BIM is NOT about 3D Modelling Software but about Collaboration and Lean Processes.

BIM is not just about 3D Modelling; it represents a far more fundamental reform of our approach to the built environment and has its origins in the now 20-year-old Latham Report “Constructing the Team”.

Some of the key recommendations from Latham include:

  • A checklist of design responsibilities should be prepared.
  • The use of coordinated project information should be a contractual requirement.
  • The responsibilities for building services design should be clearly defined.
  • A set of basic principles is required on which modern contract should be based.
  • A complete family of interlocking contractual documents is required.
  • The role and duties of the project manager to be more clearly defined.

These recommendations have been taken forward in the Government Strategy 2011 and underpin the definition of a BIM Level 2 environment, as set out in PAS1192-2.

Information Management in a common data environment offers the opportunity and mechanism to improve collaboration and eliminate design defects at the point of information production.

PAS 1192-2, soon to be the International Standard (ISO), sets out the requirements for Level 2 BIM and, deliberately it seems, hardly mentions BIM or 3D modelling but instead focuses heavily on lean processes, collaboration, robust design, information management and a clear definition of the design development process and stages.

Businesses and clients that focus only on software training and investment will find that they will not meet the BIM Level 2 standard and will indeed not meet the Government objectives to reduce cost through elimination of defect waste by 20%.

Arguably, far more important than investment in the latest 3D modelling software is for designers and contractor businesses to undertake a realignment of their own business processes to meet the requirements of PAS1192-2.

The real challenge in delivering Level 2 is in the up skilling of all key staff. There will be a requirement to fulfil newly defined roles, staff will require training to understand their own responsibilities in a BIM environment, in addition to also understanding the obligations and expectations they should have of other team members; this will be critical in successful implementation of BIM Level 2. The biggest challenge to all is that of “constructing the team” to truly and effectively collaborate; collaboration will need to be the ethos of all in the process and not just a ‘buzz’ word or the philosophy of the select few.

Without true collaboration and a rigid adherence to the processes set out in PAS1192-2 the ability of the construction industry to deliver better value will not be realised; there is in fact a genuine risk of waste increasing if processes aren’t followed as companies invest more time in the ‘wrong things’ and reduce value added work undertaken with available resource.

Collaboration and robust information management offers a golden opportunity for the UK Construction Industry to bring the reforms identified by Latham and Egan to fruition and to revolutionise the procurement, design, construction and operation of our built environment.