Business of BIM v. Practice of BIM


I follow a discussion on LinkedIn within the BIM Experts Group titled the Politics of BIM that has provided amusement, as much as following a discussion on BIM could possibly provide, as well as being highly informative.  Two of the combatants (sic. collaborators) could not reconcile their 2 positions.  One was a BIM/CAD manager that coordinated very large projects, the other was a service provider for the industry.  The point of the conflict?  Revit.  The BIM Manager did not see Revit as a robust enough program to deal with huge projects and the needed coordination between programs, etc.  The service provider highlighted Revit’s abilities and Autodesk’s suite of products.  What I saw was the difference between the Business of BIM and the Practice of BIM.

What I find most exciting and frustrating about the industry currently is it is wide open. The business of BIM is looking at high level needs and creating deliverables, whereas the practice of BIM is trying to coordinate large models, 4D, 5D applications etc. and getting all the disciplines to be integrated. The business and practice silos do not seem to always be to integrated and or coordinated and I can see where this causes frustration.

The BIM field is still so wide open so it is open to define in the terms of deliverables and process. For example, a Texas firm asked us for a BIM model; their only interest, as best I could decipher, was to deliver one to fulfill the Texas mandate and wanted to know little about it except for the tail light guarantee they were going to leave with their customer.  I also have been asked for a Revit model by clients who have never used Revit and negotiated the contract without fully understanding what they wanted.  General Contractors as the McGraw Hill SmartMarket Reports allude to and as is evidenced in the field have seemed to embrace it more quickly and understand it better and from my conversations have seen it quickly pay for itself many times over with just collision detection.

The GSA BIM Program may be the most highly documented and while government mandates can create jobs, not sure how well they can define the process and if the industry would want them to.  Meanwhile we have BIM mandates while the deliverable is still being defined.  In the ideal world the industry would use a centralized BIM that gets updated during design by all the disciplines so that the owner gets a true ‘as-built’ BIM at the end of the process, however, we are still a long way from there with the majority of projects, couple with the face the majority of construction is done within the built environment.  What will happen is that companies will use the parts of BIM that immediately provide value whether it is energy analysis, collision detection, scheduling or just visually communicating with the client.  Those will start to grow and cross pollinate each other until we have are fully realized 3D object oriented BIM universe.  Use the tools you understand, the ones that make sense for your company, improve your workflow keep an open mind and don’t let the good be the enemy of the perfect.

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