REUTERS | Arnd Wiegmann

BIM: managing the professional team

In my third post in this series on Building Information Modelling (BIM), I concentrate on the professional team.

Fully integrated BIM delivery will inevitably affect the way in which professional consultants work together and work for their client.

Integrated delivery means a fully integrated contractual framework, including the professional team’s terms of appointment. But how will responsibilities be allocated?

Allocation of responsibilities

BIM raises many questions for the professional team. These include:

  • Will professionals be required to collaborate fully and share risk or will key members of the professional team, such as the architect or lead designer, still retain principal responsibility for integration of the design?
  • Will this still be the case when other professional team members assume a far more central role? (For example, in managing the BIM; inputting design; detecting and correcting design clashes; incorporating costs, programming and sequencing information; and, ultimately, integrating maintenance and life-cycle costs information.)
  • Will existing terms of appointment and schedules of services for professionals need to be adapted to meet the differing requirements of BIM based projects? (Almost certainly the answer to this is “yes”.)
  • Will collaborative forms of contracts, such as PPC 2000, come to the fore as the need to reflect shared responsibility becomes more apparent?

Insurance

What about insurers? They are going to want to make sure that their insured professional is not agreeing to responsibilities that increase their insurance risk. They will certainly be taking a close look at the professionals’ terms of appointment on BIM projects and checking to see that liability has not increased. (For example, their insured’s potential liability might increase by agreeing to comply with any BIM management rules or protocols, which form part of the contract documents or schedule of services.)

Of course, the degree to which any greater risks are assumed will depend upon the nature of the project and the extent to which the various members of the professional team are assuming different or greater roles, compared to a non-BIM project. For example, in future it is likely that a project manager will have an enhanced role in managing the BIM model. It is also likely that, even though the architect will remain responsible as “lead designer”, design risk will be shared amongst all those professionals responsible for inputting design to the BIM.

Change on the horizon

On any view, it seems highly likely that close examination of the roles and responsibilities of the professional team members will be necessary before terms of appointment can be finalised. Some significant changes to current industry norms will be inevitable.

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