Sam Collard

25 July 2013 — In Part 2 of “What you need to know about BIM”, Steensen Varming technical director Sam Collard talks BIM governance, facilities management, software and having courage using BIM.

See Part 1.

Governance of BIM, protocols and management plans

Increasingly BIM management models of delivery, governance and procedures are being authored without the learning engaged from custom, practice and use. See my previous reference to owning the BIM. Resist from a commercial perspective the temptation to reduce the scope or dilute the BIM product. This could be to minimise the project or in recognition that your company may not be up to speed with the technology and its application. Get up to speed. Commensurate effort must be made when we as an industry sign up to our BIM management plans on our projects.

On the other hand onerous and untried BIM requirements are often specified, which by their very nature and the risk of litigation discourage new and early adopters from applying BIM “stretch” and pushing the current boundaries. It is important that we consider what we can achieve today, and that this is supported by an evidence-based approach to BIM, and that we write performance requirements the industry can confidently achieve – this is termed “bankable BIM”.


The FM and asset element of BIM is not yet a consistent and mainstream deliverable at a maturity level that can be easily realised by clients. There are a number of “pathfinder” projects that are fully detailing their operating, maintenance and asset management in a BIM model. The FM industry needs to shape the BIM requirements for their industry, and consider the procurement route and owner–operator scenario, which has a significant impact on the FM BIM integration we require contractors and designers to undertake.

Academia, software providers and industry experts

We need to feed this body of influential people with real project information and give them access to the BIM data we have on the projects we build. This will in turn feed back to the industry as informed and new learning we can adopt with confidence. Academics without this data can become detached from the cost of implementation of BIM, and whether it is an added cost or creates savings. BIM is cost neutral, and if you repeat the phrase “BIM is cost neutral” enough times, you can almost believe what you are saying.

A significant amount of “BIM wash” is created through misinformation, and individuals who strive for complete information passthrough of BIM from “cradle to cradle” need to assemble and test theoretical BIM having access to realtime data from many sources. These individuals have significant influence with government and their established engineering advisory bodies, so let us keep them in the loop.

BIM – the cure for all ills?

BIM is not the silver bullet or industry cure for the inefficiencies we have in the design, construction, maintenance or refurbishment of a facility. There is no magic potion. What BIM will do is highlight a significant amount of industry inefficiencies and create the opportunity for us as an industry to address these, however the remedy lies with all of us as industry practitioners.

Have courage

Wen you issue a model for information, the ability for third parties to scrutinise the model beyond the assigned level of development is assured. 3D model review tools can test the solution you provide with a level of scrutiny not seen as a industry to date, including clash detection and quantification. Get over it! We need to have courage to share work in progress, and have a mature approach to eradicating errors we would not have previously found until we were well into construction. Similarly we need to respect that designers work to a program, and the BIM model will have varying levels of design completeness.

Models have to be managed well, otherwise you can create incidences of silo working, which will detract from integrated working. Share models frequently, and have the courage to share work in progress, but define it as such. Recording change in a model and revision is an issue we need to deal with. Clash detect models intelligently, and concentrate on the areas of the BIM model that align with the design program. Clashing early work in progress is futile, and disenfranchises parties from BIM models frequently, and this is an essential element of BIM.

When do we undertake BIM?

Create your BIM strategy and avoid BIM paralysis. A strategy is the culmination of a series of plans. Plan to do BIM. Along the journey manage people’s expectations and measure your performance through simple key performance indicators which can be related to your business performance. Deliver tangible outcomes that have real value and which the workforce can relate to.

The first step is to be trained in a simple BIM viewing tool – it’s as easy as that. Some are free issue, but with a reduced capability, but good enough for third party reviews. If you need assistance, I’m happy to point you in the right direction. Embark on a training program by training your people in BIM collaboration tools – you will add immense value through the ability to interrogate the developing design and construction.

As an individual who has been fortunate to work with BIM-enlightened companies, I have realised immense value from working in this technology. I now struggle with 2D such is my conversion to working in an integrated BIM and design process. Projects that are undertaken in BIM are better performing projects. BIM projects create better integrated and higher performing teams.

This article is just one of many articles on BIM. It is mainly opinions shaped and formed by my experiences working in the field. Hopefully, if you are not doing the BIM, you will endeavour to learn BIM for yourself, and form your own knowledge based on your experience, and apply it to your next project.

Sam Collard is a technical director at Steensen Varming, a firm of building services consulting engineers. He has been involved in the management and implementation of BIM on over 50 projects with a construction value of over $3 billion. His journey in BIM has seen him working as an early adopter in the USA, Canada, Scandinavia, United Kingdom, India and more recently Australia.

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