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Learn the Truth About Your Project With a BIM Execution Plan

Posted by Patrick Krzyzosiak on Thu, Aug 08, 2013 @ 08:08 AM
Patrick Krzyzosiak
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Building Information Modeling is all the industry rage and Millennial design and construction professionals have their mobile devices in hand, ready to access models and roll with a project’s daily activities.  However, it is also important to drown out the sounds of the mobile device and make sure that a project’s building information model is really telling the truth about your client’s project. You’ve got to get beyond the novelty of simply creating the 3D model; it is time to develop a reliable BIM Execution Plan.

It is pretty well understood that Building Information Modeling (BIM) is a process to integrate separate models (e.i. structural, architectural, MEP,etc…) for extracting and analyzing rich parametric data to simulate construction processes and predictability (cost avoidance, risks, savings,…).  The key reasons for employing BIM are to save time and money, reduce design errors, and improve productivity. While BIM is not a technology, it does require sophisticated design and construction software to be effective.

BIM Execution PlanThis is an example of early design coordination between cold steel framing and MEP for reducing RFIs and change orders during construction.

Technology is not the only factor in being effective at BIM.  It is important to draft and develop a BIM Execution Plan (BEP) to plan the best strategy, techniques and tools to BIM implementation and subsequent processes required for each discipline.  The plan needs to capture critical project components including: goals, scope definition, roles and responsibilities, modeling standards and management protocols, timelines, delivery strategy, coordination meetings, communication procedures, technology requirements, document control plan and quality control measures. Capturing these elements will ensure each stakeholder from each discipline comes to the table prepared as well as ease the entire BIM process.  Inevitably, you will find the BIM Execution Plan to be a great reference in which to delineate what the project team plans to achieve.

When you are looking over the BEP, you always ask yourself how and how much the BEP will impact the overall project budget commitments and expenditures. In short, you need to have an idea of how much work (i.e. design, preconstruction, coordination, scheduling, and construction) you will perform in relation to how much money you will spend. Otherwise, you are at risk of underestimating the actual cost of your project. Understanding the impact of project commitments and expenditures is known as EVA (Earned Value Analysis).

An owner may ask you about the Earned Value of the project at any time. Earned Value Analysis is the determination of how much you will spend on the basis of the work done and how much work needs to be completed on a project at a given point of time.  This analysis calculates how much “actual” time the work has taken and the “actual” resources utilized.  These values are compared with the “planned” values of time and resources.  If the time taken to do the “actual” project task exceeds what was “planned”, it means that the project is running behind schedule.  Similarly, if the resources utilized exceed what was originally planned, then the project is not being managed efficiently. Identifying wasteful areas allows project teams to make the necessary adjustments and allows for a lean construction delivery.  All in all, EVA is technique to track and monitor a project’s earned value (PVE).

Earned Value Analysis Chart

Graphic: Earned Value Analysis Chart, Synchro

To be effective, you need to define a detailed project scope (i.e. Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)), project schedule and establish a time-phased budget. In the BIM Model, each object is linked and mapped to one or more schedule activities (from the master schedule) and integrated with allocated resources such as labor, material, equipment and other relevant factors.

Synchro Earned Value Analysis Graph

Graphic: Earned Value Analysis Graph, Synchro

Earned Value Analysis is a function of technical performance (work), cost integration and schedule metrics. One of major advantages is to identify early red flag signals and apply corrective action and techniques to the project before it is too late. For example, during construction, a field project engineer should record the completeness of each activity at the end of each workday. If any one activity begins to lag, you will be able to determine the outcome an activity’s performance (i.e. labor productivity, additional cost for material or equipment) and estimate and/or forecast its future impact. 

Synchro Cost Variance Construction

Graphic: Cost Variance, Synchro 

This illustration shows the Cost Variance for a single activity. Derived from BCWP-ACWP, the positive cost variance means the activity is under budget.

Earned Value Analysis can be applied to any activity (i.e. design phase, modeling) in which time and cost have a direct relationship. Just keep in mind; EVA continuously tracks the project actual cost of the work performed in order to forecast its future. In short, EVA helps you with statistical projection such as BAC (Budget at Completion Cost), ETC (Estimate to complete), EC (Estimate Completion Cost), EVAC (Estimated Value at Completion, CPI (Cost-Performance Index). Scheduling software packages Synchro and Primavera provides excellent EVA tracking functionalities.

In addition to EVA, you will find a series of illustrated process maps in the BIM Execution Plan. Process maps offer visual references that typically cover project roles, responsibilities and timelines.  These illustrations are enhanced communication tools that offer another method for making sure everyone clearly understands the requirements. 

BIM methods, techniques and tools are designed to reduce inefficiencies throughout the design and construction process.  The model becomes a reliable reference and digital representation of a building.  If managed and updated regularly, the model allows for sharpened decision-making, enhanced construction documentation, heightened construction planning and finely tuned performance predictions and cost estimates. When kept up-to-date, the model becomes your project’s centerpiece for referencing real-time information provided by the architect, engineers, builders, and owners.  It also provides an overall project visual and allows all parties to make more information decisions in a timely fashion.

It is imperative to know and communicate the truth about what your client can expect throughout a project’s lifecycle in the BIM Execution Plan.  The idea is to develop a more structured planning procedure and encourage team communication and engagement on a project early on. If your BIM Execution Plan is tailored to meet a project’s specific goals, characteristics and required expertise, the result will be governed by the EVA with a focus on the project cost control management for the overall project efficiencies and cost savings.


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Topics: Virtual Design and Construction (VDC), Best Practice, BIM