How to Overcome the Barriers to Implementation in the AEC Industry


The architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry is undergoing a digital transformation, as new technologies and workflows are changing the way buildings are designed, built and operated. However, adopting these innovations and implementing them is not always easy, as companies face various obstacles such as resistance to change, lack of skills, interoperability issues and cost constraints. In this article, we will explore some of the common challenges that AEC firms encounter when implementing new technologies or workflows, and how they can overcome them with the help of Revit and a host of other software.

Challenge 1: Resistance to Change

One of the most significant obstacles to innovation and implementation in the AEC industry is the resistance to change from the existing workforce. Employees may be hesitant to learn new tools or methods or fear that their jobs will be replaced by automation. This can result in low adoption rates, poor performance, and frustration among users and managers.

Resistance to change is quite an ordeal to overcome within this industry. On one hand you have the seasoned employees who will say “we have always done it this way” and may refuse to change, while the younger staff are more easily malleable and have not learned some of those “bad habits” that some of the other staff may be doing. Change really needs to start from the top-down meaning ownership and/or upper management need to accept, promote and support the changes that are being implemented.

To overcome this challenge, AEC firms can:

  • Communicate the benefits: Clearly communicate the benefits of the new technology or workflow to employees, highlighting how it will make their work easier, more efficient, and more enjoyable.
  • Involve employees in the process: Involve employees in the decision-making process and implementation of the new technology or workflow. This will help them feel more invested in the change and more likely to embrace it.
  • Provide a clear roadmap: Provide a clear roadmap for the implementation of the new technology or workflow, including timelines, milestones, and expected outcomes. This will help employees understand what is expected of them and when.
  • Celebrate successes: Celebrate successes along the way, recognizing and rewarding employees who have embraced the new technology or workflow and are using it effectively.

Challenge 2: Lack of Skills

Another challenge that AEC firms face when implementing new technologies or workflows is the lack of skills and expertise among their staff, especially in the areas of digital design, modeling, simulation, analysis, and coordination. This can result in low quality, errors, delays, and rework.

To add to the lack of skills, this can be attributed to the fact that fewer and fewer people are going to school for the various AEC industry careers like Architects or Engineers. This is more prevalent when it comes to the Engineering field. To top it off, those that are studying to be an Engineer or Architect are not getting the skills they need to create or read construction documents or even those “CAD 101” skills. Even though many firms are actively looking to fill various positions, a lack of a new skilled workforce makes that extremely difficult most of the time. When someone fresh out of school is hired, companies must now train these new hires in how to use industry standard software like Revit and most other CAD/BIM related software. This costs a lot of time, money and effort to get them upskilled to be successful. Taking a new hire and throwing them at a project currently in design may sound like a good idea and a good way for them to learn, however, it will inevitably hurt the project. Most of the time, the new hires do not ask questions, let alone know what those questions should be. They will often do things without understanding what they should be doing and will fake what they need because they don’t know how to do something. A comprehensive onboarding plan that includes mentorship from existing staff members as well as working alongside them would greatly help their transition into their role within your company.

To overcome the challenge of lack of skills in the AEC industry, firms can:

  • Invest in upskilling and reskilling: Provide employees with the necessary training, resources, and tools to master new technologies or workflows.
  • Hire or partner with external experts: Bring in external experts to provide guidance, mentoring, and best practices.
  • Create a learning culture: Encourage a culture of continuous learning and development, where employees are motivated to learn and grow.
  • Provide opportunities for hands-on experience: Give employees opportunities to apply their new skills in real-world situations, through projects, assignments, or job rotations.
  • Offer incentives and rewards: Provide incentives and rewards for employees who successfully learn and apply new skills, to motivate and encourage them to continue learning.

Challenge 3: Interoperability Issues

A third challenge that AEC firms face when implementing new technologies or workflows is the interoperability issues between different software platforms, systems, and data formats. This can cause inefficiencies, inconsistencies and conflicts in the design, construction, and operation phases of the project.

To overcome this challenge, AEC firms can adopt several solutions, including:

  • Adopting open standards: AEC firms can adopt open standards, such as the Building Information Modeling (BIM) standard, which enables the exchange and integration of data across different disciplines and stages of the project.
  • Using compatible and collaborative tools: AEC firms can use compatible and collaborative tools, such as Revit, which is a BIM software that allows the creation and coordination of 3D models, drawings, and documents for architecture, structure, and MEPF engineering.
  • Establishing data exchange protocols: AEC firms can establish data exchange protocols and guidelines to ensure smooth and consistent data exchange between different software platforms and systems.

One interoperability issue that comes to mind that has been very difficult for us is when an Architect is still using AutoCAD in a Revit centric industry, or they are using ArchiCAD. Both require different solutions. A solution for when a background from AutoCAD is received is to use a tool to convert that dwg into Revit elements so that our engineering team have a better understanding of the spatial requirements and relationships within the project.

When it comes to ArchiCAD, we need to work with an IFC file that is either imported or linked into Revit. Both have different challenges. Linking IFC works best using IFC4 format and Importing works best with IFC2x3. We often get sent IFC2x3 format. When exporting to IFC from ArchiCAD, one must be very precise with their IFC classifications. Any miscues in the IFC classification mapping will result in the wrong Revit category conversion. Often, we get things categorized as Generic Models. Before importing, one also needs to modify the Open IFC settings in Revit, so those IFC classification translate to the Revit categories you want/need. While things may be categorized correctly in Revit, everything is treated as a model in place component and multiple of the same things from ArchiCAD are now one offs in Revit. Right click, select all instances no longer works and filters may not also work as they should. Adding to this, each time we get a new IFC file, what we import into Revit will have a new GUID from the last update which will cause any hosted elements we are using to be orphaned. While we are still sorting out those quirks with our clients who use ArchiCAD, it is above and beyond way better than when we first started getting IFC files.


In summary, the AEC industry faces challenges when implementing new technologies or workflows, but there are solutions to overcome them. The AEC industry is undergoing a digital transformation, and to fully benefit from it, firms need to address the challenges of resistance to change, lack of skills, and interoperability issues. By creating a culture of innovation, investing in skills development, adopting open standards, and using compatible and collaborative tools, AEC firms can improve their quality, efficiency, sustainability, and profitability. It is essential for firms to take a proactive approach to address these challenges and embrace the digital transformation to stay competitive in the industry.

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