BIM: Justifying the Investment

Alan Muse FRICS

Director of Built Environment Professional Groups (RICS)

According to the latest NBS industry BIM survey, most respondents (51%) think that the government is on the right track with BIM, awareness is near-universal and adoption is up (62% of practices use BIM on some projects - up 8% year on year). Indeed, the year just gone has seen the most rapid BIM growth since 2014. 78% see BIM as the future of project information.

BIM

The potential of BIM to realise new efficiencies by removing duplication of effort and delivering better project outcomes has been well documented. In transitional times though, what is the reality? Is there still double doing? Is the investment in new software, people and process yet to fully be felt on the bottom line? Are clients increasingly calling for a BIM approach and are your successful BIM projects leading to repeat business and new enquiries?

As clients, consultants and contractors try to come to terms with BIM, investment decisions are difficult to justify, particularly as political uncertainty magnifies. We have published extensive guidance material on BIM to support and help our members on the BIM journey.

BIM: a benefit or not worth adopting?

Some experts couch BIM adoption as a ‘no-brainer’ due to the various benefits it can bring to the industry. Just some of these include:

  • The definition and development of client organisation structure
  • Identification of key stakeholders and managing their input (e.g. FM, security, it, etc.)
  • Advising on statutory requirements, such as obtaining planning permission
  • Assisting with strategic decision-making and in the development of the project brief and a project execution plan
  • Reviewing and commenting on emerging design proposals to identify if they remain consistent with the project brief
  • Assisting in the handover process at completion

However, given the implications of BIM adoption for an organisation, this method of thinking is flawed and a careful analysis is needed before the decision is made over whether BIM is adopted. Fundamentally, organisations need to ask why they are looking to introduce BIM and the business case for it should be contextualised to the specific vision, mission and strategy of the organisation in question. However, any tools that are specifically available to ease this difficult decision-making process are also welcome.

How can you decide?

One such tool available to aid the decision-making process is the Return on Investment (ROI) BIM tool, developed by The Scottish Futures Trust (SFT), which estimates the benefits and the level of return that the adoption of BIM Level 2 will bring to a project. The tool supports the procurer/client to assess the benefits of adopting BIM Level 2 against a predefined list of benefits.

However you make the decision as to whether your company adopts BIM, it is clear that professionals can play a strategic role in transforming the built environment sector into a highly efficient, quality-centred and socially responsible industry, capable of successfully delivering the requirements of current and future generations. Using BIM as a tool, alongside other complementary technologies, can help us achieve this.

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