Top Criteria for BIM Solutions: AECbytes Survey Results

This report captures the detailed results of the survey “Top Criteria for BIM Solutions” that AECbytes conducted earlier this summer on behalf of a leading BIM vendor. It is a comprehensive report that analyzes the inputs of over 650 AEC professionals who took the time to provide their feedback on what they want from BIM.


10 thoughts on “Top Criteria for BIM Solutions: AECbytes Survey Results

  1. I have also heard from some other readers asking the same question, so I’m glad of this opportunity to address it. This survey was sponsored by Bentley, who was interested in finding out what readers were looking for in their BIM solutions, so that it could use this to guide the future development of its BIM products. It was also specifically interested in finding out how its solutions compared to Revit — which is the current market leader — with respect to what users really wanted from BIM. This is why the survey report I published focused on discussing these two main issues. However, the survey results themselves that have been compiled in the report are rich enough to be used by individual firms and vendors in various ways and for carrying out any relevant analysis. So, for instance, Graphisoft can very well use the results of this survey to analyze its own solutions against the top-most criteria that were identified.

    In short, even though I limited the comparison aspect to Bentley and Revit in my report, the survey results themselves apply to all BIM solutions and can be mined in several ways by all those who would like to undertake the analysis from a perspective relevant to them.

  2. Thank you for publishing the survey results! I had never read anything similar before. Very interesting.

    I would have also appreciated comparison with ArchiCAD but can understand why it was omitted. Making the smallest group for the size of an office 1-100 employees shows Bentley’s (natural) interest towards large firms. It would be interesting to get similar thoughts from smaller firms.

  3. The article is very interesting and telling. To me, the notion that the documentation is the most critical portion tells me that further development on documentation is required to capture the moment … but not on D size paper. The building information should be available on a building template of the structure to be use on the jobsite. For example, framing locations with openings and the components that match the size opening. Then BIM will have a “Full Circle” offering to the AEC industry … a way to transfer the building information in a logical way. The data is all there in the file, why not take one more short step to get it right?

    I’d like to hear more on the subject if anyone has anything?

  4. This survey and article summarize and answer nearly every question I’ve heard about BIM in the last few years. Your comparison of Revit vs. BIM will really help a lot of people begin their journey on deciding which route to take and where to invest their future IT dollars strategically.

    My only critique was the one shared by others in that you focused on Revit (obviously) and Bentley when ArchiCAD actually had more respondents in the survey. Who is the 2nd place in the market behind Revit when it comes to dollars spent on the software – Bentley?

    My final critique comes of the industry on the whole. Why are we not asking for more interoperability, rather than tying ourselves to direct integration? The software vendors will never make it a priority if we do not ask for it. Also, people need to move their questions from issues about the software to looking at value added and what metrics BIM affects in the AECO industry. After all, if BIM is not improving anything, then why do it?

    Thank you for a great article!

  5. I also would like to see the survey results shown as to how many of the respondents are using the listed projects in a true BIM process. Perhaps Revit does not lead so greatly as the survey might indicate if it was shown that Revit is acting as shelfware in so many firms (not because it isn’t good software, but because people haven’t made the effort to learn it). But if people are using Triforma like ADT (limited BIM), then the survey should have related that.

    It’s still a useful survey and I’m glad to see it.

  6. I feel that there are some remarks to be made here.

    The list of used applications includes fairly specialized applications, such as Digital Project and Tekla, but migrates many widely used applications into a single “others” category: VectorWorks, Arc+, Arkey, BricsCAD and (surprisingly) Architectural Desktop. They should have been fully included… the “others” category comes in as third and is disregarded further on. The comparison focuses on Bentley BIM and Revit, yet ArchiCAD seems to have been well represented amongst the survey answers. This will shift the conclusions.

    The comparison criteria (between native BIM and BIM on a CAD platform) are not mutually exclusive: visualization is not by definition worse in BIM-only software. And there are drafting methods in BIM-only software that are easier to use, with better productivity, than those from CAD-based BIM, e.g. the polyline tools from ArchiCAD versus the polyling editing in AutoCAD.

