The digital transition brings many new challenges, both in terms of inter-firm collaboration and in terms of work organization. Some of these challenges are manageable within companies, such as BIM skills upgrades, others are beyond the reach of the average enterprise, as is any legislative change related to transition.
While one wonders a lot about the grand scheme of things, like the best way to eat an elephant - we first need to actually figure out we are dealing with a pachyderm. Like the Indian parable, we have the unfortunate habit, as an industry, of only considering our immediate context when deploying BIM. This professional distortion can limit us to a blinkered vision of the whole reality of a project. In our industry dominated by collaborative projects, a good understanding of how your partners are working is directly associated with the delivery of a quality end product.
The BIM Execution Plan (commonly referred to as BEP & occasionally as BxP) formalizes the mutual understanding of project partners so that they agree on a common approach to the elephant that a BIM project can represent. The BEP can show the client the way in which the team intends to meet their BIM obligations. It’s also a tool to allow the project team to stay on top of the BIM objectives, while defining the scope of the quality control mechanisms required.
Unfortunately, the lack of clarity around the relationships between project management and BIM management responsibilities (rarely shared by the same individuals) can lead to creating BIM execution plans that do not allow for ... BIM project execution !
Here are four guiding principles for creating and maintaining a BEP that works, based on our project and implementation experience.
1. Exploit the wealth of perspectives
A BEP must be written collectively; all too often, the writing is left solely to the BIM production staff. The BEP is not a document purely dedicated to production: it contains all the information needed to manage the BIM project. Collaboration process, exchange of information, quality control ... the involvement of the project manager is essential so that the BEP is a reflection of the reality of the firm!
In addition to being written collectively within the company, the BEP should ideally be drafted with input from other project partners. The project delivery requires at best an active collaboration between the partners ... or at least the exchange of a large amount of information! Understanding how our partners use what is sent to them is crucial if we want to produce useful information.
2. Integrate the BEP into the project routine
The BEP should be a tool that is commonly referred to by project teams to ensure that they deliver information to the precise standards demanded. As with any new tool, it requires developing a new routine so it is integrated into the project team’s habits. Creating validation sheets based off of the BEP for certain key stages of the project can help to further clarify understanding of the deliverables required and can facilitate its integration into existing processes.
3. Frame the use
The BEP guides the process of creating and using project information. But what frames the use of BEP? Successfully implementing a new tool requires the team's accountability for its use. Defining who is responsible in the company for monitoring actual use in projects and who is the resource within each company to turn to with concerns is equally important.
4. Invite and receive criticism
Finally, one of the most important tips we can give is to simply get started using the BEP, even if everything is not 100% perfect the first time. Iterative learning, if given the appropriate context and if it is embraced at its core by the team, allows for better discussions on how the BEP is actually used and how it could be improved. The one-size fits all BEP does not exist. The context and the maturity of the market still strongly influences the way construction professionals work, so do not hesitate to invite questioning and to question yourself.
If you have questions, let's look together at how we can help you.