In this article, the UK BIM Alliance explains to PBC Today what is and what is not ‘BIM’, why there is often widespread confusion surrounding the subject, and how to choose the right BIM Software

“If we have to explain and correct what BIM means, then it’ll continue to be a problem. That’s why the UK BIM Alliance is advocating for BIM to stand for better information management, as it reflects the broader industry changes and the evolution of the word. It’s no longer just a 3D model.”

Briefly introduce the company

The UK BIM Alliance is a construction industry alliance set up to support built environment professionals to take the first fundamental step in the journey towards digital transformation. The UK BIM Alliance is an industry-led community advocating for the adoption of better information management practices and wider digitalisation.

Please briefly explain BIM for anyone that is not familiar with it

BIM stands for better information management. It’s a process for creating and managing information on a project throughout its whole lifecycle, from planning and design to construction and operations.

In many conversations and online sources, the BIM acronym is still often associated with building information modelling. However, BIM has seen a significant evolution over the years and shouldn’t just be talked about in the context of a 3D model. It has matured to describe the wider information management processes that support real-time team collaboration and add intelligence and efficiency to better executive the projects.

For anyone new to BIM, there is one important and overarching standard, or rather a series of standards, ISO 19650, which provides organisations with crucial guidance and the right tools to improve their information management processes.

 So, what is and what is not BIM software?

It’s important to understand that BIM software per say does not actually exist. BIM can make use of any software, but BIM in itself is not at all only a software. There is no single online solution that can give the organisation a competitive edge or is recommended by the industry’s leading BIM community. There is no right or wrong solution either.

Choosing the right one highly depends on an individual organisation, the challenges they’re facing and goals they set out for the future. Software solutions should be chosen depending on the specific needs and requirements. That’s why what works for one business, does not necessarily have to work for the other.

Aside from establishing the needs, it’s worth looking at the functionalities, capabilities and various features solutions offer to ensure they can indeed help with streamlining information management and ease the processes for those who will use the tools every day.

When implementing any kind of changes and digitally transforming, there’s nothing more important than ensuring your team is on board and has got a say in the decisions, including software. At the end of the day, they will be the ones using the tools, so they cannot be overly complex.

Why do you think there is a widespread confusion surrounding the subject?

The truth is, BIM can mean different things to different people in various roles and to various clients they serve, which might be one of the main reasons for some confusion in the broader industry.

For anyone new to BIM, a simple search on the internet often comes up with conflicting or incorrect usage of BIM terminology too. Especially when it comes to the acronym itself or what is and is not BIM software. It is, therefore, unsurprising that misconceptions and myths spread and circulate our communities, making it difficult for professionals to adopt BIM.

There’s also another crucial aspect that can foster confusion and hinder the willingness and ability to implement better information management practices. Aside from the BIM acronym itself, the world of BIM is surrounded with a difficult to understand language. To anyone from the outside, it’s a jargon-heavy talk, virtually impenetrable to those unfamiliar (and familiar!) with BIM.

Lastly, BIM is often viewed as an expensive expenditure, and there’s conflicting evidence on the cost versus benefit balance of implementing it into projects. If we look at just the cost of some software solutions, the subscriptions can be quite high, thus, it might be difficult to convince the client to invest. However, the long-term efficiencies outweigh the initial cost, which does not actually have to be high.

How can we tackle this?

The most important thing we need to change is the language. We need to simplify the terminology and give BIM a commonly understood description that can spark instant understanding.

If we have to explain and correct what BIM means, then it’ll continue to be a problem. That’s why the UK BIM Alliance is advocating for BIM to stand for better information management, as it reflects the broader industry changes and the evolution of the word. It’s no longer just a 3D model.

The world of ISO standards, BIM Levels, and different parts of guidance can be confusing in itself too. But through the work of reputable bodies, such as the UK BIM Framework, for example, built environment professionals can find structured and easy to understand processes on how to implement BIM and get the most benefits.

By working together and getting the BIM community as a whole involved to advocate for using simpler language, sharing their stories, challenges and the benefits they have seen, we will see greater BIM adoption across the industry.

How can built environment organisations choose the right technology?

The most important aspect to consider when choosing the right technology is whether it will meet your needs and requirements. When inspecting BIM solutions or any other tech, it’s key to have these as well as the challenges at the forefront, as that will help ensure the right choice.

It’s also important to think about the user and get the team involved in conversations surrounding BIM and broader digital transformation. Having an understanding of the pain-points faced will narrow down the purchasing decision.

In addition, getting involved with local BIM communities and groups is a great way to establish which technologies bring tangible benefits. Hearing from those who have succeeded on their digital transformation journey or are currently embarking on it can be very informative, help filter out some of the marketing jargon and evaluate what’s worth paying for and not.

What are the benefits of better information management?

Implementing better information management helps the built environment confidently move forward with their digitalisation plans and reap several benefits along the way. One of the biggest ones is long-term efficiency.

BIM brings enormous time savings to teams as all the project information can be found in one place, which reduces unnecessary ‘chasing’ and errors due to miscommunication. With instant access to updated data, teams can work faster, save time and money, and ensure they meet tight deadlines and project deliverables.

With more efficient processes, businesses can increase productivity and client satisfaction, which ultimately improves profitability. This is precisely why it’s important to look beyond the perceived upfront costs and into a more efficient future.

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