If you think that a Project Execution Plan is simply used to highlight how to handle, store and share your models, think again. The Project Execution Plan is much more than that. Even before design starts, the project team (including GC’s VDC – Virtual Design Construction team) and all major stakeholders must reach consensus about the project management processes needed for the project execution plan. The overall goal is to set the stage for a clear implementation strategy from design through to construction. Here are some thoughts, ideas and best practices about how to benefit from good planning for VDC/BIM uses.
Have a Plan - Pull it Together!
Source: The TEAM Handbook Second Edition
What has to be in place for team to pull it together?
Quality Function Deployment
Quality function deployment ensures owner requirements are included in the project. This method engages the owner and critical stakeholders in the decision-making process. Together, they clearly identify and qualify their BIM vision and expectations. Through this process they understand and address their project needs and requirements and discuss any unique project needs. For instance, some owners may want to reduce the amount of RFIs and change orders on their projects. Others may just want to hear about their potential return on investment. It is the responsibility of the general contractor and its VDC team to provide strategic guidance to the project team and owner about areas where the team can gain potential value and overall benefits, and, in addition, identify potential pitfalls and resolutions. Quality function deployment avoids silence and making assumptions. Together, the team will ask for clarifications if BIM deliverables are vague. There are times when owners do not like to hear the truth about their project but it is important to stay honest and not make false promises.
Once the architects, consultant, general contractor and key trades share their vision about the project delivery method (ex: IPD or Design Build), they need to identify the BIM vision and set expections. Some team members will be more eager than others. It is best to identify any potential obstacles and make necessary corrective actions to guarantee complete and active collaboration. Once everyone understands the exact use and purpose of the 3D model for the BIM Project (ex: Cost Model Based estimating or just for coordination during construction). The VDC/BIM uses will be the foundation of the BIM implementation plan. At this point, the project team should start to agree upon the functional specification, technology and schedule. After reaching consensus among all team members, the team should also agree on the means and methods, tools and techniques for executing, monitoring and controlling the Project Execution Plan, the VDC/BIM implementation plan and the 3D Model.
The VDC team is responsible for creating a detailed VDC/BIM Implementation Plan with the expectation of updating and reviewing it on a regular basis throughout the entire project lifecycle. Scope planning will require deep discussions among team members. Proper adherence to the VDC/BIM implementation plan will help to avoid misunderstanding and keep team members informed and accountable. While BIM planning takes time, consider this effort as an investment.
Scope planning requires getting the team to collaboratively agree on the VDC/BIM Plan. It is important that all parties allocate the appropriate resources (skills and expertise with the most recent and related experience) and be adaptable. It is important to observe the level of collaboration of the entire team. Throughout the project lifecycle it is important to cultivate trust. Some stakeholders may think that execution of the project is more critical. It is important to be careful to not overstate a stakeholder’s capabilities, skills and expertise. Experienced VDC/BIM team members who possess proven results from recent projects have the skills to take your project to its’ full potential and ultimate level. To get a clear picture on the entire team’s ability to meet the required project tasks, you may want to consider using a stakeholder and skill inventory matrix.
The idea is to work together and share ideas. There is nothing better than a general contractor’s VDC team assisting the Prime Architect and consultants during the design phase. Remember, Virtual Design Construction (VDC) is about optimizing the performance of multi-disciplinary models for BIM methods. BIM is not a single model or software, it is a process for managing geometric elements and associated data in order to accomplish specific tasks. (For further reference, please go to CASE)
Roles & Responsibilities
For this section, we reference AIA E202. When it comes down to defining the scope of work for modeling, the level of detail (LOD) is not a complete answer. The modeling content and accuracy depends on the set of BIM uses and purposes, including: design coordination, 5D real-time cost estimating, 4D integrated construction schedule, fabrication from 3D model, facility management, self-performed concrete work, etc… All these areas also require setting achievable or realistic goals based on time, expertise and/or talent. Communicating the expectations and supporting the team throughout the entire project lifecycle is essential. In the world of 3D modeling, liability is a hot topic. In general, we like to keep the design author responsible for what they modeled. For instance, MEP trades are responsible for what they model and will generate respective shop drawings or, with regard to fabrication, have MEP subcontractors model alongside the design team to ultimately take over the CD production. Utilizing a Roles and Responsibilities Matrix or Change Coordination Matrix will help you keep an eye out for active participation among all stakeholders.
