July 23, 2012, by admin

When Transitioning to a BIM Process, Ask the Last Question First

At SHP, our conversion to a building information modeling (BIM) process occurred in 2005.  We completely converted all of our architects and engineers to the Revit platform in about ten months that year.  The timetable we set for ourselves was unheard of and we knew it.  However, by committing to the goal of getting 100% of our firm using Revit allowed us to figure out a lot of the bumps and bruises very quickly.  We were also very public about our conversion because we believed in the change (and still do).  In turn, by being so public about this new direction caused a lot of our clients and building owners to engage us to find out how and why we did it.  These conversations quickly turned into how we could help them leverage BIM as well.

The first question that we ask of all of our clients is: “What do you want to do with the information?”  We call this asking the last question first.  This question needs to be understood at its fundamental level.  That question and the conversations that follow typically have an educational component to them.  From the owner, what is BIM and how does it affect them?  From us, how do you currently manage your buildings and building information?  The beauty of these questions is that they are so open-ended that they can’t help but lead to more conversation and understanding.

Most of our clients answer those questions differently at the beginning of the process and they will by the end.  An understanding starts to develop in these dialogs that help us identify what the client believes they are doing right and also to what the client ultimately believes that they can do better.  Sometimes they don’t know what those answers are.  Most tend to be somewhat surprised by the answers or the lack of concrete data during the dialog.  At SHP, we believe in a concept called “The Cost of Doing Nothing.”  This concept comes from the environment that does not ask owners or even the AEC community that works with them to understand what the cost of the status quo is.  "The Cost of Doing Nothing" forces everyone to realize that while there is certainly cost in change, there is sometimes an even higher cost in waiting or doing nothing at all.

[It is interesting to note that at its fundamental core, a change to a BIM process challenges what building managers and owners do on a daily basis.  Building managers are asked to maintain their buildings as if nothing has changed since the day that they move into those same buildings.  Change goes against everything that they know.] 

Our conversations with owners about BIM Standards are always a challenging endeavor.  There are awesome people that we get to know; people who become champions for change and take on leadership roles.   There are also those that need more convincing or simply can’t overcome the daily grind of just keeping their head above water.  But ever conversation and discussion opens up new possibilities for both the owner and for us to learn about leveraging a BIM process.  We look forward to these opportunities and for those that challenge us to dig a little deeper or reevaluate our understanding of how they see their buildings.  Each BIM Standards project that we get commissioned to do has new challenges and new intricacies.  The only thing that is consistent is change.