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Oct 04 2013

BIM: not just building information – business intelligence too

Conject BIM Devt Forum, 19 SeptemberIn London on 19 September, we held our first meeting of the CONJECT BIM Development Alliance (see my previous post), a specially-invited group of people from among our customers and end-users who are helping guide our strategy for building information modelling.

I initially thought the group might be very focused on the model viewing aspects and on the technology in general, but it soon became clear that many wanted to talk about what BIM meant in terms of workflow, particularly from a contractors’ perspective – though I got the impression it was largely a response from people working on public sector projects (where the UK government’s 2016 BIM mandate is focused, of course); it seems BIM is not yet being pushed by private sector clients.

We discussed PAS1192 Part 2 and BIM execution plans, and talked about managing design deliverables at different points in the design and construction process. This was reassuring to me; it suggests industry professionals are already thinking about BIM as a process and as a means to access data and the deliverables created from that data at different stages in the process.

Of course, visualisation of models will form part of our BIM offering, but – just as we have been doing since 2000 in the traditional 2D world –  we will also be helping team members to share comments and mark-ups relating to the models, to manage change, and to request information. We will also be helping their fellow team members to view that feedback in context, and to incorporate model changes throughout project delivery, not just at the ‘data drops’.

More than visualisation

However, BIM is much more than just 3D, it also about managing money and time, and about getting business intelligence from the data. We have been helping customers manage the financial aspects of financial delivery for some years (we launched our first financial control module almost ten years ago), and we will now be raising our game with respect to project planning and scheduling and how it fits with BIM.

At our meeting, however, many attendees said they still tended to use Excel spreadsheets to monitor the cost impacts of change, but were aware of the limitations of this approach in terms of validating information, avoiding duplication (difficult when multiple spreadsheets are used across a team) and maintaining a single version of the truth – particularly in respect of the projected out-turn cost.

I think our experience in aggregating and reporting data will become a major differentiator. As people use CONJECT to manage BIM data, we will be accumulating and translating rich metadata about their information transactions, and then helping them visualise and forecast this data. Main contractors, for example, will be able to produce tailored reports as often as they want, showing key performance indicators (KPIs) on their projects. They may also want to compare commercial KPIs with other projects – something our cross-project reporting tools already manage, but which BIM will enrich still further.

International BIM

Earlier this summer, Construction Manager reported that a new European Union procurement regime will promote BIM and digital working in other EU countries. This is an opportunity for UK construction businesses which have incorporated BIM into their processes to promote their skills and experience ahead of their European competitors. And just as contractors will be able to capitalise on their command of BIM methodologies and protocols, so technology vendors [such as CONJECT] will be able to take a leading position across Europe and into other markets when it comes to BIM (we are already working on projects in Malaysia and Singapore where BIM will be part of the delivery process).

Meanwhile, over the next few weeks, I will be visiting members of our BIM Development Alliance to talk through our BIM plans in more detail, and I would welcome any ideas or suggestions from customers or end-users.

 

About the author

Michelle Mason

Michelle Mason leads the UK and MEAP Marketing team, with far too many years in B2B marketing to mention. A CONJECT newbie, Michelle is eagerly climbing a steep learning curve.

View my LinkedIn profile:
http://uk.linkedin.com/in/michellemason04

3 pings

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