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13 January 2020

Critical Considerations When New to BIM Outsourcing

It can be a case of ‘too much of a good thing’ for firms in the construction industry. Businesses may find themselves with one or several interesting projects in hand, but completing them with the required quality and in the specified time with the existing resources, both personnel and software, can seem daunting and likely to cut into profit margins. This is especially relevant when the company can grow or expand its services, without having to concentrate on CAD and BIM (Building Information Modelling) services.

Outsourcing is the ideal solution. But outsourcing can be risky. Let’s look at why it could be time to outsource CAD drafting services, architectural design drafting, MEP design engineering,MEP drafting and BIM services and how to minimise the risks involved.

Firstly, who benefits most from BIM outsourcing?

The growth in popularity of BIM outsourcing primarily stems from an increasing demand for BIM skills where existing staffing resources are insufficient in number and expertise. In addition, architectural design and engineering companies focusing on special projects, diversifying their services are improving the scope of their businesses look to outsourcing BIM services to smooth the transition. So, the following professionals can benefit from BIM outsourcing:

  • Architectural design firms
  • Retail chains with physical outlets
  • Engineering firms
  • Construction companies
  • Design consultants
  • Property developers
  • General contractors

It’s time for any of the above industry professionals to consider outsourcing when a business owner finds that the firm does not have the following requisites:

  • Staff with the required qualifications and expertise
  • Relevant software solutions used by personnel with updated skills
  • A BIM action plan that includes strategic initiatives and the right office culture
  • Experience in collaborating with successful BIM projects

Several firms may lack in-house BIM expertise, and some companies with BIM teams may find that they do not have enough projects for existing personnel.

Acquiring any or all of the above may prove to be expensive. Besides those mentioned, other existing conditions could include the following:

  • Time spent on CAD or BIM projects cuts into time for business expansion
  • Employees are unfamiliar with government BIM compliance standards
  • A new way to maximise money and time
  • Improve the success of the company
  • The staff has insufficient expertise on industry best practices
  • Employees are not proficient in BIM and CAD
  • Insufficient number of personnel to deliver growing BIM demands

The first step to fixing a challenge is to acknowledge that there is a challenge to begin with. Once a firm concludes that they need to outsource BIM services, the next step is to choose the right partner. A checklist of essentials for an efficient and reliable BIM partner should include the following:

  • Current software expertise and standards knowledge across disciplines
  • Ability to match time zones
  • Flexible staffing options
  • Secure infrastructure, reliable confidentiality
  • A range of BIM and CAD services
  • Proof of continuously precise and prompt delivery of services
  • Ease with corporate culture
  • Relevant certification, accreditations
  • Experience of successful collaboration, including models, documentation, analysis, prototype creation and costs
  • Exemplary references, showing success globally
  • Use of the latest software, such as 3D Studio Max, AutoCAD and Revit

Some of the challenges that may be experienced while trying to find success with a BIM partner include communication barriers and errors in delivered services, leading to expensive delays. Communication channels, such as Skype, GoToMeeting, etc., and content-enabled models must be operated that help unite project phases.

Models can deliver technical information while backed by a range of data that fits into the geometric parameters. It is important to engage a BIM partner that can ensure that content-enabled models are updated dynamically and adhere to the specifications of the manufacturer, resulting in all the project stakeholders having accurate and current data. By delivering information to all the stakeholders, such as detailers, fabricators and subcontractors, the design workflow can be streamlined.

Through the use of BIM technology, status reports are communicated quickly, and in case changes need to be make suddenly, the right resources can be located to help prevent delays. With the use of remote and virtual technology gaining popularity in Western countries, remote business operations have gained wider acceptance, paving the way for increased instances of outsourcing.

Fraudulent BIM partners may show false evidence of milestones achieved and fantastic portfolios on websites. Some of the facts which can be checked before entering into a partnership with a potential BIM outsourcing company are:

  • Company experience
  • Domain age
  • Company credentials
  • URL
  • Company stability
  • Social media profiles

Additionally, it’s important to determine if the potential BIM outsourcing partner has executed work previously that matches the work currently required. Methodologies must be similar enough for seamless BIM integration. Also, try to verify the authenticity of the portfolio. Companies that specialise in CAD and point cloud conversion, Revit drafting services, Revit BIM, family creation, design development, construction documentation, etc. are typically updated with the latest industry-specific software.

Consultation with the company’s past clients can be a form of reference checking. By studying email communication and price comparisons, project execution, delivery times and quality can be determined.

It’s important to realise that low costs do not guarantee effective delivery. Skills, experience, quality and prompt delivery are of prime importance while comparing prices.

Opting for freelancers should be a no-no, since they tend to work on multiple projects without project managers or an organised workflow.

Accessibility and security are further key areas to consider while deciding on a BIM outsourcing partner. A reliable partner should be able to provide support 24/7 and should keep details secure and confidential. Details and project data must not be shared with others and must be secured in a safe format.

Reliable quality control processes need to be a hallmark of the organization. These processes can be queried and analysed to determine if they are comprehensive enough for the work required.

So, where should these remote workforces be sourced?

Countries, such as India, offer cost-effective labour, the required technical expertise, companies with years of experience and partners who are willing to invest in continuously upgrading the technical and software skills of their employees. In addition, many, if not most, of the technical personnel in the industry speak English, helping to communicate with Western firms.

Advantages of BIM Outsourcing

For small firms with limited finances, competing for larger projects becomes a challenge. This is when they can opt to outsource their BIM services, resulting in the following benefits:

  • Early design changes can be affected in the model during conceptual stages
  • Enhanced productivity and quality of work
  • Easy coordination and collaboration of electronic data between architects, engineers and designers
  • Analysis of data and integrating this with scheduling, finances and bidding
  • Streamlining of project activities, saving time and resources
  • Rework is eliminated or minimized, resulting in faster delivery and ultimately reduced costs

With these benefits, smaller firms can compete with others in the market.

During the later construction stage, BIM outsourcing can help firms by:

  • Estimating costs of materials and labour
  • Sequencing construction to avoid unnecessary movement of labour and materials
  • Identifying and resolving design clashes
  • Creating legal documentation

In the days to come, the use of BIM technology is poised to become the norm globally. Selecting the right BIM outsourcing partner helps firms transition effectively and securely. These partners should be able to provide high-quality architectural drafting and modelling, MEP drafting and modelling and BIM coordination on time and within budget.