MT - Using BIM as a PM Tool: 2.2.2 The BIM Potential

When people work together on a project, communicating specific characteristics of the project amongst the different parties involved requires documentation of these characteristics (Lee, 2008). Traditionally, this documentation was done on a paper or document basis (BSI, 2010). BIM takes the traditional paper-based tools of construction projects, puts them on a virtual environment and allows a level of efficiency, communication and collaboration that exceeds those of traditional construction processes (Lee, 2008).

Moreover “the coordination of complex project systems is perhaps the most popular application of BIM at this time. It is an ideal process to develop collaboration techniques and a commitment protocol among the team members.” (Grilo and Jardim-Goncalves, 2010 : p. 524).

BIM can be of great use on all stages of the project life-cycle. It has many dimensions: it can be used by the owner to understand project needs; by the design team to analyze, design and develop the project; by the contractor to manage the construction of the project and by the facility manager [FM] during operation and decommissioning phases (Grilo and Jardim-Goncalves, 2010).


Aouad et al. (2006) defined this multidimensional capacity of BIM as nD modelling, for it allows adding an almost infinite number of dimensions to the Building Model. This “n” dimensions can be seen in Figure 2.2 that shows what BSI (2010) understands as a complete BIM.

Project Management has a wide scope of services or dimensions; most of them, like managing Quality, Time, Risks, Procurement and Integrations (PMI, 2004) are dimensions that can be integrated into a BIM, as seen in Figure 2.2.. Although most BIM projects do not yet use BIM for all dimensions (BSI, 2010), it is on this nD understanding of BIM that the author is interested, for it is the approach that makes BIM a relevant tool for Project Managers.

As we have seen, very few PM scholars have studied BIM from the PM point of view. Other than on scientific Journals, an article from Allison (2010) is maybe the one that addresses the BIM potential as a PM Tool more directly. Allison describes “10 reasons why project manager should champion 5D BIM” (Table 2.1). 5D BIM is traditionally understood as BIM that includes, besides the 3D model, Scheduling information (the 4th D) and information for estimating the project from the model (the 5th D). Although the article is from an employee of a BIM software vendor, and the potential of BIM for PM might be slightly exaggerated, the list of advantages for PM practitioners is worth considering. These advantages are compiled in Table 2.1, and should be seen as potential ways in which BIM can benefit Project Managers.



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