What Is the Role of a BIM Manager?
Technology is revolutionizing the way we learn, work, communicate, and perform a lot of daily tasks. In the middle of all the digital transformations that are changing our lives is architecture.
Architectural design is finally leaving 2D behind, and adopting 3D modeling, which can now be enhanced in numerous ways that go far beyond CAD (Computer Aided Drafting). The industry is increasingly benefiting from various innovations, such as 3D photorealistic renderings and immersive VR experiences.
The biggest star in the construction sector at the moment is definitely BIM – Building Information Modeling.
If you’re just starting out as a BIM manager, or you’re looking to make that leap, this guide will help you better understand the BIM role and all the fantastic benefits that come with it. Here’s everything you need to know.
BIM (Building Information Modeling) as a concept
Building Information Modeling is the process of the generation and management of physical and functional information of a facility. It revolves around creating a digital representation of a particular facility’s physical and functional characteristics.
Building information models, or BIMs, are digital files that are used to efficiently and effectively manage a construction project and make better decisions throughout an entire lifecycle of the project. This goes way beyond 3D modelling.
The BIM technology went from 3D to 8D fairly quickly, thanks to the constant tech advancements. The most sophisticated BIMs now incorporate:
- 3D (visual) – project visualization
- 4D (time) – planning and scheduling construction activities
- 5D (cost) – estimating budget and tracking costs
- 6D (operation) – operation and facility maintenance from construction to completion
- 7D (sustainability) – estimating and reducing energy consumption
- 8D (safety) – drawing emergency plans and preventing safety issues.
Regardless of how many of these dimensions are incorporated in a particular project, BIM essentially enables everyone working on the project to centralize their data and improve collaboration.
Not everyone uses 7D and 8D in their modeling, at least not yet. However, going all the way to 8D models helps reduce costs, improve safety both during design and the construction, improve maintenance of a facility, and ultimately make the entire construction process absolutely seamless.
Since BIM essentially revolves around project collaboration among a number of parties during a project’s lifecycle, it’s important to note the four levels of shared collaboration in a construction project, otherwise known as BIM maturity levels.
The current BIM maturity levels include:
- BIM Level 0
BIM managers are way beyond this level these days, as it includes very little collaboration. You can think of it as 2D CAD modelling, as information on this level is exchanged only via paper or PDFs containing only very basic asset information.
- BIM Level 1
This level is the most commonly used at the moment by a number of organizations. It includes partial collaboration, as information is exchanged via a CDE (Common Data Environment), which is an online repository where all the parties involved can access and manage project data. A CDE is usually managed by the contractor. At this level, only 2D and 3D information is exchanged.
- BIM Level 2
This level is all about full collaboration. 4D and 5D dimensions are included, and all involved parties use their own 3D CAD models.
What makes this level even more distinct in terms of collaboration are common file formats (such as IFC or COBie files) with all the necessary design information that all the parties can access and modify. This leads to seamless project collaboration and a unified BIM model.
- BIM Level 3
BIM Level 3 is the holy grail of Building Information Modeling in the construction industry. It refers to the full integration of all the necessary project information to achieve full collaboration, and enable all the parties to add and edit information.
At this level, all agents work on a single, shared project model located in a centralized, cloud-based repository. This is known as Open BIM, or iBIM.
The role of a BIM manager
A BIM manager is a civil engineer who implements all the procedures in BIM and Digital Construction during the design, construction, and handover of a project. Digital Construction is one of the two separate workflows of BIM (more on that later).
A BIM manager leads and supports the use of digital technology to create BIMs in the AEC (Architecture, Engineering and Construction) sector. This may sound a bit vague, but the manager can have a wide variety of responsibilities, depending on who they are working for.
BIM managers can go from implementing and managing project support tasks to quality support, IT, and even coding. What they need to do during every project is to take all the necessary factors for project implementation and completion, categorize them, and use them to turn the BIM environment into a productive and collaborative one.
They do so by defining a BIM strategy, implementing systems for communication and data exchange, ensuring seamless collaboration, managing people and resources, monitoring the process for potential improvements, and implementing enabling tools for designing, developing, delivering, and maintaining a particular facility.
