BIM (Building Information Modelling), is shaking up the architecture, engineering and construction industries in fundamental ways, leading to new ways of working through projects. Before project managers take the leap into this new paradigm, however, there are various BIM pros and cons to consider.
What is BIM?
The National Institute of Building Sciences in the United States has defined BIM as “a digital representation of physical and functional characteristics of a facility… forming a reliable basis for decisions during its life-cycle.
Basically, BIM describes the process of designing a building collaboratively using a system of computer models, rather than separate drawings. It’s a marriage of technology and work processes, making it an ideal resource for project managers.
At its technical core is the software to enable 3D modelling and information management. Everyone involved in a building project from all disciplines must work together on the same BIM technology, resulting in much more intense collaboration.
While BIM has been around for some time now, it’s long been exclusive to large, global architectural practices. These days smaller firms need to consider making the move to BIM, or they are at risk of losing out to competitors.
Pros of BIM for project managers
So why use BIM software? And what are the key BIM advantages and disadvantages for project managers?
While BIM is currently most commonly associated with design teams, project management is seen as the field where it could have the most valuable long-term application.
For project managers, BIM offers:
- Great gains in saving costs and time
- Increased accuracy in estimation
- Avoidance of error, alterations and rework due to information loss
- Improved scheduling and budget control
- More accurate benchmarking
- Reduced waste throughout design, fabrication and construction
According to the Building Information Modelling (BIM) Task Force in the UK, BIM can increase a firm’s efficiency by up to 30%.
Cons of BIM for project managers
A major hurdle to be faced in the uptake of BIM is the financial investment involved, not just in new software but in people, training material and possibly even new hardware and servers.
There are also issues surrounding ownership and the intellectual property rights of designs to be resolved.
3 factors to determine whether you should implement BIM
When deciding whether to take the leap and implement BIM, project managers need to weigh up its costs and benefits for them.
1. Upfront costs of BIM
Leading BIM products are not cheap. The Autodesk Architecture, Engineering and Construction Collection costs $3,780 for a one-year subscription with technical support included, however it contains a more sophisticated selection of collaborative tools and comes with mobile access.
For smaller companies and those just starting out it could be worth investigating cheaper options, including free and open-source BIM software products.
2. Training costs of BIM
Training ranges from $300 to $2000, with advanced training costing considerably more. Weigh up these costs carefully, considering any potential tax advantages.
There are also many free training options online that could be ideal for those who thrive on self-directed learning.
In addition, with BIM there is a potential for loss of productivity in the adoption phase. Architecture remains a very traditional industry and you may find that some team members will be resistant to change initially.
3. Expected return
Calculate your expected return on investment for implementing BIM based on:
- How many of your projects will be using BIM
- The rate of adoption of BIM by architects for projects similar to ones your company works on
- The amount of mistakes and reworks currently occurring down the line without BIM
If your expected long term returns outweigh the costs, then implementing BIM is likely to be a smart move for your firm.
Efficiency is a key driver of profit. After weighing up BIM pros and cons you may conclude it will be beneficial in the long-term. In the meantime, try using our free project management spreadsheet templates to increase your efficiency. Get them by clicking the image below.