Is a Business Case for BIM necessary?
Have you ever heard the statement ‘BIM is a no brainier, why doesn’t everyone do it’? I must admit that I held this view in my early explorations with BIM. However, as I delved deeper into BIM as a disruptive business process (and continue to do so), I have come to change my perspective. If BIM is as fundamental to the development of high performance construction industry organisations as I believe it is, than BIM isn’t a no brainer. It needs to be carefully considered by any company looking to integrate BIM with their work practices. This is where a Business Case for BIM comes into play. BIM integration is disruptive, and business leaders should use the Business Case as the first decision gate in proving its value.
Components of a Business Case for BIM
There are almost as many formats for putting a business case together as there are fish in the sea. No magic format exists that works for all industries, proposals, or companies. Over this series of posts, we describe a framework that can and should be customised to develop a Business Case for BIM for your company.
The graphic associated with this post describes the components of a Business Case for BIM and how the different pieces fit together. Our framework breaks down the Business Case for successful BIM integration into three primary factors: Leadership, Investment, and Continuous Improvement. All three are interconnected, but can be addressed separately for presentation purposes. Part 1 of this blog post series focusses on the Leadership component of the Business Case.
It is important to share our perspective of leadership as a background to preparing this section of the Business Case. We see leadership as a transient action that depends on context, rather than a title or formal job function. In terms of BIM, the role of leader can in one instance be the office BIM Manager in developing standards or managing component libraries. In other contexts, the leader in practice can be a junior member of staff that is technically proficient in the technology being used or a Quality Manager leading the model, information, and deliverable quality control process. Leadership in terms of the Business Case refers to the decision making that leads to the ‘go’ or ‘no go’ button being pressed for BIM integration, subsequent support if adopted, and facilitating team engagement with the process.
Ultimately, the vision for BIM integration addresses the question ‘Why are we looking to introduce BIM’. From a business perspective there are only two answers to the questions that will lead to BIM integration within a company:
- BIM will help us make more money.
- BIM will help us save money.
The entire Business Case needs to focus on demonstrating if one, both, or none of these goals can be achieved.
Developing a vision for BIM integration needs to be taken in context of where the company is and where it wants to go. An argument for or against integration should be based on BIM supporting company goals. Each company will be different, but the following are examples of points that can be considered in this section of the Business Case:
- Current versus desired client base / project portfolio
- Quality assurance and control of your product or service
- Becoming a Lean organisation / minimising project waste
- Staff development and recruitment
- Market positioning
- Improved project returns
It is important to support proposed improvements with evidence. This was a challenge in the past, however there are many sources for case studies that can be used for reference. The list below is a sample of the information available to support your business case to get started.
Industry Information Services / Research Organisations:
A number of organisations produce regular reports on BIM adoption, perceived and realised results.
Dodge Data & Analytics (formally McGraw Hill) – http://construction.com/
Measuring the Impact of BIM on Complex Buildings – http://www.usa.skanska.com/Global/BIM%20New/Measuring-the-Impact-of-BIM-on-Complex-Buildings-2015f.pdf
The Business Value of BIM in Australia and New Zealand – http://www.consultaustralia.com.au/docs/default-source/bim/the-business-value-of-bim-in-australia-new-zealand.pdf
Construction Excellence – BIM Case Studies – http://constructingexcellence.org.uk/bim/bim-case-studies/
BuildingSmart – Investing in BIM Confidence – http://www.buildingsmart.org.uk/investing-in-bim-confidence
A number of companies promote their adoption with case study information.
Balfour Beatty – St Silas School Design & Development Case Study – http://www.balfourbeatty.com/files/events/2012/ecobuild_design_and_development_casestudy.pdf
Michael Aubrey Partnership – The Oratory Prepatory School BIM Case Study – http://www.mapl.co.uk/projects/bimcasestudy/
BIM research in academia has increased significantly in recent years.
Research on Cost Control of Construction Project Based on the Theory of Lean Construction and BIM: Case Study – http://benthamopen.com/contents/pdf/TOBCTJ/TOBCTJ-8-382.pdf
Challenges in the Implementation of BIM for FM ̵ Case Manchester Town Hall Complex – http://itc.scix.net/data/works/att/w78-2014-paper-083.pdf
BIM technology vendors provide case study information to promote their solutions.
Graphisoft – http://www.graphisoft.com/users/bim-case-studies/
The above list of examples is not exhaustive and further research should be carried out by anyone undertaking the production of a Business Case for BIM. Performance case study resources should be reviewed to determine if they are relevant to your Business Case. Project and company location, project and report publication dates, author perspective and bias should be qualified in your use and assessment of case study data.
BIM integration should feed into your company business strategy, rather than existing as a standalone plan of action running in parallel. Bolt on BIM Integration Plans have a higher risk of failing and typically fail to fit within the big picture of a company’s growth. The strategy component of the Business Case for BIM should demonstrate where the technology and processes support the strategic initiatives that have been established to achieve your organisation’s vision.
Both the short and long term impacts should be covered in the Business Case. It is easy to identify the low hanging fruit associated with improved BIM as a technical productivity tool. Short term gains can be used in the Business Case to prompt action from decisions makers, but it should be noted that the advantage gained in the short term is temporary. If you can access low hanging fruit, so can your competitors. Decision makers reviewing your Business Case will be looking for the benefits of BIM integration that will deliver a sustainable competitive advantage and an understanding of what is required to realise them.
In order to demonstrate a sustainable competitive advantage, the strategy section of the Business Case should identify the external forces impacting the construction industry adoption of BIM and the internal forces that need to be in place to make it happen for your company. Two tools that are useful in determining external drivers for BIM adoption are PESTEL analysis (http://tinyurl.com/pv4n958) and Porter’s 5 Forces analysis (http://tinyurl.com/oh8cfm7). For example, BIM mandates can be seen as Political and Legal forces impacting BIM adoption in a PESTAL analysis of the construction industry. From a Porter’s 5 Forces perspective, BIM impacts the power of buyer and suppliers in different ways depending on your position in a project supply chain.
The effect of BIM on internal resources also needs to be addressed in the Business Case for BIM. BIM integration will have an impact on your core and peripheral work practices. An in-depth analysis of upskilling requirements, organisational structures, availability of external consultant expertise, infrastructure impacts, project team partner and client relationships are examples of points that should be considered and communicated.
The final subject to be covered under this section of the Business case is a BIM Integration Plan. The BIM Integration Plan follows the external and internal impact analysis, and includes the activities required to address the identified risks and opportunities. Process development and integration, technology testing, management decision points, training, pilot project parameters, lessons learned feedback loops, and KPI identification are example points that should be included. For the Business Case, the BIM Integration Plan is a summary exercise rather than a detailed scope of implementation requirements. It is an effective way of connecting the Leadership section of the Business Case to the next section, Investment.
Leadership: Team Buy In
BIM integration requires people to engage with new technologies and processes, which can be challenging. People are often the most valuable resource in construction industry companies, and getting your team on board will be a significant factor in successfully integrating BIM within your company. It is worth identifying the Vision and Strategy aspects of BIM integration that target team buy in. This section can be used to connect the learning curve performance impacts, long term productivity targets, and staff communication with the Vision and Strategy sections of the Business Case.
Part 2 of this series will look at the Investment and Continuous improvement aspects of building a Business Case for BIM.