Got a BIM project with lots of moving parts? Without a BIM agreement, misunderstandings can rapidly become huge problems and disagreements. It can get ugly quickly.
However, it can be hard to know what to put in the BIM agreement, and even harder to ensure everyone is on the same page. To safeguard your success, we have compiled ten helpful tips to make your life a lot easier!
Why Define a BIM Contract?
10 Tips to Create Better BIM Agreements
Here are my ten tips for you to consider when writing and agreeing to BIM requirements:
- Before you start writing an agreement, it is important to ensure everyone is clear on the project’s purpose. What are the goals? Are there any existing client requirements? Write these down using an Organizational Information Requirements framework so that everyone knows what they are starting with. Being clear on the project’s purpose will help all parties drive towards solutions that directly meet the customer’s needs.
- As early as possible, agree on BIM standards for the project type and location. Maybe follow ISO 19650 standards for naming conventions & legal BIM protocols. Make sure everyone is using the same software formats and versions for exchanging data. This is especially important when many teams are working on the project. Labeling and classifying elements of the design should be consistent to avoid any confusion later on in the project lifecycle. It is important to have standards so that everyone understands the process of running a project and keeping things organized.
- For each project requirement, follow the Level of Information Need framework to clearly define the requirements. It is essential to understand the motivation behind exchanging information, the Milestone/Phase/Stage it is needed, and recognize the Actors/Teams/Team Members involved. It is also important to identify what tasks, systems, elements, etc. are required to meet objectives and also where and how information will be exchanged! Bascially WHY do we need the information? WHEN is it needed? WHAT must be completed? WHO requires the information and who will produce information? Then WHERE and HOW will information be exchanged? This will help you not only understand the reasons the information is needed but also what tasks are required to meet the goals. Tools like Plannerly are designed specifically to simplify the implementation of Level of Information Need.
- Communication is key. How do project teams connect with each other? Defining the roles and responsibilities is the first step to make sure that everyone knows the chain of command, from project management to design and construction. This should be outlined in detail so that each team understands its obligations, who they will contract with and who each team member will report to. Who is the lead on the project and who are their backups? Who will be held accountable if something goes wrong?
- Outline the processes and workflows to dictate how data will be managed, how it will be stored, and how it will be accessed. This should also include strategies for collaboration, such as whether everyone is working in the same cloud or if they are exchanging files. It should also note any risks associated with the project such as security concerns or even data loss. It’s crucial that everyone is on the same page here, so make sure that it is clear to all teams involved. Make sure that you also specify the data security and confidentiality requirements, including who will have access to the data and how the data will be stored and shared.
- Establish clear timelines and expectations for project deadlines. Specify how often updated information should be exchanged and make sure stakeholders can access this info in real time if needed. Establishing clear timelines and expectations encourages accountability and can help expedite the process, resulting in a more efficient and successful result.
- Detail the expected quality of deliverables. Make sure you set expectations upfront for everyone involved regarding what is expected from the final product. This includes accuracy, completeness, and other criteria that should be pre-defined. Projects rely heavily on accurate data and design models. BIM deliverables ultimately impact how successful a project will be, so setting up a clear definition of quality is key to meeting everyone’s needs. The ultimate approach here is to use machine readable model checking rules using something like the new Information Delivery Specification from buildingSMART. Exporting this from Plannerly can significantly expedite and automate your checking workflow.
- Specify the dispute resolution protocol. It’s important to have a plan in place for how to handle any disputes that may arise during the project. Some common approaches include mediation, arbitration, or other legal action – make sure you detail which one will be used and when.
- Make things easier by using templates from a BIM management platform like Plannerly. This will make sure that you are following the ISO 19650 standards. This makes the whole workflow much quicker to get started. Plannerly templates ensure all necessary details are addressed in BIM agreements and provide an easy way to collaborate and track project progress. An online, collaborative BIM management tool can clearly detail exactly what to check in the model, ensuring visibility into all roles and responsibilities of participants, and creating agreements that cover all necessary details. This will help ensure all teams are on the same page and working towards the same goal.
- Make sure everyone actually agrees before you start. This includes the owners, designers, contractors, and technology providers. They should all understand what they are responsible for. Begin with the end in mind! When you are making agreements with others, always think about what the final goal is that you want to achieve. Make sure to include a process to transfer machine-readable requirements between project teams and also the steps to handover the relevant BIM data to the owner at the end of the project.
The BIM Protocol
The most important part of the BIM agreement is combining all of these essential ingredients into a legally binding contract.
This is typically referred to as a BIM protocol.
A BIM protocol document will be used to ensure everyone involved understands the project’s expected outcomes and that the project is being done according to the specified standards.
Your BIM protocol should clearly define all parties involved, their roles and responsibilities, required deliverables, timelines, and dispute resolution process. It should also establish a plan for the transfer of information between parties and enforce data security and confidentiality standards.
A BIM protocol management tool such as Plannerly (with BIM protocol templates) can simplify the process by providing templates that follow ISO 19650 standards and facilitate collaboration.
Making your BIM Protocol official
It’s important to have control over all aspects of a project to protect all stakeholders. Using these tips, you can ensure that your BIM agreements are complete and that everyone is on the same page. With the right agreement, you can avoid expensive mistakes and keep the project running smoothly.
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Three Bonus Resources 🥳
1. Other Interesting Reads ⤵
- BIM CASE STUDY: HOW ONE TEAM SAVED OVER 4 MILLION EUROS (WITH BIM)
- MY 5 REASONS BIM CHECKLISTS ARE A MUST-HAVE FOR EVERY BIM MANAGER
- CONSTRUCTION MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE: MY 10 BEST TIPS TO STREAMLINE YOUR PROCESS
2. The Complete BIM Management Workflow [VIDEO] 🎥
Here’s a video I think you might find valuable 😃 – it covers the complete BIM management workflow:
3. Answers to some related BIM questions that I often get asked 🤔
I’ve also tried to summarize below some answers to the most common questions that I get asked about this subject – I hope you can use them too:
What is a BIM protocol agreement?
A Building Information Modelling (BIM) Protocol Agreement is a legally binding document that outlines the respective expectations, rights and responsibilities of every individual involved in working on a particular project. It ensures accountability, clarity and fairness for all stakeholders.
What are the benefits of using a BIM protocol agreement?
A BIM protocol is useful for clearly defining the roles and responsibilities of project participants, as well as establishing clear expectations regarding deliverables, timelines, budgets and other key aspects of a project. It also helps to reduce potential liabilities associated with misunderstandings or miscommunications among team members.
How do I create a strong BIM agreement?
To create a strong BIM agreement, start by very clearly outlining the roles and responsibilities of all team members. Then, define the project timeline, deliverables and budget expectations. Finally, include a dispute resolution process and a plan for the transfer of information between parties. Using a BIM protocol management tool like Plannerly can help by giving you templates that follow ISO 19650 standards and help people work together.
I blog for the Five BIM Bloggers series.
Every week we share different perspectives on important BIM topics!