BIG BIM Reality Check

REALITY CHECK – If you are one of those that think that by doing large projects using one of the big name authoring tools, you are doing BIG BIM… you are far off the mark and likely guilty of the heinous crime of bimwashing!

Ditto, if one has standardized on the product lines of one software developer, whether in the cloud or not… you are doing little bim.

Ditto, if one must output to files, no matter whether they are stored on DVD’s, to a local server or to a cloud server… you are doing little bim and be aware, you are also abetting Data Rot.

Ditto, if one’s focus is on LOD (whether it is called Level of Detail or Level of Development), one uses analog methods that visually compare data and outputs of different systems with each other or, one re-types data from one system into the other… yep, little bim.

Ditto, if one thinks that BIG BIM will only happen in some undefined future nirvana when all standards are agreed upon… you are definitely doing little bim. btw. If the internet had used the same approach, where would we be today? Would Amazon, Expedia, Google, et al, even exist?

In each of the cases above, one’s heart may be in the right place, but it is still little bim.

These misconceptions have been the basis for presentations, educational programs and chats around the water-cooler. Seemingly knowledgeable people are leading others down the wrong path. At best, they sub-optimize the implementation of BIG BIM. At worst, the smoke-and-mirrors advance personal agendas while harming others’ ability to move forward. In all cases, they make people wonder whether building information modeling is worth the effort for most people.

For many, the confusion between BIG and little BIM, is working to weld the building industry to little bim, with few believing that more is possible. The misconceptions are making the path forward unclear for most.

While little bim is an important subset of BIG BIM and is not going away, many opportunities are missed, if that is all one does. Little bim has vastly improved design and construction and likely saves some facility management costs. By focusing on little bim, perhaps not realizing that there are easier and more productive ways to do the same job, people are missing many of the greater benefits.

Misconceptions make building information modeling seem like a process only open to the highly trained and well funded. Big players seem to be the only real option. Yet, those in the know, know better. By understanding the shortcomings of little bim, it becomes easier to move toward BIG BIM, and with the move, the benefits expand greatly. People and businesses of all shapes and sizes benefit. The opportunities from this subtle change are enormous.

BIG BIM is the big picture business process changes and the steps needed to integrate data from everywhere to understand what you are doing in a big world context. Business requirements, building industry data, geographical information and real-time operations intersect to support integrated decision-making using interfaces tailored to individual users and needs. Data and information are king. With BIG BIM, data is fed from distributed, shareable and interoperable repositories, interconnected to encompass everything about assets. You create or manipulate data using an almost unlimited set of tools in a sustainable process that is no longer in isolation from anything or anyone.

little bim is the application of advanced software and processes using files-based data exchanges via monolithic product lines, translators and import/export. Replaces ‘flat-CAD’ with BIM authoring and/or analysis tool(s) on networked computers. Work product and efficiency are leveraged, but improvements are internal to projects and can be viewed as computer-aided-drafting on steroids. Data is secondary to graphics. Advanced graphics, conflict checking, cost modeling and process simulation occur, but are project-by-project oriented exercises. Focus is on software products and current profitability, often ignoring or misunderstanding lifecycle benefits.

Too often, people inadvertently negotiate against themselves, not understanding the larger capabilities available to them. The move from little bim to BIG BIM is one such capability. BIG BIM is no longer just a concept. It has been prototyped and proven to work, in real-world conditions. The technologies and tools to do BIG BIM exist… one can access and use them today. Little bim is better than what we had before, but why go for halfway measures, when one can have it all?