I haven’t had a guest writer in quite awhile, but, I’d like to share the below with you.
Brian Myers serves on the Board for the Gateway AUG (he and I founded this group together, and he was the first President) and since our next meeting, the evening of June 19th, at the Masonry Institute, is about BIM and model ownership, benefits, end-user needs, some of us have been brain-storming quite a bit. I liked some of Brian’s ideas and asked him to write an article to post here so that I could share them with you (and hopefully inspire some locals to come and join in our Panel discussion next Tuesday).
Building blocks toward the facilitation of the property management process.
We are an industry dominated by the bottom line. If we buy into the conventional marketing and industry slant of the Architectural community, both from the AIA (architects) and architectural software vendors, then the future is today in terms of maximizing profits by controlling data with the software we have at our fingertips. The “industry Buzz” tells us that this software (often called BIM software) will be interoperable with a variety of software platforms and the information provided will save you thousands of dollars each year while driving extra deliverables that Architects can provide to their clientele. Architects will be happy for seeing extra profits due to extra deliverables, facilities management and owners will be happy for the luxury of tools that directly impact (positively) on their operational costs.
Actually, not total bull, just that it won’t be the architects that will (in most cases) be seeing the extra profits, they are simply being used to drive this market today as the technology is yet to travel downstream to the hands of those that will really benefit from it, the owners and the facilities managers. So we’ll step back and analyze where these profits will really come from, who will really see them, and most importantly who will really control this development and revenue. I propose that the real power that will facilitate technological development is with the facilities management where new jobs will be created and will evolve even as many positions within the architectural profession will be wiped away due to workload and pressure on the bottom line.
Analyzing the Deliverables and Duties:
When discussing Deliverables and Duties, a division needs to be put into place between the involved professions. As a result of this, I’ll break this discussion into the following divisions:
2) Construction Management
7) Technology Vendors
8) Facilities Management
The Architectural Industry is often marketed as being the driving force behind BIM technology. While historically BIM has stood for Building Information Modeling the real thing they are being paid for isn’t a building. It’s creating and communicating the design intent so that a building can be built. As a result of this they need to Manage the design data required to build a building appropriately, not simply managing a building model (which they are not paid to do). As a result of this they are really in the business of Building Information Management (BIM) and creation and their deliverable is a set of documents for which the information can be managed by them as well as others. So the duties of Architects (in the form of a deliverable) are to produce a design that meets the design intent, needs of the client & community, and the criteria for public safety, legal, and environmental concerns. This deliverable must be communicated in the form of information that can be built from, analyzed, and used by the other professions that need this information to do their jobs effectively. No where in this description do I hear words that suggest “added deliverable potential”. Those words describe deliverables that will be expected downstream by others in the profession to do their jobs effectively and by the nature of the software will be produced automatically. As a result, I see little in the realm of extra revenue opportunities and instead see different deliverables which happen to contain information on design intent and acceptable parameters, not an extra set of deliverables that can be billed.
Architectural firms as they adopt this technology will realize that for them more product will be completed in the design phase and less work will be needed in the CD phase. As the technology evolves we’ll see the software detailing more construction/material conditions than it has been able to do in the past and this will create less work for “drafters” downstream. We will then see more “project architects” (those individuals that figure out the complex details and handle the more complex code related issues) doing less detail work as they check the work of their draftsman (aka the software program). The resultant: Less hours (and need) for drafters as the “project architect”/software combo has more time to do the work typically assigned to them. With quicker project turn-around time and less billable hours there will be less need for extra staff in the bodies of “drafters”… thus staffing will slim down. End result: Same billing (due to the higher cost/more hours billed toward the project architects) but quicker turn-around time which means firms may be able to take on more projects (if the work exists). This is good business for busy firms, but creates less jobs and a more competitive market place as larger firms take on the extra work.
Yes, this is long term, but since this entire process is a long term concept we need to grasp its ultimate impact 10-15 or more years down the road.
