Services magazine 2010 Best Practice Awards”. Further information is available

  1. On Byrne Group website
  2. On COINS website
Why don’t more construction companies develop such an approach? This is more rhetorical question and probably a good dissertation topic for one of my students. What was clearly evident to me is that the Byrne Group fully appreciate where value is added in their value chain.  This has enabled them to focus on what is important in creating an efficient and effective operation. Rather than focus on developing their expertise in sub-contract management, their competence is based around effective operational management.
How many other construction companies can say that?