A while back, I was asked by the Institute for BIM in Canada if I would be able to write a document for them that would serve as an introduction to BIM for facility owners and operators. It was an interesting challenge, since there is a real disconnect between the BIM world and the owners. Everyone in the BIM community accepts that owners have the greatest long term potential to gain, but at the same time they seem to be on the sidelines when it comes to implementation. The document is both a primer to BIM for people unfamiliar with the technology, and also a look at some of the metrics that are of interest to owners, focusing on how BIM directly affects their ROI. The report, Benefits of BIM for Owners is still available on their website, and I think it still holds up well.
The more I look around, the more I see owners interested in BIM. But is the right message getting across? RFPs regularly contain statements that “The project must be delivered in BIM,” but give little specifications to bidders exactly what is meant by that statement. And how are procurement teams supposed to evaluate one bid from another? To me, it all gets back to the idea of goals and metrics. First figure out what you want to get from BIM, then figure out how to do it, and then formalize your requirements. This certainly requires a lot more up front planning, but hasn’t that been one of the big lessons from BIM? Early planning pays huge dividends later.
We recently put together a one pager to give to owners who are interested in BIM. Whether they are looking at BIM to help get a facility built or renovated or they are looking at BIM as part of an overall facility and asset management strategy, it is important for owners to understand what they are doing and how to approach it. It may be tempting to just put a requirement in an RFP or to buy an as-built, but unless you understand why you are doing that or what you hope to get out of it, BIM is probably going to lead to disappointment. Instead I would say to owners out there who are looking to start with BIM: educate yourselves, determine some goals and metrics, and then decide what to buy or what to ask for in your contracts.