2.) Construction Management
If architects and their deliverables don’t bring in the extra money then the construction industry should see extra profits… correct? Well, only if you are the right person in the right job. Construction managers have always managed data, just now they will need to be trained to do it electronically and manage more of it. Many of these individuals will be the “front end” data managers on a project. Swapping of materials in and out will need to be managed electronically along with the scheduling of contractors, etc. Ultimately, the entire construction “data set” of the project will need to be controlled inside the parameters of the BIM deliverable the architect originally created…and some individual(s) will need to be in charge of managing it. Notice I didn’t say inside the BIM model (created by the architect) itself, but inside a model that references the parameters specified in the BIM model that other individuals can access and reference. As a result, the Architect’s work will be strictly followed and used as a guide/base for all the data that follows… but not modified itself to protect the liability of the architectural team. The makeup of the Construction Management team will likely be a “facilities minded” group that understands how the downstream product needs to be delivered to the facilities management/owner in order to manage costs, understand data, and ultimately have a grasp on the total value/cost of the scope of the project. Those that fit into this role will see the real financial gains of BIM in their checks as their efforts will be essential to keeping the bottom line of any project manageable.
They will handle bidding and scheduling largely electronically. While they won’t see a major “profit” increase in this system, they will have an easier time managing their deliverables and bidding on projects, perhaps in an environment that will be more competitive with jobs becoming easier to bid on and manage. They will see other minor benefits as well related to suppliers, etc. that we won’t mention in this article, but benefits none the less.
Financial gains, less liability, projects closer to on schedule, real estate that is easier to manage. There is no downside and they see the most return for their buck as well as have all the project info at their fingertips. They won’t know what “BIM” is, but they’ll know, appreciate, and eventually demand the results of it as BIM is a smaller part of Project Lifecycle Management… part of their financial lifeblood which this technology will really make flow in a positive manner.
Simply put: Organization and liability. The government will enjoy and push for this data deliverable as it will create an easier to manage system for review. The result: less man-hours, less mistakes, easier to place liability, quicker project turn-around, and a more centristic document management system.
Electronically getting your products specified has many advantages which I won’t list in full in this document, but it could lead to many financial gains. One advantage suppliers would realize would be the “ease” of product specifying on the fly into projects and the generation of automatic bids/costs (or place a request for bid on the fly). This will revolutionize the way products are delivered, priced, and marketed in the eyes of a supplier.
7) Technology Vendors
While profits will still be made from the architectural industry for many years to come they are small in comparison to the profits the deliverables in other fields will produce. Each group listed above will have their own needs to manage the vast amount of data required to make this work. As a result, expect custom products specifically designed for each of the above fields. In this multi-trillion dollar market (real estate makes up over half the value of the world), technology vendors have barely touched one percent of the individuals that will eventually use their products to manage the huge pool of data to be created.
8.) Facilities Management.
Simply put: They control the data. As the ultimate downstream stop for all this available data, Facilities Managers (planning, operations, maintenance, etc) will help their owners understand this flood of data and manage the data deluge during the lifecycle of the project. While the “FM type” individual may have managed this data during the initial construction phase for the Construction Managers, there will be FM companies/individuals that manage it after construction completion. For a fee (or salary) these data managers will ultimately save owners many times this amount by helping them budget for future expenses, manage rentable space, create energy calculations, forecast expected profits, and many more things. Yes, these individuals currently can do this, but not with the “on the fly” abilities and accuracy that this system will create. Individuals/firms will be able to more efficiently manage multiple sites/clients and provide several times the deliverable value they can today. As a result of this, expect new technology-savvy CAFM individuals, positions, and companies to be emerging in the industry.
Facilities Management will ultimately realize the greatest benefits and drive the creation of true lifecycle management systems. Suppliers will push to get their products specified; technology vendors will sell more products; the government will demand the data in this deliverable; contractors will have an easier time managing their projects and bidding; construction management will provide much greater value; Owners will see greater profits and have more control; and Architects will be able to reduce overhead and minimize their liability. But it will be FM, with total control over this data and as the go-between and ultimate keeper of this data that will have the most to gain. Perhaps not in dollars but in job creation, the ability to expand and market their services, and in ability to provide extra value added services. So for Architects, this BIM technology is just part of your normal deliverable process and an improvement to your existing methods, but it’s the FM profession as a whole that will see the extra value added services and jobs created by the availability of a new flood of data at their fingertips.
This brings up an interesting thought, what if you want to break into this construction market? Look at the FM industry (or the management of data in the construction management side) as it is this final, managed deliverable that will provide good long term job security in a field that will be ready to explode over the next 10 years. A construction management or facilities management degree with an MBA might be the best career advice I could provide for long term job security and financial benefits… it’s all about managing the data and managing those that provide that deliverable.