The Most Important Steps to a BIM Project Execution Planning Strategy for Architects


Have you ever gone into something not knowing what to expect?  How about saying yes to something without even knowing anything about it?

I am sure that we have all done this. How does it turn out?

I recently agreed to hike Camelback Mountain without really knowing what I was getting myself into. I had an expectation that it was going to be a leisurely stroll and said yes before even having a plan. As we got into the hike I realized that I may have overcommitted, but at that point there was no turning back.  Getting to the top was a struggle, but I overcame my fears and I completed the task at hand.

The lesson that I learned from this reminded me how important it is to plan and set the expectations in order to be successful.

camelback mountain

I recall this story because I can’t stress enough, in our current world of BIM, the importance of BIM project execution planning.

There are many tools available to us to help with this process, like the National BIM Guide for Owners by the National Institute of Building Sciences, which was recently released.

You’ll start seeing more requests for BIM execution plans or BIM project execution plans (PxP) in the near future. As owners become more familiar with BIM and educate themselves on the implications it holds for the AEC industry, BIM will become a standard protocol for your projects.

national bim guide for owners

A BIM project execution plan is a living document that allows you to set goals for your projects and helps define a BIM Roadmap for your project. As owners, you can now identify the value of BIM at the onset of your project. With goals in place, it’s easier to set a benchmark for you to measure against as you complete each project.

Knowing where you are going and having a plan in place will ensure you success in the endeavor you are trying to achieve. Setting expectations, defining goals, and having a plan!

Thumbing through the Penn State BIM Project Execution Planning guide can be a very daunting task. For architects, engineers, owners, and all other consultants on a project, this is an important step that should not be avoided, even if it seems overwhelming.

When first approaching a BIMXP, PxP, or any other 3 letter acronyms you may have seen floating around the web, I always suggest the subtractive approach. I will typically start with the entire Penn State guide and then weed out the items that are not pertinent to the project.

The following are the key parts a BIM project execution plan:

 

Setting strategic Goals

Identify the BIM Goals that you want to achieve with the project. These goals can be set by the owner, or they may be what you want to achieve internally as a firm.

The Penn State Guide gives you a list of traditional BIM Goals as a starting point, but they can modified at any time in the project. Committing your goals to writing will make it easier to review them at the end of the project. Did we meet our goals? Is our client happy? If not, how can we do it better next time?

Understanding Roles and Responsibilities

This section is key to helping the project run smoothly, making sure everyone is on the same page, and knowing who is responsible for modeling what and to what level on the project.

In this section, you will also want to include the AIA G202-2013 Model Progression Specification for Level of Development and Model Element Author. If you are not using these contractually, you can still opt to create a similar version documenting LOD and the responsibility partner. Identifying all responsible parties help eliminate the finger-pointing that can happen at the end of a project.

Identifying Additional Resources and Training

An execution plan is also a great time to take a look at your current resources for your project and to identify any training or software you may need in order to meet these goals. Are there certain goals, such as clash detection, for example, that you have committed to completing? If so, you may need to purchase Navisworks and enroll your team in a training program that teaches them how to operate it.

It’s best to look at this as early as you can so that you can budget for it. Depending on the project and contract, these costs can be part of the project scope as well.

Provide a Benchmark to Measure Success

All of these steps that you take in planning and setting goals will help you establish a benchmark of how well you are doing BIM. If you continue down a path of just using the BIM software as a design tool, how will you ever know if you are progressing with BIM? If you don’t have anything to measure against, how will you know if you are successful or if you are being left behind as others push forward with taking BIM to the next level?

Even if you are not contractually required by the owner to enact a BIM execution plan, there is still value in completing a simplified plan: communication, coordination, and a higher chance of success for your project. Plan your project, set goals, and communicate with your project team.

Need to map out a BIM execution plan but don’t know where to start? We can help. Let’s talk today.