Is BIM (building information modelling) the elephant in the room at your company? Have you dipped a toe in the water yet? If not, it’s time for you to make a start.
In July 2018 Kristin Omholt-Jensen, the CEO of our Norwegian sister company Rendra AS, delivered a passionate presentation urging SMEs in the UK construction sector to engage with 3D BIM software to improve the productivity of construction projects.
Kristin’s words certainly hit home with her SME audience – we have summarised her presentation below.
BIM is actually quietly changing the world. We talk about BIM, standards and what we’d like to do. But we need to stop talking and actually start experimenting a little bit, testing things out and gaining knowledge.
You may have heard about Open BIM. It’s not just about technical standards and software: it’s also a process that involves:
- Coordinating project information – so that everyone has the most up-to-date version of the accurate and specific information they need for their next task
- Communicating at the earliest opportunity – so that when a member of the project team sees an issue with constructability, the problem is highlighted before it reaches site and before it can impact on other design work that’s being carried out in parallel
- Reducing duplication of effort or abortive work – by communicating decisions or analysis to the whole project team
- Interoperable software (which means you can exchange data, no matter which software it comes from) vs proprietary software (which is expensive to maintain, support and develop)
OpenBIM is actually very, very easy to use. If your software is supporting the OpenBIM standard, you’ll be able to see it.
Seriously, the BIM software is amazing. Are you ready to dare to be different, to collaborate and share? I really hope you are.
Compared to other industries, the global construction industry has a productivity problem (see graph below).
What’s the reason for this comparatively low productivity? McKinsey posed this question to different players in the construction industry and 10 key themes emerged, detailed below.
Projects are becoming increasingly complex, yet the level of experience in the workforce is reducing, which is creating more risk, as illustrated below.
Many highly experienced people in the construction industry are heading towards retirement. It’s the same story in Norway, Sweden, Denmark and the UK. When these guys retire, they’ll take their 40 years or so of experience with them and their companies will be left seriously behind. Young talented individuals want to work for smart companies – they don’t want to work with paper drawings. Attracting talent is important for replacement and growth
We need to change the way we work. We need to keep the knowledge within the business. We must start collaborating. We must start sharing.
We can talk about drones, VR and AR technology – and technology is important – but the catalyst for change is a person. It’s all about attitude. Do you want to change? Do you want to take part in the change? Do you want to be the coolest company in town, attracting the most talented people going forward?
Do you know about the UK Construction Strategy for 2025? I’ll sum it up for you: reduce costs, build faster, be kind to the environment and improve exports.
Does your company have a strategy for 2025? If not, I think you’d better start searching. And please don’t make it too complicated; don’t focus on the complexity. Don’t use words that people don’t understand. Terms like ‘BIM pollinator’ make no sense to the technicians out in the field. Instead, talk about how you would like to work together and what you want to achieve – and then dare to share.
You have to explore; you have to dare to do mistakes. You can learn from those who have started but you need to find your own digital road. And you should start today. You really can’t afford to say: “No, I don’t want to be a part of the digital expansion that’s taking place in the community and in society.”
Start using Google; start searching. Acquire knowledge about what BIM means to you and start testing different software that’s are available, to find the one you prefer to work with.
Develop a simple strategy and find a user-friendly software so that you are able to attract your team and partners to join. Don’t go making a 200-page strategy – it won’t be read by anyone. Two pages will do, highlighting how easily you can start and what you will achieve. You’re going to attract people to join you – you don’t need 200 pages for that.
Remember, you are not only competing with other companies in the construction industry for talent, customers and profit margins; you are also competing with other industries, and an industry in UK is also competing with other nations. Talented young individuals won’t stay in the UK if they can get an exciting position with an exciting company in an exciting environment overseas.
It is actually the race for talent and customers you should be worried about: if we are not able to attract the best talent to our industry, then companies within the construction industry would not be able to recruit the best – and then when skilled people retire, your profit margins will be reduced!
Make a start by finding the ‘catalyst for change’ in your organisation.
Do you have one? Maybe it’s you? You may not be a BIM Manager or BIM pollinator, or BIM expert, or Engineer… just drop the titles, seriously.
Tell your colleagues: “I am Josh. I am a catalyst for our digital change. I dare to go out in front and I am not afraid of making mistakes, because I learn from my mistakes. And then I share my mistake AND what I have learned, so that you don’t need to make the same mistakes as me. And then maybe you dare to share with me – that’s when we will improve and find the best way to work together.”
Don’t be afraid to open doors. Alice in Wonderland didn’t know what was behind the door. We don’t either. None of us know what’s in the future, but you can’t just sit on the side lines and say: “I don’t want to take part. I don’t want to spend any money on digitalisation. I don’t want to be a part of it. I want to get off.”
And remember that SMEs can make decisions far more quickly than large companies. You don’t need a big boardroom to make huge decisions. You can make big changes over a lunch table. Don’t make it so complex.
Small companies can be a catalyst for change in the region and community where they operate. They can really make a difference – in the way they work and how they share information with others.