Increasing Adoption of BIM by Owners

While Building Information Modeling (BIM) has been widely adopted in the design phase, until recently we have not seen the level of BIM awareness and knowledge increase among owners. BIM project requirements by owners has been very loose and not clearly defined, but has grown significantly with the maturity in recent years.  Project owners are becoming more aware of the value of a project that leverages BIM processes.  Project owners ultimately have the most vested interest in the success and delivery of a built asset—with owners’ operations burden two-thirds of the cost it would make, they would be interested in the value BIM would bring to their project. 

Historically the adoption of BIM has come within the design community particularly the success of Autodesk Revit and while owners have had some level of interest in BIM they have not completely understood the actual value it would bring to their project.  As the value of BIM has matured and projects are producing measurable metrics of success, owners are becoming more knowledgeable of the benefits and are requiring BIM on their projects.  Now that we are seeing such rich BIM data being migrated from design to construction it would only make sense the next big evolution for BIM is in the Operations, Maintenance, and Facility Management phase.

“Clients today want to get to market much quicker than they did in the past, and they want to spend the least amount of time and money on prep work.” (1)
- Richard Bailey, managing director of construction, BAM Construct UK

Figure 1: The value of Building Information Model Management to owners’ diagram


It’s important to understand BIM is not a product or tool you can purchase.  BIM is a process. There are many tools in the toolbox a project team will use and it is the process of managing the design information with these tools amongst the entire project team that defines BIM and, done well, defines the success of the built asset.

Challenges for Owners

For a project that is considering the use of BIM, it is critical that the project team have prior experience on a BIM project and a well-defined BIM execution plan.  It is also important to have executive sponsorship supporting the use of BIM on the project.  Setting realistic expectations and defined measurable success metrics on how the project is going to be tracked is important.  The early adopters of BIM originally coming from the design community of Architects, Engineers, and Contractors have learned this through a trial and error process.  One of the top challenges facing a project is poor communication and collaboration. 

Benefits for Owners

There are many benefits to owners when a project team is successfully leveraging a BIM workflow on their project. Having a design team collaborating throughout the design coordination is essential to the project’s success.  Traditional project communication from the project team is often in silos.  It’s imperative for project information to flow from team member to team member regardless if they are within the organization or an outside organization.

“When you have a collaborative project environment, it incentivizes everyone to achieve the same outcomes and they start looking out for each other.” (1)
Michael Skelton,
market strategy and business intelligence leader, AECOM

Figure 2: Aconex Project Collaboration Technology diagram

The Influence of Governmental and Private Requirements of BIM Policies

Governments worldwide are mandating or recommending BIM, recognizing its value for helping to deliver projects successfully.  Institutional organizations have taken an important initiative to provide a level of leadership in the definition and guidance to the BIM process.  Examples are the National BIM Standard from the buildingSMART alliance at the National Institute of Building Sciences, Level of Development standards from the BIMForum, and the Owner’s BIM Guide developed by Penn State University.  It is clear that BIM use in the UK has increased substantially due to the Government Construction Strategy published in May 2011, which mandates a minimum requirement for a fully collaborative 3D BIM deliverable with all the project and asset information including documentation and data being delivered electronically on public projects in 2016.  Public Available Specification PAS 1192-2 provides the framework for collaborative working and information management in a BIM Level 2 Project Information Model (PIM) environment.  PAS 1192-3 provides the framework for the sharing of graphical and non-graphical information in a shared online space known as a Common Data Environment (CDE).

Figure 3: PAS 1192-2 information delivery cycle amended for asset management

BIM for Owners in Operations & Maintenance

As long as BIM has been used, the promise of a complete lifecycle data-rich model developed by the design and construction teams ultimately available for the owners’ operations, maintenance, and facility management team has been the promised holy grail.  The next evolution of BIM that will take us a step closer to the lifecycle of BIM is in the area of Operations, Maintenance, and Facilities Management.  As O&M/FM tools become better able to integrate with BIM data, and standards for turnover models become better established, these are likely to become regular practices because the long-term benefit to owners for a complete Asset Information Model (AIM) as a single source of approved and validated information is so great.

To make the promise a reality there needs to be a neutral solution that allows the entire project team to contribute from their own environments to Common Data Environment (CDE).  Solutions such as Aconex Connected BIM allow the design team to author in their own BIM design tools then contribute to a CDE so the information can be consumed by the broader project stakeholders and enriched with the non-graphical data such as vendor specifications and documentation for the purpose of a complete handover solution.

Case Study:U.S. Federal Office Building, Miramar, Florida

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) selected Hensel Phelps as the design-builder for the 380,000-square-foot, US$160-million regional headquarters of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).  The new office building will consolidate local agency forces throughout South Florida.  Building information management (BIM) technology was deployed to facilitate project team collaboration through the design and construction phases.

Hensel Phelps utilized Aconex Smart Manuals, which provides a collaborative digital handover solution for construction and engineering projects. Contractors can electronically capture, review, and assemble the documentation required for operation and maintenance (O&M) of the built asset during the project and deliver it to the asset owner on practical completion.

“With Aconex Smart Manuals, we reduced the number of hours to import all of the project data for O&M manuals by at least 30%. We were processing up to 1,000 documents a day, which would have taken weeks to manage manually.”
- Derek Hoffine, Operations Manager, Hensel Phelps

Figure 4: New U.S. Federal Office Building, Miramar, FL

Case Study: Royal Adelaide Hospital, Adelaide, Australia

Located in Adelaide’s west end, the new Royal Adelaide Hospital is Australia’s most advanced healthcare facility and the single largest infrastructure project in the history of South Australia. With 800 beds and 40 operating theaters, the hospital will have the capacity to admit 80,000 patients per year.  This project is using Building Information Modeling (BIM), an intelligent, 3D-model-based process for planning, design, and construction.  Part of the project challenges were complex with many stakeholders that needed access to the project information and design model for coordination.  By implementing Aconex and the Connected BIM solution, the project team could follow the progress of the BIM files and project correspondence.

“Aconex Connected BIM significantly helped us deliver BIM on this project.”
- Chris Penn, BIM Manager, HYLC Joint Venture

Figure 5: New Royal Adelaide Hospital


We are in an exciting evolution within the Architectural, Engineering, Construction, and Owner (AEC&O) industry.  There will be more project success stories as we see more owners and designers embracing the opportunity of BIM.  With such rich BIM data coming from the design and construction teams, the benefits to owners that capitalize on the information will be a complete Asset Information Management (AIM) data solution for the complete lifecycle of the built asset.  Project owners need to take an active role in the design and deliverable requirements.

John Barkwell has 25 years of experience as a technology professional for the Architectural, Engineering & Construction industry and is currently the Director of BIM Professional Services for Aconex.  He has extensive experience selling and implementing the Aconex Project Information Management solution, the entire Autodesk AEC portfolio of solutions as a Certified Implementation Consultant, Oracle Project Management solutions and complementary SaaS AEC applications.  

(1) The Economist – Rethinking Productivity across the Construction Industry: The Challenge of Change