Implementing BIM in construction projects is challenging, but once adopted, the BIM methodology brings multiple benefits, especially in the area of productivity. BIM facilitates the creation of visualizations, sections and elevations freely and helps to incorporate this information later in the process of construction and maintenance of buildings, infrastructure and facilities.
Problems in the practical application of BIM do not generally relate to the capability of the BIM methodology or software, but to the effective implementation within existing systems and to training and equipping teams with the skills necessary to take advantage of its many benefits.
The following are some of the most common issues that organizations face when implementing BIM. Addressing them before implementation begins can save the project and greatly enhance the benefits achieved.
When a company, or rather a manager, asks to implement BIM without understanding what that means, just because they have heard that it is the future or what is “in”, it usually does not end well.
This is the most important challenge faced by BIM implementation projects. Despite the fact that companies are well informed about the general benefits of this new way of managing the construction business, clients do not fully understand the real scope and implications of the methodology on the way companies work.
Without strong leadership that understands the true dimension of BIM and takes steps to bring all employees into the project, success is much more difficult.
High cost of implementation
The biggest problem that can arise in any business organization is the high cost of BIM implementation. We’re not talking so much about the cost of equipment and technology, as less tangible but very important expenses.
When implementing BIM, you need to consider that all elements of business operations, from compliance applications to vendor component specification, need to be streamlined and integrated into a single system.
In addition, as discussed below, you should consider the potential cost of training or hiring staff with sufficient knowledge and experience in BIM.
In large and medium-sized companies it may be easier to align their equipment with BIM, as they have large teams that can adapt appropriately. In smaller companies it is more difficult to commit an entire team to the BIM project at one time or even over a period of time.
A viable option for them would be to take advantage of the experience and knowledge of external consultants who would help them keep their teams intact, facilitating better integration of BIM technologies into their business model.
Resistance to change
Most employees are used to working with traditional tools that they know and master perfectly. There are many barriers that prevent project participants from using the latest technology and BIM. Barriers include fear of failure, leaving the comfort zone, time to learn how to use the software and, in many cases, lack of support from their managers and the company’s management.
The implementation of a radically different comprehensive technology within this environment requires appropriate strategic decision making by management, involving employees using the available knowledge and experience to execute the implementation without altering the existing working model.
Lack of collaboration
Getting the maximum benefits from BIM technology is directly related to the ability to maximize the collaboration of all project members. No matter who the leader is, the fact that all key participants are involved offers the most benefit to the entire team.
As we have mentioned, the correct implementation of BIM in organizations to obtain maximum benefit is a complex process that requires the participation of many actors. For this reason, it is essential to adequately plan and define the different activities.
It is necessary to incorporate BIM in the right measure for the objectives of the company, without falling short, which would prevent the expected benefits, nor in excess, producing more BIM than users can handle, which is a clear waste.
Coexistence with non-BIM systems
The use of BIM and non-BIM systems operating within the same office poses a staffing problem. With a single software platform such as CAD, any staff member is available to work on a relevant project. However, in the BIM application, only a small group of staff members would be available.
BIM pilot or BIM training projects should be carefully selected according to size, timing and availability of team members. This division of team members could cost the organization the efficiency of the team and the billable time.
On the other hand, BIM user companies with a high number of assets are faced with the long term coexistence of existing assets, not designed with BIM, with new assets to be incorporated according to the methodology. The integration of non-BIM assets into the new BIM-based asset management tools will be a key aspect of an effective transition.