VDC/BIM Planning Workflow
The VDC team establishes a complete BIM workflow and simulates the processes with the entire team before its implementation. It is important to collectively restate the goals, objectives and deliverables for each process. Together, they identify the right processes to validate the work required to complete the project successfully. Don’t let anyone with unclear dialog obfuscate the understanding of the process. It is best to identify the “gray” areas, understand the meaning gap (ex: scope gap) and identify if there needs to be an assigned responsibility to fill the “gap.” A pull plan is not only for the construction phase, it also used for modeling. Try utilizing a VDC and/or BIM pull schedule similar to the “Reverse Design Engineering”; the intent is to focus only on what needs to be drawn and has overall value.
It doesn’t cost more to model right the first time. VDC requirements need to be as clear and precise as possible. It is best to only focus on the essential areas that ultimately add value and benefit to the project. To avoid rework, make sure to incorporate any modeling intelligence, and construction details that have value during the Design Phase, such as prefabrication and fabrication details and constructability review details. Having access to an in-house architectural and MEP fabrication and installation modeling capabilities allows teams to avoid rework or modeling twice.
Everyone needs to be engaged. With design team approval, the general contractor’s VDC team may be actively involved during the design phase. Engaging in a real-time exchange of ideas with the designer and consultants for design and cost, will allow the VDC team to come up with new design solutions for value engineering and/or exploring “what if “ scenarios as well as identifying efficiency cost solutions that meet the budget target.
VDC Quality Planning
The VDC team should present a BIM quality plan that ensures the actual quality of the project will meet the envisioned requirements. For example, if the owner’s interest and prioritization is to have a Final As-Build BIM model at the end of the project, the quality plan must ensure that the As-Built conditions will reflect the Final As-Build BIM Model. Incorporating a project quality program that considers quality assurance tasks in advance and identifies roles and responsibilities, and schedules these tasks with various tools and techniques will allow the entire team to measure the quality and performance of deliverables. Don’t ever assume everyone will completely deliver each task on time. Field fabrication and installation must be precisely modeled in order to avoid conflicts. VDC quality planning is the soundest argument for justifying the use of the 3D modeling. The actual benefit of the quality plan is realized through its predictive and proactive nature. As a whole, VDC practices ensure quality-planning outcomes such as benefit/cost analysis, and benchmarking.
VDC Risk Planning
The VDC team aims to identify risk and uncertainty as early as possible. The intent is to avoid unclear or vague language. For example, it is important to ensure VDC requirements are reflected throughout the contract language so that everyone has a clear understanding of the project’s scope of work. The 3D model will be the visual representation of each discipline doing their due diligence. For instance, by incorporating critical fabrication details and field layout into the model, the team will mitigate the risk of RFIs and change orders during construction. Remember, a risk has a cause that has a consequence. Project risks are threats to the envisioned project objectives and deliverables. To be successful, project team members must provide a risk assessment and response plan using their knowledge, expertise and experience and/or expert judgment from trades. Conducting a project risk assessment is critical for each project. Lastly, it is important to have an action plan for every key member leaving the project or not on board at the beginning of the project. All this important needs to be documented and the BIM plan needs to be updated.
Together, building 3D models in concert with a sound project planning effort will combine a rich building design illustration with a quality, reduced-risk project program that ultimately forms the foundation for the subsequent phases. This combination also helps to explore “ What if” scenarios or identify most efficient system cost conditions and design alternatives that meet budget requirements. The Project Execution Plan, along with the model, must be viewed as an enhanced communication and living document that keeps changing and subject to change control. Project activities may undergo numerous iterations before the project team reaches a final consensus. Each team and every project presents new and interesting ideas and challenges. However, we are now able to plan, execute, visualize and manipulate the building elements during pre-design before we even begin design.
The next post in the VDC series will discuss implementing the Virtual Design Construction (VDC) and Building Information Modeling (BIM) Project Management Plan during the design and preconstruction phases and applying Earned Value Analysis (EVA).