How To Determine if Outsourcing BIM Management Is Right for Your AEC Firm


Outsourcing BIM management is the right option for some AEC firms — but not all! It depends on an ecosystem of time, budget, and resource allocation. Even so, a BIM manager fulfills a critical role in these times when everything is created via software.

In a recent article for CADALYST, Heather Livingston wrote, “Although there’s certainly a steep learning curve when making the leap from 2D to true BIM, the payback is in the potential for acquiring more work, making fewer mistakes, and increasing productivity. At its core, BIM is about nothing less than a complete process change. It opens the door to delivering fully integrated projects in which the team shares the knowledge, the risk, and the reward more equally. Hiring a BIM manager moves the needle in that direction.”

Heather is absolutely right. Good management of the building information model (BIM) is critical to the success of the project, and every firm must treat the role seriously.

Managing and maintaining BIM solutions, however, can be time-consuming and draw team members away from billable project work. Many firms don’t want to assign a valuable employee to manage BIM. Others that invested in an in-house BIM manager sometimes find there’s more work than that individual can possibly handle, especially if they also have project responsibilities. Neglecting BIM management stresses project teams, increases potential project mistakes and delays, and creates an environment for unhappy clients and missed business opportunities. What’s the answer?

Outsourcing BIM Management

Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of outsourcing these services to help you make an educated decision for your firm.

What Does BIM Management Involve?

A BIM Manager has many responsibilities and requires a special combination of skills, expertise, and experience, which include:

  • Creating a BIM vision
  • Helping select, implement, and maintain BIM software and hardware.
  • Day-to-day support of BIM, CAD, Project technology, and general IT with the objective for the projects to meet deadlines with high-standard deliverables.
  • Staying on top of new technologies that can support a firm’s BIM projects and expand services, such as 3D laser scanning, energy analysis, prefabrication, and collaboration.
  • Establishing and enforcing BIM standards, templates, standards, and workflows to ensure project consistencies.
  • Developing best practice documents on workflows, support, and training, with consideration to multi-discipline projects and external office collaborations, contracts, and industry standards.
  • Facilitating the collaboration between BIM project team members, staff, management, and clients.
  • Helping market BIM services and capabilities.
  • Assisting in setting up new projects and project teams, drawing up the BIM Execution Plan, and helping in planning the time with consideration to BIM-related tasks.
  • Developing the standard BIM libraries and content management protocols.
  • Developing a training strategy that covers new starter induction to advanced user on multiple applications spanning all required professions.
  • Conducting and developing best practice documents on regular BIM audits, including clash detection, at key points in the project lifecycle to ensure the effective deployment of BIM skills, standards, and interoperability between team members, consultants, and software applications.

This role means all the difference between BIM success and BIM failure. There are too many responsibilities to ignore, and someone needs to be on deck to help.

How Can Outsourcing Help With BIM Management?

Outsourcing BIM Management to a third party takes care of the many responsibilities of the position. The success to outsourcing is finding the right partner. A good BIM Management Service company should be able to provide:

  • Day-to-day tactical assistance, such as quick answers to technical questions, content creation like standards documentation and styles development, and the configuration and deployment of software.
  • Strategic support, such as evaluating BIM adoption rates in the firm, as well as helping market BIM services/capabilities and other high-priority topics with tactical initiatives like training employees on customizations.
  • An extension of the project team by providing project team assessments, project team kick-off involvement, project team consulting/mentoring, and project team collaboration technologies.
  • Access to industry best practices via extensive knowledge and experience with BIM across many industries, which benefits your firm without the cost of having a team of experts on staff.
  • A service provider who can scale the level of support to your unique needs.

When Is Outsourcing the Right Step?

Outsourcing makes sense when you have a vacancy in the BIM manager position, or if your firm does not want or need a full-time BIM Manager. Outsourcing is typically not best for larger firms and those with multiple offices that have strong, consistent BIM standards in place across their organizations. We have seen, however, that some of these firms do benefit from outsourcing occasionally when their resident BIM Manager finds there is more work than they can handle.

outsource bim manager

To determine if your firm needs BIM management services, answer these questions:

  1. Are you prepared when your clients ask for BIM?
  2. Is your BIM team(s) stable?
  3. Do you have BIM standards in place, and are they being enforced?
  4. Do you have an internal BIM resource to determine strategic directions and initiatives?
  5. Is your BIM staff stagnate with their proficiency of the tools they use?
  6. Can you collaborate successfully and confidently with professionals outside your firm on a BIM project?

Outsourcing is a good alternative if you answered “NO” to any of the above questions. If you answered “YES” to all the questions, then you are in good shape and don’t need to outsource.

Watch out for the Common Pitfalls of Outsourcing

Some companies fall short of achieving the desired benefits of outsourcing by failing to observe these five simple rules of thumb:

  1. Don’t assume you know what you need.
  2. Partner with a provider that knows your business and is invested in your success.
  3. Set objectives and strategies for outsourcing and hold performance reviews. The relationship should be an extension of your business.
  4. Build commitment from within your own company for the outsourcing partner.
  5. Assign someone internally to manage the relationship.

Are You Ready to Outsource?

Running an architectural or engineering firm is not easy. Producing the best projects is what attracts clients and brings in new clients and projects. BIM systems are essential for your firm’s success.  Managing and maintaining these solutions can require a large amount of time and takes your project team members away from billable work. Unfortunately, if you ignore things like templates and guidelines or deployment of key software updates, the team cannot work quickly and professionally.

CADsoft Consulting’s BIM management services enable firms to focus on their core business, without using valuable internal resources, while benefitting from senior talent that offers immediate access to industry best practices. Contact us today to learn more about how we can improve your BIM workflow.