What Is a CIM Manager?

Conceptually, BIM (Building Information Modeling), goes back to the early days of computing. But it wasn’t until 1992 that the term Building Information Model was an official term.   

Most people today know what a BIM Manager is and does. So, what exactly is a CIM Manager? 

The CIM Manager Defined 

The term CIM, or Construction/Civil Information Modeling, has not been around as long as BIM. While BIM focuses mainly on buildings and architecture, CIM was birthed out of civil engineers reshaping the concept of BIM and focusing the subject more on horizontal projects opposed to the vertical projects of BIM.

Figure 1

A CIM Manager is responsible for providing and coordinating data such as LiDAR, point clouds, corridor models, surface models, and more. And in some cases, the CIM Manager would be responsible for providing the data for machine control to aid in grading a site or road.

A CIM Manager is closely related to a VDC (Visual Design and Construction) Manager. Now with software such as Autodesk’s Infraworks®, CIM Managers have the capability of designing within a 3D environment. This 3D environment can be used to produce a “life-like” model to present to other disciplines for utility and design coordination. This model can then be exported to more complex civil engineering software such as AutoCAD® Civil 3D® or Bentley’s OpenRoads.

Figure 2

Civil Information Modeling

Just like its predecessor BIM, CIM is not an operation, but a process. CIM starts at the planning of a project and carries on through construction, operation, and maintenance. This involves the project as a whole.

With this process, engineers and architects can now collaborate better together by working on a set of 3D models. Now you have an interactive project with real-time collaboration.

Benefits of CIM

Increased efficiency and productivity are immediate benefits of CIM. Because construction documentation and design are linked, evaluating for more alternatives, producing documentation and responding to design changes are reduced significantly. Not only this, but analysis, visualization, and simulation are now part of this overall process.

Contractors also benefit from this process as well. They take the same model used by the engineers and architects to better conduct project and management efforts. This in turn furnishes more accurate quantity assessments and speeds up the process for change orders. The contractor can then share the model with suppliers such as precast manhole manufacturers. Remember this is the same model that has been used all the way down the line. Errors are reduced and efficiency gained in a timely manner. This is all coordinated by the CIM Manager.

Owners and stakeholders realize the cost and scheduling advantages when visualizing the project in a 3D environment, which this same model can be used as the basis of its operations and facilities management system.

CIM can lead to better estimating, early identification of design flaws and conflicts, safer traffic management, better communication to the public, and enhanced collaboration with the construction team.

Figure 3

The Future for CIM and CIM Managers

CIM is not going anywhere. As a matter of fact, there are more and more firms adopting the CIM Manager position. This is a very important position and a lot rides on the back of the CIM Manager.

Many incumbents have been struggling to adopt and benefit from CIM. However, this is all changing as companies begin to have successful implementations. If a company wants to be successful and on the cutting edge of technology, it must develop new business models and processes. If a firm is not willing to adopt CIM, it is going to lose out and get left behind. Hiring a CIM manager will help to increase the implementation of CIM and get the ball rolling in the right direction for future projects.

Figure 4


Many firms have the opportunity to bring value-added services to the table, and also new services as projects are becoming more connected. Hiring a CIM Manager to help with educating, training, and implementing these processes will aid in establishing new processes, educating clients, and managing new risks and liabilities much more efficiently. CIM has definitely found its niche in the digital pathway. Firms that continue to ignore this will be left behind and struggle to survive. Take the time NOW to seize this ever-growing opportunity.

Todd Rogers is a certified Partner Service Expert (P.S.E.) and certified Autodesk instructor with more than 25 years of experience in teaching, managing, and providing hardware and software solutions for hundreds of engineering firms throughout the greater Houston, Texas area.  He is a valued member of Walter P Moore, where he works as a BIM Manager. Todd also holds the “Autodesk Expert Elite” status, a program to recognize individual community members who have made extraordinary contributions with helping customers by sharing knowledge, providing community leadership, and exemplifying an engaging style of collaboration that drives a healthy and valuable Autodesk customer community.  Todd is an active blogger.   Through his personal blog website (, Todd shares tips and solutions for Autodesk software issues. 

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