Author of BIM for Project Managers: Digital construction management, Peter Barnes sums up the vast possibilities for Project Managers adopting Building Information Modelling in their projects.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on our lives, and our thoughts are with all of those affected in any way by this dreadful crisis. We are all aware that the post-pandemic world will be very different to the pre-pandemic world, and whilst we are still in the midst of the pandemic, we need something positive to look forward to. We need to focus on how our world may be changed for the better in the post-pandemic world.
During a period working in the USA, an Architect, Alfred Blossom, became involved with the design of skyscrapers on fast track programmes. Through that experience, it became apparent to him that if all the parties worked together collaboratively, the construction process could be planned in advance and then carried out to an agreed schedule. When he returned from the USA, he started noticing the weaknesses in the UK construction and civil engineering industries, which he perceived to be adversarial and non-collaborative, and, because of that, he became an advocate for change. He wrote his views in his book Reaching for the Skies which was published in 1934 (almost 90 years ago). It was one of the first major criticisms of the standard of performance of the UK construction and civil engineering industries.
Ten years after that, in 1944, the Simon Report was published which, amongst other things, recommended a more collaborative approach to design and construction with earlier contractor involvement. A further twenty years after that, in 1964, the Banwell Report was released. It focussed on team relationships, construction contracts, and other construction documentation. The report also looked, in detail, at the traditional separation between design and construction, and criticised the construction and civil engineering industries for having entrenched positions.
Thirty years after that, in 1994, the Latham Report was published, it identified industry inefficiencies, and condemned industry practices existing at that time as 'adversarial', 'ineffective', and 'fragmented'. The report urged for reform and advocated partnering and collaboration by construction and civil engineering companies (a view that was reinforced in the Egan Report which was published three years later).
Now we are in 2020, in the midst of a pandemic, and although there has definitely been a culture change since 1934, it is clear that the ideals of collaboration promoted from 80 years ago have still not been fully achieved. We simply cannot allow that to continue and, going forward, we really need to, once and for all, grasp the collaboration nettle. We are all living in a time of great changes, and we must capitalise on that to ensure that the required changes that are so long overdue are made for the benefit of all, not just the few.
Collaboration in terms of construction and infrastructure projects may be considered as organisations working together to proactively and jointly manage project risks in order to achieve the common goal of effective project execution. However, whilst that aim may seem to be most laudable, the problem is that what may be an ‘effective project execution’ for one party may not be the same for another party.
Clearly, in the real world, true collaboration will only really be achieved if each party’s definition of an ‘effective project execution’ are aligned into one common goal which each party sees as beneficial. This ideally would be to deliver a project to the required standard, on time, and at or under budget. Without such a clear common goal, ‘real’ collaboration and integration between parties from different specialist areas will be extremely difficult to achieve.
Some argue (as in the Egan Report) that if a common goal is found, and the parties recognise their mutual interdependence, then formal contract documents could gradually become obsolete.
On this basis, BIM (Building Information Modelling) must be seen as being a positive force for good practice. BIM, because of its very nature, requires parties to jointly and openly contribute, and add design and data, to a universal project computer model and therefore ‘obliges’ the parties to collaborate with one another. To be most effective, BIM needs to be led by Project Managers, and those Project Managers need to be committed to, and fully understand, the BIM process.
My new book BIM for Project Managers, available in print and as an eBook, is a concise practical guide which shows how cutting-edge BIM related technologies can facilitate the successful management of construction and infrastructure projects. Focused specifically on core project management topic areas, the book shows how BIM can act as a catalyst for key project management functions in construction and, amongst other things, this can lead to improved collaboration, communication and co-ordination. Covering the full project lifecycle from briefing, inception and pre-construction through to project closure or disposal, the book enables Project Managers to facilitate the use of BIM across the entire lifecycle, and empowers them to play a proactive role in BIM implementation at both project and organisational levels.
Please note: if you are looking for clear explanations of core concepts, and answers to the many common questions that are asked about BIM, please refer to my other indispensable guide on BIM, BIM in Principle and in Practice, Third edition, also available as a print book and an eBook.