BIM for Project Managers


From a project director, project leader or project manager’s point of view, what do you need to know about BIM? What is the project manager’s role? There are a lot of documents and acronyms, and it can all sound very technical, complicated and overwhelming. asked Ireland’s leading BIM consultancy practice, ArcDox to help demystify and explain BIM for Project Managers.

ralph-montagueIt can feel complicated and overwhelming at first” says Ralph Montague, managing partner of ArcDox, “because we are trying to get a diverse range of professionals, consultants, contractors and sub-contractors etc to all to work together in a new collaborative and coordinated way, using newly adopted industry standards, and a digital approach – something industry are not used to doing. But it is worth the effort, because if implemented correctly, there should be significant improvements in design coordination, quality of construction, quality of information, reduction in construction waste, reduction in construction programme”.

From a project manager’s point of view, it is mostly a case of making sure all the key elements to help achieving a successful BIM project are in place. It is about “asking the right question” and making sure these things are “implemented at the right time”. The responsibility of putting these things in place is usually delegated to other parties (your legal team, your commercial contracts team, your lead consultant, other consultants, your main contractor, their sub-contractors etc), but your role as project manager is to ensure they are implemented, and not forgotten.

It comes down to 5 Basic Questions project managers should be consistently asking at all meetings:

1 Is all the required BIM Documentation in place, as set out in PAS1192-2? (there are 8 key documents noted in this article)

2 Are all participants fully aware of the BIM Requirements, for producing, managing, exchanging their information contributions?

3 Is the Project Information being produced, managed, exchanged through a BIM format?

4 Is the Federated Model being used and shared at design coordination and stakeholder meetings?

5 Is the BIM information content of models being regularly checked for compliance?

Most importantly, when things do feel like they are becoming “complicated and overwhelming”, keep remembering “WHY” you want BIM in the first place – the Benefits of BIM:

• Better Communication & Understanding

• Better Analysis (structure / energy / cost / programme)

• Better Information Workflows (digital transfers, reduced duplication of effort)

• Improved Design Coordination (better tenders, reduced waste & construction costs)

• Improved Building Performance (reduced operation costs)

• Improved Certainty (reduced Risk)

• Effective Project Delivery

• Better Information (digital) at All Project Stages, particularly for “handover”, between design to construction, and construction to operations.

BUT… (the big but)…

…the benefits of BIM won’t be fully realized unless there is a clearly defined & managed BIM Process in place, that every participant is required to adhere to during their contribution to the project. Without this in place, the BIM process can very easily and quickly break down, and start costing unnecessary time and money.  This is where a good project manager, armed with a good industry standard like PAS1192-2 comes into its own.

“Since BIM is potentially going to have such a dramatic positive impact on the project schedule, cost and outcomes, your job, as project manager, to make sure the “clearly defined & managed BIM Process” is in place, and to check that “every participant is making their contribution correctly to the project”

Let’s deal with the 5 Basic Questions in more detail.

(Q1)  Is all the required BIM Documentation in place, as set out in PAS1192-2?

a Have pre-qualification questions (PQQ’s) regarding BIM capability been included in tender requests for both design & construction services?

(see Table 8 in PAS91:2013

b Have all appointed designers/contractors signed up to the BIM Protocol (an addendum to their appointment/contract)?

(see template CIC (UK) BIM protocol here:

c Is the EIR (Employers Information Requirements) in place, and provided as part of tender requirements? The EIR is a document setting out the clients BIM objectives and deliverables, including a preliminary Model Information Delivery Plan (MIDP).

(See Core Content and Guidance from UK BIM Task Group

The NBS have a Digital Toolkit to help prepare the EIR & MIDP

In Ireland, the RIAI have also put a template EIR together see )

d Have all tendering designers/contractors provided a Pre-Contract BIM Execution Plan (BEP) as part of their tender submission, in response to the EIR (as above)?

(See CPIx template Pre-Contract BEP, including BIM Capability Assessments (for BIM Projects, Staff & IT Resource)

Providing a template to guide tenderer’s response is very useful when trying to assess multiple suppliers responses)

e Has the lead designer signed up to the role of Project Information Manager (Design Stage)?

Has the main contractor signed up the role of Project Information Manager (Construction Stage)?

(See CIC (UK) Outline Scope of Services for Information Management

f Have all parties involved in “design” informed their PI insurance brokers that they are participating in BIM a project.

(See guidance from CIC (UK ) here:

g Has the Project Information Manager (for both design stage, and construction stage) provided a coordinated Post-Contract BIM Execution Plan (BEP), detailing how the team will deliver the Employers Information Requirements (EIR) for Design or Construction Stage?

