How to Implement BIM and Improve Your Construction Process
I think we can all agree that BIM is beneficial to our industry. It’s cost-effective, saves time and allows for greater collaboration, leading to amazing results. So, if BIM is so great, why aren’t we all adopting this new technology and moving into the next phase of our industry?
The problem lies in the implementation of BIM or ‘BIMplementation’. Many project leaders in our industry are under the impression that BIM implementation is costly or time-consuming while others simply don’t know where on earth to start with the process.
So, let’s demystify BIM implementation. We’ll show you exactly why BIM is essential to your business, how implementing it isn’t the mammoth task you might have once thought it was and just how it can improve your construction process.
BIM Implementation Isn’t Difficult With the Right Strategy
Like the emergence of CAD before it, BIM faces the fight against our industry’s resistance to change, a resistance that stems from a number of issues. The main issue is that BIM implementation requires a company-wide strategy.
BIM changes the way in which everyone in your organisation will operate and, for a major shift such as this, if you’re looking to implement BIM correctly, a carefully considered strategy is needed. When you take the time to devise a thought-out strategy, the implementation process will be cost and time efficient.
We’ll discuss the different steps that should make up your implementation strategy as we continue but it’s important to note that you are going to need to dedicated a little time to plan your BIM implementation. Don’t worry though, once you’re benefiting from BIM you’ll find it more than pays for itself in time savings.
Step 1: Win Over Senior Stakeholders
Since BIM is a change in the way your company will be operating, you’ll need the full support of senior management and stakeholders to implement it.
You may have experienced this yourself. Many times when a new strategy is beginning to be implemented, it can face major resistance from inside the organisation. If this revolt comes from lower-level employees, the resistance can be overcome but if it stems from senior-level stakeholders, you might have a problem on your hands.
When it comes to BIM, the benefits really speak for themselves, so any resistance you encounter will likely come from a lack of understanding. Taking the time to present these benefits as early as possible to the decision makers in your organisation will create a smooth implementation process.
It’s worth speaking about how BIM will impact your business but also put together some information on how other companies are using it. The industry’s seeing an inevitable shift to BIM so giving a bit of context will be valuable.
Step 2: Choose Your Software
When it comes to choosing your BIM software, there are many companies out there that offer hundreds of different tools for a variety of different industries.
We created Kreo because none of these tools offer specialist software designed specifically for the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry. We offer three products; Kreo Plan, Kreo View and Kreo Design, each targeted for use specifically in this industry.
That’s all we do - we’re BIM software for AEC.
When choosing your software, don’t make cost your biggest purchasing factor. If you choose a high-quality BIM suite that suits your needs, you’ll save plenty of money.
You need to be sure that your chosen software will work for your projects, so pick a tool that was designed specifically for your industry and companies like yours. This will ensure that the implementation process is as swift as possible. If you let the cost of the software become the largest influence on your purchase decision, you will pay the price for cutting corners.
Once you’ve identified a few potential BIM software packages for your needs, take them out for a test drive. Book a demo or see if you can access a free trial to try out the user interface. Remember, you’re going to be rolling this software out to a lot of people, so it’s worth doing your research to find one that you are confident the rest of your staff can be easily trained on.
Step 3: Set Goals
This is such an important step of implementing anything new, but so often it is overlooked. You may know why you’re implementing BIM, but does everyone else?
If you’re going to change your processes, you need to know what exactly you want to get from it. This is where you set strategic goals for what you’re hoping to achieve.
Have a meeting with the other senior members of staff to determine how you expect the implementation process to go. This will allow you to make sure everyone is on the same page with what to expect from your BIM implementation and how you’re going to measure whether it’s been successful. Set time and cost-based goals to work towards just as you would with a construction project.
It’s important to be realistic when setting these goals. Despite the obvious benefits of implementing BIM into your processes, if you expect too much too soon, you may rush the process in pursuit of results and only end up damaging your effective implementation.
The process of setting goals doesn’t end there though. You and the senior management team know what you want to achieve, but does everyone else in the company? Think about a way to communicate why you’re implementing BIM, what that process will look like and what the predicted benefits are to everyone. Our next step might help with that...
Step 4: Get Your Staff Trained Up
One of the most time-consuming portions of your implementation strategy is likely to be the training of staff. This is the element that makes managers most worried when it comes to implementing BIM. After all, you don’t want to spend time and effort implementing something that isn’t used properly.
However, if you plan out your training sessions effectively, it needn’t be as time-consuming or difficult as you might have anticipated. There are always going to be employees who are going to struggle to adopt a new way of working but, if you outline the benefits of BIM in the long-term and highlight the way the industry is moving, they’ll soon come around.
A great way to streamline the training process is to book a demonstration with your BIM provider and get your training from the people who have actually created the tool. Be aware, though, that training for BIM is an iterative process. This means that, as the industry changes, so do the tools we use and your staff will need to be in the know when it comes to the latest updates as soon as they are rolled out.
Step 5: Customising Your BIM Features
BIM is all about collaboration. So, one of the most important aspects of implementing BIM is setting up the processes you’ll be using to collaborate.
Once you’ve chosen your software and have your staff all trained up, you’ll want to set up the standards for the objects and templates you’ll be using in your projects. It's important that everyone in your team and any other collaborator is singing from the same hymn sheet.
Setting up model templates will make everything quicker and help your team get used to the new system easier, along with ensuring everyone is working from the same, standardised models.
A content library will be needed for your teams and other collaborators to use and you’ll need a parameters file that can be updated and shared across your teams. As well as this, you should set up discipline-specific object libraries which can often be converted from existing detail libraries.
While this may seem like an arduous task, it’s important to keep in mind that this will save you a significant amount of time in the long run.
Step 6: Keep an Eye on the Industry
BIM is a technological progression. In any industry where there is progress, there is also a constantly shifting landscape. Like CAD before it, BIM is the next example of innovation in our industry and still has a lot of room for growth.
This doesn’t mean that BIM will be replaced. Far from it. BIM is here to stay and you need to embrace it as soon as possible or you risk being left behind by the herd. Keeping an eye on the future comes down to being aware of the latest BIM news and adopting any changes as they come.
Once you’ve implemented BIM, you’ll want to avoid any other major shifts in the way you work in the future. By listening to our industry and making small, regular implementations as soon as they arise, it makes change much easier to swallow.
Read more about the issues our industry faces when it comes to BIM classification systems, download our eBook, The Definitive 2018 Guide to BIM Classification Systems.
Remember, implementing BIM won’t happen overnight. You need to allow time for your processes to change and every member of your team to get to grips with a new way of working.
However, if you take the time to devise a carefully considered strategy and you follow the steps we’ve outlined, you can set yourself up to take full advantage of what BIM has to offer.
While steeped in tradition, our industry has always been one for innovation and forward-thinking. Construction is changing for the better now. Will you be left behind?