The role of management in BIM implementation at a project and organisational level


While comparing the experience of working in smaller practices fulfilling the combined role of designer shared with BIM leadership position, and the experience of dedicated BIM management role within a larger organisation many would agree that to enable organisational benefits of BIM and disruptive digital technologies in Architecture Engineering and Construction (AEC) the BIM leadership required more attention and alignment with organisational business strategy[1] yet, the split role of designer and BIM manager provide satisfaction and have potential to make positive change.

Operational objectives are short-term goals that are addressed by lower-level managers. Tactical goals are set by the middle managers, who concentrate on achieving the objectives. Organizational goals are the strategically set objectives that guide the efforts of the employees. [2]

Alignment of strategy to business goals

Business goals drive organisational outcomes, helping to keep the focus on the company’s important short and long term priorities. The goals must be defined, understood, tracked, analysed, and measured to realise the possible gain. [3]

One of the tools which can help to communicate company’s goals is to prepare a mission statement, which is a roadmap that indicates what the organisation wants to develop into and provide transformation initiatives by setting a defined direction for its growth. The mission statement must be shared and promoted by everyone, from the top and mid-management down to technicians. The current impact of the digital technology on AEC industry influences the need of including the vision of BIM, regardless of whether the business profile is related to the delivery, operational or both phases of a built asset.  

Technology and BIM are often overlooked and not clearly defined. While planning long term strategy, the organisation can gain productivity improvements if the considered BIM implementation is in line with the whole company’s vision, not just the technical team or a personal ambition without consideration of business strategy. [4]

Change within an organization.

It might be possible to identify and plan frequently occurring sequences of actions that can be organised and implemented to execute a complex organisational ever-evolving process effectively. Possible enablers for successful application and management include developing effective policies and change execution strategies, involving people, coordination of tasks, and efficient operation, moreover antiparticipation and problem avoidance. A group of these factors could be developed from a specific contextualised study of change that fits into the organisation’s context, which is thoughtfully analysed and concluded with validated and verified future strategies. [5]

Implementing organisational changes involves many people who contribute to the execution; it is often emphasized as a shared determination. The shared determination reveals a mutual sense of responsibility for the success of the change. Since the implementation is often a team activity, complications can arise between the committed and those responsible for implementation. [5]

Concept of change strategy involves identifying objectives, formulating intervention concepts for change, forming and defining success parameters, and implementing strategies. This includes testing the effectiveness of the changes and their impact on the organisation’s performance. The cycles of small tests, combined with analysis of test results, integrate the learning generated throughout the process, which could help smaller teams learn before implementing the derived measures more widely. [6]

The testing cycle can be used to adapt goals or to reformulate individual actions or improvement initiative. The effectiveness of implementation relates to the impact of change on organisational performance as a whole, not just implementing specific steps. [6]

Organisational prerequisites

It is important to note that BIM roles are not necessarily related to specialist positions. It should be viewed as a function that could be fulfilled by more than one person and allow the transfer of the functions between individuals holistically. [7]

Implementing BIM requires efficient interaction between team members, and this type of communication must be facilitated.

Once the organisation establishes its business strategy combined with BIM, before recommending restructuring measures of the current system, it is essential to understand the interactions and possible conflicts within the project or organisation. The need for a clear and uniform management plan for all teams and individuals must be taken into account. [8]

Such a plan should consider main business drivers, the leaders of the implementation and the level of knowledge and experience.

Implementation of any strategy absorbs resources, requires training and top management support; moreover, it involves company culture.

Company culture training and knowledge

Digital construction is driven by a combination of building services, software development, and data analysis. However, the introduction of a new process into an organization requires a culture change in terms of technology and the organisational structure. [9]

Behavioural researchers, cognitivism and humanities scientists emphasize various aspects of the teaching and learning process on culture. The better understanding of the learning theory, the higher chance for suitable decisions and execution. [10]

In closing

BIM can improve efficiency both at project and organisational level only if implemented and executed correctly. The process requires knowledge, expertise and time.  The benefits can be realised if BIM becomes part of a mission statement and not just part of the service.

Practitioners use their knowledge to develop strategies aiming to overcome barriers at a specific organisational level, taking into account their organisations’ BIM maturity.  While developing strategy, allowing for culture, knowledge and possible use of technology the business perspective, often prevail over the research and development initiatives especially in smaller practices intending to identify and prevent open-ended tasks consuming resources for no benefit, hence the importance of BIM alignment with the business strategy.

Efforts to implement change without top management support are doomed even if the benefits are evident at the individual level. The possible gains maybe not in line with business strategy, or the top management may not be aware of the benefits due to different point of view resulting from their role within an organisation. The possible different perspective situation is illustrated in Figure 1

A matter of perspective [11]

Proving that the strategy is beneficial requires excellent social and presentation skills, to overcome resistance, lack of engagement, passive or lack of top management support.

[1]        M. Coyne, “BIM in Operation,” 2020-21 PDE4302 Operational BIM Management Week 14 – Module 3 – 20th Jan 2021, Jan. 2021.

[2]        “Organizational Goals – Definition, Types, Importance.” (accessed Jan. 26, 2021).

[3]        J. Arnold, “The 3 Types of Organizational Goals You Need to Achieve Excellence,” Jan. 17, 2020. (accessed Jan. 26, 2021).

[4]        J. Taylor, “A Vision of BIM ,” Graitec Blog, Sep. 29, 2017. (accessed Jan. 26, 2021).

[5]        B. J. Weiner, “A theory of organizational readiness for change,” Implementation Science, vol. 4, no. 1, p. 67, Dec. 2009, doi: 10.1186/1748-5908-4-67.

[6]        C. Consortium, “The CAHPS Ambulatory Care Improvement Guide Practical Strategies for Improving Patient Experience Section 4: Ways to Approach the Quality Improvement Process Visit the AHRQ Website for the full Guide,” 2017. Accessed: Jan. 26, 2021. [Online].

[7]        F. Muñoz, L. Rivera, J. C. Vielma, R. F. Herrera, and J. Carvallo, “Methodology for Building Information Modeling (BIM) Implementation in Structural Engineering Companies (SECs),” 2019, doi: 10.1155/2019/8452461.

[8]        J. Ray, BIM Beyond Design Guidebook. Washington, D.C.: Transportation Research Board, 2020.

[9]        M. A. Enshassi, K. A. al Hallaq, and B. A. Tayeh, “Limitation Factors of Building Information Modeling (BIM) Implementation,” The Open Construction & Building Technology Journal, vol. 13, no. 1, Sep. 2019, doi: 10.2174/1874836801913010189.

[10]       A. Halim and Md. A. Mozahar, “Chapter 15 – Training and professional development.” (accessed Jan. 26, 2021).

[11]       Graphic reproduced by the author based on: “A Matter of Perspective | The Networking Nerd,” Sep. 2018. (accessed Jan. 30, 2021).

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