27 May 2020

What is BIM? It’s been a hot topic in the construction and engineering space for a while now. With the Australian federal and state governments recently considering how to best to implement BIM standards, many businesses are now looking closely at their practices with the view of becoming BIM compliant sooner rather than later.

But do most businesses know what BIM is? Sure, we know it stands for Building Information Modelling, but what is BIM in real terms and how can it actually benefit businesses? Let’s break it down.

What is BIM

BIM can easily be mistaken as simple 3D modelling of a project, but the reality is that it involves so much more. BIM is the process of digitally documenting all the information, details and components of a project across the entire lifespan of the project. One collective source of information that can be shared, accessed and updated by all stakeholders and project collaborators. BIM provides a digital record of graphical and written information all in one source of truth detailing all stages of a project across its entire lifespan.

BIM is designed to provide a reliable, shared source of project information from which clear decisions and assessments can be made. At the end of the project, it will be a solid resource to determine the overall results of the project… What was done well, what could have been done better and where adjustment needs to be made on future projects of the same nature.

The successful implementation of BIM requires that all individuals and organisations with influence over the project use common standards such as the Uniclass 2015 classification system.


The Future of BIM in Australia

[MO3] BIM is currently not widely implemented on Australian projects and business practices. This is not due to lack of desire, many Australian building and engineering designers have been working with BIM principles for many years, but without  the requirements defined by client or contractor. The Australian construction and engineering sector have been poised to streamline processes for a while now. The delay in bringing BIM online within Australian practices can be attributed to the lack of guidance in BIM adoption.

We are, however, on the precipice of change in this area with state governments across Australia, working on and implementing their own BIM policies and guidelines.

The Victorian Government has already released a digital asset strategy (VDAS), and this strategy and guidance are already being used across all government agencies supporting government infrastructure projects.

The Queensland Government has implemented BIM practices into their major projects since July 2019. Since this time, all government construction projects with a value greater than $50 million are required to use BIM practices from the early planning phase. The Queensland Government plans to transition to full BIM implementation by 2023.

New South Wales is also working to streamline their project practices through the use of BIM with Transport for NSW launching the Digital Engineering (DE) framework that is being used by all rail infrastructure projects in that state.

Other governments across Australia are working to implement BIM into their larger-scale projects and across the board, and it’s anticipated that this will become more common as industry leaders in this space, including the Australasian BIM Advisory board and NBS Australia, push to implement and streamline BIM practices. As it becomes more common and Government bodies streamline and mandate their processes, there will be a BIM compliance requirement set as an industry standard Australia wide.


Implementing BIM into your Business

The advantages of BIM are well documented. BIM saves time, is cost-effective and allows for better, more accurate project collaboration. So, why are businesses so hesitant to implement BIM into their work practices? We can only determine that there is a misconception from many business owners that BIM is too costly, confusing and disruptive to implement, and therefore they hold off doing so.

This cannot be further from the truth. With the right strategy and a clear plan, implementing BIM into your business can be relatively straightforward. By following these recommended steps for BIM implementation:

  1. Get management onboard - Implementing BIM is not simply about using a new program or software, it’s about making company-wide changes to your procedures and processes. Therefore, support from Management to implement BIM is imperative to success. 
  2. Assemble a team - Implementing BIM will require a team effort. Building a BIM team who can share the set-up load as well as contribute sound advice and knowledge to the process will help considerably. 
  3. Determine your company standards - As BIM largely consists of collaboration, there are clear frameworks around the system, but as a company, you will need to determine your own standards as to how you will go about implementing BIM policies. Carefully documenting these internal company standards and policies will be a worthwhile investment. 
  4. Decide on the best tools to use Selecting the right tools to support your BIM practices will go a long way to overall BIM success. Determining these tools prior to transitioning to BIM will make the process easier. This will require both your BIM team and Management to be on the same page as purchasing and training staff to use new tools, programs and software will be required.
  5. Train and develop staff - As you plan out your company's BIM implementation strategy, it will become apparent who within your organisation will require training and development in the new processes. Communication to ensure everyone has the same level of understanding and are approaching BIM implementation from the same viewpoint is key.
  6. Hone your processes - Any major changes are going to require tweaks and adjustments to perfect the method and BIM implementation is no different. Regular reviews of the system and BIM policies can help the process. 
  7. Set realistic expectations - Implementing BIM is not simply learning new software. It’s a whole new approach to the way your company documents projects. With this in mind, it can take more time and effort than anticipated and setting realistic expectations will reduce stress and allow adequate time to implement the system successfully.  
  8. Don’t overcomplicate things - BIM should be streamlining your business practices and making life easier for everyone involved. Any BIM practices and policies should be based around simple strategies and procedures that can be implemented by anyone working in your organisation. 
  9. Plan for hiccups - Like all new things, there can be delays and setbacks, particularly when making changes to long-held habits and routines. Anticipating any risk of setbacks and mitigating these risks is essential to keeping your BIM implementation on track. 
  10. Draw from a community – Most major cities in Australia already host a BIM community, you just need to become part of that community. Keeping up-to-date, drawing from these resources and being a part of the conversation can help you learn from the lessons of others and consider ideas that may help your business.  


The Benefits of BIM to your Business

As mentioned previously, the benefits of implementing BIM into your business are plentiful. These benefits include:

  • Better control over projects - including costings and environmental data
  • Reduced uncertainty along with reduced risks
  • More efficient and streamlined processes in your business
  • Improved coordination between data sets and graphical information
  • Increased team collaboration and productivity
  • Greater opportunity to forecast project time frames and workload
  • Ability to meet Government BIM requirements with greater opportunity to secure lucrative contracts.


Introducing BIM into your systems, processes and business will ultimately streamline your business practices, allow for greater productivity and profitability and elevate your business to a level that opens the door to better projects and opportunities.

Why not make a start today with the implementation of NBS Chorus, smarter specification software leading the way to BIM compliance. Book a demo today.