Building information modeling (BIM) isn’t business as usual. There are tasks the BIM manager performs that are unique to design-build, and James Simpson, Product Manager for eVolve MEP, has been there. Drawing on his years of experience in virtual design and construction, software development and installs, during MEP Force 2020 Virtual, he had some advice for BIM managers about planning, choosing technology, creating an environment of innovation, and choosing workforce talent.
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With the widespread adoption of BIM, BIM departments are now driving the construction process. This growth in the industry puts pressure on BIM departments to be as productive as possible. Following are Simpson’s tips for BIM managers to use their department’s resources strategically:
- Map Your Process – Efficient interconnected processes are vital. Include everything from beginning to end. Flow of information and workload in the BIM department. Involve the entire team for input.
- Audit Your Process – Determine where the bottlenecks are and how they might be solved. Figure out where outside departments, like project managers and superintendents, can contribute to your process. Take advantage of the fact that BIM is connected and be intentional about getting the information you need. You can and should let other teams know if they’re holding up your process. Document places where rework is happening consistently.
- Know Your Roles – Who are your players? Where do they fit into your process? Who is responsible for specific tasks? Determine if there is overlap of positions or if there are gaps. When you uncover problems, it gives you the opportunity to remedy them before you lose employees or damage morale. Once you understand how your workforce is allocated, you can make the best use of the talent on your team.
- Evaluate Your Roles – As things change, it’s best to reevaluate and restructure your department to accommodate those industry changes. You can continue to add roles to someone, but there comes a breaking point where your overworked employees (usually the ones who can continue to add tasks and are, thus, the best ones) will simply leave. If there’s a constant gap, you should fill it. Reevaluate your roles each year to ensure that you’re staying ahead of the curve.
- Hire the Right People – Assemble an all-star team so you have the right people in your department. But if you end up someone who doesn’t integrate into your company’s culture, don’t be afraid to let them go quickly. When you have the right people, you can best execute a streamlined BIM process. An option is to train your best and brightest talent internally to grow your department. Be more afraid of keeping underutilized talent than of using talented people to their full potential and eventually losing them. Don’t be afraid to grow. You’re more likely to attract top talent when your company has a culture of improvement.
- Nurture Your Employees – Empathy wins hearts and loyalty. When your employees are not afraid to lose their job when they fail, their creativity can shine through, and they become more innovative. The job of a manager is to make good people great. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, and a good manager can put those things to use for the benefit of the company.
See the on-demand Bridging the Gap Podcast recaps of MEP Force 2020 Virtual day 1, day 2 and day 3 for the biggest trends and conversations around construction and mechanical, electrical and plumbing trades technology.
- Invest in Software Technology – Technology is a tool, not a luxury, but you must invest wisely considering today’s crowded field of options. When chosen properly, software technology has a higher return on investment than any other in your BIM process. To help you with selection decisions, you should involve multi-department advisors – either internal or a trusted external technology partner. You should also consult your power users who have a tech background, a well-rounded view of your company’s needs and are willing to try out new things. Finally, you need to know the trends and pursue tech growth, or your company will get left behind. Have a vision for what your company needs (as compared to your “wants”).
- Create a Goal-oriented Workspace – Set meaningful goals for your employees and trust them to achieve those goals. When you set the right goals, you’ll have data to measure your successes.
- Lead Instead of Managing – Leadership eliminates the need to manage people. It involves trust, motivation and cultivation and is a way to inspire others to share the company’s vision. Good leaders lead by example and create a sustainable work environment. Think long-term.
If your BIM department needs to be as productive as possible, these tips will go a long way to helping you use your department’s resources strategically.