The Cultural Impact of Implementing Building Information Modelling (BIM) in the UK Construction Industry (Andrew Johnson) confirms that using BIM requires a

fundamental change in working style, which is a massive cultural shift from an adversarial culture to a collaborative culture.

BIM requires all project partners to: collaborate, share data, use  clear processes and adopt interoperable technology (see 4 essentials for BIM). This is a form of cultural change.

Barriers to Change

Andrew’s survey data highlighted five major barriers to BIM:

  1. lack of in-house expertise
  2. working in silos
  3. training
  4. funding/cost
  5. lack of trust

His report also states that There is a growing feeling that the old combative workers are guilty of being the producers of the highest proportion of waste in the UK construction industry…This is a result of different and complicated contracts, non-collaboration, claim to chase and blame culture; all are examples of activities that generate waste and are a costly effort.

Drivers for Change

Andrew’s report mentions a number of factors which will contribute to this change:

  • a high-performing digital culture – at least at client level
  • move from silo-working (jargon creates BIM silos) to digital empowerment
  • learning from (rather than fearing) failure
  • improved trust and empathy, including understanding how change impacts individuals within the project team
  • BIM managers to facilitate change by coaching and mentoring others
  • clear and timely communication
  • training and development (eg from the Bentley Digital Advancement Academy)
  • a BIM business transformation strategy plan.

What should you do?

A BIM-enabled project produces wide benefits for the asset lifecycle but demands more than simply ‘busines as normal plus some tech’. If you are looking for BIM or digital construction technology to drive or enable more collaborative working, then that requires a cultural change.

As always it is the people that are key to this change. So invest in them and you will reap long-term rewards.

With thanks to Andrew Johnson of Operam for a copy of this thesis.

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