Monthly Archives: September 2011

Is BIM in 10 Words or Less Still BIM?

Recently I was asked to summarize my 240 page book in a single sentence.

It’s the sort of reductionist thinking that can lead to some less than satisfying outcomes.

Analogically, new software is being introduced that promises to be the AutoCAD LT version of Revit. 

Interested in testing and providing feedback for a technology preview of a lighter version of Revit?

Thought so. Go here.

Or see A Revit LT-ish Product Available for Download from Autodesk Labs.

In other words, when you pare Revit down, what’s lost in translation?

Actually, very little.

That is, unless worksharing is important to you.

Then you’re out of luck.

Have no need for photo realistic rendering?

Good – because it doesn’t support it.

Nor view filters, groups, in-Place families, massing, analysis, trusses or shared coordinates.

Nor point clouds, sun path, API, parts/assemblies, design options, adaptive components, simplified export, links, content, phasing or materials.

To reach that agile level of lightness and simplicity – and pare the program down to essentials – much of value is lost along the way.

The whole emphasis on lean practices is to reduce waste and increase value. Right?

What is lost is this:

Communicating, sharing and collaborating.

In other words, what makes BIM BIM.

The same can be said of most reductionist definitions of BIM.

The focus of a recent Linkedin BIM group challenge asked:

Is it even possible to describe BIM in TEN words or less?

Is something lost when you try to pare BIM down to its essentials?

Are 10 words enough to meaningfully describe, explain or justify BIM?

50 words, maybe.

For 24 definitions of BIM in 50 words or less look here.

14 words?

Possibly.

But restricting a working definition of BIM down to 10 words means that people only describe what is important to them.

Not to each other.

Does BIM need to be enabled by bloated software?

If by ‘bloated’ you mean that it also communicates, allows for sharing and collaboration?

Then afraid so.

Here’s a smattering of the 10-word definitions. You decide if any capture the magic of BIM.

In terms of software:

BIM

“generates and manages building data throughout the building lifecycle”

“provides coordination to the nth degree”

“is a federated data models of an asset throughout its life cycle”

“creates, develops and manages all building information digitally”

“3D + Data + Relationship”

“is an acronym for construction utopia”

“forces people to communicate throughout the building process”

 “is the digital representation of a facility’s physical and functional characteristics”*

 “is 3D coordination before construction prevents surprises in the field”

“is everything you need to know about your building, forever”

“is the bridge between design and close-out at your fingertips”

As an activity

BIM

“is building a building twice: first in 3D, then real life.”

In terms of a process

BIM

“is the process of gathering and managing building lifecycle information”

“is a process that federates information for a buildings lifecycle”

Some are contrived

BIM

“digitally builds the facility before gets built”

Some are downright tortured

BIM

“prebuild virtually with end-user mentality, incorporate product data, add value”

In terms of information

BIM

“is complete information about building and that can be repossessed anytime”

In terms of knowledge

“is structuring and relating data to maintain information and generate knowledge”

Some unnecessarily obfuscate

BIM

“is an ontology based knowledge management infrastructure for virtual construction based on standardized business process workflows”

Some define BIM in terms of what it is not:

BIM

“isn’t Software it includes people, processes, standards and methods”

“IT’s NOT SOFTWARE, it’s process, methodology and collaboration”

My favorite

I like this (albeit a compromise at 14 words)

“Regardless of the tools you use BIM requirements enforce that you collaborate with others”

But for BIM to succeed, perhaps a little compromise is in order?

* a reworded version of the definition provided by the National Institute of Building Sciences.

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Filed under BIM, collaboration, construction industry, definition, workflow