We know that BIM and the technologies supporting it allow all of the supply chain to benefit from the information and provide known quantities and costs at all stages from developed design to tender.

More than ever, BIM’s collaborative nature provides the greatest opportunities for design and construction teams to innovate and instigate process improvements that can resonate quickly across project teams.

Industry reports such as SmartMarket demonstrate strong engagement in BIM from architectural and consultancy firms and suggest a stronger, faster uptake in the short-term, including improving their team’s understanding of BIM to a high competency level.

Design and consultancy firms adopting BIM and its associated technologies wholesale are now creating the points of difference in the market and realising the savings internally through improved workflows and market reputation, knowing that collaboration and data sharing directly result in reductions in revisions, clashes and RFIs.

The call from architects, however, is for there to be a greater focus on the quality rather than a reduction in the quantity of errors. The reliability of the information built from a collaborative project team allows designers to robustly defend the scope. It adds integrity to the design process early on and allows clients to make real savings decisions based on accurate information and not perceived “expensive” design statements. The benefits of BIM are in the knowledge gained and how it’s applied to create intelligent design. It’s not enough just to implement the software and think it will resolve modelling issues.

Here is a collection of benefits seen by architects, engineers and project consultants arising from their investment in BIM and the ROI it brings to their companies:

Designers and Consultants

Whilst addressing the Mining Club in July 2014, professional services company Worley Parsons suggested that the potential benefits in the digital assets concept on project delivery included a capital costs reduction of up to five per cent through data integrity, increased speed to market through reduced project cycle time by up to 20 per cent and reduced design costs of up to 70 per cent through reuse of data and design.

The purpose-built Leeds Arena, designed by Populous Architects and completed in 2013 by principal contractors BAM Construction, is an excellent example of reduced design costs. The project team attributes BIM to streamlining early design stages which reduced wastage by an estimated 9,000 drawings. BIM’s collaborative process is also reported to have saved 15,000 collective man-hours throughout the design development stage of the project. Expected design clashes of 100 materialised to just two, saving the project an estimated $350,000.

The award winning Collaborative Life Sciences Building (CLSB), a joint university project in Portland, Oregon, opened in 2014 and is one of 2015 COTE Top Ten Award winners, recognised for its sustainable architecture and ecological design. The $295 million project involved the collaboration of 28 different design teams and directly credits BIM technologies with $10 million in savings on construction costs.

Global construction company Turner acknowledges its utilisation of BIM for reducing clash detection, particularly on complex engineering design. During preconstruction for the Northern Kentucky University’s 9,000 seat arena, Turner’s engineers used 3D modelling to minimise conflicts and clarify design issues during coordination meetings with subcontractors. This process resulted in only two changes made in construction – a substantial result given the complexity and scale of the steel structure, piping and exterior glass.

Closer to home, Australasian firm Architectus positions itself as an industry leader in the practice of BIM to directly improve the quality and coordination of project documentation as well as reduce costs, risks and time on a project. Rodd Perey, principal and group design technology manager, is a regular BIM commentator and industry presenter who demonstrates the wider benefits of BIM and IPD coming from landmark projects like 1 Bligh Street, Sydney.

This $270 million project utilised BIM at a time that was pioneering on a project of this scale. The project’s data capture alone brought together 35 separate models from 32 trades to form the basis of the building’s operational performance and tenancy management. The firm attributes the knowledge gained from 1 Bligh Street to their success on projects like recently completed 100 Mount Street, North Sydney where Architectus developed innovations in virtual construction through BIM integrated design.

Australian architecture firm i2C’s investment in BIM technologies has culminated in their announcement of a strategic alliance with UK-based Ryder Architecture to form the BIM Academy. This alliance is designed to leverage the well-developed UK BIM experience within their Australian practice and offer collaborative opportunities to share this experience with industry locally.

The BIM Academy’s recent workshop brought together 19 Australian companies comprising contractors, consultants and project managers to discuss the current issues in the adoption and application of BIM in Australia.

The success of the BIM Academy seems already evident with its appointment by the Sydney Opera House and in collaboration with AECOM and EcoDomus to deliver a fully integrated FM system. The project forms a key part of the building’s “Decade of Renewal” program to deliver the FM team with the full suite of digital tools to support the ongoing preservation and maintenance of this iconic building.

Mitchell Brandtman works collaboratively with clients to integrate data and innovate to drive savings during design and construction. The team was engaged by the contractor on the $1.8 billion Sunshine Coast Public University Hospital (SCPUH) to work exclusively with models to drive savings. On Stage One of the project, with just four 5D quantity surveyors, the team measured over 60,000 cubic metres of concrete, 800 tons of post tensioning, 4,500 tons of steel reinforcement and 200,000 square metres of formwork for a 150,000 square metre hospital and a 95,000 square metre carpark in a little over four weeks.

A key focus of the collaborative work between Mitchell Brandtman’s 5D QS team and the principal contractor’s cost planning team was to revision all of the quantities quickly against the latest design so that subcontract letting could be completed on the latest designs.

BIM adoption within the construction industry is now significantly influencing other providers to the industry. Due to the collaborative nature of the SCPUH project, the team has been able to recognise anomalies in data transfer and work with the architectural teams to determine how to resolve and export all of the data required to accurately measure particular parts of the design. This in turn involved the software developers, who were able to alter the way the software could expose all of the data and build this into their product upgrades for wider industry applications.

Companies like American-based cloud infrastructure provider Panzura are also benefiting directly from BIM adoption. In September of 2014, the company announced it is on track for a 1,200 per cent increase in revenue from the architecture, engineering and construction sector alone due to the collaborative design requirements for increased storage and fast file sharing capabilities particularly for large scale construction projects.

So what’s in BIM for me?

We now know that the level of investment in project collaboration, information and data management, model mapping and revisioning is directly correlated to successfully delivering a project within budget, on time and with minimal variations during construction. Collaboration, including shared data management and documentation, reduces the risk on a project and delivers a building with known costs for owners and investors.

We also know that correct investment in the project consultancy team up front is the number one determining factor on whether the ROI of the whole project in relation to budget, time and the building’s expected useful life is achieved.

We need to move discussions on from what’s directly attributed or expected as a return on BIM and back to best practice for construction projects.

Those businesses that have invested in the technology have the greatest opportunity to develop their own efficiencies independent of a project’s desire to apply BIM. Those companies embracing the technology while waiting for the industry to catch up are creating leaner, smarter teams able to react quickly to the needs of the projects and clients as BIM comes online in part or wholesale within projects. It is this that achieves the expected ROI for the individual companies and the individual projects and this that will drive the overall ROI from BIM in the future.