How to succeed on your first BIM project as a general contractor

Category: Strategy
Posted on May 21, 2020 by Thierry Eustache-Létourneau and Vincent Carignan

Construction projects are becoming increasingly complex with vast amounts of information to manage as well as serious efforts required to monitor and coordinate these projects.

"Building Information Modeling," or BIM, is a set of processes, strategies, and technologies that frame information management. Since BIM has been or is in the process of being adopted for several players in the construction industry in Quebec, it is high time to consider how to successfully undertake the transition to BIM if you’re a general contractor or subcontractor.

This approach to taking on your first BIM project is relevant for contractors & subcontractors working on projects of various sizes and must be tailored to suit your specific company’s needs. To get the most out of this process, it is important to start by determining the vision of the company and setting clear objectives to align BIM adoption with the strengths of the company.

Like a good vacation, to fully enjoy it, you must be properly equipped. It is better to have a clear idea of the destination (vision), the duration of the trip, and the points of interest that you want to visit (objectives) before going to the airport to take the plane! 

A vision for BIM

Before undertaking such a big change, it is important to define the company’s vision for implementing BIM. Getting a clear mental image of the specific benefits of BIM for the company, and where the company would like to go with adopting BIM, is essential in order to avoid putting the cart before the horse by buying a technology that would not really meet our needs.

Once defined, we must share the vision with our teams to allow everyone to have a clear idea of their shared destination. This will make it easier for teams to set specific goals that contribute to wider company objectives.

Pro tip: Formalizing this vision on paper in a few sentences allows you to ensure consistency within your team. An example of a BIM vision statement could be “to stand out from the competition through innovation” or “to break into a new market with BIM”.

BIM objectives

In order to achieve the corporate vision, short, medium, and long term goals of implementing BIM must be established. These goals must be specific and quantifiable. 

For example, a firm may wish to increase the accuracy of their estimates by 15% within 18 months, or increase the speed of production of their estimates by 10% within 6 months. Be bold and set short term, attainable goals so that people can see tangible progress. It is always possible to review and adjust the goals along the way as necessary.

Strengths

Every firm has its strengths. The proof: we carry out construction projects all year long! We recommend that you adopt BIM using an approach based on the strengths of your company in order to facilitate smooth deployment and quickly see the benefits. Once the team is familiar with BIM and implementation is well underway, it will be easier to spread it to other areas of the company.

For example, let’s say your firm’s strength is your estimating team, which you consider particularly effective. Deploying BIM could help them reduce the time spent on quantity surveys. You can quickly assess the performance of the BIM deployment by comparing the new process with your usual processes to see the gains. Convincing a team known for its efficiency within your company will then help to train other people who might be more reluctant.

In short, the adoption of BIM in Quebec is booming, and it’s possible for contractors working on projects of any size to successfully implement BIM. The process taken in order to arrive at the first BIM project will be different for everyone. In order for BIM adoption to be as beneficial as possible, it is important to define the company's BIM vision and set clear goals in order to achieve it. Then, build on the strengths of the business and understand what BIM is before getting started. Next step : bringing that strategy to reality ! 

If you have any questions or would like to dig deeper into your BIM approach, we would be happy to help you.


Thierry Eustache-Létourneau
BIM Specialist, BIM One


Vincent Carignan
Manager Market Development, BIM One

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