Employer's BIM adviser
Building information modelling (BIM) has emerged rapidly in the UK, driven by the need to improve efficiency in the design, construction and operation of built assets and reinforced by the Government Construction Strategy published in May 2011, which stated, '...Government will require fully collaborative 3D BIM (with all project and asset information, documentation and data being electronic) as a minimum by 2016'.
This led to a rush by consultants, contractors and suppliers to prepare for the 2016 deadline. However, some of this preparation has focussed on software and the creation of a 3D model for its own sake, without properly considering the business objectives of employers and their information requirements.
This can be particularly problematic for inexperienced employers, who may have little understanding of building and no knowledge whatsoever of BIM. In the early stages of projects, inexperienced employers may appoint a consultant (such as an architect) or contractor to help them define their project, and they will often then simply adopt (or not adopt) BIM based on the advice they receive, and implement it in the way that the advisers are used to doing. This may not always be the best outcome for the employer.
BIM is not about software or 3D modelling, it is about procuring the right information at the right time to allow make better decisions to be made more efficiently.
An independent BIM adviser appointed in the early stages of a project can help an employer assess their long-term business objectives and define how BIM should be used on their project. They can help the employer make the most innovative use of BIM during the lifecycle of a built asset in order to reduce costs, increase operational efficiency and improve business outcomes. Creating a 3D model can help achieve these business objectives, but it is not an objective in its own right.
Advice is particularly important in the early stages of a project, when the employer defines the Employers Information Requirements (EIR). The EIR sets out the information the employer will need in order to make key decision at different stages in the development of the project. EIR are typically based on a series of questions known as plain language questions (PLQ) that the employer will need to answer to assess whether the project is developing as required, and whether it should proceed to the next stage. Advisers can help formulate these plain language questions and develop the EIR.
The EIR may also include details about information management, commercial management and competence assessment which may be difficult for an inexperienced employer to define. See Employers Information Requirements for more information
In response to the EIR, prospective suppliers produce a BIM execution plan (BEP) from which their proposed approach, capability and capacity can be evaluated. Advisers can help check that suppliers BIM Execution Plans satisfy the EIR. BIM advisers can also carry out compliance checks on developing building information models to ensure that they meet the required standards.
The role of BIM adviser is a relatively new one, and can mean different things in different contexts. To be of the greatest value to an employer, particularly in the early stages of a project, BIM advisers should:
- Be able to interpret the employer's business needs.
- Understand the whole development process, from inception to operation and asset management.
- Understand the interfaces between project management and asset management.
- Be software agnostic.
- Have a clear understanding that BIM is not about creating a 3D model.
- Be able to advise on process improvements and technology solutions.
- Be able to advise on the most effective capture and use of digital data.
- Be able to advise on assessing the competence and capability of suppliers.
- Be able to assess education and training needs.