White Paper

5 Steps to BIM Success

Leverage BIM to increase ROI and keep your client's coming back.

Today’s architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) stakeholders want accurate deliverables, more efficient buildings and smarter processes—and they want them faster. That’s a tall order.

To meet the demand for better work in less time, AEC leaders are turning to Building Information Modeling (BIM). BIM is much more than just three-dimensional visualization; it provides a complete process for creating and managing a building project from start to finish. BIM allows 3D problems to be solved with 3D tools, rather than working out 3D problems with 2D tools—it’s the digital way to measure twice and cut once. Using powerful CAD programs, massive amounts of data and seamless communication tactics, BIM makes the design-build collaboration between architects, engineers, contractors and building owners easier.

According to a study by McGraw-Hill Construction, nearly 71 percent of architects, engineers, contractors and owners reported using BIM in their projects. And a global forecast of the BIM market projected growth from $3.2 billion in 2016 to $7.6 billion by 2022.

Whether you’re looking to move your business to BIM to fulfill requirements from clients, investors or government-funded projects, or simply because you want to run your own workflow more efficiently, a successful BIM implementation makes a difference by saving time, reducing wasteful errors and expanding design possibilities.

This guide will give you the steps to bring your team on board with BIM implementation and start seeing ROI in every aspect of your projects. Let’s get started.

Step 1: Start at the ground floor

It’s a good thing you didn’t skip ahead: this part is important. Before you start on any projects, you’ll need to do some pre-launch work. This will give your pilot team the tools to successfully complete their project without roadblocks related to management or even hardware or software.

Because moving to a new software or process means change, it’s natural that some employees may be reluctant to embrace something new. However, if your executive team actively champions the benefits of BIM, the rest of the team will be more eager to follow.

Get your equipment in order

Additionally, you’ll need to make sure that hardware and software are not only up to date, but can support BIM. Can your systems handle the amount of data required to efficiently run BIM software? Are your computers equipped to take on higher processing speeds? Rendering and analyzing data takes a significant amount of processing speed, so if your systems are more than a couple years old, it might be time to upgrade.

Storage for your large projects is another important consideration. Since BIM uses a large amount of data, it’s crucial to ensure that data stays secure, yet easy to access. Private servers and data storage can be costly, so explore cloud-based solutions to break down silos, allow teams to work on the same model and speed up design cycles and iterations.

Step 2: Assemble your team

Once you’ve decided to use BIM, pick the right people for a pilot project. These team members will be the first to tackle training and put a project into action. Remember, they’ll train and support the rest of the team as they start their own BIM projects, so make sure they’re up to the task of trying something new and teaching their coworkers.Here are a few characteristics of good a candidate for your pilot project:

  • Experienced in 3D design or has some BIM exposure
  • Understands the traditional architectural design and construction management process
  • Appreciates data and modeling techniques
  • Learns new software and systems quickly
  • Able to coach and mentor other team members

Step 3: Launch a pilot

Starting your team on a pilot project gives you a controlled environment to learn and document how you use BIM, where you see results and how you can improve. When you pick a project for your pilot, ask yourself these questions:

  • Are all stakeholders (architect, landscape architect, engineers, contractor and building owner) open-minded and ready to embrace BIM?
  • Is there a smaller scale or low-risk project you can start with?
  • Can you choose a project similar to a recently completed project? This will make your pilot more predictable, and you can compare it to other projects to determine the ROI, quality of communication and finished product.

Step 4: Document progress

As you start your pilot project, commit to documenting the entire process and specifically how you useBIM software during each step. This will give you the information you need to create best practices for the rest of your team. Remember, plan for some missteps. Then refer back to your documentation to fix those for future projects.

Here are a few ideas to note:

  • Project information, including key contacts such as project manager, BIM manager and discipline leads
  • How you manage file exchanges, kick-off meetings and quality control
  • BIM usage in programming and vision for the space, site design and analysis
  • Cost estimation for materials, phasing and operations

Once you’ve finished, take the time to get feedback from team members and partners on the project’s success. Now is the time to compare notes and draft a long-term BIM strategy. Start by pulling out your comparison project, if you have one, and estimate where you’ve saved money and time, and where you didn’t get the return you expected. Then, you’ll have all you need to get started on the next step: training your team.

Step 5: Get your team up to speed

The next step is fully integrating your team into BIM. Using your list of best practices and updated workflow, you now have a useful foundation to build on for a smooth transition.

One of your most valuable tools is the employees who worked on the pilot project. These BIM champions are experienced and can advocate for adoption across your organization. Lean on them to answer questions and provide support as the rest of your team comes on board.

Beyond in-person support from your BIM champions, on-the-job training is crucial to get employees in the know and ease the pain of transition. Allow everyone to learn the new software and collaboration techniques whenever possible and give them the tools they need to skill up. Providing space in the work week for training will boost engagement and improve productivity as team members become more comfortable with the change.

When you hire new employees, let them know that BIM is part of your organization. Offer training to new hires and integrate them immediately into your new workflow to prevent miscommunication about the design or construction process.

Make the most of BIM’s potential

Almost two-thirds (62 percent) of BIM users report positive ROI, and that ROI correlates strongly with their engagement level. This means companies that invest in more training and full adoption of BIM see a positive impact on their bottom line. Each of these benefits allows organizations to construct better buildings, win more business and increase profitability:

  • Detect problems in construction and design early and fix them before they become costly
  • Model and optimize construction schedules to reduce material waste
  • Deliver projects on time and under budget
  • Reduce change orders and redlines
  • Control and streamline communication between all stakeholders with one model
  • Manage and maintain facilities post-construction

BIM software on its own is not a miracle cure. Since the benefits of BIM are so closely tied to adoption, the more you encourage your team to leverage it, the more likely you are to see a return on your investment. And, as BIM technology continues to evolve and become more powerful, the companies prepared to change with it will be rewarded with a full pipeline of work and a streamlined process that brings their customers back again and again.