Let's not overstate BIM benefits, let's not hide the difficulties

Is BIM paying off or are we exaggerating results?
Català - Castellano
Yesterday I read an article at BIMetica named BIM Rinde Beneficios, that was a re-post and translation of this one "BIM finally starting to pay off for AEC firms" by Building Design + Construction. My first reaction was to believe what the headline said, and I though, wow, let's see, will they have doen an exhaustive study and do they have good data about BIM ROI. Once I read it all, my thoughts were completely oposite, I think the article (let's ee if the study behind it shows more) says nothing to support its headline. If we forget the headline "BIM finally starting to pay off for AEC firms" the quotes from different executive memebers of the companies interviewed actually contradict in most of the cases the headline. What they actually say is that after several years of investment and effort implementing, training and learning, some of them are finding an improvement in drawing production time or taking the same time as before, and most of the benefits quoted, are non quatifiable ones. Here are some of the negative quotes:

“BIM implementation has been a long-term effort and a considerable one,” says Phil Harrison, FAIA, LEED AP, CEO of Perkins+Will.

According to Graef CEO John Kissinger, “We were early adopters. It was more difficult than we thought, but it is ingrained in all areas of our practice now.”

President Steven Straus says Glumac made “an enormous investment” in BIM training and software development. “BIM is a new technology that is improving coordination,” he says, “but the software is not ready for prime time.”

“Not all contractors we work with are leveraging BIM. This means we have to spend more time preparing drawings in BIM than we normally would,” says BRPH President/CEO Brad Harmsen, AIA.

Of course, some positive feedback is also quoted, although see they type:

“Allowing owners to better visualize the project has become an influencing factor during the presentation process,” says Doug Davidson, President, New South Construction

“There’s no question that BIM has paid off in our role as engineer of record producing construction drawings and as detailing engineer,” says Robert Otani, PE, LEED AP, Vice President of Thornton Tomasetti.

“Now we are completing projects in close to the same time frame as previously with 3D, and in some cases faster,” says KJWW Engineering President Paul VanDuyne, PE.

Finally at EYP Architecture & Engineering, they say that “BIM integration has created more opportunities for younger tech-savvy staff to collaborate with senior technical team members,”

I think this is all the positive feedback quoted on this article. As you can see, only at Thornton Tomasetti seem to be sure the numbers add up, although not much more is explained on how they do. The difficulties found equal at least the positive feedback, and the benefits in € or $ are not mentioned anywhere

Finally, the list of companies by there BIM Revenue seems to me close to a joke. Are this company making this amount of money for "doing BIM?" Not at all, if we check online, we can see that Turner's revenue for 2011 was around US$ 9 billion, the list from the article says they got aroun US$5 billion from BIM. Goodness, did they model the entire earth? It makes no sense. What I assume this list shows is the revenue of the projects in which in a way or another BIM was part of the workflow. That explains why "BIM revenue" for GCs is much bigger than for Architecture firms.

I thin to not mislead anyone, the headline of these rankings should be "Total revenue on projects that used BIM" But I can see how that doesn't bring visits to your website. Like the saying goes: "don't let reality ruin a headline". I am a strong believer in BIM, but I also think the ones encouraging others to used should be the ones who are more careful on overstating benefits and hading difficulties. Let's be careful retwitting and reposting just by headlines without checking what the article actually say and what they do not say. We are at risk of ridiculing ourselves and of misleading others into impossible goals they will not achieve. I was having a very interesting conversation yesterday on how some countries, as early adopters and frustrated by the difficulties found, actually sort of Stop the BIM wagon. Over optimistic promises can do that, let's not make the wagon crash.

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