As previously discussed in our blog post, if you want to efficiently leverage BIM throughout the building or facility life cycle, Facility Management must not be an afterthought when developing a BIM strategy. In this article, we want to dig a little deeper into the mindset needed to effectively meet the owners and facility managers’ needs.
When proposing a BIM for Facility Management implementation to a potential client, our first task is always strategy based around data definition and requirements. The goal is to understand what’s important to keep track of from a maintenance perspective. The outcome of this stage varies according to the involvement of the client, Sometimes the strategy includes a very complex matrix with naming conventions for all assets, attributes to be tracked, etc. (better-case scenario), while other times the client provides only categories and drawings with the request for our team to determine the strategy solely based on our experience and best practice. We always try to involve the client as much as possible, but, as the industry is already aware of, facility manager roles are not often included in BIM discussions.
This presents several challenges. While we can work from our experience and knowledge of industry best practices to deliver something useful to the client, only the facility manager (or actual users of the EAM/CMMS) will have the local or inherent knowledge to produce ideas that squeeze every ounce of value from the tool. Besides, not having this kind of input can really change the scope of the project, generating unnecessary rework and change orders.
In the past, we worked on a very large office project consisting of a low complexity MEP component. There were no special installation or services needed. However, the client wanted to track a large quantity of assets with a very granular level of detail. For example, the client wanted to have the hardware of the doors separated from the actual door. That seemingly simple requirement meant that there would be twice the amount of assets in that single category, remodeling would l be required to have two separate families developed and, more information would need to be associated to the new assets.
Another example from our experience was when a Facility Manager wanted to track piping attributes such as materials and thickness. Even though they may not be trackable assets, the BIM environment provides the ability to have that info, saving the technicians a lot of time and allowing them to leave the traditional drawings aside.
Simple projects can quickly experience creep and double in scope. Furthermore, the client may lose enthusiasm with the technology when the realization of additional work required sets in to achieve project milestones and goals. Therefore, we put so much focus on this stage and emphasize starting as early as possible. Showing the client examples of what is doable as well as relatable final product(s) in the platform during the early stages of the project allows them to see the potential and prioritize requirements. It’s an agile way of working.
The more projects we engage in, the more we see the difference of the value delivered when the end client is included in the process. This also helps with adoption of the tool from the Maintenance Team because it’s something that was built for them, with them.
We have many lessons learned and hours of rework spent to confidently say that we need a mindset shift if we want to make the best out of the BIM technology. Let’s not wait longer to make use of what’s available today.
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