    That said, the results are what matters:
    — visualization shifts to presenting information rather than photoreal images (which I find positive)
    — interoperability seems to evolve to application-to-application connections, which locks users into specific versions of both applications for compatibility. I find this horrifying.

    Interesting survey, interesting results.

  7. I have used BIM for 16 years as an architect.

    Although BIM is currently getting press, BIM has been available for decades. ArchiCAD offered BIM on personal computers in 1984.

    Based on having used both ArchiCAD and Revit, I have found the following:

    ArchiCAD is superior to Revit, particularly in regards to smart objects, intuitive use – from schematic design to construction documents, high-end renderings and animations (all in one software package), interoperability, compatibility with AutoCAD and a variety of analysis software and disciplines. Training in ArchiCAD is a short and easy experience, whereas Revit is not.

    My experience with Firms that are using Revit is that the Firms are doing so because Revit is an AutoDesk product and market share – something that AutoDesk definitely promotes in its sales presentations and training. This is extremely ironic since Revit is not as compatible with AutoCAD as is ArchiCAD. For instance, Revit does not use layers… Revit 2008 is not backward compatible with its own software – not even the last version of Revit… ArchiCAD uses layers and is backward compatible.

    Regarding the surprise in the survey about the choice of BIM not based on market share, this may be the result that so many of the respondents for the survey are considering or using ArchiCAD – not Revit or Bentley.

    I realize it was Bentley’s call, but not including a comparison to ArchiCAD in the article is unfortunate. A comparison between the three would have been extremely useful. Any firm considering using BIM should do a trial of the three before deciding which to adopt – not just listen to a sales presentation.

    In general, the article raised useful issues fpr evaluating BIM. The inclusion of ArchiCAD in the list of BIM software available at least raises the curtain that Revit and Bentley are not the only options.

  8. Kudos on your outstanding presentation of the BIM survey results! Our firm is currently trying to choose between Bentley Architecture and Revit, and your report will be of great use to us.

    I do, however, have a difference of opinion regarding your conclusion about firms “moving beyond the need to create jazzy presentations for clients”. In reality, the architectural visualization field is experiencing rapid growth according to the many publications and forums I monitor. We have certainly seen increased demand in our office in the last couple of years. Clients are expecting more high-quality presentations than ever before; we are just using different software to fill that need.

    I am not surprised that BIM users would rate visualization capability as low priority; I assume that that is not what most of them purchase BIM programs for. High-end visualization requires a great deal of specialized knowledge and training, and is not always done by the same individual that would be creating a BIM model and construction documents. Our firm always tries to minimize duplication of effort by sharing 3D models as much as possible, but what often happens is that the visualization team needs to present their work long before the architectural team has a detailed BIM model.

    If you polled architectural visualization professionals on their software of choice, Revit and Bentley Architecture would undoubtedly rank far behind dedicated visualization software such as 3ds Max, Viz, Maya, Lightwave, and Modo. Different professionals need different tools.

    Keep up the excellent work; I always look forward to your insightful and well-crafted articles!

  9. Actually, if any comparisons should have been done, they should have been between Revit and ArchiCad. Bentley Architecture should have been compared to AutoCad Architecture since both are built on top of older existing software platforms. ArchiCad and Revit were built from the start as a BIM packages. Bentley is obviously just trying to keep their users from jumping ship.

    Of course those who have not ventured out of their comfort zones to explore what the alternatives are, then yes, their responses are going to be slanted towards the work flow processes that they are familiar with. I think existing Microstation or Autocad users’ answers will probably be very similar to each other giving this false impression that the Bentley solution is better. The big difference is that Bentley Architecture (Microstation) and Autocad Architecture (ADT) users, while they can take advantage of BIM like solutions within their respective programs, they can also continue to use the programs as if they are just drafting programs unlike Revit and ArchiCad where you have to build a model. While the survey was interesting reading, I did not find it very informative and certainly would not use it to base an opinion as to what program I should go with.

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