Building Information Modeling in project management

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Developed by Maria Saridaki

Building Information Modeling (BIM) is defined as “a digital representation of physical and functional characteristics of a facility. As such it serves as a shared knowledge resource for information about a facility forming a reliable basis for decisions during its lifecycle from inception onward” according to The National Building Information Model Standard Project Committee. [1] The concept of BIM was developed at Georgia Institute of Technology in the late 1970s and has increased rapidly the last decades due to the significant benefits that provided in construction projects.

In this article, BIM is analyzed for the perspective of project management. Although BIM tool is more associated with the design team, the impact of project management is crucial and continuous in all the stages of the life-cycle of a project. For successful management, the procedures and tasks have to be planned in the early phase of the project. For this reason a BIM Project execution plan should be developed in advance. The objectives of this execution plan as well as the tasks of an experienced project manager as the BIM-coordinator of the project are discussed. Moreover, the advantages and the limitations of the implementation of BIM in construction projects are identified.



Although BIM appears as a new tool for management of construction projects, its concept exists for at least 30-40 years.[2]

In 1975, Eastmen [3] introduced in his paper the idea of “Building description systems (BDS)” as a “single integrated database for visual and quantitative analyses” , where “Contractors of large projects may find this representation advantageous for scheduling and materials ordering” . Later, after the development of BDS concept, in 1986, Robert Aish [4] described it as “Building Modelling”, in the sense that BIM is used today. As “Building Information modeling”, first documented in 1992 by G.A. van Nederveen and F. P. Tolman [5]. However, the concept of “Building Information Modeling” became popular even later when in 2002 Autodesk adopted it as a strategy for “the application of information technology to the building industry”[6]. From then, the amount of BIM users is increasing rapidly due to the benefits are provided.

BIM aspects regarding Project Management

The main aspects of using BIM regarding Project Management are the integrated project delivery system, the unique language as well as technical aspects [7] , which are further discussed:

  • Integrated Project Delivery System

Integrated project delivery is an integrating approach for project management for delivering projects that integrate the collaboration between the different parties that are involved on it. By this way, the efficiency through the phases could be increased as all the parties operate as a coherent team and concentrate on the project's general outcome and not on individual objectives. For improving the collaboration, BIM-tools enable the communication, visualization and analysis of complex project information between parties, which also improve the productivity and facilitation management. The benefits of an integrated project delivery on BIM-based approach, during the life cycle, contribute to a successful project execution.

Figure 1:Information exchange between BIM-project parties by using IFC specification
  • Unique language

The key of success in project management is the usage of the same language, meaning using the same vocabulary among all the participants of the project.[8] In a BIM project, it is crucial for a project manager to be well-educated and have the skills to understand and be understood by all the parties involved in the project. Moreover, the ‘language’ between the parties is also important as BIM is based on the communication and the exchange of information between the teams of the project. For instance, the use of different softwares languages by different teams involved in the project is one of the main challenges in BIM, which can be solved by the use of a common neutral format language for exchanging information between the parties. For instance, the international organization, buildingSMART, formerly the International Alliance of Interoperability (IAI), has developed a neutral and open specification for BIM, called Industry Foundation Classes (IFCs), for improving the exchange of information between softwares used in the construction industry (Figure 1). Data interoperability is a main factor for obtaining BIM efficiency.

