Supply Chain BIM Assessments: Rhetoric vs Reality

by Melanie Robinson | March 19, 2021 |  3 min read

Supply Chain Assessments: Rhetoric vs Reality
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When it comes to assessing BIM maturity and the role it plays in defining an organisation’s digital roadmap, I’m a big advocate. Yet, despite widespread consensus, as an industry we have still not established an effective, holistic tool capable of assessing BIM maturity and its benefits, but even the crudest measures of competency provide a much more nuanced insight into the efficacy of BIM adoption than slapping an infamously vague ‘Level’ on it.

At a project level, this is what BIM supply chain assessments try to do. Since the early days of BS/PAS 1192, assessments by way of a Supply Chain Capability Summary have been a part of the appointed party’s tender response, alongside the pre-appointment BIM Execution Plan and Information Delivery Plans. The pre-qualification questionnaire also contains a BIM assessment – albeit as an optional section – to determine which suppliers can be short-listed for invitation to tender.

However, the usefulness of these assessments is questionable. For example, here are a few of my observations from project experience:

  • Assessments largely take the form of Word documents and/or PDFs, which is the very delivery mechanism we BIM advocates have been campaigning against for years.
  • Questions are constantly regurgitated from industry-standard forms, with little regard for specific project requirements.
  • It is unclear how responses are scored, particularly those with written answers, despite the opportunity to utilise online survey platforms to introduce some automation into the process.
  • Assessments are often given to the office BIM whizz to complete, which does not represent the capability of the team who will ultimately be working on the project.

As we move into an ISO 19650 world, the activity of gathering data on BIM capability and capacity is still problematic. However, ISO 19650 does attempt to overcome some of these limitations by introducing the mobilisation plan: a powerful resource within the information management workflow, if embraced to its full potential. But this relies on appointed parties being open about, and willing to address, the gaps in their abilities, and on appointing parties being open to their supply chain dedicating time to this mobilisation. In a competitive reality, I’m not convinced we’re quite there yet.

One potential solution is the use of certification to demonstrate capability, by way of an industry-recognised badge. Standards and process-driven certification automatically provide third-party assurance to the appointing party that the organisation has the resources and knowledge to manage and deliver information aligned to ISO 19650.

Periodically undertaking project-specific BIM assessments can also be an opportunity to understand and take stock of where you are in your digital transformation journey as an organisation, particularly in areas on the periphery of the standards. For example, an assessment and its mobilisation outcomes on one project may have identified that there is an opportunity to invest in and improve organisational capability in client walkthroughs and pedestrians, having seen the benefits arising from its application on the project.

We need to recognise that digital transformation is an evolving process and that organisations can use assessments to understand where they are in this evolution. We need to ensure we are using the right assessment methods and assessing the right things.

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