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 throughout the course of this series. This article looks at the actual process of BIM implementation within your business.

Implementation targets

Having established the team, set Key Performance Indicators and defined the deliverables in the form of the BIM Execution Plan, the next task is to define the targets, as well as the steps to be taken in reaching those targets. There are a number of different routes to implementation:

Phased approach – test projects

With this approach, BIM is phased in to the workplace gradually, rather than a sudden across-the-board office culture shift. The method applied in this case is to use BIM on selected projects only, to act as guinea pig trials, before rolling out the new regime across the whole company. In this way, a number of key benefits can be realised:

  • Projects can be cherry-picked according to complexity, other stakeholder requirements and agendas, as well as timescale.
  • Risk is reduced, in financial terms as well as client relations.
  • Only a small number of skilled or trained personnel are needed to begin with.
  • Lessons can be learned from the exercise, and applied to future projects, thereby improving the success rates in future as BIM usage is widened out to the rest of the office.

Phased approach – whole office

Similar to the above tactic, but in this case the strategy is to move the whole office, one step at a time. This may be more suitable for smaller businesses where the opportunity for learning by passing on information between colleagues is more common. But rather than starting one entire project at Level 2 BIM from scratch, aspects of the process can be introduced one at a time until the entire office is implementing all parts of the process.

Specific goal approach

In contrast to the previous two methods, this approach instead chooses to focus on one specific criterion at a time. For example, the first target might be to reduce abortive work, through the coordination of designs between disciplines; or it might be to reduce the time (and hence cost) taken on a project (or even a specific work stage) with the aim of increasing profitability. Alternatively, the target might be to share and exchange data effectively with other stakeholders, including aspects such as data security or transfer rates; or streamlined information releases.

Implementation programme

As with any project, effective programming is essential to ensuring the success of BIM implementation within your organisation. To this end, the following points should be allowed for:


Look at the sequence of processes and events needed to take place. Ensure that the programme towards full implementation is designed chronologically, with a clearly defined critical path. In this way, nothing should be held up because an important prior step has been overlooked. Tasks to fit in to the programme include:

  • Hardware and software
  • Infrastructure
  • Team selection
  • Project selection
  • Data security and sharing strategies
  • Standards to adhere to
  • Data management
  • Contracts and appointment documents
  • Insurance (copyright, intellectual property, professional indemnity).


Consider undertaking a pilot project, possibly run in parallel to a ‘traditional’ team. This can have advantages and disadvantages. The benefits can be twofold: firstly, the comparison between methods can provide a very useful measure of performance; and secondly, if the worst comes to the worst, the ‘traditional’ documentation can be used rather than the BIM documentation, if it is deemed that the test has not been as successful as had been anticipated.

The drawbacks are that this is a very expensive experiment to undertake, since (approximately) twice the resources will be needed for the same fee, and this may be prohibitive for smaller organisations. In addition, smaller businesses may simply not have the capacity to be able to do this. But whether the pilot is run in parallel or in isolation, it will have the benefit of enabling your business to learn in small steps and apply lessons to future projects, as the new regime becomes more familiar and practised.


The RIBA Plan of Work has always included within the final work stage of any project the task of evaluation, and with BIM projects (particularly early ones in a practice’s portfolio) this is arguably more important than ever. Sufficient time should therefore be set aside to be able to review and evaluate completed BIM projects exhaustively, so that adjustments can be made to future commissions. Data should be collected at each stage of the project, and assessed objectively but critically, in order to establish which stage wasn’t as successful as predicted, and where improvements can be made. Data should include:

  • Time spent on each part of the project
  • Fees received
  • Final profits
  • Any abortive work
  • Mistakes and discrepancies in design information or on site
  • Coordination with other stakeholders
  • Quantity of requests for information and variations
  • Level of waste generated
  • Actual operating costs compared with predicted.

Implementation budget

Finally, a budget should be set for BIM implementation. This is a prudent measure that will ensure that, on the one hand, costs don’t escalate out of hand; but – equally importantly – that insufficient funds aren’t made available to be able to implement BIM successfully. The budget should allow for the following:


Training of staff. This might be by way of a structured and tutored course; or purchasing of educational training material. Training costs will also, however, include time, i.e. the time expended on training that could otherwise have been spent on undertaking fee-earning projects.

Software renewal/upgrade

So often perceived as the biggest single aspect of BIM, it is nevertheless still an important factor. Choices abound between software packages themselves, different levels of licence (incorporating more advanced features) and other ‘bolt on’ extras such as clash detection or thermal modelling. Time should be spent researching exactly which features are needed and which are simply desirable, and budgets set accordingly. Assess how many licences will be required, particularly at the outset if BIM is being phased in gradually.


Look at the hardware requirements for your chosen software. Computer upgrades (either partial or whole) may be required; be careful also to check for any compatibility issues, particularly with the recent release of Windows 10 for PC users. In addition to the computers themselves, data storage devices, routers and even Ethernet cabling may need to be upgraded to cope with increased file sizes and data transfer speeds. Review also your broadband service, in terms of speed, bandwidth and download quotas.

Research & development

There are so many facets to BIM implementation that it is perhaps inevitable that most organisations will have a great deal to learn, about a wide range of issues. The budget should therefore allow for researching and investigation by all those staff who have been tasked with setting up BIM within your company.

Additional time for learning curve

Last but by no means least, new working methods are going to take time to learn and master, and there will doubtless be a reduced speed initially as staff get to grips with different processes and protocols. Allow time for this transition, and also for abortive work as mistakes may be more frequent initially as new workarounds are discovered – very often the hard way.

The next article examines how commitment to the BIM implementation strategy is vital at all levels within your business.

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

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