UK BIM Level 2 – #Dead-as-a-Dodo? – an uncomfortable truth?


Now that I have your attention, let’s crack on! I’ll get to the headline shortly….but first I return to a theme I’ve raised before, but like an itch that won’t go away, I just have to have another scratch!

This post might not be popular in some quarters but heigh-ho we’re not living in the world of the #BIMthoughtpolice yet….so we can all have an opinion can’t we?

So onto the provocation…….

Stephen Beechey wrote a very good article in Building recently, “Only Connect”

I wrote a comment there and I’ve expanded here……Whilst a great summary of where we are and where we’ve been I have a strange sense of deja-vu reading this. We should know all know this, surely, by now? We know about the bad image of the industry, the skills shortages and the difficulties of getting young people interested in careers in construction, the shortage of engineers, and lack of interest in STEM subjects.

Isn’t it time to actually DO something instead of just talking?

Strange, but there are people out there already inspiring young people to join the industry. Every day. Engaging and connecting with the Millenials.

Why is it that great organisations such as Surrey SATRO and Class of Your Own and others that we know struggle to get the support and resources they richly deserve??

It seems to me that there is something very wrong here chaps.

Our industry is characterised by lumbering organisations that are too slow to move, can’t adapt quickly enough and always find a reason to vote in favour of the status quo, or the usual death knell – “let’s have a focus group” – i.e. lets kick this into the long grass for a while, and let people think they’re discussing something that will make a difference.

Well have I got news for you………institutes, umbrella organisations and CEO’s of major contractors – all of you……….The world is changing, and the wave of innovation and change that has transformed music, manufacturing, auto and aerospace is coming to a construction site or office near you very soon!

Question is will you still be here in 5 years time to make the most of it? Will you have the people with the right skill sets and knowledge? Will you have a digitally capable and enabled supply chain in place? Because if you don’t start investing right now and begin the change process, you will be toast, on someone else’s plate! The tide of change is accelerating, leaving less time to change and catch up, and consequently the investment need goes up.

So that’s sort of part one done here.

Moving on.

Supply chain and SME’s. I have no doubt that for the majors, big practices, big subbies, Level 2 will not present a real issue. For many they’ve already started the journey, and they’ll get there. Even for latecomers there’s time to catch up, because there is still a lot of BIMwash out there.

However where this potentially falls over is the supply chain. You can have a great CDE, 3D model, SQL database, whatever, but it will only work as well as the least effective member of your team, Tier 1’s in theory are no problem, it is Tier 2’s , 3’s where the action is. Where are the SME’s in this picture? Organisations like BIM4SME and South East Constructing Excellence are working hard to get the word out. But resources are limited. Where is the support? Funding, access for training, grants for investment in kit and ongoing support….for SME’s? Ironically, depending on the SME involved and where they sit, the cost and tech involved may not be very great at all. I think this really is the case where the fear or confusion about implementing BIM paints a much a worse picture than the actual reality.

So that’s sort of part 2 done here.

Moving on.

Networks and support. Messages I hear coming out the Taskgroup seem to spend a lot of time talking about Level 3. And I’m not the only one here, someone at the CIC BIM Forum last Friday said “It’s as though Level 2 is thought of as a done deal……well it isn’t!”

Fact – Membership of the Regional BIM Hubs might be as great as about 4000 people. Representing a similar number of organisations. Our industry on a good day is composed of as many as 3,000,000 people. Add attendees at conferences, working groups, the BIM4 groups and the rest, 10,000? 20,000?

My dear earthlings we have barely scratched the surface. It is 13 months to 2016!

Some food for thought here.

The networks are in place, but they lack the muscle to make the impact. And here I think the leaders of industry and the Taskgroup have to bear some responsibility. We are in the midst of the greatest, deep-rooted and extensive change programme our industry has ever faced. And it relies on volunteers, freebies and goodwill. Isn’t this a little bit of a cop-out to say that it’s up to industry to sort out the implementation and pay for it? Having just emerged from the worst recession in history, I think we could do with a little help here!

Computer says no. There must be a better way.

So what I would I like for #BIMChristmas?

