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Is the business case for BIM & the roles of common data environments understood?

Building the business case for BIM

The adoption of BIM

Central to the slow adoption of Building Information Modelling (BIM), is the fact that BIM itself is misunderstood and misinterpreted. Many within client organisations, as well as within the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) disciplines still see BIM as a technology for the construction phase. Especially for creating virtual 3D models of buildings. When in reality, BIM offers so much more to organisations, teams and projects.  BIM processes are just as applicable to existing assets as to new builds. BIM is building information management – the process and approach for standardised capital project development, delivery and ongoing operational management of built assets.

Common Data Environment (CDE)

One of the central pillars supporting the BIM process is a collaborative working environment. This creates, exchanges, manages and utilises information in a centralised area: a Common Data Environment (CDE). A CDE is deployed by clients to assure project deliverables and manage asset information on an ongoing basis. Additionally, it is used by design and construction firms to manage their supply chain in the digital delivery of projects.

Using a CDE configured to BIM standards (ISO 19650) and exchanging open standard file formats like Industry Foundation Class (IFC) and Construction Building Information Exchange (COBie) allows independent teams to coordinate their processes in a standardised and uniform way. This protects the client’s (asset owner) long-term interests as they’re not locked into a proprietary file format or technology. It also facilitates efficient cooperation, and mitigates the risk of referencing wrong versions, or losing information.

Improved collaboration

Digitising information is hugely beneficial for construction projects. Teams can improve collaboration between stakeholders in construction projects, across the entire asset lifecycle. All the way from conceptual design, through to building completion and maintenance, progressively assuring handover deliverables as the project progresses.  Importantly, in the BIM process, asset owner clients can clearly specify their information needs to ensure at Practical Completion (PC) that they receive a complete digital dataset and asset records for utilisation throughout the operational phase of the asset.

Although some firms have moved from paper-based to digital processes, by not fully adopting BIM and having a CDE, their digital records (documents, data and spatial information like drawings and models) are not centrally organised or formatted. This results in data inconsistency and conflicts of information. Even simple tasks like finding a drawing or inspection record in support of a query or claim can prove difficult.

The second reason is that the construction industry is a traditionally siloed industry. It is characterised by multiple designers, consultants, trade contractors and suppliers who are often constrained by traditional attitudes.

The prime example being the common practice of different members of the supply chain working independently of one another. Contrary to this widely held belief, collaboration across the supply chain significantly improves return on investment for projects, which tend to be overrun and over budget.

Effective supply chain collaboration

The adoption of BIM standards (ISO 19650) and the use of Common Data Environment’s (CDEs) presents an ideal solution. It enables effective supply chain collaboration. A CDE is a centralised area so project team members and estate and facilities teams can access current and trusted information. A CDE acts as a bridge between disciplines. Independent teams can securely access information that has been made available to them in a secure, controlled manner. This leads to greater levels of collaboration, productivity, and accuracy. Therefore, teams can effectively mitigate the risks of time loss, and incurring costs as a result of a lack of productivity, and/or data inaccuracy.

Manage risk

In the aftermath of Grenfell and Brexit, and with the Building Safety Bill recently receiving Royal Assent, compliance has become a greater priority for the industry. Maintaining a Building Safety Case for a building of structured, verified and compliant records provides the industry with another catalyst to improve information management practices and get organised. CDEs help manage contractual risk. They ensure teams work with trusted and current information. All while maintaining a robust audit trail of information exchanges and communications between project parties.

Likewise, the ability to communicate and respond to information requests, as well as, delivering, verifying and approving data deliverables ensures a client’s specific requirements are met. This accessibility allows clients to be involved at every stage of the design and build process, ensuring timely  decisions are made.

Greater success

While 3D modelling is an important component of the BIM design process, it is part of a wider framework for information management. Asset owning clients and AEC firms should now reframe their understanding of BIM as a data-driven, collaborative business process. Better information management allows all stakeholders across the full asset lifecycle to execute projects across disciplines. They are also able to manage risk effectively, and remain compliant. Investing in BIM leads to the greater success of projects and the longer term health and effectiveness of our built assets.


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To find out more about Glider and gliderbim® call 0203 8268 001 or email us.