BIM Anatomy II: Standardisation Needs & Support Systems

University dissertation from Media-Tryck

Abstract: This thesis presents the results of an investigation into BIM standardisation needs and
procedural supporting mechanisms that may enable design, construction and operating
(DCO) organisations to advance their deployment of Building Information Modelling (BIM)
technology, and improve construction project outcomes.

To achieve sustainable development requires effective information management. Building
Information Modelling is of strategic importance for the development of efficient methods to
create, coordinate and share construction information. The introduction of BIM also allows
the development of construction technologies and business models, and leads to greater
focus on processes to achieve good urban design, architecture, and user benefit.

A prerequisite for the widespread and integrated adoption of BIM is however common
guidelines and a consistent approach to the development of standards for industry concepts,
information delivery, data storage formats and contract forms. Important knowledge and
established methods of information management exist and the experience gained is
important to utilise in this work. However, greater knowledge is needed to allow authorities
and practitioners to make informed decision about the content and direction of national BIM
guidelines and adoption prerequisites.

The study aims to support the development of applicable branch standards through building
knowledge on methods and processes that support organisations in their use of BIM
technologies. Further, within the focus domain of design methodology & management, it
seeks to contribute towards national and international initiatives and research on BIM
standardisation needs and support systems through testing BIM-Planning support systems,
developing and testing a propositional Digital Delivery Specification, presenting an
understanding of Contractual and Behavioural Process Obstacles, confronting the mystery of
Level of Development Concept and Application, and finally validating and legitimising the
current research and BIM standardisation efforts.

The research adopts a critical realism perspective, assumes BIM correlated units of analysis
and combines literature reviews with qualitative case studies culminating with a quantitative survey, and is published as 5 peer-reviewed research articles. The empirical dataset consists of 14 semi-structured interviews, 10 workshops and meetings with practitioners, 67 survey responses, plus document review and 29 feedback sessions / supplementary enquiries. The thesis is divided into 2 parts: a summary of the research, and the appended papers. The summary provides a synthesis and reflection of the findings in the papers through: 1) developing knowledge about existing BIM guidelines and testing and evaluating the application of buildingSMART’s BIM PEPG, 2) extension of the concept delivery specification via a proposed standard schema and protocol for defining model information content for selected BIM-Uses, 3) validating the need for BIM collaboration support mechanisms to address contractual and behavioural process obstacles, 4) proposing a tentative novel framework for model progression scheduling using Level of Development (LOD), 5) establishing the legitimacy of national BIM standardisation initiatives and alignment with current research efforts. Findings are drawn from empirical evidence with a focus on the Swedish context.

Based on case materials, theory and literature review, a BIM standardisation and support
systems model emerges constituting a set of process-based BIM procedures / measures to
support teams leverage their expertise, tools, and the data they create more effectively
thereby adding value to the project. Standards developers, BIM strategists, academics and
practitioners alike should be able to utilise the results from this thesis. The procedures tested are generalizable and reproducible and with some further refinement, applicable in practice. The results have implications for guidelines development and for direction finding in the advancement of BIM adoption as part of a nation vision for a fuller and more mature BIM utilisation.

It is argued that standardisation of BIM working practices, processes and methodologies is a
key issue for the industry, not least for those involved in the early stages when BIM
information authoring is at its most intense, but also for those downstream users of the
digital asset. With so many processes and people involved over time from concept to
maintenance, to reach a steady-state of information order may be impossible. However what
is possible is to ensure a number of key procedures are in place to both optimise organisation
and stewardship of information that is critical throughout a facilities life cycle.