Some specific characteristic of BIM, that are increasingly developed, can be used in project management effectively. These characteristics are:

  • Clash Detection
    One of the main problem during the design construction project, is when the different disciplines’ plans are overlapped and design inconsistencies arise. By using BIM techniques, the plans are gathered together and clashes are detected and solved. Not only construction clashes but also aesthetic problems can be avoided, due to the visualization that is offered by BIM.
  • Constructability
    Using BIM, constructability issues can be reviewed and handled by the teams. Moreover, the visual information that is provided can facilitate the detection of constructability problems and mitigate the risk, allowing investigation for finding solutions.
  • Analysis
    BIM methods allow better analysis of all phases, enabling for project managers, designers and engineers to make decisions about the project. For instance, using BIM tools, it is possible to calculate the energy consumption of a construction project and find solutions by changing the materials and orientation, improving indoor air quality . Finally, BIM allows light acoustic and mechanical analysis.
  • Time and Cost estimation (4D and 5D analysis)
    The visualization of a construction project achieved by 3D models result in a better understanding of the construction. But BIM also enables time and cost estimation which represented by 4D and 5D analysis, which can be utilized at the first stages of a project and facilitate the decision making process by minimum time and cost. Additionally, the implementation of alternatives scenarios could be utilized and near-instant analysis of the situation to be used by project manager in order to predict the consequences of their decisions.
  • Integration
    The collaboration of the parties that use BIM as well as the composition of a unified model, enable the coordination of analysis, design and construction activities resulting in the integrity of the projects.
  • Quantity take-off
    Quantity takeoffs in a BIM model contribute to better decision analysis by the project team regarding different alternative solution during the project life-cycle. Faster estimation are allowed due to the integration and 3D 4D and 5D analysis of BIM models. Takeoffs quantities can also be used in the procurement procedure.
  • Element based Model
    BIM models consist of elements/objects and not just geometrical shapes and lines. This enables the division of the project in smaller objects for better analysis, better management design, estimation and construction by having a defined and clear scope of the project.
  • Collaboration and team building
    Collaboration and Team building is another key of successful construction projects. Using the BIM concept, all parties are working on the same unified model and they do not focus on individual outcomes but on the whole project progress.
  • Communication
    Collaboration and communication between the different parties involved in the construction project, are increased due to the unified project model . The distribution of information between project managers, engineers, designers and contractors and the direct constant communication facilitate the reduction of the risk.

BIM execution planning

For gaining the benefits of using BIM in a project, the parties should be aware of detailed-planning and scheduling of tasks and procedures.

The Public Available Specification (PAS 1192-2013) proposes the implementation of a BIM execution plan (BEP), for an effective integration of BIM into the project delivery process.[10] By this plan it will be ensured that all parties have knowledge of the opportunities and responsibilities by using Building Information modeling. In the BIM execution plan should be included all the uses of BIM as well as detailed design and documentation of the processes for executing BIM through the project life-cycle. After the implementation of this plan, the parties take the advantage of following and monitoring their progress against the plan and gaining all the benefits of BIM usage.

Benefits of developing a BIM execution plan

The main goals for developing this structured planning procedure are:[11]

  • Communication

Developing a BIM execution plan at the early beginning of a project, the instant communication between the different parties is encouraged. Moreover, it helps the management of the responsibilities and the expectations of each stakeholder, ensuring that the clear communication is available of all parties involved in the project.

  • Collaboration

BIM execution plan is a “living” document that enables the collaboration of project members in real time on various phases of the project. The real time collaboration help the avoiding of unnecessary silos among project task and amplify the proper attention on the requirements of the particular projects facilitating better project performance.

  • Saving time

The delays of construction projects is a usual problem of the construction industry. A well-developed BIM execution plan will reduce the delays, as all the tasks are well structured and will helps the maintenance of the scheduled deliveries as it is focusing on the project benefits and none of the stakeholders will stuck on scrutinized details.

  • Sharing data

One of the main advantages of BIM execution plan is the transparency that offered, as all information are available for all stakeholders for the very start of the process. All project members have access to BIM-project data, enabling the sharing of information in every stage as well as their frequently updating avoiding misunderstandings and double-work.

  • Stringer execution

Due to the great communication and collaboration that is achieved by composing a BIM execution plan from the beginning of the project, a strong finish and execution of the project on time and on budget can be ensured.

