Is a #BIM Manager role required? #Certification and #chartered status discussed

This blog explores whether a BIM Manager role is required and asked whether a formal certification is required to provide a level of confidence for clients in the abilities of that individual.

BIM Manager Role definition

(Kensek and Nobel, 2014, p.364) states that a BIM manager is “a staff member who is entrusted with establishing BIM protocols and BIM training in an office and often is the offices expert on BIM software, hardware, and documentation”.  This is a general overview of the role of BIM Manager however it does not describe the complexity of the role in full.  Eastman (2011, p.355) states that BIM Managers work alongside project teams to manage and update a model with particular emphasis on guaranteeing “origin, orientation, naming and format consistency, and to coordinate the exchange of model components with internal design groups and external designers and engineers”. In addition to this Eastman focuses on the reasons required for BIM managers that include the following;

  • An increased understanding of BIM “Processes and Technology Trends” is needed
  • Clients are specifying BIM
  • New skills and roles are developing.
  • The success of BIM has increased the requirement by contractors.
  • Integrated practice and its benefits are being shared more widely and tested further.
  • Standards are now in effect to support adoption.
  • Sustainability is also required by clients.

Deutsch (2011, pp.67-68) states that the BIM Manager role includes assisting the coordination between disciplines, developing a BIM Execution Plan, staffing planning for the execution of the project, coordinating software and hardware requirements as well as BIM standards templates, libraries and best practice. In addition to this Deutsch (2011, pp.67-68) finds that a BIM manual for an office is required to establish a set of rules for all employees to follow.  To ensure that this is enacted and adopted throughout an office a BIM Manager requires our good communication skills to bring about this in a positive manner.  Deutsch (2011, p.66) goes on to say that there has been a shift from a CAD Manager to the BIM Manager this is a more analytical role in relation to data management. This shows that BIM Managers need to possess a multitude of skills which means that these individuals will be highly valued in time as they take a long period of involvement in the construction process to evolve.

Eynon (2013, p.6) also proposes that the BIM Manager may change into a Design Manager of the future role, and states that the complexity of every company is different and therefore their processes and procedures will be similarly different.  Part of this will be determined by the individuals involved and what skills, knowledge and experience they may require to support this complexity.  Eynon (2013, p. 164) proposes that Design Managers are well placed to become BIM Managers, model managers or model coordinators based on their existing skills as coordination and integration is paramount. His view is that design management involves the management “of all project related design activities, people, processes and resources”, this describes many of the BIM activities described under BIM Management (Eynon, 2013, p. 2). Therefore, it would appear that the BIM Managers of the future will be drawn from a diverse source of disciplines, such as contractors, consultants and project managers.

Deamer (cited in Kensek and Nobel, 2014, p. 313) suggests that BIM Managers are “valued for their empathetic subtlety” and that this is due to the requirement to work proactively with people on a project to bring them together. She confirms there are three issues for a BIM Manager to consider; Technology, Networked tasks, and political/organisational change, (Deamer (cited in Kensek and Nobel, 2014, p. 314));

Design vs Technology – the challenge here appears to be the background of an individual who becomes a BIM Manager as these tend to be from design consultants currently, however there is a large proportion that come from an IT background. Therefore the priorities of each will be different as consultants traditionally will see the benefits that BIM can bring to a project, whereas an IT consultant will look more towards this a solution based approach (Deamer (cited in Kensek and Nobel, 2014, p. 313)).

Networked tasks – communication skills are seen as crucial to develop multidisciplinary working and the BIM Manager is required to identify and enact product administration, modelling, annotation and detailing (Deamer, cited in Kensek et al. 2014, p.314). Deamer states that “coordination, in other words, is not merely handled by standards, charts, and quick critical parts, but by appreciation of the emerging entities and evolving chains of command” (Deamer (cited in Kensek and Nobel, 2014, p. 313)). This recognises the complexity of the role that is required for a BIM Manager.

Political/organisational change – this presents a challenge within an organisation where power structures may or may not support the leadership role of a BIM Manager, therefore Deamer identifies that “special skills” are required that address the different members of a team from management down to modeller on a project (Deamer (cited in Kensek and Nobel, 2014).

It can be seen from the above that the role of the BIM Manager is very diverse and encompasses a broad range of skills and it would appear that this role can be performed by any professional within the design team (and also could transfer depending on the design stage). An area for future consideration is how the role is formalised and understood within the broader construction industry and how this will change over time. For example it appears that there is an opportunity for this role to be equal in stature to that of other professionals such as architects, engineers building services engineer. For example, BIM Level 2 requirements and Digital Built Britain (H M Government, 2015) develop this will require individuals who contribute fundamentally to the success of a project. Hardin (2009, p. 546) proposes that BIM management may change to a role of an “information director” who is an individual that will “have the opportunity to become a unique entity who consults with architects, contractors, and facility managers.” Further to this Hardin says that the internalisation of BIM within a company will become a critical element that will evolve over time. This new role potentially could describe an interesting development on what is considered a BIM Manager currently and could result in a very different profession or professional for the future.

Certification

When examining future certification opportunities that this may provide to industry it is worth reviewing what exists currently from certain providers. For example the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) provide a certification system that they claim offers reassurance to clients that the individuals they are employing follow accepted industry criteria (RICS.org, 2016). In addition they claim that their certification means that professionals can communicate their skills with a consistent approach.  However, the role that they certify is predominantly focused around broader strategic aims, with specific case study examples, and could be argued that across disciplines is a limited assessment and is also focused around their own criteria and the benefits that they would like to see (RICS.org, 2016).