What makes BIM manager role interesting and different?
Being a BIM manager is interesting precisely because of all the responsibilities that come with the job. The various responsibilities may make the job more difficult, but they also make it more exciting and fun. You get to work with a lot of people, making sure you create a collaborative, efficient, and effective workplace.
As a BIM manager, you have a chance to oversee all the stages in a construction project, from planning and design to construction and completion. You get to collaborate with project planners, designers, engineers, quality and quantity surveyors, and many other agents with the goal of sharing project information and making data-driven decisions.
Digital Construction and Information Management: Two potential paths of BIM
You can think of BIM as having two separate workflows: Digital Construction and Information Management.
Digital Construction is where the real excitement happens. It includes a wide variety of activities, such as:
- Creating 3D and 4D models (sometimes all the way to 8D) to provide a helping hand to project planners.
- Assisting estimators and quantity surveyors.
- Creating 3D logistics plans.
- Helping engineers create perfect designs with the help of 3D concept imagery.
- Creating Visual Method Statements to provide a brief of risk assessment to the necessary parties.
- Processing all the information in the cloud and extracting the necessary dimensions.
Information Management is all about the administrative tasks and making sure that all the parties involved in a construction project fully understand how to utilize BIM for positive outcomes.
This part of the BIM workflow includes activities such as:
- Creating Employers Information Requirements (EIRs), which is a document outlining the client’s needs, so that every team member knows what they need to do.
- Using an EIR document to create a BIM Execution Plan (BEP), which outlines how the client’s requirements will be met.
- Monitoring the performance of an entire supply chain to ensure effectiveness and provide additional training when necessary.
- Storing and integrating the necessary asset data.
- Setting up and managing a CDE and aligning the BIM workflows.
Required qualifications for a BIM manager
To become a BIM manager, you need to arm yourself with the following qualifications:
- An HNC (Higher National Diploma) or HND (Higher National Certificate) in a subject related to construction, such as civil engineering.
- Experience in an AEC role (many employers are looking for at least 5 years’ experience).
- Familiarity with the modelling process in BIM.
- Excellent IT skills.
- Great verbal and written communication skills.
- Extensive knowledge of quality and document management processes.
What are the benefits of having a BIM manager for a project?
Having a BIM manager oversee construction projects leads to a lot of very important benefits. They include:
- Better coordination and collaboration.
- Better time management and fewer delays.
- Reduced costs and higher ROI.
- Increased productivity and faster delivery.
- Reduced risk of information losses, which especially tend to occur when a new team takes over a project.
- Improved maintenance and effective prevention of costly reparation.
- Reduced energy consumption and better environmental
- Enhanced stability and safety.
What other BIM roles are there? (BIM Specialists, BIM Coordinator)
There are many different BIM roles you can consider if you’re thinking about entering the BIM world. You can choose to be a BIM coordinator, a BIM specialist, or a BIM manager, which is actually considered as a BIM specialist role.
BIM specialists each come with a certain set of roles and responsibilities, so you have BIM modelers, BIM analysts, modeling specialists, BIM facilitators, BIM application developers or BIM software developers, BIM researchers, and BIM consultants.
A BIM coordinator is quite like a BIM manager, expect their main role is to take the load off of BIM managers’ shoulders. The managers have a wide range of responsibilities to handle on a day-to-day basis, so many organizations are including a BIM coordinator who will collaborate closely with the project team to make sure they reach a high BIM standard, both on internal and external levels.
One of the most vital responsibilities of a BIM coordinator is knowledge transfer, while others include project model setup, consultant engagement, advanced modeling, schedule management, model auditing, data extraction, VR visualization, and more.
Hopefully, you now have a much clearer picture of what the role of a BIM manager is, and all the activities BIM managers are responsible for. If you’re just starting out in this role, make sure you pack all the right tools for leading your construction projects to success.
Check out what GenieBelt can do for your projects, and don’t hesitate to contact us if you need any additional information.