Solving issues in BIM models effectively – Cloud versus file
An effective BIM process results in a higher quality BIM model. It also saves time, cost and frustration during the design and construction phase. An important part of the BIM process is the solving of model checking results (problems and clashes) of software like Navisworks or Solibri. Subsequently, there is a small variety of software on the market that helps to organize, monitor and solve these found clashes and problems.
It is essential to realize that issue management software is only truly effective if it brings a high level of integration with BIM processes and BIM models. Why? The better the level of integration, the less room there is for mistakes, miscommunication and confusion.
Integration: more than interchangeability.
We distinct two major ways of working in BIM issue management: File-based and Cloud-based. Both ways use the BIM Collaboration Format (BCF) to create, share and adjust files. Based on this interchangeable format, software developers promise optimum integration with different BIM tools. BCF indeed offers a lot of possibilities, but effective issue management is more than interchangeability. Processing the issue-files, working on the issues and sharing information requires a seamless workflow. Here, a cloud-based way of working offers numerous advantages over file-based, head-first: insight, overview, efficiency and effectivity. An explanation:
With a file-based way of working, each team member creates separate (BCF) files for describing, communicating and resolving a set of issues. In fact, they create a file based on other files, that may contain existing and new issues, new comments or status changes.
This holds several disadvantages:
- By creating separate issue files, each issue in the file follows its own route through the phases: description, communication, developing solutions, resolving the issue, communicating back to the team, closing and archiving within that file. Fine when handling a dozen issues, however, when the number of issues starts to exceed 100 or even 10.000 (which is quite common) it requires an accurate administration of the files.
- Working with separate files leads to confusion easily. Different team members create numerous files, duplicates and versions. This induces the risk of working with out-of-date information, lacking information and conflicting versions.
- Separate files, create separation in the team. Not everybody is continuously in the know of the latest status of everything. Different disciplines cannot enhance each other and come up with better solutions.
- File-based methods do not sustain categorization of the issues. There is no central platform to manage issues by status, milestones or priority. This has to be organized separately in project management software, spreadsheets or coding of files.
- File-based methods cause delay. Issues are addressed by only one or a few team members, the status, results and overlap between disciplines have to be discussed in integral team meetings.In general, we can say: because File-based methods work via separate files, they result in ‘multiple truths’. This puts huge pressure on the BIM (Issue File) Manager to provide a closed-loop feedback, reliable file administration management and project management. It can be done, yet it is very challenging.
Cloud-based: single source of truth
A cloud-based Issue Management tool offers advantages for effective issue management. First of all: it is a ‘single source of truth’, one central location where all issues are collected and managed. Let’s look into that in greater detail:
- All issues in one place – In any of the supported software you create an issue, assign it to a responsible professional, manage it throughout time, and approve the resolution of the issue. This brings together overview and insight in one place. Everybody is always working on up-to-date files!
- All communication in one place – Everything that is done and communicated is stored in one place. Confusion on files, versions and actions is a thing of the past. Team members can even get notifications on changes and desired actions.
- All project management in one place – Central handling of all the files allows categorization. Adding labels to issues like status, priority, milestones, disciplines and groups sustains effective issue / project management. You can filter issues on properties, prioritize them, shift all issues for a certain milestone to another, work focused on one discipline, and work effectively in groups.
- Transparency – A cloud-based way of working provides full transparency for the team. All issues, statuses and communication are visible to everyone. This way everybody is involved, can contribute to solutions and it (nearly) makes team meetings obsolete: the issue management process has become continuous, independent from place and time.
- History – All data, communication and activity are logged in one place. This creates an historic issue trail which sustains: feedback to team members, evaluation of process and results, and archiving of proof-points for eventual legal discussions.
- Accessibility – In BIMcollab, the central issue management hub, collaboration is made easy. The space is accessible anyplace, anywhere and from any device via a modern web browser.
- Integration – A seamless integration of issue management throughout BIM tools and processes is essential to benefit from all advantages of a cloud-based way of working. BIMcollab connects to any major BIM-tool. This means team members can work real-time on the issues directly from their desired BIM software, such as ARCHICAD, Revit, Navisworks, Tekla Structures and more. The BCF Manager plugins handle the communication between the specific software application and BIMcollab.
BIM was created to make effective use of shared knowledge of all people (disciplines) involved. Why not apply that to BIM Issue Management as well? With a cloud-based Issue Management solution you can count on optimum efficiency, control and contribution of all team members involved. The software guides and helps in every step of the process, saving loads of time and making teams less dependent on a BIM Manager that has to manage and merge all the issue files. Now you can use your time to the actual solving of the issues, producing better BIM models, resulting in better buildings in the end.