Latest News

BIM4FM Event

Last week Turner and Townsend hosted a BIM Alliance event on BIM and FM. It was a set of three presentations with networking time before and after. The room wasn’t as busy as a free event would be, but the audience was of top quality. The discussions that were sparked were as interesting as the presentations themselves.

Shaun Farrell, whose face some of you may know from the most recent WIB networking event, opened the event by reminding us briefly what the BIM Alliance is. Shaun highlighted the need for the industry to support the organisation as a mechanism for change and pointed to some immediate functional needs in the engagement, project management and admin areas. More details below.

Christine Gausden, the next speaker, impressed us with a resume that included running 25% of the assets of the London Underground and arrived at a Lecturing position in Greenwich University. This brilliant mix of experience and research background was a master recipe for an impeccably structured talk on challenges and positives that have crystallized in the FM world since the Government BIM mandate. Christine reminded us of some essential reads (see below-referenced texts) and gave us some fresh additions to our reading lists. Even though palpably academic, her presentation was easily digestible and quite practical. Some distilled pearls of BIM wisdom were immediately echoed in the Twitterverse. My personal favourite was: “Decide, Design, Deliver, Dwell” – the actual stages of a project. Christine moved onto comparing different clients and admitted that there is a significant difference in working with younger organisations and younger individuals responsible for making decisions. Namely, that you don’t have to waste time convincing them of the benefits of BIM. She also shared some frustration regarding the concept of FM. It looks like BIM and FM share the life of the “mysterious abbreviation”, even though people seem to have finally learned what the letters stand for, there are a lot of misconceptions about both. Facilities Management, contrary to common belief, is NOT a person with a broom and a bucket and even though the caretaker is an essential part of things happening, there is so much more to running a building, or a campus or a train station – any built asset. Christine shared her hope and joy of the election of Cath Fontana as the new President of The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, using her image to show what the actual face of FM can look like.

Christine spoke about the consequences and the receipt of the government 2016 BIM mandate in more detail, but I think her overall feelings can be summarised by her conclusion: “I would legislate for BIM, not mandate.” It is very true that the whole industry seems to have taken one 13th of the government strategy for improvement of the construction industry – that BIM bit – and run full speed ahead without paying much attention to the rest of the strategy. Hopefully, one thing that we learn from BIM is that we need to stop obsessing over singular things and start understanding systems and whole environments to make a positive change in how we are working.

In the context of legislation, there was a confident confirmation from the audience that the PAS 1192 suite is starting to transform into an ISO from November this year. This was great to hear because most sources have been fairly vague about dates on BS EN ISO 19650.

Various discussions were sparked towards the end of Christine’s talk and they were so lively and engaged that they had to be interrupted so that we could continue in a timely manner. Lots of educated input came from the audience. My favourite bit was a sober reminder that we need to take any research into its proper context. If something is “… based on credible sources, based on credible sources, based on something that happened in New York 8 years ago”, maybe we should look for more relevant research.

Following Christine, we welcomed Eoin Kiely and Rey Green, sharing a case study. Working for a large and experienced client like Shell sounded like a dream job, even though both of them wanted to reject that statement immediately and were not short on difficulties to share. It is the reality that there are rarely clients that actually understand their own requirements, as well as have a list of maintainable assets and be as organised as to provide their EIRs pre-tender. Yes, an ideal procurement process would be a dialogue where the first line would be EIR and then this would have a BEP chimed in response to it. Many of us, however,  have been in the situation where those documents are not prepared or agreed or even mentioned until quite late stages in the project. Eoin and Rey shared how transparency and openness had been key to making the process work. This all may seem like the regular fluff talk you always hear, but indeed all parties wanted to share work very openly and there was no covering up of skills and chargeable tools. In the same line of thought, a big driver to excellence was empowering the client with the models available on a tablet and having them fully engaged, often cornering the consultants with better awareness of the design. They spoke a lot about comparing the ways people have dealt with building documentation in the past – and alas, currently still are – dark rooms filled with boxes and boxes of paper that people continuously ignore, and the future: BIM and digitalisation. There was a brief discussion of drawings versus 3d visualisation that Shaun Farell wisely closed by concluding that different people will always prefer to read information differently. Shaun noted that what we are trying to do here is to work in a system when we can immediately produce various kinds of fully real-time coordinated sources – 2d drawings, 3d views, interactive models or schedules, as opposed to choosing one track of information representation. If you face needing a different source, you have to back-track information and reproduce the variant, you have an approach practically nurturing errors!

Shaun Farell closed the evening with a lot of energy. He mentioned some of his stellar previous experience and then moved on to BIM for FM. He addressed the importance of asking the right questions of the right people when it comes identifying the information required for FM. A lot of people shared experiences of not being able to reach “the right people” at all, and Shaun was very generous to share some of his tips on that with us:

  • Define what an asset means for the Client
  • Inquire about an asset list, or help them define and build one
  • Understand the organisation’s classification – make sure you are using the same language

Shaun’s interpretation of the Gartner Hype Cycle was a particular crowd pleaser. Many seemed to have felt the pain of the “Peak of Inflated Expectation” on the client side versus the “Trough of Disillusionment” when it comes to implementation.

He cleared some definitions in his presentation, but the echoing message was not about technology, or methods, but of culture. I can’t help but agree – for the BIM process to work there needs to be a significant shift in culture in the industry – this closed the circle nicely, connecting to Christine’s impressions of working with younger organisations.

It seemed that most of us there were on the same page about what can make our work better, which is always a great thing, so there is a natural question: why are the things we are talking about not being implemented? When I stopped to ask myself this, there were several things that I noticed. One, not a huge crowd. It seemed that the room was prepared to take double the amount of people. Second, from the questions and responses and some discussions I have, I think most of us were at similar places in our careers; not beginners and not the big shots, but people who have recently been down and dirty with the project work and can now afford to take time for events like this.

My thoughts follow the call for changing the culture. We change the culture with a new generation. The new people entering our world need to hear this and in order for them to hear it, the big shots need to be on the same page. And this is where we see the obstacle. I am particularly drawn to this conclusion because, recently, I heard how a significant residential construction company insisted that as they are a traditional business, they were not interested in BIM. They did not see themselves moving away from paper in the next 20 years. The truth is that the Client is the driver. You can’t help someone who doesn’t want to be helped. This is the Question we are left with – how do we educate the client to get on board with the new culture and a new generation?


If you are looking for a bit of light reading for the summer, here is some of the literature mentioned:


To support the UK BIM Alliance:

Email:   |   Website:

Chair: Anne Kemp

Communities Leads: Andy Boutle & Pam Bhandal

Communications/Events/PR Lead: Pam Bhandal



Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email