An alternative to professionally recognised qualification is the proposal by Autodesk who have begun to provide a service for civil engineers and designers. This is focused around increasing the impression of professional competency for clients. They also go on to promote the idea that offering new services and the opportunity of repeat business is a priority for consultancies and therefore aligning themselves to offer this themselves as a business opportunity (Autodesk.com, 2013).  As this is provided by a private software company the key criteria of an impartial and considered approach could be argued to have been lost and therefore the quality and impartiality of this offering is reduced.

Similar to the approach by Autodesk is that of the Building Research Establishment (BRE) who have a certification scheme focused around BIM Level 2 which is for practitioners to offer as part of their company confidence in the ability to meet the industry standards. Again the focus here client is on confidence in the approach to their projects and the ability for a consultancy to promote their own abilities to win new work (Bre.co.uk, 2016).

A comparison, although high-level, has been conducted by Rossiter (2014), who argues that certification is a positive opportunity for the construction industry and his main finding are that certification offers employers a level of independent clarity within an industry which does not have a set standard for BIM management. There is criticism of certification regarding whether a company can be BIM compliant in itself, as this is dependent on the individuals competency on a particular job, or whether it should be following a quality management system such as ISO 9001 (Gough, 2015) to demonstrate quality assurance levels.  It would appear in the first instance that accreditation is useful to allow companies to understand the basics of BIM Level 2 and to offer clients and other consultant’s confidence in their skills. In time it would appear that a quality management system should be able to offer confidence that a consultant can deliver what is required.

Conclusion – BIM Manager

It would appear from the above that the BIM Manager role is an important role in the future on BIM projects that will require a broad range of skills to manage, support and potentially lead a team of professionals for the successful implementation of BIM.  A possible future direction for this role could be for a chartered professional status to be created similar to that of an architect, an engineer, or quantity surveyor.  To be chartered it would have to be demonstrated that an individual has gained a “remarkable level of competence in a particular field of work and as such has been awarded a formal credential by an organisation in recognition” (Wikipedia, 2016). For this to occur a professional body would need to be established that would award this and it appears to be an interesting possibility for the future in a profession which is evolving to meet client needs and increase the quality of building projects.

References

Autodesk.com, (2013). Autodesk Launches New BIM Specialist Certification Program. [online] Available at: http://inthefold.autodesk.com/in_the_fold/2013/06/autodesk-launches-new-bim-specialist-certification-program.html  [Accessed 3 Jan. 2016].

Bre.co.uk, (2016). BRE Group: BIM Level 2 Certificated Practitioner Scheme. [online] Available at: https://www.bre.co.uk/page.jsp?id=3309  [Accessed 3 Jan. 2016].

Deutsch, R. (2011). BIM and integrated design. Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley.

Eastman, C. (2011). BIM handbook: a guide to building information modelling for owners, managers, designers, engineers and contractors. 2nd ed. Hoboken: Wiley.

Eynon, J. (2013). The design manager’s handbook. Southern Gate, Chichester, West Sussex, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Gough, T. (2015). BIM certification is a recipe for confusion. [online] Bimplus.co.uk. Available at: http://www.bimplus.co.uk/people/bim-certification-recipe-confusion/  [Accessed 11 Dec. 2015].

H M Government, (2015). Digital Built Britain. London: BIS.

Hardin, B. (2009). BIM and construction management. Indianapolis, Ind.: Wiley Pub.

Kensek, K. and Nobel, D. (2014). Building information modelling – BIM in current and future practice. Hoboken: Wiley.

Rics.org, (2016). BIM Manager Certification. [online] Available at: http://www.rics.org/uk/join/member-accreditations-list/bim-manager-certification/  [Accessed 3 Jan. 2016].

Rossiter, D. (2014). Is There Advantage in Accreditation? [Blog] BIM Crunch. Available at: http://bimcrunch.com/2014/10/bim-voice-dan-rossiter-advantage-accreditation/  [Accessed 3 Jan. 2016].

Wikipedia, (2016). Chartered (professional). [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chartered_(professional)  [Accessed 3 Jan. 2016].

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2 thoughts on “Is a #BIM Manager role required? #Certification and #chartered status discussed

  1. Excellent post Allister: clear, well-researched and quite balanced; thank you. One thought: I think we can no longer treat roles – whether traditional or new – as something static. You see, project responsibilities in particular (as opposed to organisational ones) keep changing hands: what one role used to do in the past, is now done by another. And what another used to do, is now done by a computer (whether dumb or artificially intelligent). So defining a fixed set of competencies against-which a role can be qualified or certified is – in my view – is no longer valid. Every definition of a BIM Manager (as a sample role) that has been written three or four years ago, must be re-written this year. What will be defined this year must be redefined within a couple of years, and so on….When it comes to roles and their responsibilities, the pace of change is unforgiving! Certification or no certification, qualification or no qualification, we need to revisit how we assign responsibilities to roles rather than assigning a role some fixed responsibilities. This understanding does not suit certification providers who need something static to measure and sell. Companies and individuals need to realise that certification is a placebo or – at best – a very short-term and expensive fix. The only solution – at least the one I can see at the moment – is for individuals to accept continuous learning as a way of life, and for organisations to adopt a non-stop performance improvement strategy.

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