BIM and FM: How can we move forward?


BIM and FM

How can we move forward?

In Summary:

In a recent webinar, “BIM to FM – The Way Forward,” Martin Read, Editor, FM World, and Peter Brogan, Head of Research and Insights, BIFM, asked a panel of senior FM leaders how to address many of the challenges FMs face when it comes to BIM. A summary of the discussion is below. Read the report TIWFM (formerly BIFM) recently surveyed leaders in FM and asset management about the challenges they see facing professionals in our industry. They discussed a range of issues with respect to the relevance, adoption and use of building information modelling (BIM) to asset owner/operators and to the facilities management sector. Unfortunately, the current focus on BIM overlooks the longer-term value of data as a resource beyond planning, design and construction of new buildings. A key takeaway from the Leader Forum was that many industry individuals see great value and opportunity with BIM, but there are significant challenges to making this vision a reality for FM. Are the FMs in the trenches particularly excited about the idea of BIM? Not to stereotype here, but I’d have to say that my gauge is a widespread, “No, not yet.” How can we change their minds with this attitude? I believe that with enough real-world education, FMs can gain an understanding of how their data can lower overall costs downstream.

Webinar Learnings

With this in mind, I had the pleasure to participate as a panelist for a BIFM webinar on 15 November, sponsored by Invicara and hosted by Peter Brogan, Head of Research and Insights, BIFM. The webinar, “BIM to FM – The Way Forward,” was expertly chaired by Martin Read, Editor, FM World, and my fellow, experienced and knowledgeable panelists included, Mike Packham, Managing Director, BWA (Europe) Limited; and Jason Clark, Executive Director – Regional Head of Property Management, UBS. The purpose of this webinar was to share the perspective of senior FM leaders on how to address many of the challenges FMs frequently face when it comes to BIM. What role do FMs play? How can BIM improve timelines and costs of projects? Ultimately, how can BIM improve the function and maintenance of a building, increasing its lifecycle? Martin asked the panel several questions, giving each of us an opportunity to provide our own answers. Below you’ll find the questions, along with my answers, opinions, and suggestions. Question: What role should FM play in the management of building information within BIM projects? Answer: BIM is all about Building Information, with graphics to support and provide context to the information. BIM projects should be set up with the “end in mind”, meaning FM must define what data should be captured during design, construction, and handover. To do this,
  • FM leads need to be invited to the table in defining the BIM project, at an early stage in the project so they can drive information requirements.
  • FM leads need to have on staff (or consultants), who have a full understanding of the BIM process, and the time and expertise to actively contribute to the process.
Question: How can FM harness the Internet of Things (IoT) to strengthen its role in the BIM chain? Answer: IoT is predicted to hold an important role in FM in the future. However, I always recommend to leverage BIM and build a solid Information Management platform as the starting point. Any IoT strategy requires good data. When it comes to IoT for FM, the challenges include:
  • Establishing the information management platform that works for both new and existing facilities in the portfolio.
  • Knowing where and when to deploy IoT and how to leverage that to progressively generate information, insights and knowledge.
BIM projects should be set up with the 'end in mind', meaning FM must define what data should be captured during design, construction, and handover. Question: How can FM help owners see BIM as more than just another expensive process cost? Answer: Look for capital projects where BIM can supply immediate value by managing handover properly. At the same time, create a foundation for total lifecycle cost analysis which can deliver long term cost savings. As an FM, it’s important to always remember:
  • Significant initial cost reductions typically are seen during the capital phase.
  • BIM is a journey that continues throughout a project’s lifecycle.
  • To be patient. Additional, often unforeseen, value can be realised during operations
Question: To what extent does a lack of skills deter FM’s ability to play its part? Answer: Industry 4.0 is a result of technology that drives new data driven processes. This needs people who think data and want to innovate and disrupt the status quo. It’s also important to remember, that skill development is a consequence of a deliberate decision. If there is a lack of emphasis from senior management to be data driven, upskilling will not be a priority. For this to change FMs must,
  • Seize the day! Change will not happen unless someone takes charge.
  • Provide senior-level management with education on the opportunity to digitally transform FM, its benefits, and the need for funding to upskill workforce into new roles and implement digital systems.
Question: How can FM, as a sector and as individual practitioners, realize the full potential of BIM? Answer: Opening their eyes to where other sectors have benefitted from digitalisation (manufacturing, banking, travel etc.). Planes and cars are far cheaper to build, operate, and maintain today than in the past. Transactions are not limited to defined points of sale any more. Federation and accessibility to information is driving collaborative workflows that has reduced cost, improved response times and quality of service. All of these can be realised in FM!


Ultimately, my biggest lessons learned from both the leader forum and the webinar were simple:
  • We need to improve education of BIM for FM
  • We need a way to get good data
I get it, easier said than done? When thinking about the need and use of quality data, let’s take a look at Google Maps, which initially launched in 2005 as a web application using geospatial data visualisation software and a real-time traffic analyzer. Fueled by innovation, the Google Maps team began layering data from satellite imagery, to GPS tracking and street views, still captured today by cameras on top of cars. If this sounds like a lot of work, that’s because it is. Despite all of latest technological advances and promises, today, people have to do a lot of work in the background to find and develop usable data. In order to make the most of the data, FM as an industry must become more digitally adept. Making the shift to incorporate digital thinking into business strategy and executive decision-making can be challenging, but – in the face of potential disruption by existing and new competitors – it will be a necessary change. It is not a ‘big bang’ change, but one that can be tackled through a progressive and open repeated cycle of steps. For more information on our recommended steps, check out Invicara’s latest white paper, “Making FM Digitally Adept”.