(See CPIX template Post-Contract BEP

In Ireland, the RIAI have also put a template BEP together see

h Is there a Common Data Environment (CDE) in place for both design and construction stage, that complies with PAS1192-2, that will act as a central repository or store all project information (graphical, non-graphical & documents)?

(A specification of requirements should be included in tender documents, outlining who will provide the CDE, and what functionality it will have to provide).

(Q2) Are all participants fully aware of the BIM Requirements, for producing, managing, exchanging their information contributions in accordance with the EIR?

Level 2 BIM requires each discipline/contributor, to produce/manage/exchange their information contribution to the projects in BIM format (as far as practically possible). This has to be clearly communicated and highlighted in all communication and documentation, so that these requirements can be allowed for and accounted for in tender prices, so that different elements of work can be can be federated into an overall coordination model for review, and for as-built models for handover. Where documentation has been produced separate from the BIM (i.e. not derived from BIM) – this needs to be clearly highlighted/agreed. (Separate production of 2D information may suit certain designers/contractors, but may not contribute to the overall goal of information management for the full life-cycle of the project, so this should be reviewed).

(Q3)  Is Project Information being produced, managed, exchanged through a BIM format?

You want to be sure there is no “cheating”, no “pseudo-BIM”, or no “backwards-BIM” going on. If people aren’t working in BIM, ask why not? When will it be modelled? It may be agreed that application of BIM is not required for certain elements of work, or it may be more applicable in later stages in particular circumstances (but as long as this is agreed by all, and documented, as this may result in duplication of effort and additional costs later). The Master Information Delivery Plan (MIDP) should detail what elements of the building need to be modelled, at each stage, by whom, to what level of definition (level of information and level of detail). It’s about providing clarity and transparency as to how the project information will be developed. It’s about managing expectations. What is the overall strategy to get project information into BIM? Please refer to BIM objectives above (many of which require earlier BIM implementation).

(Q4) Is the Federated Model being used/shared at design coordination and stakeholder meetings?

Is the team using the model for communication at meetings, and even enhanced visualization, or providing extended analysis and use of BIM, such as clash detection, programme analysis and sequencing (4D), cost analysis and quantity take-off (5D), structural analysis, energy performance analysis, lighting analysis, systems analysis, pedestrian movement or evacuation analysis, health & safety, quality control/snagging, commissioning, operational or whole life-cycle cost analysis, use of BIM for FM/operations etc if you are going to all the effort of creating a BIM, you might as well leverage it for as much as possible (provided it brings value).

(Q5) Is the BIM content of models being regularly checked (IFC/COBie data, Uniclass coding etc)?

A model checking procedure should be required by the EIR, and documented and implemented by the BEP, at key project stages (and particularly before handover/acceptance) to ensure the information is valid, accurate and complete. The following should be considered:

• Compliance, with the COBie standard BS1192-4, checking data integrity

• Continuity, assessed by detecting the addition and removal of objects and attributes, along with changes, between data drops.

• Completeness, assessed against a list of properties and attributes along with the expected stage at the end of which they should be provided (as detailed in the EIR/MIDP)

Here is a Short/Quick BIM Level 2 Checklist for Project Managers (to bring into your project meeting agenda)

• Establish the high level BIM objectives and benefits for the project

• Appoint the employers representative and technical advisor

• Agree the BIM standards for project delivery (BS1192 / PAS1192 / BS8541 / Uniclass2015)

• Define BIM questions to pre-qualify the supply chain (PAS91 Table 8)

• Define the Employers Information Requirements (EIR) (See BIM Task Group Guidance or RIAI Template)

• Assess the BIM Capability of the supply chain (CPIx templates)

• Pre-appointment, the supply chain should respond to the EIR by completing a Pre-Contract BIM Execution Plan (CPIx BEP Template)

• Ensure that the supply chain is informed about Professional Indemnity Insurance implications (CIC Guidance)

• Ensure that the BIM Protocol forms part of all appointments and contracts (CIC BIM Protocol)

• Appoint a Project Information Manager for the Design and Construction stages (CIC Scope of Service for Information management)

• Once appointed, the Project team and the Information Manager draft the Post-Contract BIM Execution Plan (CPIx or RIAI BEP Template)

• Establish a Common Data Environment (CDE) (Agree who will provide this)

• Document a Digital Plan of Work or MIDP (Responsibility, Stages, Level of Detail, Level of Information)

• Define the Digital BIM Deliverables (File Formats, COBie, IFC, Uniclass2015)

• Establish a support, training and upskilling programme to deal with capability issues

• Facilitate induction meetings/workshops as information management roles are identified and confirmed

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