|Image by Christopher.F Photography via Flickr|
These days there is a lot of interest in the ROI of BIM and ways of quantifying it. In my experience, working with multiple clients of different size, I have identified a lot of what I will call “soft” benefits of BIM. I call them soft because they are qualitative indicators that are harder to accurately estimate. Their benefit, however, is evident.
1. Less Interruptions
I hate interruptions. Interruptions often happen when there are problems in the field. A designer must respond by dropping whatever he/she is doing to go through the mental exercise of remembering why something was done one way or another. Using BIM helps make such conflicts more obvious and hard to avoid. By linking files from the different consultants together for coordination, design issues jump out as they would in a real life site inspection. BIM allows you to deliver a resolved design. These interruptions are hard (impossible?) to measure, as well as their effect on your personal productivity. Their avoidance is a significant benefit of BIM.
2. Attraction and Retention of Valuable Staff
Some firms have identified that moving to BIM helps them attract the brightest and most motivated staff. On the other hand, firms that resist exploring new technologies, processes and workflows often complain of losing their staff or having low staff morale. Well, if your staff isn’t mentally stimulated, excited to come to work and challenged intellectually, why would they choose to stay with you? So think about that: BIM as a way of attracting and retaining your most valued staff which translates into obtaining and securing more interesting work.
3. Value Designing vs. Value Engineering
When used early in the design process, BIM allows designers to explore and quantify design options to find opportunities to bring value to a project without a huge investment of time. Try running multiple design options and doing early cost estimates and daylighting optimizations using traditonal 2D. By forcing a more integrative approach, the use of BIM allows quick and early comparison of things like aesthetics, code compliance and building performance. Like the previous point, this translates into securing more work because you can prove that you bring value to a project, not just a 3D model at the end.
Don’t underestmate the soft benefits of BIM. The may make your practice more solid than you think.