Time to Tackle two-tier system of BIM adoption

30 October 2019 | By Donatella Fiorella, ISG

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Only construction’s elite are fully engaged with BIM, argues ISG’s Donatella Fiorella.

“We’ve had to bring more seats in for your session,” was the response from the organisers when I queried the room reconfiguration happening around me. I was about to present about ISG’s educational journey implementing BIM throughout our business, at a BSI digital conference, and these were encouraging, if nerve-racking, signs.

This thirst for knowledge is perhaps symptomatic of the BIM situation construction now finds itself in. There is an ever-widening gulf between those organisations that are fully signed up members of the BIM club, and those that haven’t begun their journey – or simply can’t get out of the starting blocks.

“We suspect only around 15% of the UK supply chain has a clear understanding and the ability to deliver BIM outcomes.”

Donatella Fiorella

Since 2016, when BIM was mandated by government on centrally procured public works, those tier 1 contractors and suppliers that recognised the importance of the BIM agenda have been investing heavily in technology, training and people. Many also realised that if they don’t invest in training for their supply chain partners, then they cannot deliver BIM outcomes to clients.

However, the effect of this piecemeal implementation has created a two-tier system, with elite supply chain partners benefiting, and the remainder left without the resource, time and investment to embark on this journey.

That became apparent at the conference, with an audience of digital specialists from contractors, supply chain, private practices and government agencies. These individuals recognised the importance of BIM. But I heard about culture clashes within organisations.

Anecdotally, we suspect only around 15% of the UK supply chain has a clear understanding and ability to deliver BIM outcomes. That’s a huge mountain to climb for everyone driving digitalisation and smart outcomes.

The fragmentation of our supply chains means we can no longer rely on a small cohort of partners that “get” BIM. We must engage and educate across the entire supplier spectrum. The benefits are clear: skilled project partners, enhanced collaboration and better customer outcomes.

The wider industry has the capability to help those 85% progress digital implementation. An immediate consequence from the conference was the instigation of a workshops series that we are hosting to help organisations fast-track their BIM journeys.

The appetite to join construction’s digital revolution is there – but do we have the commitment and ambition to add those extra chairs when our suppliers are reaching out to us?

Donatella Fiorella is a BIM manager at ISG

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