Over the past year, we’ve had more and more contact with Facility Owners who want to use digital information in their projects. Sometimes they have come from industry seminars or trade shows and have heard about BIM. Other times they are trying to get ahead of the curve, or have a project delivered with reduced risk. Either way, the owners usually have a vision of what they want the end result to be, but they don’t have a good understanding about how to communicate their needs to others.
The end result is that even though the Owners would never think about entering into an agreement that says nothing more than “we want a building”, they do put into their documents statements like “the project must be delivered in BIM” or “the deliverables must include a model”. Nowhere is it specified what “delivered in BIM” means, or what should be included in the model. Or worse, model specifications are taken from third party documents and are not relevant to the current situation.
This frustrates Owners and Designers alike. The Owners don’t get what they want, and the Designers find themselves bidding and working against nebulous targets. One best practice that we recommend to Designers is to be as proactive and specific as possible as to what you intend to deliver, but this approach is still overall unsatisfying, as it often doesn’t address an Owner’s underlying needs and desires that led them to wanting a model in the first place.
One issue that we see contributing to all this is a lack of education aimed at this communication between Owners and Designers when it comes to information management and delivery. Sure, there is lots of software and technical training available, but just like an architect begins their education with learning about space and function, and not leaping into how to draw lines, with BIM, there is some very critical fundamental education that needs to take place before worrying about software tools.
In this vein, we have developed two new training courses aimed at delivering BIM on capital projects from the perspective of increasing communication between Owners and the Design community that works with them. Called BIM Education for Facility Owners and Delivering BIM to Facility Owners, these two courses are designed to help bridge the understanding gap, and lead to more project success.