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

RICS BIM Conference

It should be patently obvious to everyone that attended the RICS BIM Conference (9th Feb’12) that the FUTURE is BIM.

My take on the day involves:

  • Trains
  • Disintermediation
  • Paul Morrell’s schadenfreude
  • Dinosaurs-in-waiting

As numerous presentations indicated the BIM-Train is leaving the platform and you need to get on board…

or get left behind.

In other words, the industry, but QS’s in particular have to recognise the threat classified by Simon Rawlinson as disintermediation. Which Simon describes as ‘other people doing what you currently do’. Plenty of examples were highlighted, but the recent demise of Kodak should be a lesson to all. (Simon explained that Kodak invented the digital camera, but failed to exploit the innovation for fear of killing their golden goose: traditional film!)

QS’s were constantly encouraged to realise the opportunity that BIM represents – although it’s not going to be easy to find, according to Simon. But essentially it means changing …

The QS should be ideally placed to significantly contribute to the hypothesis of the BIM Strategy to derive significant improvement in cost, value and carbon performance; this is what QS’s are about after all! However, listening to the presenters and in particular the client from John Lewis Partnership, it would appear QS’s don’t really understand cost (contractors do though!) and there was a constant plea to add-value; the implication being QS’s don’t!

Paul Fletcher enigmatically pleaded for change, chastising the industry for its pathetic use of information. Paul promoted systems thinking as an approach to understand what a client wants and to deliver value; lean is a sub-set of systems thinking and QS’s are systems thinkers, even if they don’t realise it! Paul also challenged everyone to consider what industry we’re in; and it’s not construction!

Paul Morrell has done his utmost to provide QS’s with the opportunity to promote their value-adding skills through the authoring of the Government’s Construction Strategy. Paul was optimistic for the future of QS’s, however I believe his most interesting comment was “he won’t be happy until he hears people being unhappy about BIM” (The Germans would describe this as schadenfreude). This says to me that until we stop cheer-leading about the importance of BIM and start realising the pain involved in implementing it, then we aren’t changing and we’re still on the platform.

Anyone that was not aware of the industry and listening to this conference would probably conclude that QS’s are dinosaurs-in-waiting. Whilst there was some cautious optimism, underneath it was a sombre message; was it the sounding of the death knell for the QS?

What is certain is the rallying cry has been sounded …

All aboard … all aboard the BIM-Train …

Thanks for reading,
Rob