Friday, May 22, 2009

Proactive BIM - The Beginning

In order to be successful with BIM and Revit your team needs to think “change”, and “update your workflow” to accommodate the new procedures. First the crucial element in managing the Revit model will be leadership. A team leader is the most important role in getting out a Revit project with minimal strain. The way we are all use to things working is in the way of the CAD manager. This role or position is called upon for various reasons. “Can you make this version of AutoCAD look like R14?”, “How do I get my dialog box back?”, “The plotter is down can you fix it?”… This position still has its place in the world but only in the world of AutoCAD a completely different workflow. This is a completely new methodology and demands respect.

Most project managers and managers have no idea what the BIM process really needs in the terms of commitment to change. We all remember when AutoCAD came to the table and how confusing it was. It brought a whole new workflow and looking back now we have come a long way. You will encounter resistance but fight through and keep moving. The fear here is that you get left behind and trying to catch up is not an option. Technology is just catching up to the BIM method but we are now seeing better hardware and systems that can deliver. Always keep in mind that your companies stance on technology needs to change as well. Hardware and technology is one key to being successful. I can’t begin to explain the issues I have seen as of late because more Revit work is coming out and being required for BIM by owners. It is the lack of training and commitment that is a pain point.

First you need to build a strong foundation and that means training your teams. This leads to the question “Who should be on the Revit team?” the answer is only the people who welcome a challenge and change. I have committed myself to continuing education for the rest of my career and even after if I can. Only because when you challenge yourself and take on task that will teach you new processes and change the way you think. It’s very rewarding and frees your mind of the cob webs and keeps you sharp, leading edge and the top in your field. This attitude is type of characteristics to look for in a Revit success story.

So now you have your team and a manager that understand the “New” workflow. Now what? Well now you start the process of building a proper company standard (project template). For years in the firms I have worked for, both Architects and Engineers always want to “Standardize” the National CAD Standard were developed some time ago and have yet to be fully implemented in most Texas firms. It’s not because it’s not needed it only because most professionals don’t know how to implement those standards with the software they are currently using. Autodesk has done most of the work for you in AutoCAD for Architects and AutoCAD MEP.

National CAD standards have been a part of these vertical products for years. With Revit a new standard has been developed. From owners and clients I have been asked can we make it easier? Well Autodesk has.. In the form of Revit built on a single database to help coordinate your everyday workflow. So not only is this the time for standards it’s the time for implementation. Use what they have provided for you and don’t reinvent the wheel. The headache we experienced in past years have been taken care of now we need to focus on teams thinking about the change.

For your first projects your team will try to revert back to an AutoCAD workflow but this is where the Project managers and Team leaders need to respond. Review projects and methods regularly. Understand model performance and the basics of computer performance. Understand your unique workflow and remember the CD’s are a bi-product focus on the design and after a couple of projects you will see the documents become more and more like your company standards. Most firms now dwell on symbols and trying to model every stud and nail. This isn’t the way to get your team up to speed and trained. It’s hard enough for a 20 yr AutoCAD guru to reprogram from hotkeys to icons or even the ribbon for that matter.
This is the reason most new versions of AutoCAD sit on the shelf and will not been implemented until someone takes the initiative to learn the new features. So leaders focus on managing the workflow, the hard work comes up front and in the first couple of projects be strict and don’t let things slide. I am not going to deceive you it’s going to be a challenge that is why you need to choose your team wisely. Know that things can go from bad to worse in hours when the projects get more and more information added to them. Keep track of the model size and what is being imported or placed in your projects. From AutoCAD file to Families. The questions you should be asking is who created this family? Who linked this CAD file and why is it still in the project?

One of the tips I give to all my students is to remember communication is “Vital”. We are all use to coming into the office sitting down after coffee and plugging in the headphones and start to “crank and bank”. Well today we have internal email accounts and instant messenger. These tools are very important to a project. Your company needs to really look into these to open up communication among employees. Just like you would coordinate with your consultants at meetings tracking the progress of the project and getting updated files. You do the same for Revit projects but internally among your team. We always tell companies to pick a pilot project that’s reasonable and won’t give you too many issues. To minimize the pain and struggle to a new workflow you really need to consider what you and your team is willing to tackle. I always recommend that you involve me or a technical consultant when a project kicks off and gets setup. Especially for the first Revit project. It very important to get things going in the right direction from the start. If this is ignored you can possibly see major issues and struggle to meet your deadlines.

Prevention is the next word of the day. Certain tasks need to be preformed weekly if necessary or at progress meetings when you have sole control over the project. Now understand that the Revit leader should be maintaining the basics during the entire project. Your duties will start off heavy but in the long run once all your standards and SOP’s are in place things should start to run smooth. This is the whole purpose of phasing in change you can’t just “drop the hammer” and dive head first. From the beginning commitment is vital but over enthusiasm can be fatal in implementing Revit. Again make decisions early and stick to them if possible hold BIM meetings weekly in the beginning to make sure everyone gets it or so you can weed out the people who are struggling. These people shouldn’t be singled out but you need to be made more available to make sure they aren’t using CAD methods that might defeat all that you are managing. No one likes to point fingers but this is the best way to manage the people on your team. Make sure everyone gets along and has the understanding that this cannot be done alone. The one lone wolf will arise and should be considered as an assistant or be given tasks to handle to gain experience and become a future Revit leader on other projects. The days of holding back information and methods for job security are gone. You cannot afford to do it because with a change of workflow and new methodology you have enough stacked against you. If you get lemons make lemonade.

Finally, this is just the beginning of becoming successful in BIM and Revit. Educating yourself and your team in the new workflow and project manage will allow your company to excel and become a leader in BIM. I suggest you talk to other BIM managers at local user groups or at your local AIA meetings. DC CADD holds regular presentations and you can always call one of the techs on staff to answer any concerns or questions you might have. Better still talk to an account executive to arrange a meeting or lunch-n-learn on a regular basis to talk “Best practices” and “Tips and Tricks”. For my MEP firms we offer mentoring at the start of the first project and I work with team members that are struggling to make the change from CAD to Revit. You want to avoid overwhelming someone with new software and with our help we will make those team members feel at ease and support them until they get it. Sometimes it’s impossible but we will give it our all to make sure your company is successful.

4 comments:

ejlangit said...

tHANKS for the blog dave. Really appreciated it. My office is currently transfering from autocad to Revit. Can I ask what is the efficient workflow, for example I already have all the plans in Autocad, but we wanted to transfer it to revit, Do we trace back all the lines again for the walls etc.. Im just a begginer so sorry :).
Great Article. I'll ask my boss to read it.

Gabe Hernandez said...

You can use specific tools in Revit to recreate a building model from CAD files. The workflow consist of multiple software solutions and phased implementation approach. You dont want to bite off more than you can chew. Phasing the solution and selecting the proper team and project are crucial.

Oliver said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Margaret

http://cardrawing.net

Richard Buxton said...

Inbuilding.org are running a free online Q&A on BIM and Autodesk Revit.

Come and have a look