The UK government has mandated that all centrally-funded work is to be undertaken using BIM by 2016. This is now less than 12 months away, and for those organizations that haven't yet done so, this series of articles explains how to implement BIM in your organisation.

The process of implementing BIM is about change management, first and foremost. To do this successfully, the process needs to be carried out methodically. The best way is to make a 'BIM implementation plan', and the steps for this are outlined through the course of this series. This month looks at conducting a risk analysis, and beginning to make a business case for BIM implementation.

Making a business case for BIM implementation

Having carried out a business audit and risk analysis, and assessed the findings, the next step is to formulate a business case for BIM implementation. This is, in many respects, similar to writing a conventional business plan, but is tailored more to the reasons why you want to implement BIM in your organisation, i.e. what are the measurable outcomes you wish to achieve? Depending on the type of organisation you are considering, the outcomes are likely to vary.

Continuing from last month's article, we now look at the topics that should be covered in the business case.

1. Are you trying to obtain (or retain) central government-procured work in England?

If your workload currently includes projects such as prisons, hospitals or Ministry of Defence bases, then these are likely to come under the BIM Level 2 mandate for centrally-procured work. If this is a work sector that you are trying to move into, then BIM compliance will be an essential prerequisite to your business.

2. Do you want to work with clients/consultants/supply chain partners, who are adopting BIM for best practice purposes?

Whereas you may not currently be involved in UK government projects, it may be possible that you work with other organisations who have themselves chosen to adopt (or require) the use of BIM. This could be for best practice reasons, or to enable them to compete for government work, but with the result that they are implementing its use across the board. As a result, although you may not be directly involved in the UK government initiative, you may be impacted for incidental reasons.

3. Are you looking to streamline delivery programs?

Are you concerned about delivery programs, or are your clients pushing for tighter deadlines? One of the Government Construction Strategy's targets is a 20% reduction in capital costs, with BIM being cited as a contributory factor.

4. Do you want to improve cost forecasting accuracy, or reduce CAPEX or OPEX costs?

Clients are perennially and fundamentally concerned about financial outlay, and tendering processes have evolved to try to make cost forecasting as accurate as possible. Post-construction, the costs-in-use become the issue, when the running costs become the ultimate test of the design. BIM is frequently cited as a significant aid to both assisting cost prediction, and in modelling realistic operating conditions.

5. Are you trying to improve design efficiencies in repeat projects?

Repeat work for the same clients (or the same project types) is a common staple for construction industry organisations, and the ability to re-use information is known to offer significant cost savings, which can be particularly useful when clients often seek reduced fees for subsequent commissions. BIM can assist significantly, because not only can design information be re-used, but so can specification and cost information, as it can be embedded in BIM object parameters.

6. Do you want to increase efficiency and accuracy in information management?

Statistics abound regarding the amount of waste there is in the construction industry, whether in the form of materials, costs or time. Traditionally-adversarial procurement relationships can lead, at best to delays, and at worst to claims or litigation. Discrepancies between supply chain partner information, time expended on addressing Requests for Information and the cyclical exchange and updating of designs and poor communication or co-ordination between stakeholders all contribute to wastage and inefficiency. Collaborative working on shared Building Information Models is the UK government's objective to reducing these wasted resources; clash detection is another automated process that is frequently cited as a great benefit of BIM.

7. Are you looking to improve environmental performance of your built assets?

One of the Government Construction Strategy's targets is a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, both during construction and in use. BIM is cited as a contributory factor to achieving this target. Improved thermal modelling techniques, employed earlier in the design process, can assist in deriving energy-efficient designs that are cheaper to construct, cheaper to run and cheaper to maintain; as well as being environmentally comfortable to inhabit.

8. Do you want to improve design?

Achieving design excellence may be high on your organisation's list of priorities. Whether improving the quality of design, robustness or compliance with standards and regulations, the ability to exchange and integrate design information from different disciplines will have the inevitable effect of refining the design that is eventually constructed. Automated clash detection tools can reduce discrepancies, and compliance checking software is in development to reduce errors due to misinterpretation of regulations and other statutory criteria.

9. Are you trying to improve Construction Design and Management (CDM) compliance?

A central principle of UK health and safety legislation is that hazards and risks should be designed-out where possible, and those remaining should be mitigated. 3D modelling can be a great asset in identifying residual risks, whether in the form of inaccessible areas for maintenance regimes, or by assessing and co-ordinating the design life expectancies of key components.

10. Improve 'as-built' information for facilities management use?

The ability to embed significant quantities of diverse information in BIM objects means that key components such as services plant can include ratings, capacities, efficiencies, serial numbers and installation/ inspection/ replacement dates; while heating/ cooling/ electrical running costs can be calculated, for any given period of the built asset's life. Needless to say, such data is invaluable to facilities managers.

In next month's article, we look at what changes will be needed within your business, in order to implement BIM.

Previous: Are you BIM ready? What your business needs to do before 2016 (Part Three)
Next month: Are you BIM ready? What your business needs to do before 2016 (Part Five)

Useful links and references