The “I” in BIM is the most powerful aspect of a construction project using Building Information Modeling. It is the underlying force that binds project stakeholders and facilitates communication, transfer or delivery of the project. Managing BIM expertise in an organization principally requires the management of information flow and exchange among various stakeholders involved in the project. The overriding concept is to make sure that architects, engineers, contractors, project managers and other parties are all leveraging BIM from early conceptualization and design phase to project completion. To achieve this, an organization must decide:
- How it is going to provide highly sophisticated model based information to all the project team members.
- How the shared information can be leveraged by including data from different sources and team members.
- How the information can be validated and verified.
Neutrality: Key to Collaboration
Many organizations in the construction industry acknowledge the need for trust and transparency among stakeholders for a smooth information exchange based on mutual understanding. A highly effective method to develop this trust and transparency is to employ an online collaboration system. However, even project managers who believe that collaboration is the only solution to avoid miscommunication and disputes have been reticent to apply it.
The key to online collaboration is neutrality. A scenario where no single stakeholder owns the project ecosystem works best to create a neutral ground. Such a platform is essential to develop trust in the system and encourage stakeholders to stop competing with each other, share information and start collaborating. In fact, organizations mandating the use of such a platform have vouched for better control and trust enabled in the system due to neutral ground. They also felt an improvement in the level of accountability and regulatory compliance for construction projects where the stakes were high.
A study conducted independently by Benchmark Research in the UK found that collaboration technology benefited 96% of the businesses. More particularly, 98% users claimed to realize benefits from centrally held information in a collaboration technology. Of those surveyed, 90% believed that it enabled them to work effectively with geographically dispersed teams, and an overall improvement in communication was reported by 86% of the respondents. Also, 74% of asset owners preferred working with contractors having experience in using collaboration technology.
All these factors indicate that collaboration systems are not only beneficial in streamlining operations and increasing productivity, but also in improving stakeholder relations by building mutual trust.