The project manager’s guide to BIM roles

Paul Sancandi
February 25, 2013

Following on from The project manager’s guide to BIM infrastructure needs, this article will cover BIM roles for owners and how project managers can help owners identify their personnel needs as related to BIM.

Having the proper personnel is one of the most critical factors to successful implementation and integration of building information modelling (BIM). When considering personnel, the BIM implementation team should consider the organisational structure, the different roles and responsibilities, the training and education, and how to manage change within the organisation.

One of the first questions to answer when planning for implementation is “How is BIM going to be supported within the organisation?”

In the initial stages, a consultant may be hired to assist in the development of a strategic BIM plan. From there, a BIM planning team can be established. The BIM planning team should consist of a BIM champion or champions, management BIM advocate, and operating unit BIM leads. This cross-function leadership team needs to consist of members that are willing to learn to think outside traditional methods of operation.

Additionally, while the committee members do not have to be the most senior members of the operating unit, they will have to speak for the needs of the entire unit and share the thoughts of the BIM planning committee with their operating unit.

With a BIM implementation team established, the roles and responsibilities of each member of the team should be established and documented. This includes requirements and deliverables for each of the individuals on the team. Additionally, it may be beneficial for these responsibilities to be divided among multiple individuals depending upon the organisation’s size and structure.

BIM champion
An organisation should have at least one BIM champion with a strong desire to implement BIM within the organisation. A BIM champion is a person who is skilled and motivated to guide an organisation to improve their processes by advocating for the adoption, managing resistance to change and ensuring implementation of building information modelling.

It is this person’s responsibility to take the planning process through to its conclusion and share its value with others to ensure that the proper amount of resources (time, personnel, and effort) is given to planning. Often these personnel will also support the actual implementation of BIM within the organisation including developing BIM planning elements.

BIM sponsor
It is essential to have management buy-in to the concept of using BIM to improve operations to ensure a successful planning process. Establishing a BIM sponsor at the management level of the organisation is often helpful to BIM implementation. Management must understand the resources necessary for successful BIM implementation including time, personnel, and effort and the ability to ensure that these resources are made available.

BIM lead
Within the BIM planning team, each primary operating unit of the organisation should have a BIM lead. The operating unit BIM lead will provide valuable information to the BIM planning about the operating unit’s processes and information needs, evaluate BIM planning results and implement BIM with the operating unit. The operating unit BIM lead does not need to be the manager of that operation but should have influence within the operating unit and the support of the operating unit’s manager.

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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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