Business needs should drive choice of building information software

Organisations across the construction sector are witnessing the benefits of improved information management, but a search for advice on the best software to adopt is often inconclusive. How can you choose the best solution to fit your unique business requirement?

A building information modelling (BIM) approach brings a multitude of different benefits to the built environment, from enhanced team communication to improved efficiency. However, to fully realise the potential of BIM, choosing the right software is essential. There’s much debate about what qualifies as true BIM software, and organisations are likely to find conflicting information when searching online.

The reality is that BIM software in the literal sense does not exist. BIM can leverage any software, but it’s not software in itself. Additionally, there’s no silver bullet out there that gives companies the upper hand or is universally recommended by the BIM community. However, there is a vast range of software available that enables businesses in the built environment to generate, share and manage their information more effectively and realise the time and cost savings.

There’s also no single must-have tool with a universal five-star rating that every business should adopt. Instead, as organisations take the next steps in their digital transformation journey, they should analyse their own unique requirements and choose their software accordingly. No two companies are the same, and it is precisely for that reason that there is no singular BIM software.

Every company will also have existing systems that require assessment for compatibility and efficiency. Any new solutions, whether they are authoring tools or data-hosting solutions, should adopt the OpenBIM approach, which is based on open standards and promotes interoperability, so that they are able to accept a wide range of formats. This helps avoid compatibility issues in the future, as well as improving the accessibility, usability, management and sustainability of digital data.

When searching for the appropriate software solutions, knowing where the current pain-points and requirements lie is a vital prerequisite. Do you require tracking of energy consumption and enablement of greater sustainability? Do you struggle with monitoring the progress of tasks assigned to contractors? Or with troubleshooting and design modifications? Do errors frequently occur in your inventories? Or perhaps you wish to improve response times to boost customer satisfaction? These are just some of the questions that you’ll need to ask yourself.

Such is the pace of change that companies may soon be incorporating solutions into new buildings which provide continuous feedback on assets and efficiencies. Whatever the need, challenge or ambition, it is vital that it is at the forefront of purchasing decisions. This will ensure that the software chosen is actually the right one for the business and has all the features and functionalities which help meet established goals and make the work easier.

BIM is entrenched in the concept of a central integrated ‘source of truth’ across the management of building information and all aspects of design, and integrated software needs to follow this same rule. Alongside access to essential data such as building materials, the chosen solution should facilitate the ability to track and control changes or any corrections, generate relevant reports and view any important documents as needed.

All of these abilities are unlikely to be leveraged with just one software solution. A business needs to explore its current systems and how any new implementation will complement what is already available. It’s also pivotal to have an open application-planning interface that allows future integration with other systems. As artificial intelligence and automation grow in popularity, it may be the case that software needs to intelligently adapt to changes, give more accurate predictions and facilitate automated processes, enabling the ability for workers to be free from time-consuming, manual tasks.

When embarking on a digital-transformation journey and adopting new technologies, one of the main hurdles is ensuring that all team members adopt the solution. Conversations are needed with internal and external stakeholders about issues they’re facing, which will help to drive the choice of software to match the business. Another key strategy is devising workshops to identify stakeholders’ needs, capturing their opinions and requirements. Also crucial is picking a solution that is both intuitive and easy to use by nature, so users are not deterred by complex interfaces. Finally, training is the last piece of the puzzle. This helps to ultimately increase efficiencies, job satisfaction and morale, which all plays into successful digital transformation.

Hadeel Saadoon is communities lead & chair of BIM4Estates at the UK BIM Alliance.

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