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The Financial and Technological Opportunities Around BIM


The Government’s recent mandate for all public sector organisations to be using building information modelling (BIM) on procured services has a direct impact on all organisations within a public sector supply chain.  Whether you are a construction organisation, IT or software company, professional services firm or FM business, there are business-critical reasons for the need to establish a clear BIM strategy.

The financial benefits of BIM

The rationale behind the Government’s decision is clear, there are distinct benefits which can be gained by the public sector’s use of BIM.  These include 33% lower costs, 50% faster delivery and 50% lower emissions; however these benefits are not limited to the public sector.  Other organisations that proactively embed a BIM-based culture are able to reap similar benefits.

There has been a large investment into ensuring the BIM-based approach is correct.  Research and working papers have been produced by BSI, the Cabinet Office and UCL, looking at the areas around: collaborative working, BIM data security, capital projects, specifications, FM briefings and stakeholders.

This includes work around how to effectively take data from the strategy (via the Employer’s Information Requirements) through procurement (using the BIM Execution Plan) and onto contract award for the Master Information Delivery Plan.

What is clear is the need for information to flow seamlessly throughout a project life-cycle; from inception through to asset management and final closure.  The interesting aside is when inception occurs; it could be argued that adding in the time dimension at the project outset could help achieve the lower costs as well as faster delivery.

Time as the fourth dimension

By using modern planning tools, rather than relying on Gantt charts or spreadsheets, is one way of capitalising on this opportunity by incorporating time as the fourth dimension.  The technology is now available to create spatial data layers that give real-time visibility.  This means that the whole project team has visibility of missing activities, problems with spatial interdependencies or errors in logic, conflicts and unrealistic plans.  It also helps the team quickly identify where additional costs could occur: key resources not being available, land not purchased in time or cash tied up in properties acquired too soon.

Including the time element as a visual aspect within BIM from project inception therefore ensures the plans are all aligned, giving greater confidence in the schedule being delivered on time and on budget.

Building BIM on existing systems

BIM is not about one stand-alone system though; it is bringing together data from disparate sources and incorporating them so that they generate the outputs required.  Understanding how the data will flow and be extracted is a critical element of BIM; by clearly understanding the requirements of users throughout the life-cycle of the project it is possible to data-map where information is being captured, stored and used.

It can seem daunting to many to try and identify whether the data mapping from multiple data sources will come together in a single point of access and administration.  By using business analytics it is possible to extract the BIM information in real-time, allowing project teams to significantly reduce the cost of report production.

Using technology as the BIM backbone, it allows an organisation to change the way it works, and this includes testing to ensure the BIM data mapping works.  Using a model office testing environment gives an organisation a hybrid-agile approach.  This means that testing uses real life project data to demonstrate how data can be extracted and viewed by different project teams; there is also the advantage of retaining all the development work when it goes live, alleviating the need for separate test and go-live programming.

Creating a BIM culture

BIM is a relatively new approach; which is why the concentration to-date has been on the capex phase.  However with many projects having a life-cycle spanning decades, it is important that the asset management phase buys into the concept.  This phase is often far longer than construction, and requires far more ongoing details in terms of maintenance and replacement. 

To profit from the benefits available from BIM, the organisation needs to recognise that it is fundamentally about collaborative working throughout the whole life-cycle.  This is particularly true for the public sector, but is also applicable to private sector organisations.  In order to create a BIM culture, there needs to be clear leadership, setting out how BIM fits into the glue of the organisation. 

There are some fundamental questions which allow an organisation to determine whether it has successfully adopted a BIM culture:  Is there the ability to provide shareholders and Executives with confidence and transparency across Totex budget and performance (ie Capex and Opex)? Are your data and technology programmes fragmented with no end-to-end landscape or system and data architecture?  Is there a lack of integrated procurement for technology strategies causing unnecessary costs through inefficient procurement? 

The benefits of BIM are undeniable and addressing these questions could generate a saving of up to 20% of the Totex budget.  However like any business system it requires clear leadership, organisational support and a willingness to undergo a change in working methods for it be successfully implemented.

This paper is based on the findings of the recent BIM webinar, hosted by Prōject EU with speakers from Deloitte, Autodesk, Oracle and Critigen focusing on what BIM meant to those within organisations working with public sector clients.  A recording of the webinar and accompanying presentation pack are available at:

27 May, 2016 by

Business Intelligence | Technical discussion

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