BIM mandates ... Is Snake Oil not far behind?

Many of you know I'm a very strong proponent of Building Information Modeling for many reasons, but when I start seeing government mandates for public works projects I have to take pause. Why? Well frankly after being involved with several GSA projects here in the US for remodeling, repurposing and new construction, I've not seen the GSA leverage the reality of BIM in their life-cycle use and maintenance.

What happened? I thought what we were doing was going to make a long term difference in the cost of operations for our government, but as I dug deeper, I found the operations folks didn't have the appropriate tools to take advantage of the products we delivered to them. Further, they didn't know if they would ever get the tools to leverage our work for their benefit.

So we go to recent days and the recent developments in Europe and Great Brittan regarding their new BIM mandates. My good friend and college James Salmon recently posted an article on the topic. I think James only touched on the tip of this iceberg. The unintended consequences and unrealized goals are significant and, in my humble estimate, will likely do more to slow the real utilization of BIM-based design and documentation after completion of the buildings and projects they represent.

So are these government led mandates more snake oil than not? I hope not, but there is a significant risk here for more oil than substance, as evidenced by the US GSA examples. Yes there are a few well documented examples in the public but there are so many more which will never realize the published benefits proclaimed. What is the solution?  Honestly, I'm not entirely sure, but there are solutions much easier to implement today than before so the owners can leverage the value of the document models into their daily operations. Fortunately, there are software solutions on the horizon which will help us realize the dream of BIM. In addition, I would hope we see the realization of the better delivery mechanism using integrated teams to further leverage the power of electronic modeling methods.

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