The Value of Building Information Modeling: Can We Measure the ROI of BIM?

In this Viewpoint article, Dr. Burcin Becerik-Gerber, Assistant Professor in the Sonny Astani Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Southern California, and her graduate student, Samara Rice, discuss the results of a recent survey they conducted as part of a research project aimed at determining the return on investment (ROI) of BIM.

URL: http://www.aecbytes.com/viewpoint/2009/issue_47.html

4 thoughts on “The Value of Building Information Modeling: Can We Measure the ROI of BIM?

  1. The principles of BIM are not entirely a new phenomenon. Indeed historically, since we started organising drawing offices and design bureaus, the basic fundamental aspects of BIM have been practised in some form or another. However BIM today, as a tangible process, aims to structure and standardise the way in which these principles are adopted across the various aspects of a project design, eventually leading to a more multi-discipline implementation.

    The point I do want to make and one which is borne out of the many discussions across the Internet on BIM and unfortunately not covered by this article in any detail: It is simply that many companies charge their clients extra for adopting BIM on a project design – so it is no surprise that additional profits can be realized as a consequence of using BIM.

    This is not to say that BIM, once properly implemented and managed, is not potentially profitable, it is just that some companies find it is a quantifiable procedure that can attract additional revenue.

    BIM, as a process, should be seen as something that compliments existing work practices, as an integral part of a overall strategy to improve data management as well as efficiencies in the design work-flow.

  2. These comments by Hugh are relevant, but I think this analysis of BIM could be clearer and perhaps more useful if it separated the benefits and costs that accrue to the owner/client and those that can be allocated to the practitioner (architect, engineers, GC, subs, fabricator, etc.). They are not the same as Hugh points out. Another important point is that saying that a project used BIM is not enough to know how it was implemented. Some projects use BIM as just another way to generate drawings, others use it in an IPD arrangement to allow improved collaboration and a higher quality process and building. There is a big difference in the results that can be expected. There is also a learning curve for the owner and project team that allows much improved results over time. It would be helpful to “get behind” the savings and loss data to gain a deeper understanding of how BIM does impact the building process. The point of doing this type of “ROI” analysis is not to determine whether the industry makes the change from a drawings to a model-based practice, but to see how best to make this transition.

  3. This was an interesting survey. While a number of practices claim less time is spent on the later phases of a project, there doesn’t appear to be a corresponding saving in staff requirements. Perhaps these practices are turning over more projects or the savings from doing some phases of a project quicker just aren’t there.

    I suspect that the savings for a project largely fall to the client via a better project delivery, not the consultant.

  4. In general I agree with the comments posted here. However, I am not sure if many companies charge their clients extra for adopting BIM. They certainly try but in most cases, clients see BIM part of the “job” and don’t agree to pay extra. The survey also shows that almost 85% of the costs are paid internally. Some (around 10% or so) try to pass the cost to the client via fees but these firms are mostly AE or CM firms. Although BIM as a process could be part of existing work practices, in many cases I have observed, it triggers change and process re-engineering within the firms implementing it. This always has been a discussion for IT implementations in AEC: tools to fit existing processes or new processes to fit the tools. Although I am a believer of the first statement, BIM imposes several work process changes including how we design and collaborate.

    With regards to Paul’s comments, I completely agree we should measure savings to the “client” or to the “project” overall and these savings are different than individual team member’s savings. Also how and to which extend these BIM tools are being implemented. In my experience, currently, the companies that claim they implemented BIM are using these tools for visualization or drawing generation or clash detection and advanced features are seldom implemented. The survey also supports that. So ROI depends highly on the level of implementation. Therefore, I am fully behind Paul’s comments about “how best to make this transition”. Like other IT solutions introduces, BIM will become the norm but how fast and how? is still a question.

    Last but not least, re: Paul Mutton’s comments… I think the issue here is the number of projects in a firm that adapt BIM. Although firms claim they implemented BIM, there is still “limited” use within these firms. Limited in terms of number of projects and also level of feature use. When fully implemented, it might be true that these practices turn over more projects. Unfortunately, due to the nature of AEC projects and benefits, it is hard to define “better” project.

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