It’s not too late to adopt BIM… but it almost is

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In the second of three articles to be published in BIM + online journal http://bit.ly/2dmcPkjJohn Adams looks at the what companies can do to ensure they adopt BIM…… before it’s too late.

Avoiding BIM is no longer an option, but joining the party now can seem pretty daunting with so much information out there. Trying to learn a few basics can quite easily lead you into reading articles about computational design platforms or the nuances of status codes, so it can be difficult to know where to start.

In fact, it’s a great time to get going with BIM. In their excellent report for the Scottish Futures Trust, dotBE highlight the welcome news that because there are now working implementations of the processes to learn from meaning the adoption process can be less painful than perhaps it was a year or two ago. Looking back to the adoption curve discussed in part 1 of this series, we are entering the early majority phase which offers a potent mix of market opportunities combined with a comfortable risk profile, because the concepts have been recently proven. You don’t need to do much innovation to start your journey to Level 2 maturity anymore, great news for those who aren’t natural technology enthusiasts.

However, there is a lot of learning and some significant business changes to implement, so it is wise to learn from the mistakes of others. Chiefly, don’t give the responsibility for your BIM progress to your office junior. BIM is a critical business process, so if you’re going to delegate responsibility for BIM adoption it’s best to choose someone you trust with the most complex elements of your business, an affinity with technology comes secondary to their ability to deliver business level initiatives.

So now you’ve chosen someone capable of getting you going on your BIM journey. Good work, you won’t regret it; what’s next? The B1M and BIM Level 2 websites are a great place to start. Once you cover the high-level material on offer there, the challenges will start to become clearer and you’re bound to have more specific queries about your own business.
You then have three broad options:

Getting some consultancy can help you solve things quickly. Consultancy comes with a cost; however, this route is about accelerating your progress, learning new concepts quickly and avoiding the pitfalls, of which there are plenty. It’s an investment, which not everyone will want to make, but it’s worth knowing who’s out there to help if you do choose this route.
Another option is DIY BIM; learning and implementing one concept at a time. This can take a long time, and for now that’s okay, but waiting too long will remove this option. When taken seriously there are enough resources out there to self-teach your way to BIM Level 2 maturity, but it is a significant commitment. A big risk of DIY is investing in new software or processes to solve issues, then finding out later you could have killed more birds with the same stone. The risk of an expensive visit from Captain Hindsight is high if you decide to go solo, so tread carefully.

There is also the option to go to the BIM community for help. There are plenty of events and many of them are free. Engage with your local BIM Regions group, they’ll help you choose the right events and offer great advice. And then there’s Twitter. For those who have just taken a sharp intake of breath, you don’t need to be a social media savvy millennial to get the benefit here, just limit your engagement to the #UKBIMcrew folks until you’re more comfortable, but it gives you access to a great range of experts and enthusiasts in almost every aspect of BIM.
#UKBIMCrew emerged in 2011 as a social media movement for those passionate about BIM to share knowledge; it was young, fresh and totally alien to those in the seats of power in construction. It has become a community in its own right with the usual seven degrees of separation reduced to one because pretty much everyone in the movement has a mutual contact with everyone else. For UK construction this was a first and helped draw the gaze of global construction, rapidly making our innovators and evangelists into global specialists. One of our staple principles is that we’re all about sharing knowledge, so if you have questions, get them down tweet size, tag #UKBIMcrew and someone will undoubtedly help you out.

As a final note, be wary of anyone who describes themselves as a ‘BIM Expert’, BIM is a multitude of specialisms under a wider umbrella so it’s unthinkable that anyone can be an expert in the whole subject. The final article in this series looks forwards to the continuation of our BIM journey towards Level 3 and beyond and discusses how a number of specialisms in BIM is only set to expand further; make sure you’re signed up for BIM+ alerts to make sure you don’t miss it.

Niven & BIM Stategy