Chances are if you’re an AEC professional and haven’t heard about BIM; you probably don’t have a pulse. As I continue my job search there’s one question that consistently amuses me; do you have any experience with BIM software? From that question alone, I know the person asking it has a limited knowledge of what BIM is. Simply stated BIM is process not software; products like Revit, Civil 3D, Inventor, even vanilla AutoCAD are simply tools that help us to execute that process. Backed by the right process, I’d argue that one could create a BIM workflow using nothing but AutoCAD LT. I say that because BIM is not defined by drawing files; instead by the way the people responsible for those drawing files choose to integrate them and use them in an asynchronous manner.
It was this underlying concept that caught my eye while reading a post on Baskervill’s Blog entitled IMC and A/E/C = Perfect Harmony. The acronym IMC is defined as Integrated Marketing Communications, and is used to describe the asynchronous use of several delivery mechanisms to broadcast and reinforce a consistent message. While the post is understandably focused on marketing, it brings up several points that I feel transcends nearly all professional disciplines.
There’s a definitive difference in the way mom and pop businesses operate versus the way mid-to-large-sized businesses operate. I once worked for a MEP firm which(including myself) consisted of three people. Our strength certainly wasn’t manpower, but integration. While we each typically focused on a single discipline (mechanical, electrical, or plumbing), we also had a profound awareness of our colleagues strengths and weaknesses, and where we could help each other to make the company (not necessarily us as individuals) more productive. This concept of integration is often imitated in big business, but so rarely achieved. Consequently this is the very foundation by which BIM was founded. It has little do to with creating models, and everything to do with using that model to strengthen communication throughout a project team.
Regardless if it’s BIM or IMC you’re looking to implement, the consistent theme here has so little to do with technology, and everything to do with people communicating. For some companies that goal may be enhanced by technology, but it’s never fully achieved through technology. BIM is difficult without tools like Revit and Civil 3D, even more difficult without people, and absolutely impossible without those people functioning as a single team, not individual teams from separate companies.
Stay tuned as I continue this discussion in some future posts. In the mean time use the comments section to share how communication has either enhanced or diminished the effectiveness of your company’s adoption of a BIM workflow. More importantly, has that strategy caused co-consultants to fortify their self, or has it resulted in stronger project teams who are more productive thanks to an integrated communication strategy?