All centrally-procured public sector construction projects will require the implementation of BIM at Level 2 from 4 April 2016. But where to begin when it comes to considering how best to implement BIM in your organisation and what is Level 2 BIM anyway?

Over the past few months in our Are you BIM ready? series we’ve taken a detailed look at what you need to consider when drawing up a BIM implementation plan and how to go about implementing it successfully. As that deadline looms large we offer an at-a-glance guide to getting started with BIM with links back to our more detailed advice…

What is Level 2 BIM?

Our article on BIM levels explained examines the defining characteristics of each level of BIM maturity. In general terms the following definitions hold true:

Level 0 CAD used for 2D drafting only with no collaboration between parties.
Level 1 3D CAD used for conceptual and presentation work with data shared electronically.
Level 2 3D CAD models developed by each design team sharing the design as a CAD model (not merely a ‘print’) in a common file format.

It is the common file format, together with the management and method of sharing the data, which underpins the definition of Level 2, and which requires more rigorous application and implementation of standardized working methods than may have been the case previously.

Where does your business fit?

The starting point on any BIM journey should be a business audit to understand the BIM maturity of your organisation. What demands are your existing clients and the resulting work putting on your business? Do you deal with mainly public or private sector clients? What kind of clients and projects do you expect to be dealing with in future and what will their requirements be? Does it make sense to adopt a greater level of BIM maturity? If so, what skills do you have within the organisation and what skills might you need? Will your existing hardware and software do the job and to what extent will your working practices, security and QA procedures need to be overhauled?

Putting the case for BIM

No process of change management is without its risks – understanding and mitigating these is therefore an essential precursor to developing a business case for BIM implementation. This document should crystallise why you want to implement BIM in your business with a focus on clear, measurable outcomes. Do you want to win more business? Do you want to work with partners who are already adopting BIM? Do you want to improve design efficiencies or streamline delivery? Whatever you’re hoping to achieve, the business case should put the case for action.

Assessing the changes

With a clear plan about what you’re hoping to achieve you can start to focus on researching and assessing what you actually have to do to realize it.

Changes will likely be needed when it comes to the structure of your business as teams are adjusted to meet new demands for shareable information across the project lifecycle. Software and hardware may also need new consideration and investment. Policies, protocols and procedures will also need to be considered particularly in regard to the management of data.

With more information required upfront to build a 3D model (as opposed to floorplans only) you may need to reconsider how your organisation charges clients, and how contracts need to change to reflect these new ways of working.

Developing a strategic plan

With a clearer understanding of the way ahead come the practicalities of developing a comprehensive roadmap through strategic planning. How much will it all cost? What needs to be in place at the start, what can wait until later? How long will it all take? How will driving forward a programme of change impact on the day-to-day business? Who should be involved (and who shouldn’t)? What needs to be delivered? What does success look like?

Making change happen

It is the BIM Execution Plan that will set out how your project will be run and how the required information will be documented with reference to a raft of appropriate standards.

With the plan codified its then up to you to determine where it should be implemented – across a range of test projects or phased across the business or in line with a specific goal or objective? Which approach you choose will ultimately determine the sequence of tasks required. Regardless, it’s important to be realistic as to your implementation budget and build-in appropriate time to test and feedback at each stage.

In conclusion

As with any process of change management you only get out of the process what you invest in the first place and, as with any project, the performance, dedication and diligence of all stakeholders is critical for success.

It can be easy to forget that BIM is only a means to an end – the end being more effective communication on a project through collaborative working, which in turn should help reduce waste and cost.

We hope our guide to successful planning proves useful on your journey towards Level 2 BIM.