People, Patience and Partnerships

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This is a post I’ve wanted to write for some time now, but it’s been a bit of a struggle to get the tone right.   I’ve been around long enough to know that that the construction industry isn’t adversarial because we like it that way. There’s much more to it than that.  So, writing about why we need to remember to play nicely to successfully deliver BIM could at best sound a bit preachy, at worst totally out of touch.

I attended a great CENE/G4C event at Teesside University where Darren Vipond, Director of Campus Services introduced us to their exciting masterplan and development roadmap.  As part of his presentation Darren introduced part of his philosophy on how to be an effective construction client to get the most out of working with the industry;

“It’s all about people, patience and partnerships”

– Darren Vipond Director of Campus Services

A great statement in itself, but it also captures exactly what I’ve been wanting to say about BIM projects*.  What most people are referring to as BIM projects, aren’t that at all; they are projects to build something using BIM processes to deliver value, reduce risk and improve handover. Whatever we are building and the ability for that to function and be maintained for it’s lifecycle is, as always, the best place for the project team to focus.  The tension between this focus and commercial realities of projects can’t be forgotten of course, but when we become an industry that puts numbers above outcomes as our default, the battle will be sadly lost and the value of architecture also.

The BIM processes, standards and tools are new to many, but it is still about delivering to the brief and where possible creating a built asset that exceeds expectations.  The over-focus on the new, on BIM, has led to a belief that these projects are wildly different and somehow the shift in technology and deliverables takes precedence over everything from root to branch.  BIM deliverables are a new element to add to the mix and even more, than most elements of a traditional project need the people to pull together to share knowledge and learning and to help anyone who is struggling to deliver something they haven’t delivered before.

We need to drop the bravado around BIM, and outright stop the holier than thou approach that manifests itself on Twitter at times.  BIM, when it’s done well is incredibly impactful to the point of governments around the globe implementing mandates.  It’s not always easy, but we need to remember that good BIM doesn’t happen without people, patience and partnerships.


*The way I see it BIM projects are projects where improving BIM practices or knowledge are the intended outcomes. I love these projects.

Niven & BIM Stategy