Implementing BIM isn’t an overnight process. It takes time, care, and a real sense of purpose to reach a repeatable BIM workflow.
But it's encouraging to see that many have done it before — implementing BIM isn’t as difficult as you might think!
Here's what's important to consider for those either thinking about or in the process of implementing BIM:
- Understanding the incentives.
- Establishing goals and vision.
- Having a plan of action.
- Evaluating and measuring progress.
Each of these points help address common challenges associated with implementing BIM, such as lack of time, commitment, or resources.
Key #1: Understanding the Incentives
According to a 2021 Dodge Data & Analytics report titled “Accelerating Digital Transformation Through BIM,” the top 5 benefits of BIM to surveyed firms are:
- Improved ability to manage complexity.
- Improved design quality.
- Reduced errors and rework.
- Better ability to meet customer and design requirements.
- Increased stakeholder buy-in.
A BIM process centralizes project data and makes it the basis for design and collaboration. Centralized data makes these processes much more informed, which can account for much of the list above.
The report notes that 88% of surveyed architects report a “good” ROI from BIM. The initial investment of time and effort leads to substantial benefits that continue to add up over time while level of effort simultaneously decreases:
Download the infographic for yourself here!
More and more firms are discovering the benefits of BIM, as is shown in NBS’s Digital Construction Report.
"BIM adoption over time" chart from NBS's Digital Construction Report.
Key #2: Establishing Goals & Vision
This is the “why” of your implementation. What do you want your work to look like in six months? One year? Five years?
For many, the answer comes from the list of incentives: they want improved ability to manage complexity, improved design quality, reduced errors and rework, etc.
They're noble goals — but be more specific!
You could aim to shorten project timelines by some percentage. Some firms may find that their change management process is quite tedious, so a BIM goal might be to shorten the revision process from three weeks to one. This gives you a measurable way to track your progress towards the overall vision.
The MacLeamy curve shows how you’re able to impact project cost much earlier in the process with BIM compared to CAD. In a BIM workflow, the ability to manage changes across documents and models is simplified which can significantly reduce project timelines and better control costs.
Your BIM goals should be SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time bound.
Key #3: Having a Plan of Action
Knowing where you want to be with BIM is the first step. After that, it’s all about how to get there.
This is a good time to evaluate your current process and decide where you need to invest. Do you and other staff members need training to boost skills? Do you need additional software programs for your specific design needs?
A good plan of action addresses the following:
- Investing in training.
- Developing standards and templates.
- Determining if you’ll need further software.
- Practicing with example files.
Investing in Training
If you’re incorporating a BIM workflow to save time and money, seeking training is one of the best things you can do. There’s no shame in making sure you’re doing it effectively.
The word investment is important — by procuring skills early in the adoption process, you’re setting yourself up to repay any initial costs with the ability to work more efficiently later.
Templates & Standards
Developing standards for the recurring aspects of your BIM workflow helps streamline project delivery.
Burkard Illig, a CAD/BIM expert at ARP ArchitektenPartnerschaft, developed a specification document that shows which components and classes/layer settings they use for a project.Read the full story on ARP ArchitektenPartnerschaft.
“It’s the basis of every new project; it grows and is constantly revised and supplemented,” Illig said. “The template also contains a sample project that can be used at any time to see how the guidelines have been implemented."
A BIM Execution Plan, or BEP, is a project-specific document that sets the ground rules for coordination between various consultant teams. It offers structure to the BIM process and serves as a goalpost to make sure your internal standards align with the bigger picture of BIM that can involve several other teams. The BEP is developed at the beginning of a project, so it can also help determine if you’ll need extra software like a model-checking program.
You may find that your firm’s BIM process could benefit from supplemental software. Many take advantage of rendering and visualization programs like Twinmotion, Enscape, or Lumion to bring their BIM models to life, for example.
You might need a model validation program to reach your BIM vision, in which case you could use Solibri Office and its direct connection to Vectorworks.
If you’re working towards an integrated BIM process with project stakeholders, you’ll need a program like Revizto or other BIM collaboration platforms to manage the coordination process.
There’s a variety of software options built to amplify a BIM workflow. The key to deciding what you need lies within your overall vision. Small firms interested in BIM for their internal process wouldn’t want to evaluate coordination programs like Revizto, for example.
Example files are great because they give you a general idea of how a successful BIM file is set up. It’s a good way to learn the essentials, then carry them over into your own process.
Vectorworks University has several detailed example projects that you can download and freely explore. Much of this content has data already assigned to geometry, making it the perfect way to get acquainted with a BIM file and find some inspiration.
Key #4: Evaluating & Measuring Progress
It’s true that BIM implementation doesn’t happen overnight, as Brian Hores of Flansburgh Architects explained.
In the BIM implementation process, make sure to set aside time to evaluate what went right and what went wrong. The key here is that BIM implementation is a process, one that requires constant reflection.
Keep your goals in mind and substantiate them with questions like:
- If I didn’t achieve my goal on this project, what steps can I take to meet it next time?
- Are there opportunities to take BIM a step further?
- Can my templates be reworked based on what I learned?
It’s important to remember that BIM is scalable — you build on fundamental knowledge with each successive project, and so over time the benefits of your investment pay off significantly.
These four keys can boost your confidence in the BIM implementation process by helping you focus on what’s important — the incentives, your desired outcome, and how to get there.
Constantly evolve your BIM process with what you learn, and especially as industry technology advances; you’ll find that, with some fundamental knowledge and tools, BIM is flexible enough to help with any kind of project.
For some inspiration, check out the BIM success stories on our Customer Showcase!
And get your free copy of our guide, "Strategic Planning Guide for Adopting BIM," which walks you through the implementation process: