Every new technology that pops-up also bring new roles and new responsibilities. And when the BIM fever started, it also created new characters. BIM Manager, BIM Coordinator, BIM Champion, BIM Assistant, BIM Planner, BIM Chief, whatever BIM-something you can think of. However, are they really needed? Was it just a lobby from the BIM software companies to make firms hire unnecessary employees? Are they really usefull?
"Dont be like a duck"...
In my country (Brazil) we have a saying: Don't be like a duck (Não seja como o pato). That might not make sense in northern countries, but let me explain. Apparentely, the duck species we have in Brazil are not like those who migrate once a year, so, this species are not very good at flying. So they need to walk and swim. However, being both land and water animal, it seems the duck walk funny and swim funny. That happens because, if he has to be good in everything, like swimming and walking (and nearly flying), and if he has to do everything, he can't actually master one of this areas. So this is why we say "don't be like a duck", like "don't try to do everything, try to be really good at something".
The reason I am saying this is because I have seen a large amount of employees working actually as 'something else plus BIM Manager'. That won't work. You can't have multiple roles like this at work. Be a Project Coordinator and BIM Manager. Mostly, because a BIM Manager is not just a title. Is a real job. You cannot just pick up someone in your team to accumulate this function. The last ridiculous thing I've heard like this was in a BIM Conference here in Brazil, where an architect said she was playing the BIM Manager role in an architecture firm. All I knew about her was that she knew absolutely nothing about BIM softwares, but she was trying to figure it out which of them was actually suitable for the firm she was working on. How could someone be a BIM Manager if the person know nothing about it at all? I was really furious when I heard her speaking, but in fact, I understand that there is a huge misinterpretation about the BIM Manager role, which I hope I can write down a little about here.
A Manager like any other Manager
Managers do not have multiple functions at work. I'm not saying a manager do not do a lot of things, I am talking about doing something that is from another sector inside the firm. If you are a Production Manager or Design Coordinator, and you are also an architect, you will not be sitting next to your assistants and interns to do their drafting plans. You will check them, review them, specially because you will be needing to do that with a lot of other sheets, this is why you just won't be taking their place (unless if it's totally necessary) and do their jobs. Or worse, you won't be sitting with the receptionist and taking calls. So, a BIM Manager is just like any other manager.
So, a BIM Manager is like any other Manager. But what does a BIM Manager do?
Now, before I tell you what's the deal about a BIM Manager, I can assume that you do know what is BIM, right? I won't have time (or space in this article, otherwise it would just get really long and boring) to teach you the A B C of BIM. So, lets get to the point:
- Define the Guidelines to implement the BIM in your company - You will need someone that understand the way your firm works, understand your workflow and your needs, and that person will define a custom program that your team will follow. As we know each firm is different, and has different needs, this program can't just be prepared beforehand, it has to be made specially for you
- Develop the Company's standards, templates and families - Some companies choose to subcontract another firm to do that, however, if you do not have a real BIM Manager, you will not know exactly what to ask for the team that will be developing the families and templates, anything they hand over to you might be just good, you will need someone to act as a Quality Inspector for BIM material. And if your BIM Manager is a fake, you will waste a lot of money paying for families and templates (which are not very cheap) that will not fulfill the needs of your company
- Manage the Contract and define the BIM LOD - In my last job we had a huge problem with a client that hired a BIM Project from us, but when we delivered the project we received a long list of reviews to solve in the project. However, what they were asking was just impossible to execute, not because it was not possible to be done in REVIT (the software we used) but because what they were asking would be costing far more, and take much more time then they were giving us to accomplish those tasks. The problem relied at the very beginning, where our company and the client should have defined a LOD (Level of Development or Detailing) for the project, which none of us did, because at the time when we were hired for the project, I wasn't a BIM Manager yet, and also, the client did not have a BIM Manager to manage the contract for them
- Define the Guidelines for the Workflow - Now, this is very important. It is very common that people who learned to do something in a certain way, will most probably always try to work in that way, always. That happens to inexperienced BIM Managers in softwares (a lot of BIM Managers I see do not have an extensive work experience with the softwares they call themselves 'specialists'). They probably learned only one way to do something, so they will always go for that way. Experienced BIM Managers knows all the paths that can be follow to achieve a result. My specialty is REVIT, so I know a lot of different ways to develop a project using REVIT, but I know some "BIM-anything" professionals around here that knows only one way of doing something. That could jeopardize the final quality of your project
- Technical Assistant - Let's not forget that a BIM Manager has to be someone that understand the software. This person needs how to answer doubts and to troubleshoot whenever a problem comes up. If not that, maybe if you count on the technical assistant of a specialized firm, you will need someone to explain in the best way he/she can what is the problem. I've seen many problems taking too long to be solved because the person who should know whats going on just didn't
- Quality Control - That is also a huge deal. Like I said, there are a lot of ways of doing something in softwares (mine is REVIT, but that happens in others too). So, probably your team mates will have their own way of doing something in the model. Will you be needing to do some quality control, to see if the model is following both the standards of your firm and your client's requirements
- Updates - A good company is always updated. That also applies for the BIM technology you use. The BIM Manager need to be always updated to the latest technologies, systems and solutions, and also bringing and applying that knowledge to your team
- Training - In small teams, the BIM Manager would also be able to provide training
- Improving, always - Just like the Update item, improving is also very important. These softwares and technologies are always presenting new ways of improving the work to be done, and lets also mention that, naturally, we should be always pursuing improvement. So the BIM Mananger will need to spend some time studying ways of improving the way the firm work
- Helping with hiring BIM employees - Last but not least, of course you will need someone to help you hire new employees that know BIM, your manager will help you see which of the candidates are not being very true to their resumes
Of course that these are the most important roles of a BIM Manager, but these were the most important ones I could remember right now.
Ok, now that you know that a BIM Manager do, lets talk about what does a BIM Manager needs...
Yeah, BIM Managers has their needs to be productive. So lets start with some tips here...
Do not ask him to do anything else. Remember the "Dont be like a duck" thing? If you are hiring someone or promoting an existent employee to be your BIM Manager, let this person Manage the BIM. Don't ask him or her to also be the architect, the drafter, the coordinator etc
Give them assistants. To be a BIM Manager consumes many hours between doing quality control, managing contracts, answering doubts etc. Trust me, its very exhausting. So give them assistants to do somethings that they could simply coordinate, like modeling families and templates, tech assistance and so
Trust your BIM Manager. Is very common that some firms usually trusts more in the companies that sells the softwares and in their employees than in their actual BIM Managers. I saw a lot of those selling companies employees that knew almost nothing than my average team mates that were still learning. They are just sellers. They do not live by designing and modeling like we do
Alright, so now that I know all of this, how do I hire a good BIM Manager?
That shouldn't be hard. However, there are so many people around calling themselves BIM-something, and if you do not have any experience with BIM softwares, you'll might have some trouble. But in fact, your help could come from someone inside your team. If you are trying to implement a software, you probably might have an employee or intern that is trying his/her ass out to develop a model in the tool. So, this person must have a hundred of questions. If you're interviewing someone to be your BIM Manager, take this candidate to your employee, see if this person can elucidate the doubts.
The second tip I'd give you is to ask questions. Put together all the questions and doubts you and your team has about BIM and softwares and see how the person answer to them. If the candidate seems confidant, if he or she doesn't look not very sure, if the answers doesn't look clear enough to you (you might bring the employee mention in the paragraph above to the interview), well, you'll know that person is not the one.
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