Upskilling staff for BIM: Speller Metcalfe's strategy

16 July 2018 | By Ashley Poole-Graham

Ashley Poole-Graham, BIM manager at Speller Metcalfe, explains why all employees need knowledge of BIM.

Ashley Poole-Graham

The latest annual BIM+ Survey shows that although the industry is making progress in digital technologies, uptake of BIM Level 2 is still slow.

To help in the move towards total digital uptake, two things need to happen. First, more needs to be done by the industry to educate clients on the value of BIM, not only during the design-and-build process but also as a valuable tool in the long-term management of their asset.

Secondly, industry professionals across the board need to be better educated in the benefits of BIM, rather than letting all the knowledge and know-how sit with those who use the technology on a daily basis.

At Speller Metcalfe we have developed a range of initiatives to directly address the gaps in skills and knowledge that exist both inside and outside of our organisation. 

Externally we hold regular BIM Awareness Days with both clients and our supply chain, as well as leading project-specific BIM toolbox talks to engage with subcontractors on site. BIM and associated digital issues are regular topics of discussion at our CPD-accredited Knowledge Series events – a free-to-attend initiative that we developed in 2014 for sharing knowledge and best practice among construction professionals.

Within the company we have created in-house BIM training plans that include workshops open to all employees, offering varying levels of insight, from BIM for Beginners to job-specific advanced training.

Upskilling employees from all areas of the business – not just the designers and BIM professionals – helps us all to be champions of the technology, creating a team of BIM ambassadors who can engage in discussions on the benefits of BIM with our clients, consultants and subcontractors.

This holistic approach has also helped to streamline processes internally, with support staff learning how to administrate the common data environment and site management gaining a better grasp of BIM in the field.

Lack of knowledge and understanding is the most commonly cited barrier to using BIM, so as the experts we have a responsibility to share our experiences and lessons learned. It is only by taking this approach that we can expect the industry to move forward.

Image: Laimonas Bogusas/Dreamstime.com


The industry is still reporting a slow uptake of BIM Level 2. I wonder why that is?
All this talk about upskilling, training, awareness days and ambassadors implies a degree of complexity associated with BIM that quite frankly does not exist. BIM is not a complicated process, in fact, it is quite logical and most engineers can adapt very quickly to its vagaries.
Sure some training is necessary to ensure compliance with the basic principles but the general perception that it is complex sends the wrong message.
Plus the perceived need to invest vast amounts of expenditure on changing CAD software to something like Revit when a company will likely already have a BIM compliant product other than Revit. The idea that BIM=Revit needs to be stamped out.
It need not be expensive and it need not be complicated. Perhaps if we change the perception more companies will adopt BIM.

Hugh Thomson, 16 July 2018

Hi Hugh, thanks for the response. I certainly agree that BIM does not equal REVIT, BIM is a process and cannot be purchased out of a box. I also agree that BIM should not be complicated. BIM is generated through the combined efforts of people, process, and technology, the overall process has an additional degree of complexity over a traditional project, but to the individual it is simply a different way of working. It is that new way of working, and engaging with new technologies that we are raising awareness of. Once individuals realise how BIM relates to their role, they are less fearful of it and more likely to engage with it.

The client also needs to drive the process, there is (generally speaking) a lack of awareness of the benefits BIM can bring throughout the lifecycle of an Asset.

Ashley Poole-Graham, 16 July 2018

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