The Human Side of BIM

The amount and quality of technology that construction professionals can draw on today is at an all-time high. But finding the right people to operate the systems is the only true way to efficiency, cost savings, and quality.  


A virtual construction project, created by one of PCL’s many BIM (building information modeling) experts.A virtual construction project, created by one of
PCL’s many BIM (building information modeling)
As PCL’s manager of virtual constru​ction​, I recently attended an AGC Building Information Modeling (BIM) forum revolving around the “Human Side of BIM.” I honestly didn’t think much of the topic when I signed up, and I anticipated it was going to be purely academic and too touchy-feely for anyone really interested in improving construction tools and process. Turns out, it was one of the most interesting BIM forums I have attended. Whenever I present to a client who knows nothing about BIM, I always begin by affirming that BIM is about “People, Process, and Tools.” Although I always include people as the most important part of integrated workflows, I was surprised how well the presenters articulated this point.


BIM has long been thought of as the software that building professionals use to deliver a project. The better software you use, the higher the quality of results you will get. But I think the software or tool is irrelevant to a degree. There are a number of high-quality tools on the market and capable technicians to operate them. So it seems simple enough; use Revit to create lift drawings instead of CAD, or use Navisworks to coordinate the MEP trades instead of a light table--same tasks, new tools. But putting that program into the hands of a knowledgeable construction professional will yield, by far, the best results.
There’s a perception that if someone is too good at using one of these tools, they will be pigeon-holed into a BIM role for life! This view is something we need to address industry-wide to understand that BIM is not an activity or role by itself, but it supports all construction activities: estimating, scheduling, planning, constructability review, version control, document control, coordination, layout, and commissioning. A wide range of contracting professions should possess the knowledge or be working towards an enhanced understanding of the most up-to-date building and modeling technologies.



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