BIM: it’s not a tool, it’s a process

two people working on a project

The Government mandate for BIM Level 2 landed on 4th April 2016, meaning that procured Government construction projects must now be delivered in line with Building Information Modelling standards.

This is only the beginning for the construction industry in terms of BIM, with other countries such as Germany and France joining the BIM bandwagon. Both countries are home to some of the largest contractors in the world, which are particularly advanced in BIM.

Reactions to the mandate are mixed as the majority of companies are not BIM ready; a survey revealed that 27% scored themselves as “very unsure” whilst only 5% claimed to be “fully confident”. The main reason for this is the perceived cost factor and the attitude that comes along with this: “I don’t want it so why should I have to pay for it?”

The idea that BIM is the name given to 3D virtualisation of construction projects is a major misconception, which emphasises the lack of understanding of BIM Level 2. Put simply, people are confused as to what BIM is, which could be caused by the fact that there is no one universal definition of it.

BIM is not a tool. It is not an application. It is not software. BIM is a process. A way of working, in fact.


When watching numerous interviews of companies talking about BIM Level 2 projects, there is a reoccurring voice of “we used BIM” or “we want to use BIM” with the planning of all new “standardised and complicated projects”. Another comment made was that “we need to deploy visualisations with the tool BIM”.

BIM is not something that can be “used” as it is not a specific tool nor a piece of software, it is not an object. Building Information Modelling is a collaborative way of working underpinned by digital technologies.

With this lack of knowledge, there comes the sense that once BIM is adopted it will be capable of doing work with little to no help. On the contrary, BIM requires a continuous flow of direction and collaboration of workers and technology. This need for upkeep can also cause hesitation towards adoption as many are reluctant to change their habits and their way of working.


The adoption process has a negative reputation as it is being described as long, costly and complicated. However, once BIM has become the standard way of working on projects, businesses will be able to soak up its long-term benefits. After all, BIM aims to increase productivity and reduce errors, which in turn will save time and money. So how can you get started?

Make sure everyone is on the same page

It’s essential your team understands the standards that are set. This should include the terminology used and files being named in a standardised way.

Get to know BIM

Familiarise yourself with BIM software tools. Designate a few people (or even a BIM champion) to learn more about how BIM will affect the way your team works. It’s not all about 3D, understanding is an essential component of the BIM process; it’s not just the use of 3D virtualisation.


It is no secret that when the recession kicked in, so did the decline in young people pursuing careers in the construction industry. The next generation already comes with advanced expectations and amazing digital skills. The idea of not putting this talent to use and continuing the use of paper-based workflows is going to reduce the attraction towards a career in construction, which is the opposite of the Government Construction Strategy.

With the introduction of BIM comes the requirement for new skills; within the next 20 years, 90% of jobs will require digital skills. Businesses in the industry have caught on to this trend, too. For example, Ryder Architecture has already identified the need for training of these new skills. In response, they have teamed up with Northumbria University to create “The BIM Academy”. This is not the only place BIM skills are available academically; more universities are providing BIM qualifications which could potentially allow graduates to work overseas and receive a possible salary of 50% more than the norm.


Many construction companies are stuck in their traditional route, however, this ignorance to digitalisation will only cause issues at a later date. For many, BIM is a forceful push out of their comfort zone, causing fear and the desire to hold on to what they know so well. However, for BIM to really fulfil its potential it is vital that adoption is an industry-wide change.

For more information on upgrading existing processes and undergoing a digital makeover, Atlas Cloud specialises in cloud-hosted desktops and digitalisation. Speak to one of our team today.

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