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BIM changes redefine role of project manager

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The interview with the governments former chief construction advisor Paul Morrell in the March 2014 edition of Project magazine confirmed my belief that Building Information Modelling (BIM) will redefine the way project managers go about their business in future.

In it he spells out in no uncertain terms that: Project managers absolutely need to understand what is going on. However, in my view up until now project managers have received insufficient attention in comparison to discussions about the role of architects, engineers, quantity surveyors, constructors and most recently facility managers.

Paul was the driving force behind the introduction of BIM in the UK through the Construction Strategy which made BIM mandatory on all centrally procured government projects by 2016.

BIM introduces a new process, which is defined in the document PAS1192-2 published in 2013 which covers the use of BIM for the CAPEX phase of the asset lifecycle. PAS1192-3 is currently being drafted and will describe the use of BIM to maintain and operate an asset post handover (OPEX). As 2016 approaches project managers will need to be aware of these documents and how the processes and documents described interface with and change the prohect manager role. Project managers will also need to be aware of changes in the way those in other key project roles resulting from the adoption of BIM.

The use of BIM will mean terms such as Employers Information Requirements and BIM Execution Plan will become familiar to project managers, if they are not already. These documents will be core elements of the protocols through which construction projects are managed. BIM is not just about information and process, a change in culture with greater adoption of collaborative working is also called for. Project managers can play a key role in creating the collaborative project environment in which BIM can be utilised.

To examine the impact of BIM, the Knowledge SIG is organising an event on 27 March, hosted by the University of Salford. Speakers include APMs Prof. Charles Egbu.

Find out more details and book your place


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  1. Adrian Malone
    Adrian Malone 25 March 2014, 12:10 PM

    Apologies for the long reply, I want to respond to all three excellent posts below -Sabron,Thanks for your comments and good luck with your MSc. I am pleased to hear that BIM has been included in one of your modules did you pick out any particular insights as to how BIM relates to the role of a PM? This is the theme we will be exploring in the event on Thursday. You are right to identify that more effort is needed on the educational front, some Universities are on the page with BIM, but too many are still finding their feet. Good quality teaching about BIM in undergraduate and post-graduate courses will help to provide the right skills for the future in our industry. You also pick out culture, and this really is the key. BIM is about more than using new technology, it is about a collaborative process for project delivery and the co-ordinated management of project information. Realising the potential benefits of BIM means working in a way which is not currently the norm in construction. Id welcome your thoughts on what the cultural gap looks like and how best to close it.Brunella,You are right to identify the work still to do in terms of raising awareness of BIM across the construction industry. This is something I work hard at personally through blogging and speaking at events and others including members of the BIM Task Group do too. Our industry is vast and this process will take time (hence the key role education can play as mentioned above). Im pleased to say that there will be a lot of practical examples of BIM in use on real world projects at the KSIG event on Thursday in Salford, I believe it is important to show BIM in practice as this is far more convincing than just the theory. This can be challenging as there remain only a few good BIM projects in the UK, but this is changing rapidly now. If youd like to see some examples of BIM in action I have some short case studies and other articles on various aspects of BIM published here - interaction with SMEs is important, particularly in an industry like construction where SMEs play such an important and significant role. There is a group specifically focussed on this within the BIM Task Group I would point any SMEs wishing to learn more about BIM to the BIM4SME group (as well as attending Thursdays event in Salford!) Adrian,I agree that culture change requires leadership, and in construction it has so often been the case that the clients influence is most effective here. Certainly at Heathrow there have been some excellent examples of collaboration resulting from leadership from the top.You are right that the PM alone cannot necessarily enact this change in culture, however I think there are ways  in which a PM who understands BIM can make a big, perhaps even game changing difference on a project. Firstly, as a minimum a PM who understands BIM can ensure that they are not a blocker to BIM and collaborative working. Particularly where the PM is responsible for procurement, or for setting the project delivery protocols. Secondly, under PAS1192-2 the BIM process starts with the creation of the EIR. I believe that PMs at least sometimes have an opportunity to help inform clients about BIM and the benefits that can be realised through implementing a BIM approach within a collaborative project environment. Ultimately the client must mandate this, but the PM can be a powerful influencer. I blogged some thoughts about this recently for Building Magazine - Thanks for the great comments keep them coming and hope to see as many of you as possible in Salford for the event on 27th March.

  2. Sabron Kalyolyo
    Sabron Kalyolyo 25 March 2014, 11:33 AM

    BIM is indeed set to change the processes and operations of the construction industry worldwide, and frankly speaking, it may have already started. The UK, has taken a thorough and well researched approach. As the syaing goes, 'men learn from experience but wise men learn from other mens experience'.I am currently studying my MSc International Project Management at , Glasgow Caledonian University and BIM for Management of Construction is one of my Modules. we had a Lecture from the Head of the BIM task Group Professor Phillips, a week ago, and Indeed it was very inspiring. it entails the UK Governments drive and motivation to make BIM a reality, and how BIM is set to change the playing field.I would say UK is on the right track. maybe just a little more effort will be required to close down on the educational and cultural gap. SABRON BENJAMIN KALYOLYO (MSc Student at Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow Campus)   

  3. Adrian Pyne
    Adrian Pyne 24 March 2014, 07:45 AM

    When a student......many years before current gaming technology, I played a board game (yes a board game) called RISK. To win you simply had to take over the world.The key tactic was to establish collaborative alliances with other players. In order to battle and destroy other players/collaborations.One RISK was that your so-called collaborators may desert you, so you had to gauge their reliability when forming the alliance.Relevance? Well, the blog rightly extoles the virtue of collaborative working. I am not so convinced of the project manager's abiility to create such a culture.BAA have progressed far down this road for the re-building of Heathrow airport. But this absolutely relied on both a strategic change and continuing leadership to embed the necessary behaviours by both BAA and their construction partners.I am aware that construction has long had mutually abusive cultures, so called "zero sum". Quite the opposite of a collaborative one. In this case a project manager can only change behaviours (a step on the road to changing culture) if they control BOTH the contract content AND the ways of working for all in the project. And even where they have (which is unlikely), an abusive culture in the project's environment will continually threaten them.So, welcome BIM, but if you want success, the necessary culture change will need to be driven from the top.......of all the involved organisations, to create an environment in which BIM can succeed.Process again depends on People to make it work and deliver value.