BIM: A Game of Two Halves
The UK’s Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)’s latest research figures (August 2015) show that half of the surveyors interviewed (49%, to be precise) are NOT using BIM at all.
This is staggering, considering 2 key facts:
quantity surveyors (who make up a large proportion of the RICS’ membership) are at the forefront of administering contract performance and and payment, and, in the future, much of this work will depend on BIM data; and
the UK Government’s April 2016 deadline for implementation of level 2 BIM is only 18 months’ away.
The research also revealed that 3/4 of respondees (again, to be precise, 73%) admitted that failure to implement BIM threatens the health of the UK construction industry.
So what are the blocks to take-up?
In my experience, I would say these are the top 5 impediments:
Private sector reluctance: the April 2016 deadline relates only to public sector works. Those who confine their work to the private sector aren’t prioritising BIM unless and until it suits. This is a false economy, but one can see the point on a narrow view.
Lack of knowledge: there is not enough quality training for those who will be on the front line of implementation. RICS offers training, but there is a desperate, practical, need for more, right now. Many of my clients worry about their BIM competence and, as such, are reluctant to say, or advertise, that they are comfortable with BIM.
“Piggybacking”: architects are already using BIM, so surveying firms are relying on their expertise. A further reference to animals here: they are like ostriches, putting their heads in the sand!
Few incentives: one of the ideas behind BIM is to unlock efficiencies in time and, therefore, money in construction projects, whether big or small. With few visible incentives to develop and implement a system, BIM can be seen as a “cost head” with no upside. This affects SMEs in particular. Many of my SME clients are concerned about the practicalities of the cost and the time required to get up to speed with BIM and implement it with confidence. Laudable initiatives such as the RICS’ “BIM4SME” exist, but more needs to be done to support development and implementation.
Risk management: BIM is not yet seen as a corporate or organisational risk item, which needs addressing at the highest level. This is dangerous in my view. It requires leadership and investment from the top C levels in order for an organisation to develop and implement a secure, safe, and accurate system, with proper mitigation of risk attaching (see my recent article on cyber-risk and data security, for example, available here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/cyber-crime-data-loss-risk-management-sarah-schutte/edit).
On a day-to-day level, when I am asked to support businesses on their projects, their ERM strategies, or to troubleshoot issues, claims or disputes, it is easy to see that BIM can have a very practical purpose and use. Each project party contributes their own data and, thus, expertise. Contributions are made in real time. BIM can help parties to get to the bottom of issues quickly and effectively –and most importantly, accurately, because it provides source data. BIM won’t negate the need for expert analysis, however, as interpretation of the data will still be required, although it will be interesting to see whether BIM results in less scope for argument. My money is that it will.
BIM is a long game, and certainly requires financial and people investment. BIM is coming, and everyone in the construction industry needs to tackle it. Training will go a long way towards readiness, but as with everything, practice makes perfect, so the sooner an organisation starts to develops a system, and implement it, the better placed it will be to compete in the marketplace.