Tuesday, April 10, 2012

BIM is Software: Part Deux

One of my very firsts pots on this blog ended up being one of the most viewed and commented on, BIM is Software. Admittedly I was looking to ruffle some feathers with the title alone and the minimal amount of promotion of my blog I did on Twitter quickly uncovered an adamant population seething over my "silly" assertion. In my first afternoon on Twitter my idea was called "stupid" and I was mocked as a "so called expert". I found myself in a heated exchange with strangers over something I was trying to point out was simply a disagreement in semantics. This was somewhat of a baptism by fire for me on the social media side of things.

Here we are a month later and I wanted to revisit the post, amend, and prod further. The practice of archtecture, engineering, and construction is not defined by the tools they use. BIM is NOT any one of those things. That being said BIM-ing happens in software, the BIM exists in a piece of software, process can be refined in and out of software but it is about how BIM enables through software.

The three pillars of these types of change are People, Process, and Technology and you might say that technology is the only thing that relates to software and I adamantly disagree. It is all software. The software is often easy to learn and use, understanding how to leverage the software tools to their maximum benefit is much harder and requires knowledge of a firm's unique goals, skills, and existing workflows. But in the end it is about the software.

There is art and science at the heart of the industry's time tested practices and I am not trying to change that. What BIM does requires software to benefit the art and science already in play. To see the software a simply  a tool is  fairly shortsighted, it isn't just a better instrument it changes the medium. To summarize art is art, a paintbrush is a paintbrush, a hammer is a hammer, BIM is software.

Finally I do want to give credit where it is due. I thought TroyGates summed it up best with his broad definitions of the 3 major acronyms of our corner of the industry: BIM, VDC, IPD.

IPD - Relationship
Integrated Project Delivery is the arrangement of parties into a unified team to deliver the project, sharing together in risks and rewards to remove the adversarial relationship between the owner, builder and design team.

VDC - Process
Virtual Design and Construction is the management of the product, the process and the organization of the design/build/operate team to develop a complete, virtual description of the entire project.

BIM - Instrument
Building Information Modeling is the digital representation of a facility’s physical and functional characteristics. BIM tools are the means by which we harness, communicate and leverage that information.

The application of all 3 from the bottom up: Just as Revit is not required to do BIM, but is one of the best enablers of it, BIM is not required for VDC but significantly benefits it. Likewise, IPD does not require the use of VDC but is facilitated by its use and considerably constrained in its absence.

Well put Troy. You can follow Troy on Twitter @TroyGates. 

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