Jan/Feb 2012

Give me the payback! My apologies for opening the year with such a brash statement, but I’m simply asking the question the entire industry has been thinking about with regards to BIM (building information modeling).

Chances are someone in your organization is thinking the same thing right about now. Are you prepared to show them the money, so to speak? So how does an industry that just recently came around to the idea of adopting BIM now start quantifying results with accuracy? That’s the million-dollar question that could impact your company in the next 12 months.

I couldn’t tell you the number of conversations we have had with the industry around this topic. Some of the biggest contractors in the world are doing some amazing things with the technology, but ironically are still struggling to come up with a model for gauging the effectiveness BIM is having on their organization. It’s natural though, due to the paradigm shift that something like BIM tends to create for a contractor or owner.

We don’t have all the answers, but it is one of our goals this year to get our arms around some solid, measurable, and even quantifiable return on investment for BIM. In talking with experts in the industry, they insist there are some pretty solid measures that can be applied as a good starting point. Forgive us, if some of what we are about to describe is old news, but we believe these points are important enough they are worth repeating.

One of the more interesting ones we continually hear relates to coordination, involving a “clash log.” For a project in which you have used BIM, chances are you used a product to identify clashes virtually before you went out into the field. The idea is to call in structural and electrical contractors and ask them to estimate what it would have cost to fix the number of clashes you have just identified if they had indeed reached the field. Of course you should take a factor of reduction into consideration, i.e., consider that you would have only caught maybe 60%, apply items like crew rates and such, and then estimate the total cost of savings.

Then of course there is the practice of comparing historical data on things like number of change orders, cost of change orders, number of RFIs (requests for information), with those on a recent project completed with BIM in order to see the reduction. Some call into question that method based simply on the fact no two projects are alike. But at the bare minimum, it’s a good measuring stick.

Once you get to the owner level, things seem a bit more complicated to quantify due mainly to the fact we are talking about long-term cost savings of a facility, which at this point are simply speculation. Some have expressed that owners are indeed finding ROI around things like the amount of time it takes to conduct a work order, but overall when you start to talk about linking this data to facility management and such, the numbers just don’t exist in mass to make a strong case.

Of course we are just touching the surface here, and we are sure there are those who are working on some very sophisticated measures of using BIM. But the reality is we have been talking about BIM with true conviction now for roughly a decade, yet the number of rock-solid ROI cases add up to maybe a handful. Perhaps 2012 is the year we start to see more clarity emerge around the idea of quantifying the ROI of BIM. Because sooner or later, we don’t want the lack of ROI to be the reason BIM goes DOA on a project.

Mike Carrozzo
Chief Editor

Happy New Year
The editors of Constructech get excited each year because it’s a chance to say goodbye to the past and hello to yet another exciting New Year. And for many of our readers, thank goodness we can say goodbye to 2011.

We are thrilled we can open the New Year with a fresh start in new construction starts, new hires, and a stronger tomorrow. The past year certainly took its toll on the construction industry as a whole. But let’s not dwell on old news, but instead, help you kick off the year with a fresh eye on technology; and help you keep a few more dollars in your pocket. We are all tired of watching our hard-earned money disappear faster than we can say “jobsite.”

So this year, the Constructech team is committed to answering your questions. If you are seeking a technology solution, ask us. If you have a concern about a vendor, ask us. If you want to understand the difference between one solution or another, ask us. We might not know all the answers; however, you have our commitment to help you find the answers you need. We are here to help our readers.

Peggy Smedley
Editorial Director

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