BIM execution planning Guide

BIM Execution Planning Guide, a product of the BIM Project Execution Planning buildingSMART alliance™ (bSa) Project, includes the decision matrix and guidelines for creation and implementation of a BIM execution plan.

Figure 2:Steps of BIM Project Execution Planning Procedure

The main objectives of the BIM Project Execution Planning Guide are (Figure 2): [12]

  • The identification of high value BIM uses during project planning, design, construction and operational phases
  • The creation of process maps for designing the BIM execution process
  • The definition of the BIM deliverables in the form of information exchanges
  • The development of the infrastructure in the form of contracts, communication procedures, technology and quality control to support implementation.

Identification of BIM goals and uses

The identification of the potential value of BIM and the overall goals of BIM implementation on the project is one of the most important steps in the planning process. BIM goals are based on project performance such as the reduction of schedule duration, reduction of the total cost and increasing of project quality, or related to advancing the capabilities of the project team members such as gaining experience by the efficient use of digital design applications. After the identification of BIM goals from both project and company perspective, the specific BIM uses on the project can be also identified. A BIM Use is unique task or procedure on a project which can benefit from the integration of BIM into that process. The BEP guide includes twenty-five BIM uses that have been accrued through the analysis of BIM project case studies and interviews with BIM experts. The twenty five uses provide a representation of the current BIM uses in industry. Some of those uses are: Cost-estimation, design authoring, 4D and 5D modeling. In this step, the project team should identify and prioritize the BIM uses that are important for the project.

Creation of BIM execution process map

The next step of the plan is the creation of the process map, which shows the sequences and the interaction of all BIM uses of the project. This high level BIM map enables of the project members to understand the procedure and how their project processes interact with the processes that are performed by other teams. Additionally, after the development of the high level BIM map, other more detailed-process maps are developed for each BIM use by the responsible for this use team members. A detailed process map illustrates the detailed procedure that should be followed by the organization that is responsible for the specific BIM use.

Development of information exchange

After the creation of the the process map, the way of information exchanges between the different project teams should be identified. An information exchange table (Figure XX) is used for helping the different teams to clearly understand the information content of the exchange transactions.

Development of infrastructures for supporting BIM implementation

The last step of the planning is the development of the appropriate infrastructures for supporting all the BIM planned processes. This includes the delivery structure and the contract language by defining technology infrastructure, the communication language and the quality control procedures, for ensuring high quality information models.

Who should develop the Building Execution plan

According to the Building execution planning guide, a planning team should develop the execution plan at the early stage of the project. This team should be consists of representatives from all parties involved in the project (owner, contractor, engineers, managers). It is important that the planning procedures are supported by all members involved. Goals and vision of the project should be clearly defined in the execution plan by the planning team. Therefore, the detailed implementation processes and information exchanges for each of the parties can be developed and implemented by BIM coordinators, which role is to coordinate and compile the BIM Plan. The role of BIM coordinator can be taken by the owner, architect or the construction manager of the project, but also can be facilitated by a third party if the team is not experienced or find it beneficial to have an external facilitator for the planning activities.

The role of BIM coordinator is to look after the formulation of BIM execution plan as well as to coordinate various BIM duties. This task should be given in an experienced project individual with knowledge of BIM methods and project management. The duties of a BIM coordinator are to clarify BIM-related task and the responsibilities to each party involved as well as to supervise, give guidelines and coordinate the BIM teams through all the phases of the project. [12] [13]


The main challenges of using Building Information Modeling are: [14]

