Step inside the role of a BIM Manager

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As a prelude to his presentation at BIM SHOW LIVE on Feb 1, Mike Turpin, company BIM manager at Capita, shares his thoughts on this ever evolving position

The job title or role of the “BIM Manager” has been spreading throughout the construction industry for several years now. In fact, ever since the widespread adoption of Building Information Modelling and its acronym in the early 2000s, we have started to see a job role emerge for the people tasked with actually managing this. But there are a number of questions to which the answers are not clear: what is a BIM Manager? Who can become one? What are the minimum requirements? Who or what do they manage?

When asked by friends and family what I do, the usual response when I say “I’m a BIM Manager” requires me to quickly follow up with: “No, B I M, not a bin manager.” After that the conversation normally goes one of two ways. I will either receive a blank smile followed by a swift change of subject – or they will come back at me with the even more challenging question of “What’s a B I M Manager?” This triggers rambling about 3D models, non-graphical data, asset management, Cobie Smulders, etc, etc to increasingly perplexed expressions.

Explaining you’re a BIM Manager to somebody in the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry should be – and normally is – a lot easier, but I often wonder how many people actually understand the role. From my experience the role seems to break across several different distinctions such as CAD-based, project-based and company or strategy-based.

Perhaps the most common ‘BIM Manager’ role across the UK is a direct modernisation of the older CAD Manager role, generally allocated to the best CAD software super-user in the team, office or company. This person is put in charge of making sure the drawing outputs are consistent and follow the company standards. Without doubt this is a vital role – but is the modernisation of CAD Manager to BIM Manager applicable in this situation? Should the role of BIM Manager entail more than just a part-time review of drawing conventions?

About the author

Following his initial career as a Civil Engineer specialising in structural and drainage projects Mike Turpin has several years of BIM implementation experience both in the UK and abroad within different engineering and design consultancy companies. Mike also runs the South BIM Region in partnership with the UK BIM Alliance and the UK Dynamo User Group.

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Moving to the opposite end of the scale, we see ‘BIM Managers’ operating at an associate or director level. These roles spend very little time (if any) discussing specific drawings and CAD software, but instead look at the processes and data that are integral to the UK BIM standards while also considering the best strategic direction to increase the adoption of BIM throughout their organisation.

On top of this there is also a significant gap between the role of an internal ‘company’ BIM Manager against the role of a ‘project specific’ BIM Manager. The skillsets, qualifications and incentives that need to be in place to succeed in each of these roles is different – and yet it is a distinction that is often ignored when job descriptions are drafted.

Given all this, can we actually answer the question of “what is a BIM Manager?” I’m not sure that we can. Like BIM itself I think the title of BIM Manager can mean many different things to many different people and organisations. All of those meanings and interpretations can be useful and correct, but they just need to be properly defined so that everyone has the same understanding.

Whether you are a part time BIM Manager looking after the drawing protocols in a small office, or a certified BIM Manager looking after the strategic implementation for a global company, the title is much less important than the expertise, creativity and technical rigour you bring to your work.

Despite that, I do feel that as we move forwards as an industry and we start to see the rise of Level 3 & 4 BIM within the UK, we are likely to see more variances emerge between the different kinds of BIM Manager job role. The ‘modernised CAD manager’ end of the spectrum will continue to focus on the design aspect, but becoming increasingly key to the wider design process – whilst the more strategic end of the spectrum increasingly looks at BIM as a completely different discipline encompassing the entire built environment lifecycle.

Beyond that – with the increase of Smart Cities, Internet of Things and Big Data – I believe we will start to see a lot more BIM-related job titles involving the word ‘digital’, as we bring the relatively small bubble of BIM in line with the wider ecosystem of the digital built Britain revolution.

See Mike at BIM SHOW LIVE – February 1

Why won’t you BIM!?!.. The autobiography of a BIM Manager.

With a BIM revolution sweeping the UK everyone is adopting this great new technology and associated processes to save time and money. BIM will answer all of your life’s problems and save you 5 hours a day. The End.

This is the story we hear in the “BIM Press” time and time again but the reality of BIM adoption in the UK is actually very different. This session will look back at over 6 years of lessons learnt as a company BIM Manager working for both large and small design consultants to reflect on how we as an industry can make the above story a reality.

Digital transformation is coming for the construction industry (slowly) and we need to ensure that we can adopt it as readily as we have adopted hundreds of other digital transformations in every other aspect of our life’s. Using these other successful transformations as a case studie we will look at why they have been so widely adopted and if there are any lessons learnt that we can apply to the adoption of BIM. Finally we will be debating the question “Is BIM just too difficult?” and looking at ways we can simplify it for end users.

Viva la digital revolucion!

Find out more about BIM Show LIVE

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