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BIM: Abandon old habits to embrace collaboration

4 April has been marked on calendars all across the construction industry. 

We’ve had years to prepare for it, yet as the date for BIM-compliance for all central government contracts finally arrives, are we ready for the industry shake-up?

While some of the large-scale contractors, consultants and supply chain members are already well-placed and have made the necessary changes to their processes, there’s growing concern that we’re yet to see the cultural shift to the collaborative working mindset that is critical to the BIM-enabled world.

Collaboration and efficiency must become the lifeblood of the construction industry as the drive for BIM gathers pace.

Time to work together

But while collaborative techniques, such as alliancing and partnering on projects, are viewed positively by the construction community, they are still underused and often seen as an ‘add-on’ rather than being embraced as genuine cultural change.

The vast majority accept that collaboration enables information sharing, improves the delivery of objectives and reduces the number of costly and time-consuming claims and disputes.

“Collaboration and efficiency must become the lifeblood of the construction industry as the drive for BIM gathers pace”

With such clear benefits, why is progress being stifled?

Surely no one can be in any doubt that, as the industry reaches the Level 2 BIM deadline, and with Level 3 on the horizon, the requirement for greater collaboration between all construction disciplines will become ever more essential.

Old habits die hard. Indeed, our clients seem acutely aware that the contracts they use on a day-to-day basis are not fit for purpose for the new era of construction.

Yet outmoded processes remain prevalent. Shifting gears completely is clearly no mean feat. A revolution is crucial to fostering change across the construction industry.

(R)evolution

Bold advice from consultants and decisive action is needed if the industry is going to move away from the comfort of traditional contract routes, such as single-stage competitive tendering and lump-sum pricing, to embrace the more collaborative techniques that will become commonplace.

A lack of familiarity with non-traditional processes and contracts has created a vacuum in which there is a desire to embrace change, but the tools and action required are yet to be seen.

“Our clients seem acutely aware that the contracts they use on a day-to-day basis are not fit-for-purpose”

But we mustn’t lose heart.

Innovation has long been the foundation of British industry. And with the arrival of the government’s mandate, we have an opportunity to rise to the challenge and become a trailblazer for a new era of the global construction industry.

UK construction companies and those who employ them must surely embrace BIM now, not just to comply with new rules but to promote the spirit of collaboration that will be the foundation of construction’s future.

Martin Roberts is a construction partner at Pinsent Masons

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