BIM Ready Newsletter – January 2011

Ready, Aim, EXECUTE!

Q:  “What do you think about your team’s execution?”

A:  “I’m all for it!” – Tampa Bay Buccaneer Coach John McKay

There was a lot of buzz at Autodesk University 2010 over BIM Execution Plans.  It’s good to see this much needed component of a successful BIM Project get formalized and promoted to the front end of negotiations.  Successful BIM Teams have been utilizing this approach for awhile.  In fact, we’ve been “preaching” the benefits of its major concepts for years.  Things like:

Identify Team Members.

It seems obvious, yet I can’t recall how many times I’ve heard; “Oh.  I would like to have attended THAT meeting…”

Define Scope and Goals.

Is the idea to Model for Bidding?  Fabrication?  Construction?  Facilities Management?  Approach, Staffing, Scheduling and Fees will vary accordingly.

Accurately assess each Team Member’s BIM Proficiency.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with having a BIM “Rookie” on your Team.  Everyone has to start somewhere.  Just acknowledge that they’ll be struggling with a Learning Curve in addition to the unique challenges of the Project and some of the Team’s effort (read:  Budget and Schedule) will be spent mentoring.

Determine Expectations.

The time to resolve Precision and Levels of Detail (LOD) issues is before any modeling has begun.  BIM implies Collaboration and Reliance upon the work of others.  That, in turn, implies a high level of Precision.

This is a concept I’ve been promoting for decades.  It costs nothing extra to set your program to its highest possible level of Precision.  A dimensional bust in the field can cost plenty.  Sure, there will be an occasional strange fraction (since no one seems to design rectangular buildings anymore), but deal with them consciously, as they arise.  Don’t allow your software to lie to you!

Formalize Timeline.

Perhaps the biggest fault of the BIM environment is the ability to add too much information too soon.  Back tracking in BIM can be more difficult than it might seem.  Schematic Submittals should be derived from Schematic-level Models.  Advertise to the Team and Clients/Owners that certain areas/items will be kept generic until their related decisions have been finalized.  Speaking from experience, avoid “over Modeling”.  The temptation to publish an impressive Model before having the requisite information provided by other Teammates can turn around and bite you.

Obtain Buy-in.

Remember the “Partnering“ craze of the late 80’s?  For those who don’t, it was a trend to assemble what we now term as “Stakeholders” in the Project at a neutral location (often, sitting around a campfire) and collectively sing “Kumbayah”.  The idea was that everyone would, from that moment forward, cooperate for the common good of that Project.  Of course, we were still functioning under the same old, adversarial, Contract structure and behaviors quickly returned to “normal” once the campfires were doused and the real work began.

A critical component of a good BIM Execution Plan is the documentation of Team Members’ intent to cooperate and acknowledgement of the risk of not doing so.  It’s not IPD / Alliance level commitment, but far better than just a song.

Educate!

As BIM-aware Teams push BIM Execution Plan discussions upstream, it is vital that your Firm’s Contract Negotiators / Marketing folks are familiar with its concepts.  They don’t need to be BIM “Top Guns”, but have to be aware of the Schedule and Budget implications.  Make sure these folks attend your Firm’s Lunch and Learn sessions and address this topic one-on-one if need be.  The sooner discussions of a Project’s BIM Execution Plan occur, the higher the chance for Success.

Which brings me to the all-too-familiar alternative of “Ready-SHOOT-Aim”.  This “leadership style” relies heavily upon the expertise and good will of others, along with just plain luck.  As your Firm moves forward into the New Year, let’s resolve to Plan first and Act later.

The effort of instituting a BIM Execution Plan may seem daunting at first.  The good news is, some Associations, Institutions and Agencies have done a lot of the hard work for us.  An excellent example is available on Indiana University’s website ( http://www.indiana.edu/~uao/iubim.html ) .  I encourage you to review and customize it for your environment.

The other good news is that, subsequent BIM Projects with the same Team will proceed much more smoothly and with less upfront administrative time.

Ready?  Then take Aim,  go forth and Execute!

Dave

About Dave Pluke

Dave Pluke served as "the man behind the curtain" (Principal and VP of Technology) of a successful Structural Engineering firm for over 2 decades. Overseeing the transition from two, stand-alone 80286 Personal Computers, through Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) and Design to a fully networked, Building Information Modeling (BIM) integrated environment has provided plenty of "life lessons" (sounds better than "battle scars", doesn't it?). This blog's purpose is to share those experiences and apply lessons learned to better assist meeting the challenges of the future.
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