How ready are FMs to make full use of BIM?

by Brianna Crandall — August 23, 2017 — Building information modeling (BIM) has the potential to deliver significant benefits to the facilities management (FM) industry, according to the results of a new survey published August 10 by The British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM).

The FM Awareness of Building Information Modelling survey, developed in partnership with Liverpool John Moores University and the Zurich University of Applied Sciences, aims to establish a benchmark of the current perceptions of the impact of BIM on the FM sector and the benefits and challenges it presents.

The key findings of the survey are:

  • 83% of respondents believe BIM will help support the delivery of facilities management, with the same number indicating it is already having an impact, or will do so, in the next five years.
  • 81% agree or strongly agree that BIM may offer companies that adopt and use it an advantage over those that do not. 83% agree or strongly agree that BIM has the potential to deliver significant added value to FM.
  • Only 39.8% have some experience of being involved in a BIM project and just 20% have direct experience of writing or implementing an Asset Management Strategy.
  • 72% say the FM industry is not yet clear what BIM is, and 67% disagree or strongly disagree that the FM industry is well prepared to deal with BIM projects, indicating more work needs to be done to ensure people are better informed about and more prepared for BIM projects.
  • This aligns with the 91.3% of respondents who agree or strongly agree that FMs would benefit from more familiarization with BIM to be able to define the outputs in the BIM process.

BIFM Research and Information Manager Peter Brogan said:

It is clear from the survey’s feedback that the majority of FM professionals both in the U.K. and internationally are aware of BIM and interestingly, a high percentage of people indicated they felt BIM might offer organizations a competitive advantage. However, the level of awareness and familiarization varies widely across the FM industry, with approximately half of the respondents indicating that FM is not yet really sure what BIM is.

BIFM recognizes this is an important requirement to do more to help support people who are starting on their BIM journey and want to get up to speed.

Some of the key benefits of BIM to FM highlighted by the research are:

  • Helping strategic decision-making about asset maintenance and management;
  • Visualization in terms of customer perception of their buildings and assets;
  • Visualization for maintenance staff for planning maintenance and health and safety issues; and
  • The transfer of data from construction into CAFM and other software tools.

Brogan continued:

There were indications that some people felt BIM has been perhaps oversold, and that significant work still needs to be done by the FM industry (in partnership with the AEC industries) to help ensure the potential benefits of BIM can be both planned for and realized in the operational phase of assets.

Although the wider benefits are generally acknowledged, they perhaps need to be made more transparent and better promoted to facilities managers, clients and investors in order that they understand why they should buy into, and equally as important, drive the BIM process by defining their needs at the start of the process.

Respondents also indicated they had concerns regarding access to, and the cost of, training associated with BIM. This is another important point which has been picked up by BIFM: the need for more BIM training specific to clients and facilities managers with a focus on understanding how to plan what information is needed and how they will access data in 3D models at handover.

The research has provided valuable information to help BIFM benchmark current levels of awareness and understanding of BIM across the FM profession.

In 2015, BIFM formed its own Operational Readiness Steering Group to inform and develop a suite of guidance and knowledge materials to arm its members, and the wider built environment industry, with the knowledge and skills they need to be operationally ready for BIM. Last year, the Institute published its Operational Readiness Guide, which has since been followed by a new Good Practice Guide to The Role of FM in BIM Projects and Employers’ Information Requirements guidance.

BIM has also been incorporated into the FM Professional Standards to equip FM practitioners with a thorough understanding of the purpose, value and benefits of BIM and the growing impact it has on the working practice of its members.

For further information, visit BIFM’s Operational Readiness: FM Awareness of Building Information Modelling Web page.