  • More funding, support, and high level push for the BIM4s and Hubs
  • More support for the organisations trying to make a difference on the skills gaps, and getting the digital natives into the industry
  • More support for SME’s

I think there’s a common strand here –  support, funding, resources. I haven’t even started talking about “legacy” yet, don’t get me started!

You know it makes sense. We all know deep down that our industry can and should be better. The reality is that if we don’t start doing something on a much bigger scale we won’t have an industry. We’ll just be taken over by Google or China.

I don’t believe that Level 2 is as dead as a dodo……yet. We’ve made a lot of progress in a short time. But if we don’t step up here, it will be.

So to restate my question from a while ago, what are YOU doing? What is your company or organisation doing? If you’re not here to make a difference, and to make things better, WHY are you here?

We need to start thinking beyond short-termism and commercial self-interest before it’s too late.

DO something to help. TODAY!

Cheers :0)


PS. I would add I’m not always this grumpy ( I think….) but getting really frustrated here……thanks for listening – but do more than that – ACT! NOW!








10 thoughts on “UK BIM Level 2 – #Dead-as-a-Dodo? – an uncomfortable truth?

  1. A call to action John!
    A week on Friday (28/11) I’ll put the same point to the ICE GSNet (grads & students), they’re another network that could be empowered to take a BIM education to more civil engineers. I go as a member of BIM4IUK and a rep of the HA and Costain, I’m taking Neil Thompson from BIM2050 all off our own back but luckily with the support of our employer.
    Hopefully they’ll add to the growing BIMArmy who will drive change and won’t take no for answer. When we smash L2 in 2016 the credit will go to those who GET SHIT DONE !


  2. Nice one John you even mentioned SQL databases! However, to make these databases have any utility you need the magic ingredient to integrate with the major 3D Design tools which is the development and understanding of each of these tools API’s


  3. Hi John,

    Couldn’t agree more about the industry sitting around moaning but not getting off their collective backsides and doing anything about it. As Rob Charlton has been saying for a while now baby boomers need to move over and let the next generations through.

    So to add to the positives of people who are getting things done, and I accept I have a vested interest here, I’ll put forward thinkBIM at Leeds Beckett University that also has a great track record in SME engagement and making BIM relevant to smaller businesses.

    As well as evening seminars, 1/2 day conferences and our active links to both Constructing Excellence and the CIC BIM Hub in Yorkshire our strategy has been for SMEs to review their own internal data strategies – or in reality just how they work in this digital age – and then help them to see that this may well be BIM. So, so many businesses in the supply chain are receivers of design data and so need to interrogate models not necessarily build them and this point needs to be made loud and clear too.

    Many are doing more than they think but just need all the demystification taken away and a specific ‘BIM review’ of their business carried out. Then they can create a BIM Strategy that works for them and is saleable in the market place.

    thinkBIM has had some real successes with supporting SMEs who have won Innovate UK (the old Technology Strategy Board) vouchers for Innovation. Make a pretty simple submission and a business could access £5000 for BIM development.

    The industry has a hugely impressive track record for problem solving. If people are allowed to do what they do best – innovate – and not get bogged down in the status quo we might have a chance.


  4. I left architecture to help resolve the technical side of the problem at 4projects, we’re approach9ing closure on a number of Tier 1 roadblocks and then I’ve got my sights on how Tier 2 and below join the party. I do talk a lot, but I also believe I help too!


  5. John,
    Good post and thought provoking.

    One thing that I regularly challenge people on is the fact that BIM (like asset management) is more about a mindset than a toolset. If you sit around waiting for government/software vendors/others to come up with the perfect answer, then you are likely to have to wait a long time and will probably be disappointed.

    If, on the other hand, you start thinking about how data should flow from stakeholder to stakeholder, what the standards are for data, how you will manage data transfer processes etc. then you are getting into the right mindset. You will probably also start to develop some tactical solutions to make key changes. In time, these are likely to get replaced by more official tools and approaches, but at least you will be a few steps further along the BIM journey and will have a far better understanding of your data and the challenges of working across stakeholders.

    So, don’t wait for the perfect solution – understand the problem/objectives, identify key tactical solutions, deliver some, review, refine, repeat….



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