The challenges of good issue management

The challenges of good issue management

When managing a project, you will need to deal with issues which will come up. These issues can originate from anywhere such while performing a visual inspection in a model viewer like BIMcollab Zoom or a clash detected using a model checker such as Navisworks or Solibri. You will need a way to make sure that each of these issues has been assigned, has been addressed and when necessary solved.

Challenges of managing issues

It is no surprise that a lot of companies are starting with issue management to increase the quality of their BIM models. Compared to the traditional way of working, the BIM methodology requires more time to create the 3D models but the end results are of much higher quality. This in turn results in less rework, higher productivity, less conflicts and a reduction in the number of last-minute design changes. To achieve this, it is crucial to manage all of the issues effectively.

But at the same time, issue management isn’t quite as easy and straightforward as it first appears. Let’s briefly explore just three challenges of managing issues.

1. Linking issues to models

With most projects now done using BIM (building information modeling), it is essential that the documented issues are utilizing the BIM data and contain viewpoints with camera positions and references to the related objects. When facing tight deadlines and a high volume of modifications during the design and construction phase, the traditional coordination approaches—such as email, phone, spreadsheets and PDF reports—do not provide the BIM data needed to be an effective methodology.

2. Multiple BIM tools

In any building design process, several different tools are used by different specialists to create BIM data. Often all model data will be collected and combined in special coordination software, and shared via open standards or in cloud solutions, from full-fledged project management systems to simple document sharing tools like Dropbox. But the missing link is often the communication “about” the model data. BIM managers need solutions to bridge the (communication) gap between these BIM tools and the people who use them.

3. Large amount of issues

In any construction project many unexpected issues arise, which are hard to keep track of. With the use of BIM in projects, issues can be communicated digitally using open standards such as the BIM collaboration Format (BCF). Using BCF files helps, but you eventually end up with an unmanageable number of files and versions. How do you know what is communicated with whom and with which file?

Best practices to managing your BIM issues

There are many ways for you to deal with these challenges and manage your issues from a simple spreadsheet (file based method) to a fully featured issue management system (Cloud based) such as BIMcollab Nexus. But whichever method you choose, you always have to follow these best practices:

  • Provide as much information as possible and ensure that the issue is described clearly.
  • Add supporting materials such as viewpoints and snapshots when possible.
  • Assign the issue to a single individual so that it is always known who is responsible for resolving it.
  • Provide each issue with a clear and unambiguous status.
  • Ensure that you can prioritize your issues and provide them with strict deadlines.
  • Offer your team members a single repository containing all issues.

Some examples of well documented issue are:

Excel based issue; Click for full size picture.

Cloud-based issue; Click for full size picture.

The main differences between most used methods.

The file based method and the cloud-based method are currently the most popular methods to manage BIM issues. Both are based on the same BCF format and follow pretty much the same workflow. Where the file based and the cloud-based methodology do differ is in efficiency.
A file base method uses BCF (BIM Collaboration Format) files to add textual comments, screenshots and more on top of the IFC model. It enables a powerful and open collaboration between parties in any construction project because is separates the communication from the actual model.

Cloud-based methods are based on the BCF standard but offers you a more efficient way to structure your workflow for storing, sharing and managing issues. It helps you know what is communicated and with whom in real time. Special plugins (called BCF Managers), allow issues to be accessed directly from the cloud from within our BIM applications. The issue data can also be accessed and managed via a web browser as well. Another benefit is that cloud-based solutions stores all the communication about issues or requests for information to track all changes and comments and provide a full audit trail.

Cloud-based methodFile based method

  • Data shared through the cloud.
  • Accessible from anywhere.
  • Can be accessed by multiple users at a time.
  • Issues linked to specific Areas.
  • Have fixes approved by other team members.
  • Notify others when changes are made.
  • Single source of truth
  • Creates legal trail

  • Data distributed via shared file.
  • Requires access to the file.
  • Can be accessed by one user at a time.
  • Areas are not available.
  • No approval.
  • No automatic notification.


A good issue management process pays off in the long run but you can’t expect to implement an effective issue management process overnight. It takes some effort and planning to reap the rewards of your hard labor. So keep the following in mind:

  • The issue management process should be centralized to keep the many issues manageable and accessible
  • The collaboration must be based on open standards like BCF.
  • Ensure the process is integrated with commonly used BIM software to bridge the gap between these tools (e.g. Revit, ARCHICAD, Navisworks, Tekla Structures, Solibri).