BIM nice but DIM

Lachmi Khemlani’s latest AECbytes newsletter talks about a new abbreviation. A presentation on building information modelling (BIM) at a recent American Institute of Architects conference derogatorily referred to current BIM solutions (eg: Revit, ArchiCAD) as DIM solutions – Drawing Information Modelling. "Their rationale was that these products are being used primarily by architects for drawing production at the moment, and that no one is still doing BIM fully yet…."

(PS: Tim Nice-but-Dim was a character created by Harry Enfield in his cult BBC series Harry Enfield & Chums.)

The conference review also discusses a session on new project delivery models being tested in different parts of the world, "which base the compensation of the project team members on the value of the project rather than its cost, and provide tangible rewards for value creation and effective team collaboration. This is in contrast to most project delivery models currently in use in the US where the compensation is based on cost alone, providing little incentive for team members to put in any extra effort to increase value and reduce costs."

Performance Contracting, Shared Savings and Project Alliance approaches are discussed. From a UK perspective, there is nothing new in any of these delivery models. I recall shared savings being employed on the MOD Andover North Redevelopment project four or five years ago (which used the BIW Information Channel extranet solution), and the descriptions of Australian Project Alliance approaches bears a close resemblance to many partnering initiatives undertaken in the UK since the 1994 Latham Report. The focus on value within the UK AEC market was recently sharpened by the 2005 publication of the BE Valuable report by Richard Saxon (see 24 November 2005 post).

Khemlani concludes:

"Project Alliance seems very promising as a model for other countries to follow…. Decision-making is fast, and all the parties have the incentive to achieve the design goals. Instead of each party trying to only optimize their tasks, there is the collective attitude of "sink or swim together" and "let’s do what is best for the project." … While BIM has not yet been used in any of the Alliance projects, there is a natural co-relation between the two, and they will probably come together in the future."

While a natural connection between BIM and partnering-type approaches may still be ‘in the future’, we have already seen technology employed to support more collaborative approaches to project delivery. On many of the most successful UK projects which have adopted partnering, designers, contractors, suppliers and other project stake-holders also opt to use a collaboration platform to share drawings and drawings and manage processes in a more transparent way; even where there is no formal partnering agreement, many other project teams are also using collaboration systems to share information and are achieving lots of the same benefits.

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