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Tips on making BIM work for you

Advice on how to approach BIM.

Change is always hard, especially if someone is being asked to change a software package that they are proficient with or change how they work with sub-contractors. To someone working on a project, change may feel threatening, resulting in divisive or damaging behaviours.

Acknowledging the change to BIM, ensuring that everyone understands how it will work and why the change is happening will smooth the path to success. Good courses don’t rely on training in software. They explain the context and the levels of excellence to which people may aspire.

BIM for site workers is often based on reading digital models, produced by designers, and adding in data where required, ensuring information flows as it needs to. You may not need to know about BIM design principles, methodologies and data formats. But knowing where you fit in the process, why you are being asked for certain things and how you do it in a site environment are likely to be fundamental elements.

It’s also unlikely that every project you do will be BIM, but you might want to get the skills and knowledge you need to play an active role without becoming a BIM expert right away. 

Use the right motivators for your own teams. As a handy hint, "we make more profit" is unlikely to motivate people – "Having more profit allows us to ensure job stability" reaches people more personally. "We won a contract where they insisted" is less likely to chime than "The new contract we have just one gives us the chance to try it, and they expect huge improvements". 

Helping people understand why they are doing something new, the value it adds to the overall process and the role they play is a good way to get them on board. Think about finding an in-house "BIM champion", who can help set up and explain new processes to the team. 

Various software and hardware packages are available for use during the build stages. If a client demands a specific tool, the decision is made. However, more usually you understand who will be doing what and what you need. For example, think about: 

  • What information and at what level of detail do I need to access during the build? 
  • Who do I need to share information with? 
  • Do I need to be able to receive and send live data on site? 
  • What specific functionality does it need e.g. scheduling views, setting access, photo capture, permissions, data entry forms, etc.? 

As the market grows, you’ll find more reviews of software packages, such as the BIM hub.

Remember: BIM is about the smarter use and flow of information. 

While the standards for BIM help everyone operate at the same level, they shouldn’t restrict how you can benefit from the smarter use of data.

Equally, if you are not on an official BIM project, don’t let that limit your use of digital tools and data. If you think that collecting data about products, issues on site, workflows or commissioning information using a mobile phone or tablet to share with colleague is helpful, then do it. It might be the stepping stone you need to fully adopting BIM.