INFOCUS – November 2009

In this issue:  Organisation-Level BIMM

bimM: A practical look at Building Information Model Management

In the first instalment on this topic, we began by identifying three primary levels of BIM Management, abbreviated as BIMM:

  1. Project level
  2. Office level
  3. Organizational level

In last month’s INFOCUS, we focused on Project-Level BIM Management. We positioned that there are both single- and multiple-discipline Project-Level BIM Managers, but that ultimately as the industry matures (and collaborative practice grows), the single-discipline types would decline in number. Other key items discussed were the Model Coordination Plan and the Information Exchange Agreement (both of which may be known by other names).

In this month’s edition, we take a closer look into the role of the Office-Level and Organization-Level BIM Management.

 Office-Level BIMM

The Office-level BIMM should be responsible for:

  • Coordination and support of Project-Level BIMMs (aka ‘Model Managers’) within the office (while potentially serving in that role themselves). They will likely contribute as a floating resource, though if a vast proportion of their time is consumed by troubleshooting, they’ll never get to contribute to the other areas of the role – often a tremendous waste of skills!
  • Maintaining a level of quality of the office’s BIM output. (Note: If the organization’s leaders are so inclined, these particular duties could be carried out by a ‘Content Manager’ or ‘Content Specialist’). They do this by:
    • Enforcing the quarantine of unapproved content (introduced from either an external source, or as Internal ‘work-in-progress’ (WIP) content) that does not comply with firm standards
    • Receiving, processing and/or delegation of content creation requests (accompanied by content requirements, storyboards etc.)
    • Approval of submitted content into standard content library (after passing established criteria)
    • Assisting in development of, and nomination of, local office expertise for various skills, including content creation. This should complement an incentive-driven organizational structure, with flow-on effects on remuneration, responsibility, recognition etc. where applicable.
    • Project Content Quality Assurance. This may require the repeated use of multi-category schedules and/or audits of all families at project milestones – as a subset of formal model audits. This approach can be used to determine the level of use of ‘approved’ content library versus content considered ‘rogue’ (i.e. from any other source).
  • Development of Sample Files (as repositories – which may well require collaboration with others) for:
    • System Components (Walls, Floors, Ceilings, Roofs, Stairs, Railings, Repeating Details)
    • In-situ examples (complete lift cores, hospital rooms with equipment, sanitary areas, etc.)

Given the effort it takes to produce good quality content, it is logical and cost-effective to use a single library within an organization – even across multiple offices, wherever applicable (variation in units, regulatory requirements or manufacturers can complicate this somewhat). To achieve a single library location may require some I.T. infrastructure – permitting shared access from a single location. This can eliminate the need to synchronise content across multiple locations (therefore technically not a single library), which can be more tedious and error prone. For example, different copies of a single file may be both edited by different people in separate locations at the same time – the likely result of which is ‘last one who saves, wins’. The problem being that conversely, someone’s work is lost!

Organization-Level BIMM

The Organization-Level BIMM should work directly with Office-Level BIMMs, and may assign work directly to them. It’s also possible (particularly during the early adoption of BIM) that this person may double as an Office-Level BIMM. Ultimately BIM is but one aspect of something more overarching: ‘Design Technology’, and it may be more appropriate for this to be made explicit – e.g. using the title ‘Design Technology Leader’ rather than ‘Company BIM Manager’. How appropriate this is may vary from one company to the next. Nevertheless, in their BIM Management capacity, they should:

  • Be responsible for coordination of the work of the Office-Level BIMMs, and ensuring that it achieves the organization’s BIM-related objectives.
  • Be responsible for creating opportunities to ‘sell’ the organization’s BIM ability (and added value to clients), particularly while the BIM approach to project delivery is maturing, and not yet embedded within the culture of the organization. When it is, those who would ordinarily be responsible for the marketing of the firm should be able to do so effectively.
  • Be a visionary, able to forecast the industry’s direction, and help steer the firm in the right direction. They should be able to articulate what this direction is (so others can participate and support this), and form a strategy within which the desired destination can be reached. They should constantly be looking for opportunities for the organization to innovate, rather than allowing it simply to follow the lead of others.
  • Keep up-to-date with relevant advances in technology, and be wise enough to determine what is worth investigating further and/or implementing, and those that should be ignored or discarded. New ideas should be evaluated against the vision of the organization and checked for congruency. This alone can be sufficient in determining what should and shouldn’t be incorporated.
  • Be able to prepare business cases and budgets to support and secure future BIM-related investments (upskilling, hardware/software/network infrastructure, assistance by external consultants etc.).
  • Have a good understanding of the way that projects are currently delivered, and how those processes can be improved in response to changes in clients’ needs or value items.
  • Be able to communicate effectively with, and inspire people at multiple hierarchical levels. Ultimately this person should be able to demonstrate skills of an effective leader, rather than just those of a manager.
  • Have a sound understanding of the place of technology as a tool used within their business processes.
  • Not micro-manage. A tendency to focus on tasks instead of key objectives is not the mark of a leader, and is counter-productive to long-term growth.
  • Encourage a culture that supports initiative and risk-taking, to provide opportunities for innovation.
  • Liaise effectively with the organization’s I.T. department to achieve relevant objectives, such as:
    • Sufficient, ‘fit-for-purpose’ hardware and network infrastructure
    • Simple and easy-to-manage software deployments and updates
    • Testing procedures for possible new software applications
    • Any out-of-the-ordinary project requirements (communicated by Project-Level BIMMs)
  • Develop the organization’s Knowledge Management/Skills Development – which in turn should assist in the allocation of staff to projects, and in keeping people challenged and enthused. This can be done in a variety of ways, such as surveys, tests, workshops, peer feedback etc. The collection, collation and effective use of this information enables nomination of candidates for greater or different levels of responsibility. This will help in internal growth and succession planning, further reinforcing the organization’s ability to adapt quickly to further change. Knowing who is capable of what is critical in this regard.

We’re nearly at the end of this topic. Only one instalment to go!
In the next edition of INFOCUS, we’ll address responsibilities shared jointly between all three levels of BIM Management. As a brief heads-up, these include:

  1. Definition and development of company BIM Standards
  2. Extended BIM infrastructure
  3. Establishment and implementation of ‘Best Practice’
  4. Research and Development
  5. Collaboration and Leadership
  6. Teaching

Stay tuned!


1. Construction & Non-Farm Labor Productivity Index (1964-2003), US Dept. Of Commerce, Bureau of Labor Statistics

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