16 November 2012

Utilising Your Office BIM Manual: Participants BIM Plans

One of the problems with a single project BIM Execution Plan is that you end up with different BIM standards and requirements for every project in your office. Potentially different naming standards, shared parameters, modelling requirements. How is an office supposed to develop best practice and train staff under this scenario?

In a previous post, Single project BIM Execution Plan: a good idea? I set out my views on how BIM Execution plans should be split in to separate BIM plans to create an overall BIM Management Plan. My last post was about the owner's BIM Project Brief. This post is about how an essentially in-house BIM manual can be utilised to form a Participant BIM Plan (PBP), which becomes part of a project's overall BIM Management Plan (BMP).


The purpose of the Participant BIM Plan (PBP) is to explain how you are going to set your model up for the project. This is not only  important to those working on the project in your office, but also informs those outside members of the project team that will be receiving your model.
Providing this information:
- helps others navigate your model;
- allows others to assess what uses they can put your model to;
- makes explicit what BIM skills a participant actually has
   (as opposed to what was in their bid submission);
- exposes practices that can be discussed and negotiated between project team members.

Each team member's PBP informs what is possible when the Design Collaboration Plan (DCP) is created.
There is little point using the structural engineer's floor slabs in the architectural model if they will not model set downs. If the QS has no intention of using Revit to schedule costs why including costing parameters?

PBPs can also be used to verify that processes are in place to meet the deliverables and requirements of the owner's BIM Project Brief (BPB).

But perhaps the best purpose of PBPs is that it forces all participants to think about how they will do BIM on the project. I have sat in too many meetings trying to get a BIM Execution plan up and running with blank looks and no input from other players. Where things are agreed to when I know they have no idea how they can be fulfilled.


The PBP is a document that can be, and is expected to be, revised during the process of the project. Changes may be required because:
- the model needs restructuring for the next stage of the project
    (e.g. between Concept and DD);
- improved work processes are introduced;
- another team member's PBP exposes opportunities to improve work practices;
- negotiations during creation of the Design Collaboration Plan (DCP);
- changed requirements when the contractor's BIM Execution Plan (BXP) is created.

For this reason it is important a schedule of reviews are established as part of the plan, along with good record keeping of revisions. As one of the PBP purposes is to keep all team members informed it is important there are clear processes for informing everyone of revisions, and providing access to the latest revised PBP.


The idea is to create a standard office BIM manual that can be tailored to suit specific projects.
Set out how you would like to do things, then only make changes where forced to, or where it helps your office. That said, as with any in-house manual your standard BIM manual should be regularly reviewed and updated to introduce better practices. Don't be too rigid as sometimes the changes you make for a project may be worthy of permanently adding to your office BIM manual.
  1. First step is to align your standard PBP with the client's BIM Project Brief (BPB) and/or your consultant agreement with them.
  2. Next review how you will set the project up. As the PBP can be revised, you can start with general information. If you don't yet know the exact files you will be creating and using, put in a file naming schema in the PBP.
  3. As other team members are appointed and issue their PBP you may want to discuss issues with them that benefit both of you. There is no need to wait for a formal collaboration plan to start working together more efficiently.
  4. Once the Design Collaboration Plan (DCP) has been created further changes may be required to your PBP so they align.
  5. Further changes may be required if the DCP is revised, which may happen when the contractor produces their BIM Execution Plan (BXP).


As each PBP is based on different offices standard BIM manuals I would expect quite a variance between them. I don't see a problem with this. What is the point in forcing everyone to follow some graphic standard just so the BIM Management Plan looks nice. The end product is a building, not a BIM Management Plan (despite what some think).
Their contents may vary quite a bit as well, particularly if different softwares are being used. And there may be quite a bit of information that is not relevant to everyone, perhaps even no-one but the author. I also don't think this matters. I'd rather look through the actual document being used in-house by my consultants than some document just created for my (or the client's) benefit.

So the description I provide below is really just a sampler. There may be sections you consider vital that I've left out, there may be more sections than you think you need. But the idea it is YOUR document - make it to suit YOUR requirements.

Each project participant authoring BIM resources. Generally this will be the Design Consultants - Architect(s), Engineers, QS, etc.
Sub-contractors providing BIM shop drawings could also be required to create a PBP, although its structure and contents will be a little different from what I include here.

As soon as each is engaged for the project.
A draft PBP could be requested as part of bid processes for engagement (which would essentially be the office BIM Manual).

How this PBP fits into the overall BIM Management Plan (BMP) as defined in the BIM Project Brief (BPB).
Purpose and uses of this PBP.
Who is author / responsible for this PBP and key people on the project.
Contact information for these people.
Record of revisions to this PBP.
Meeting & review timetable.

Participant only specific BIM objectives.
Participant only specific BIM uses.
Level of Development of participant's model that matches BPB minimum modelling requirements, either:
- general description;
- specific description;
- LOD table.
File exchange schedule.
Project Base Coordinates.

SOFTWARE SPECIFIC (using Revit as an example)
Software Name & Version used.
Folder & File structure (incl. names of files).
Workset Naming.
Level Naming.
Grid Naming.
Phase Naming.
Project Parameters.
View Types description.
View Naming Schema.
Sheet Naming Schema.
View Templates.
View Filters.
Revit Categories and their uses.

There is no reason your office couldn't do a standard Participant BIM Plan now. If you are a lead consultant and the client demands a BIM Execution Plan (but is not specific about what that is), put your own and other consultant's PBPs together and call it the BIM Execution Plan (or call it a BIM Management Plan, different but equivalent to a BIM Execution Plan). That is a lot less work than creating one from scratch, and likely to create a much more realistic, and therefore usable, BIM plan.
If you are not usually a lead consultant do one anyway. You can use it to make clear to your client what you will and won't be doing for your fee, and use it to negotiate what you will and won't do at BIM Execution Plan meetings.

Next post I'll look at the Design Collaboration Plan, where participant's PBPs are used to negotiate where and how they can help each other.

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