There is a great deal of commentary about the apparent value of BIM. Much discussion revolves around costs associated technology, hardware, licensing, and how this cost is recovered. Are these costs the real impact on value? To address this question I want to talk about bike helmets.
I have a daughter, a little more than 12 months old. I enjoy cycling and recently wanted to purchase a bike helmet so she could join me on the bike. Some quick research told me finding helmets for someone that young is a little tricky, so I ventured to my local bike shop for some advice. The salesperson at the store there was one helmet available, but not the right colour. After some research in catalogues I was told there were others available, but they would have to be ordered in. If I left a deposit they could get one in for me. So at this point I was having to spend money on something I hadn’t seen and wasn’t sure when I would get it, not a great proposition.
‘There is this thing though’ the salesperson said picking up an iPad. They showed me an app which indicated the latest range. ‘Can you order one of these’ I asked. “I’m not sure, I don’t think it works”. I had found the one I wanted. “I’d like one of those”. You’ll have to leave a deposit, then I can call you if they have it”. A bit frustrated I said thanks and went on my way. Back at my computer and with a bit more research I found the same webpage from the manufacturer, it told me the latest range, whether it was in stock and shops which had them. I had my helmet that afternoon.
So where was the problem here? Technology? Hardware? No. The iPad and webpage worked fine and It’s obvious the manufacturers investment in their technology was a good idea as I bought their product. What was lacking here was clarity of process, intent and communication. While each element functioned as intended the user as the centre of this process didn’t understand the intent or know how to use the tools. That store didn’t get my sale because they didn’t understand what the manufacturer was trying to do and wasn’t given proper training.
BIM is no different. Simply engaging experts and buying the latest technology will not guarantee any form of success. BIM asks us to introspect and question our workflow to optimise results. Perhaps instead of discussions around simply recovering cost, we need to ask whether our processes support our investments?