Introducing Mr BIM – The Schoolmaster

It’s easy to push the blame around.

We love our processes, the BIM standards, guidance, tools, apps, plug-ins , copious never-ending updates and new tech shiny playthings, a veritable avalanche smorgasbord of stuff, information, bits, bytes and data that overwhelms, daily, hourly even, complete with flashing lights, ringing bells and buzzers. And hubcaps. Always chase the hubcaps!

Dear people we forget.

We forget the SIMPLE things!

Old dinosaur that I am I remember when BS 9001 came out. It became a bandwagon. A rush to get accredited, get the badge and so on. Apparently demonstrating the desire to prove quality accredited systems and processes. Of course now, and we see it all the time, information is still issued, incomplete, ambiguous and unchecked. Projects with hundreds of defects at completion, and Grenfell being a tragic standing reminder of where this leads to. Whatever the badge on the tin. Whatever this year’s badge is.

It was the same with ISO 14001, yet another gravy train bandwagon, and we still produce environmentally disastrous projects, and then  ISO 18000 Safety, we still kill and injure people on sites on a daily / weekly basis even. And probably in the UK, we’re among the best in the world, but we see the videos of unsafe practice online. I can probably walk down any street, find some building work going on, and 9 times out of ten there’ll be no PPE, no protection, safe handling or method statements and risk assessments. Even council sub-contractors grinding paving slabs, no eye or ear protection, and no dust control to protect the public. We’ve all seen it all before.

Your processes, forms, workflows, templates may be perfect. But it all comes down to that one person with their finger on the keypad, or the pen, or hammer in hand, or saw or grinder – will they do it right? At the right time, in the right way?

How many people are involved in a typical project? In YOUR project? Include all the stakeholders, clients, designers, end users, supply chain, site teams, suppliers, manufacturers, councils, third parties, at times even the general public. Literally thousands. And your process is entirely dependent on them all – all of them doing the right thing at the right time. Sleeping easier now?! I bet!

And then we come to BIM

Again we see the rush to get the badge. A gravy train bandwagon par excellence, and still going strong. But lift a few manhole covers and all is not quite what it might at first seem sometimes!

But…here’s the difference, here’s a thing. Firstly there is a significant volunteer type enthusiast, hobbyist almost, evangelical like band of people across the world who are making it happen at grass roots and creating pressure for change to longstanding sub-standard practise.

It’s inescapable. The creed is spread with evangelical zeal.

But BIM is a little different.

Because it demands discipline in our processes that cannot be short cut. As an industry we delight in finding ways to make short cuts here and there, to subvert a process or wriggle on a requirement. BIM doesn’t work like that. Things need to be done in order and at the right time to get the best out of the process and technologies involved – and correctly! Think of the EIR, or AIR, modelling protocols, information requirement levels and the rest. Sort these things out at the right time and the project process becomes easier. Leave things behind incomplete and project delivery becomes more difficult. Yes of course these things can be back engineered, but at what cost? Think of the time, effort and pain involved!

Enter Mr BIM – the Schoolmaster 

BIM is the Schoolmaster that brings us back to correct project process. It’s a discipline, a rigour that we’ve lacked but we need. I’ve head BIM described as Digital QA, and in a way that is totally correct – a process defined by the standards and the BEP, and other documents that is open to audit and examination. A binary response. Right or wrong. No fudging. Plan as you do. Do as you plan.

With great BIM, comes great responsibility!

To paraphrase, Spiderman, Uncle Ben and Sheldon Cooper.

Everyone must play their part. And their activities need to be completed at the right time. I seem to recall a plea for a “BIM reboot” a while ago because Clients weren’t stepping up to their responsibilities in terms of briefing. Equally some dissatisfaction with post – handover activities with Clients again not wanting BIM format information mainly because they don’t know what to do with it, or don’t have the tech capability to handle it.

Boo hoo.

Just for once let’s take responsibility as professionals for what we do and can do.

Let’s face it RIBA3 to RIBA6 is usually led by the Main Contractor or possibly some kind of Client PM/agent. The project building contract defines the inputs, outputs, deliverables and requirements. This includes all the BIM stuff. Poor briefing processes have been going on since time immemorial so why not sit down with the Client and help them define what they want! Equally if we’re producing information that the Client team can’t use for whatever reason, or don’t want,  then whose fault is that? Define the outputs or change them to what they can use. We’re not building fusion reactors here.

And I’m going to finish with some free business advice!

Rollover, roll on RIBA7!

So let’s say we have what was a Level 2 project or 19650 compliant BIM environment with full spatial coordination geometry and all asset data tagged and defined in some way. So we have a full RIBA6 deliverable defined and ready to rock. However the Client FM side for RIBA7- they don’t have the technical capability to receive the handover output. Maybe they dont have the resources, hardware or software, or skills. Whatever.

Remember that in RIBA3 to RIBA6 you’ve done the hard work in building the BIM environment and outputs. You’re 95% there! Why not offer the AIM environment as a service to the Client FM function. “We’ll maintain the AIM. We’ll do an update cloud survey and asset update on an annual basis. All in. For a nice fee with a tidy profit, fully compliant for the Golden Thread and Building Safety Regulator conversation when it arrives.”

I think there’s a serious business model here, particular if you’ve done RIBA3 – RIBA6 properly in the first place. You’ve done all the heavy lifting. And you can then use that to build your relationship with your client even further.

So this particular rant is coming to a close.

I think BIM is a catalyst for delivering better project process. In addition for those that are ready, businesses can use their hard work in design and construction delivery to rollover into the Asset Lifecycle, completing the hallowed lifecycle blue loop! (Remember your information delivery cycle diagram!)






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