Authentic & Visionary

¿Qué es un BIM Manager?

“What will you be when you grow up” is a question that every child is asked at some point. For me, it was a fireman. This lofty dream did not exactly turn out so well. For others, it could be an actress, an animator, or a pilot. There was one in my class in school who wanted to be George Michael. Outside was number one in the charts at the time.

I doubt that anyone said Building Information Modelling (BIM) Manager. Even now, the general look when explaining your role as a BIM Manager would be reminiscent of that famous bemused look of Manual from Fawlty Towers: ¿Qué?

Breaking the Traditional Mould

The roles of traditional professions within the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) domain remain unchanged. Despite the encroachment of digitalisation, they are still very much grounded in centuries lore and convention. For architects, it is art and design; for engineers, it is mathematics and for construction, it is the ability to interpret the plans and analyse which materials are required based on experience and expertise.

Current BIM Managers themselves are mavericks amongst those in AEC domain. From speaking to Cloudalize customers and partners, they do not follow the well-trodden path to greatness. A BIM Manager is not the traditional architect, engineer, or construction professional.

To suggest to one of them that they are just an engineer may push you into the fires of Dantes’ Inferno. Current BIM Managers have a background in engineering or architecture. It is quite possible that a BIM manager has a background in Information Technology, and they have transferred those skills to an AEC role. Nevertheless, all achieved their competencies from formal education, vocational or on-the-job training or professional development. (Succar and Sher 2014)

The common thread is a curiosity for technology and how it can be applied to improve architecture, engineering and construction processes, workflows, and toolsets.

Be Warned: They Are Fierce

Despite their outwardly calm and collected demeanour, current BIM Managers can be bolshie, high-spirited and demanding. The reason is quite simple. They had to challenge the statu quo to get where they are today. They broke the traditional AEC mould to branch out and obtain the experience and expertise necessary. Equally, they usually do not have one defined role.

In Cloudalize’s experience, current BIM managers are everywhere in a building project. They are responsible for co-ordinating and managing the A to Z of BIM in a series of projects simultaneously. The manager can hop from one task to another which may not relate to each other:

  • Responding to the requirements in a Request-for-Proposal document
  • Reviewing and procuring new software and hardware
  • Installing said software onto hardware
  • Review and revision of standards and specifications
  • Documentation version control and distribution
  • Final sign-off of the document, plans,
  • Coding (Kaneta et al. 2016.)

As one client stated: “Who knows an architect who codes?”

He Will Win Who, Prepared Himself

Despite Building Information Modelling (BIM) has been around for three decades. What began in the United Kingdom has spread across the world. (Cloudalize | BIM Landscape: United Kingdom 🇬🇧) Cloudalize over the years have found itself being approached by over enthusiastic companies which love the concept of BIM and the Cloud. It is the brand new and shiny technology to answer all the issues of the day: a Request-for-Proposal request or to compete with G. Jones & Sons down the road which has both.

Like a new match on Tinder, the novelty quickly fades. Cloudalize Account Executive have heard it too often:

  • “This is not what I want”;
  • “It is not you, it is me”;
  • “We have different goals, and we are moving too fast”.

Like everything in business, the management of the company need to reflect hard on adopting any new framework such as BIM:

  • Identify the Need for BIM
  • Identify the Gaps
  • Identify the Business Potential
  • Support with Investment
  • Support from Management

(Goodchild 2016)

Having a well-defined BIM methodology and a well-prepared BIM manager in place will bring benefits. During a project, it will obtain a better and more accurate picture of lead-time and costs. While concise and detailed project information and collaborative work encouraged by the BIM Manager will aid to keep the project on track from conception to finalisation. (Jiménez Arias 2020)

The Next Generation

Throughout this article, I have always written “Current BIM Managers”. The BIM Managers of 2021 are making it easier for the next generation. Cloudalize’s clients and partners broke the mould to transfer the skills from one domain into another because BIM was relatively misunderstood and not used.

The BIM Mangers of the future are already being trained directly in BIM as part of their undergraduate or postgraduate course. UGent, the university situated in Cloudalize’s home town offers a course in it (site in Dutch). However, this will not change greatly a fundamental role of the current BIM Manager. They need to transfer knowledge down to their teams. A BIM Manager who doesn’t delegate will soon become overloaded with tasks, schedules and keeping projects on schedule.

It’s important that juniors learn practically to set up project models, coordinate clash detections and extract data for reports. Current BIM Managers ought to perhaps renamed “BIM Masters” in the spirit of guilds with master craftsmen and apprentices.

What’s Next for Our Mavericks?

AEC firms will continue to evolve as digitalisation accelerates. Artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR) and Cloud platforms like Cloudalize are the future. Cloudalize has seen clients from across Europe and North America work remotely but efficiently with no loss of output despite the challenges of having a decentralised team. Eventually some of Cloudalize’s new clients and BIM Managers who use our services will go from BIM to Digital Twins and then to full Digital & Virtual Construction (VDC) if desired.

However, the fundamentals remain the same for the introduction of BIM and hiring a competent BIM manager to manage the process – a step-by-step approach is best with a defined end goal in sight.

It is doubtful that the role of a BIM manager will become as mainstream as architects, engineers, site coordinators or others roles in the AEC domain. BIM Managers will retrain the charm and mystery of being a maverick of both digital and practical skills. The existing ones and the aspiring ones better become accustomed to the image of a confused Manuel.

References

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Image

  • Freepik, Medium-Shot-Construction-Worker, image, viewed on 2 June 2021, freepix.com