  • Cost of software
    Currently, organizations utilize 2D and 3D softwares having the cost against purchasing, maintaining and upgrading software licenses. The cost of BIM software packages are more expensive than CAD software packages.Moreover, due to the increasing hardware requirements, BIM softwares dedicate high-specification workstation to be operated, in contrast with CAD softwares that can be operated in the majority of professional laptops.
  • Cost of Training
    When an organization is investing in BIM software, it is crucial to train its employees for using it and gain the benefits of the investment quickly. A specialized training is appropriate even if the staff have the knowledge of CAD methods and it is a requirement for all professional involved in BIM projects. Without the appropriate training the BIM may be proved more costly and time-consuming.
  • Transition from Drafting to Modeling
    The transition from CAD to BIM software is not only about the increased drafting capabilities but a change in the workflow. Except from the design skills, the ability of understanding the whole project and the material used is a requirement for BIM users. Moreover the responsibilities of the staff are increased in order to ensure that all system components are coordinated with the other design professionals such as architectures and engineering services. Additionally, the cost associated with the training and maintaining of current designers in order to undertake their work into a design environment and up-skilling the drafting staff to a higher technical level is high.
  • Compatibility Between Software Platforms
    One of the biggest challenges of new BIM users is the inter-product compatibility due to the high amount of different software packages that existing in the market and used by different teams. However the interoperability issue it is not only about the different software but also about the different versions of programs within the same platform. This problem can be eliminate by using an agreed neutral-file format such as IFC (Industry Foundation Classes) which captures both geometry and properties of intelligent building objects.

Annotated Bibliography

  • Building Information Modelling Brochure[14]

The brochure is a summary of industry reports, studies, surveys and editorials which provides explanation about what Building Information modeling is and its meaning to the audiovisual professional both now and the coming years. It also analyses the benefits and the challenges of using BIM technologies, BIM's value for developing more sustainable buildings and how can be implemented in various projects successfully.

  • BIM execution Planning Guide[12]

This guide presents all the methodologies that must be followed for successful implementation of BIM methods in a project. It provides useful matrix and guidelines that can be used for planning a project. The guide is a product of the BIM Project Execution Planning buildingSMART alliance™ (bSa) Project.

  • Common BIM requirements of Finland (2012)[15]

Common BIM requirements is a BIM protocol, based on BIM requirements, which developed in Finland and published by Senate Properties. Even if it is meant only for Finnish construction industry, it includes reference documents that can be used for other construction industries through the whole project lifecycle. COBIM consists of thirteen series that can be used as guide, focusing each of them on a different part of the project. In the series it is described (among others) the way of delivering models, the software should be used as well as what should be documented, when and by whom in each project phase.


  1. National BIM Standard-United States (2015). Retrieved 12 September 2016.
  2. Retrieved 11 September 2016.
  3. Eastman, C. (1975): ‘The use of computers instead of drawings in building design‘, AIA Journal, March, Volume 63, Number 3, pp46-50.
  4. Aish, R. (1986): ‘Building Modelling: The Key to Integrated Construction CAD’, CIB 5th International Symposium on the Use of Computers for Environmental Engineering Related to Buildings, 7-9 July.
  5. Van Nederveen, G.A.; Tolman, F.P. (1992). "Modelling multiple views on buildings". Automation in Construction. 1 (3): 215–24.
  6. Autodesk (2002),Autodesk Building Industry solutions. Retrieved 11 September 2016.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Saeed Rokooei (2015),"Building Information Modeling in Project Management: Necessities, Challenges and Outcomes",Social and Behavioral Sciences 210 ( 2015 ) 87 – 95.
  8. The language of Project management(2012). Retrieved 14 September 2016.
  9. Chalmers University Of Technology (2011) "BIM for Project Managers:How project managers can utilize BIM in construction projects".Retrieved 14 September 2016.
  10. Designing Buildings Wiki: PAS 1192-2. Retrieved 16 September 2016.
  11. Assemble (2016),"5 Major Benefits to Using a BIM Execution Plan" Retrieved 16 September 2016.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 BIM projects Execution Planning Guide(2010). Retrieved 12 September 2016.
  13. Common BIM requirements of Finland, Series 11, 2012
  14. 14.0 14.1 Brochure_BIM. Retrieved 17 September 2016.
  15. Common BIM Requirements of Finland(2012). Retrieved 22 September 2016.
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