Publications / 2014 Proceedings of the 31st ISARC, Sydney, Australia

The Case for BIM Uptake among Small Construction Contracting Businesses

P. Forsythe
Pages 480-487 (2014 Proceedings of the 31st ISARC, Sydney, Australia, ISBN 978-0-646-59711-9, ISSN 2413-5844)

Advocates of BIM have the ambition of making it a central tool for information management and collaboration among stakeholders on construction projects. Even so, its implementation is often difficult for small construction contracting businesses, albeit that they make up such a large proportion of the construction industry. This paper uses data from a targeted workshop of 47 industry professionals concerning issues in transitioning from traditional to BIM based construction project management and the impact of BIM on professional training and development. The findings support the proposition that BIM uptake in construction contracting is relatively low and that small contracting businesses currently constitute the weakest link in BIM based supply chains. In order to realise the full potential of BIM, there is a greater need to make it accessible to small businesses but forced uptake is not recommended. Practical difficulties include software application costs, the need for multi-tasking, risk management issues, and confusion over the type of skilled people and training needed for operating BIM software. A “touch the BIM lightly” approach is advocated as is the development of stylised BIM applications targeted to better suit the capabilities of small construction contracting businesses, as distinct from design authoring businesses. Greater attention should be placed on low learning time, low cost, site-tasks and one-way information flows. All such recommendations are consistent with implementation using smartphone and tablet technology.

Keywords: BIM, small business, construction contracting