Implementing BIM? Engage with your staff

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Andy Radley, Group BIM Director at Kier Group examines how to incorporate BIM into an organisation, and celebrates the benefits that collaborative working can bring…

One of the greatest challenges faced in meeting the government’s Level 2 BIM mandate, is creating accountability for the individual stakeholder to play their part in the whole BIM journey. It still seems that many people view BIM almost as an abstract concept, a disruptive technology that is complex and expensive to implement. This alone has led to much apprehension, and it is evident that there is a widespread lack of comprehension about what the benefits of BIM are, along with just how much organisational change is involved to implement it effectively.

For BIM to generate efficiencies and savings it must become the standard approach for both public and privately procured construction projects, being applied across projects, throughout their stages and affecting a positive influence on the Total Expenditure (TOTEX).

Anecdotal evidence suggests that a small number of clients or their representatives who are responsible for managing capital expenditure, especially within the public sector have visibility of both the CAPEX and OPEX budgets. The ideal scenario is to invest or simply bring forward an element of the OPEX budget to a much earlier stage in order to support a better outcome through the earlier involvement and influence in the scheme by FM teams. With visibility across both, the opportunity to influence and move funds from one pot to another is reduced.

However, where this does happen, the investment should result in realising better BIM data about the asset leading up to and beyond handover. This situation has also been further compounded by many local authorities and government departments favouring the outsourcing of many services including Asset and Facilities Management. The perception is that there is little value in investing and using BIM if a decision cannot be made at the briefing stage as to who will be running a facility post-handover.

Kier has developed a collaborative way of working internally that delivers the values and efficiencies that we and other practitioners have been promoting as a benefit of using BIM for a number of years. We recognise that BIM is the golden thread that is able to stitch the wider group together, and it’s this learning that we use to pass on to clients.

As an example, Kier Property finances and develops a broad portfolio of property, some of which are disposed of to deliver profit and drive further investment, while others will become occupied by one of Kier’s businesses and maintained by Kier Services. Throughout this process we may choose to appoint our construction division to build and our FM / Asset Management teams to operate, all of who then collaborate using the same BIM philosophy.

Fortunately, for us, there is the intellectual collateral held at an organisational level taken from the knowledge gained from our early adoption of BIM (pre-2011 and the launch of the Government 2025 strategy). Therefore, a maturity exists which has created an understanding of the value BIM delivers, and this has nurtured the desire to drive change supporting a bottom-up agenda which is strengthened by a Group BIM mandate issued from the top by the executive board & CEO. This joined-up approach can be used to demonstrate a solution in the drive to integrate BIM and other lean processes by UK plc, however, the widespread influence on organisational behaviour doesn’t happen by itself. We have had to extract what has been thought of as traditional BIM orientated tasks and embedded these roles within the wider job responsibilities, so it is becoming part of everyone’s day to day working life.

In fact, we state that:

“When you are on-boarded by Kier, your job role may include BIM tasks, these are no longer being differentiated as BIM, they are just seen as part of your job. BIM at some level is embedded in most of our business streams, this is quite deliberate and sends out the signal that it is (BIM) business as normal and included within the DNA of every employee.”

The use of new tools and processes has proven to be more efficient, productive and collaborative. All staff should be a cog in the BIM machine, a component piece that forms part of a much larger mechanism, as long as the machine is checked and maintained it will carry on operating and delivering. BIM adoption has to be a default industry methodology rather than seen as an additional task. By demystifying everyone’s level of involvement, supporting staff with appropriate technologies and timely training, Kier is now overcoming many of the barriers being faced across the industry.

Gaining the knowledge and the understanding, together with the ability to apply it, is the challenge that is being faced today by clients who are being asked to use BIM without the benefit of experience. In many cases they are starting from first principles, given the circumstances of departmental budgets being squeezed whilst being told to drive change through services being delivered by private contractors. We, like many of the UK’s contractors and consultants, are joining forces to share our collective experiences via regional, framework and Governmental BIM special interest groups to help clients deliver this change. Value within these is generated by capturing and sharing case studies together with delivering workshops, but the most important message we advocate to clients is that BIM is a collaborative process that requires them to go through the same organisation change we have, and for them to recognise that the generation of closer ties within their own business, and a mandate from their board will reap rewards. ■

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Andy Radley

Group BIM Director

Kier Group

Andy.Radley@kier.co.uk

www.kier.co.uk

@kiergroup

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