28
May
08

The Importance of the BIM Manager in a Firm

ArchiCAD

A veteran of Autodesk and Intergraph, and now President and CEO at Graphisoft, Dominic Gallello recently contributed an article to AECbytes outlining the reasons why he sees the BIM Manager as a vital figure on the staff of any architectural firm. Graphisoft is of course the home of ArchiCAD, one of the most respected design software tools for architects. One of Gallello’s concerns is that Building Information Modeling tools are perceived as all-powerful and self-managing, when actually there is a very real need for human supervision. He says:

Is there a difference between a CAD Manager and a BIM Manager? Yes! …While a CAD Manager would have focused on layering standards and plotting issues, the BIM manager must determine how models from consulting engineers are coordinated with the architectural model, who owns which geometry, who references geometry, how the parts are integrated, and at what interval they will be synchronized and checked for conflicts.

Gallello explains that a CAD Manager is trained to think linearly and, while that is not a bad thing, a BIM Manager thinks of the whole project at once, all the time, rather than step by step. This is because all the building data are interconnected in such a way that when one thing changes, every other area changes too. Standards need to be kept in place and adhered to globally.

BIM management calls for multi-disciplinary thinking, and the person who’s doing it is an integral member of the project team, not just a supporter and provider of tools used by others. BIM methodology encompasses structural and HVAC design, energy analysis, and many more specialties and ties them all together in a smoothly integrated way.

In Architectural Graphic Standards, 11th Edition, there is an excellent chapter on Building Information Modeling, in the Computing Technologies section. It begins with a starkly basic definition:

A data model in any given domain describes the attributes of the entities in that domain, as well as how these entities are related to each other.

What does it take to be a competent BIM Manager? Gallello hits several points, starting with an understanding of all the various project workflows, and a grasp of the needs of the various needs of the delivery team members including architects, engineers, contractors and estimators. Of course the BIM manager needs complete technical know-how, along with a number of “soft” skills such as training, coaching, and communicating – especially when it comes to making all the team members aware of exactly how much benefit is in it for them.

The person holding this position should also be prepared to travel anywhere, any time, to meet the needs of a company with far-flung branches. And she or he must have a cool head that lends the ability to make good decisions in time of crisis.

Understandably, a firm that has previously only had experience with CAD Managers might not want to rush right out and hire the first BIM Manager who comes whistling down the road. Gallello suggests a measured approach, and recommends hiring an independent consultant, and then maybe another consultant for the next project, until the company gets a feel for what this person is, and what she or he should be doing.

Another thing he recommends is for an architect who is familiar with and enthusiastic about BIM technology to be teamed with others who are not so familiar, so the confidence can rub off. He calls this an “inoculation process” that a firm will probably go through before settling comfortably into the newly-formed universe and bringing a permanent BIM manager onto the staff.

It would be mighty interesting to hear from anyone who has made the career change from CAD Manager to BIM Manager. How goes it?

SOURCE: ” The New “Must Have”-The BIM Manager ” 01/17/08
photo courtesy of rucativava , used under this Creative Commons license

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