BIM-enabled project processes for owners

Paul Sancandi
February 4, 2013

Following on from Applying BIM: a guide for project managers and owners, this article will cover building information modelling (BIM) enabled process and how project managers can help owners identify how they will use BIM to improve their internal project-related processes.

It is essential to first understand and document the current state of the owner’s project related processes. First the processes that will integrate BIM are mapped in their current state. Once the current processes are thoroughly documented, those that will become BIM-enabled processes should be mapped. These new BIM-enabled operations should also be thoroughly documented and should be included along with the activities of the entire owner organisation. It is important to note that the operations of a facility may consist of many repeatable processes.

Planning teams normally map the entire lifecycle of the facility at an overview level from planning through operations. However, unlike a facility construction project, which typically has a finite beginning and end, operating a facility is a continuous process. Facility operations in fact consist of multiple different operating units that have defined tasks and responsibilities. It is these tasks and responsibilities that are documented.

There are several methods to accomplish documenting the organisational structure. In most cases, organisations have their structure already documented. This documentation may or may not include tasks and responsibilities. If an organisation already has its structure defined with the necessary elements of task and responsibilities, it is simply updated to ensure that it is current.

Another method to document organisational structure with tasks and responsibilities is to meet with each operating unit’s manager and together determine the responsibilities of the unit. Once the structure has been identified, the BIM uses selected by the organisation should be integrated into the tasks and responsibilities of the operating units.

The tasks that will integrate BIM are mapped to provide a basic understanding of the current task and to help with developing a transition process. The processes are documented through meeting with the head of each operating unit or meeting with the implementers of the process. Another way to document the process is through observation of the tasks.

The process should also include the information exchanges between operating groups. After an observation or meeting, the process should be documented using a process mapping notation decided on by the BIM planning team. After the process is documented, the process stakeholders should review and edit the document until it satisfactory represents the workflow of the organisation.

Integrating BIM

Once the current processes are documented, the planning team, with the assistance of the operating unit members, is able to revise the current process map to include the integration of BIM. This will include replacing, adding, or editing processes within the map. The process map will also need to include any new or revised information exchanges.

A detailed advancement/transition plan for each of the BIM uses identified for advancement is created to allow for smooth transition between the current process and the new process. It is critical to identify the steps required to transition the process to a BIM-enabled process. The steps should include measurable outcomes and milestones with a timeline for the competition of each transition.

Some items to be considered: purchasing software, training, setting up new systems, creating process guidelines, and progress checks. More tasks may need to be determined based on the status of the organisation and the specific task, which is being transitioned. There are several ways to display this transition process including, for example, a process mapping notation, or a critical path method (CPM) schedule.

After the detailed transition plan for each BIM Use has been documented, an overall transition map for the duration of the execution plan is created. This should include the adoption of each BIM use at every level of maturity, along with other critical milestones. The transition plan should include a timeline for completion of the milestones and can be displayed using several methods including process mapping notation or a CPM schedule. The timeline should reflect the transitions in the process over the planning period.

For more details on the above process refer to the Penn State BIM guide.

Author avatar
Paul Sancandi
Paul Sancandi is a senior design manager with InfraSol Group. He has a technical background as a structural engineer, owned an architectural and engineering practice and has worked in Australia, Asia and the Middle East on a wide range of small to mega projects over the past 32 years.
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