BIM: A view from the coalface


Terry Gough, BIM champion at Kent County Council outlines the challenges faced as a Client attempting to implement BIM technology, along with the challenges faced by working practices both in-house and with the supply chain

This article is intended to help anyone embarking on a BIM journey by describing what challenges I faced from the very beginning, and how, as a Client, we have found solutions. The BIM experience can be difficult, but with the buy-in and support from partners, the process can be enjoyable. As someone who has ‘been there, done that, and got the t-shirt’, I hope my first-hand account will at least be informative.

In my first foray into the BIM world, it was critical that I understood what BIM was, what it meant for the business, but also how that would impact on our wider supply chain. Therefore, my first step was to absorb the PAS and BS documents that had been produced on behalf of the Government. This lasted a number of weeks before I knew what I was talking about and could communicate effectively with all partners. This then lead me on a journey of discovery, not only with the documentation, but also with the current thinking in technology. My first thoughts were one of horror, but then I realised that this was not a lonely journey, but one that I would be on with a number of other BIM enthusiasts. This thing called BIM needed to be tamed, and that was what I set out to do.

I began by looking at what BIM implementation meant to staff and colleagues and how this would fit with our existing processes and procedures. This was never going to be easy, but I relished the challenge. I started by developing a number of presentations that covered the very basics of BIM, but in relation to data and information capture as this is, and remains, the most important aspect of BIM. I arranged for a number of external companies to attend our office here in Maidstone to give first-hand experience of working with BIM and what it meant to them. This gave the staff a good grounding in what BIM was, and meant how it could be used in all of our projects on a day to day basis. The next stage was to progress with the processes and procedures, and I quickly undertook an exercise of re-writing a number of Proforma’s to meet our requirements with BIM in the shape of EiR’s, BIM Protocol and a BIM kick-off meeting agenda. This agenda marked the starting point. I also created a workflow process chart which broke down the tasks in relation to Project Management, Design Management, Cost Management, BIM, GSL and HSE in-line with the RIBA stages 0-7, which also worked well with the BIM information delivery cycle.

All of the above happened at the same time that I began to work with the SME’s here in Kent in relation to BIM. This was the most satisfying aspect, as I could impart my newly gained knowledge. I worked alongside both the National Federation of Builders (NFB) and Project Five on a 5 month learning curve which took the SME’s through the basics of BIM, giving them all a great grounding and understanding of how to implement BIM within the business. This small group has now led to the Kent BIM Hub being formed which is going from strength to strength.

The Kent BIM Hub group initially started out as a few members who had carried out the NFB training, and we thought it may be a better long-term effort if we stayed as a group which I was happy to administer. However, the group then expanded through a talk I gave at a Construction Excellence (CE) breakfast meeting where there was more interest than we realised. I am now looking at the Hub to see how this will be sustainable for the future, and have set up a Steering Group to examine whether we could be a not-for-profit organisation aiming to help all members on their BIM journey through education and process change.

I recognised early on that educating BIM was a key aspect, and have helped and worked with a number of small businesses within their own offices to up-skill staff and give them a better understanding of what BIM can offer in relation to being better informed through better design, clear information, and working collaboratively. It was my intention that if Kent County Council was going to procure any contractors or consultants, they all needed to be able to deliver to Level 2 and work within a collaborative environment.

As someone that has experienced the implementation of BIM processes, I do feel that one area of concern worth mentioning is that of software vendors. I would advise that it pays to be mindful of what information is available, or what claims are made regarding what the software is capable of, as this is sometimes an exaggeration, and they can’t always do everything. Please do look at all options when assessing potential software solutions and ensure that it meets the needs of your business.

I have personally looked at a number of solutions for a Common Data Environment and have found this to be quite a lengthy exercise as lots of vendors offer a solution, but in reality, only offer a small percentage or a repository for information and not the actual collaborative tool, or indeed the tool to ensure that data and information can be captured and utilised to the benefit of the client or indeed their FM provider. I am now in the process of looking at potential solutions that would provide a Design, Build, Operate and Maintain solution, but this I feel is a step to far at this point in the development of software solutions, and don’t feel that a one-stop-shop is currently available to Kent County Council.

Terry Gough (MCIOB, MAPM)

Senior Project Manager/BIM Champion

Kent County Council

Tel: 03000 41 61 61


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