For a project to work smoothly, teams need to trust each other. It’s always been a challenge for someone in management to become a trusted advisor to the teams working in the field. How is that accomplished?
Successful BIM managers have told me that they make it a point to be willing to learn from the workers in the field. Part of gaining trust is finding out what those teams need to do their job and then getting it for them.
That need might include better hardware; it could be something from the model; they may need training; most of all, they can benefit greatly if they have access to the current model. It’s important to respect the expertise of the field workers. They have the skill to build the project. When the BIM manager puts forth effort and even some personal time to help them do their jobs better, you can see trust getting built.
Field workers know how to build a building. Because of that, they can help the BIM department build better models. This is not only good strategy, it’s good business to invite them in and ask them questions about the best way to build a model. Based on practical experience, the field is a much better source for answers than the BIM manager. Just having them look at the model and provide input on how they are going to construct the project can be a big benefit. They can let the BIM department know if something doesn’t look right. In this type of give and take, field workers can start to see the benefit of the BIM model. As a bonus, they can catch mistakes in the modeling stage. To make the BIM circle more inclusive, it’s a good idea for the superintendent/project manager to be included in BIM meetings as well.
Sometimes people on the job don’t trust the BIM process because they don’t understand the BIM process. Once they do, the ripple effect of a better workflow benefits the entire job. Start this journey with small steps. Keep it simple. Be there for them.
On successful BIM-based jobs, the field has access to the model in real-time, otherwise the model loses its overall purpose. Models can change rapidly, sometimes on a daily basis, so having up-to-date information in the field is critical. If they don’t have real-time access to the model to answer their questions, then the BIM department becomes a bottleneck for that information flow. When the BIM manager is trying to put out fires and answer questions, it can essentially become an extra job providing the information from the model that everyone is asking for.
We’ve been hearing the warning that if we don’t change the way we build buildings, we can’t meet the demand that’s facing us. For that reason, companies need to offer incentives for innovation on projects. This is far easier with the younger generation workforce. They’re fundamentally very open to using technology and can catch a vision for making work processes more streamlined. BIM has a bright future.
On episode 52 of the Bridging the Gap podcast, I spoke about trust, respect and BIM with Juliana Milanov, an experienced BIM director with a work history of working in AEC design and the construction industry. To hear her take on these topics, listen to the podcast today.