5 Golden Rules of a BIM Workflow
Only a few decades ago, buildings were conceived on paper. Any mistake meant scraping or starting over. And data was kept in big bulky folders.
While that may seem nostalgic, we’re now miles away from tracing paper and unnecessary errors. We have much better ways to create, store and analyze data of all forms. However, that did come with its own set of challenges!
Today, what we commonly call a ‘BIM workflow’ is a set of processes and tools that should serve construction in all its phases. But here’s the challenge: is it always truly playing this role or is it sometimes adding a layer of complexity and ambiguity that we don’t need?
There’s only one way to find out! Let’s explore what might just be the 5 golden rules of a BIM workflow. To help us navigate through them, let’s create together now an acronym that we can remember! I’ll call it:
AWARE – Accessibility, Worksharing, Applicability, Reliability and Efficiency.
What moves faster than the speed of light? The versions of a file. The first day, it’s version 001 and the next thing we know, it’s version 100. But how do we keep track of all these changes and make sure that we’re always working with the latest models?
First and foremost, the use of a CDE (Common Data Environment) is essential to have a shared online repository that’s accessible by all team members. After all, every BIM workflow starts with the ability to access the correct data at the right time. Problem solved, right? Well, not quite.
The real answer lies in an integrated workflow: having an ecosystem that enables us to access all the data stored in our CDE of choice.
Then, we simply connect right from our favorite tools and start working. No second-guessing anymore, no room for errors, and no triple-checking with our colleagues what files to open.
Here’s the dream of every BIM manager: a BIM workflow that perfectly shadows the construction processes. And when we say construction, we instantly think of all the different disciplines, their various tools, and the coordination needed between them.
To facilitate this aspect, a good BIM workflow needs two important parameters:
- Within one same discipline, allow the team members to divide the workload between them. For example, instead of the sole BIM manager responsible for detecting thousands of clashes in a project, this mission could be shared with other BIM coordinators and team members.
- Among different disciplines, enable an easy way to communicate with external parties! This could take the form of BCF Managers integrated right within the tools that they use.
Let’s imagine this: a BIM manager spends a few weeks crafting the perfect BIM Execution Plan (BEP). All the modeling rules, the naming conventions, the intended Levels of Development (LOD), the team structure, and the most intricate details are already documented. Then, the BIM manager hands it over proudly to all the team members.
That’s a priceless document, no doubt. However, its real value can only be tested with one word: applicability. And that’s because – let’s face it – what would we rather have? Simple BIM guidelines that are followed intuitively and applied easily by all team members? Or a complex BIM process that’s not applied correctly by anyone?
To challenge this, we could ask questions such as:
What’s the best way to communicate these rules right within the tools used by the team members?
Are these tools helping the users feel free to create, model and analyze? Or are they making them feel restrained by unnecessary complications? Maybe even eating away their hours with time-consuming tasks?
Is it better to piece together different tools to achieve our objectives or could it be found in a few good ecosystems?
When this process is achieved in a smooth, and almost self-effacing way, we know we have succeeded.
Here’s a confession: For a long time, I thought that one of the defining factors of a good BIM process is the quality of the results that we can get. And that’s true, of course. But it’s not the complete picture. Later on, I realized that it’s much more about being able to maintain this quality throughout the different phases of a project and ensure the same results consistently.
So, the master-concept here is – drum rolls – reliability! In other words, can we rely on our BIM process to secure the same qualitative deliverables every single time?
- Do we have a sure-fire method to eliminate duplicate clashes and detect their resolution automatically and reliably?
- What about the values in our project? Do we have dependable quantities for data extraction that can also update over time?
- And most importantly, can we repeat a successful approach easily? It could be by enabling project templates, sharing rules with all team members, etc.
These questions could take on so many different forms, but feel free to run through the example checklist above. If you can answer with detailed “yes” answers, chances are you’re onto something!
Here we are! The most ‘golden’ resource that we have on this planet: time. You probably doubted that it would inevitably appear on this list, and you were right!
To take it one step further, let’s think of it in terms of efficiency. After all, it’s about being able to accomplish the same results with the minimum expenditure of time and effort.
In order to visualize this better, here’s a game: I will run a few A/B scenarios and you choose the one that feels more appropriate. Ready? Set, Go!
A: You (and your team members) do all the tasks manually
B: You set up an automation for all the basic tasks
A: You check every clash manually to know if it has been solved or not
B: You click one button, and you see the results
A: You search for the issue that your colleague told you about: in your inbox, in the chats, in the Excel files…only to remember that it was a phone call
B: You check the complete history of every issue on a centralized platform
Congratulations, you just won the award for the fastest answers ever received! Was the difference between these scenarios annoyingly obvious? If so, all that’s left is to put these processes in place, and we can help!
In conclusion, implementing a structured BIM workflow can seem like a daunting task. However, it’s enough to list the most important considerations, and find and set up the right tools accordingly.
Want to know more? Click here to find out the 7 reasons why a connected workflow will make a huge difference for your BIM project!