What will my return on investment be with BIM?” We hear this question all the time. When companies decide to make the transition to Building Information Modeling, it’s common to want to keep track of the numbers that justify the move. Making a design technology and process change will be disruptive and have a cost. In time, that cost will be recouped by the efficiencies inherent in a BIM-based workflow as long as the adopter learns how to implement the technology and adapt in-house processes to harness its capabilities.
Is there an ROI calculator? Sure, there are some available, but they do not factor in human nature. One of the complications of BIM adoption is based in finances. After making a significant investment in software for the BIM process, it’s difficult to also pay for training, workflow assessment, standards development, and support during the transition. Everyone naturally wants to see immediate returns on the first project. The underlying question usually is, Is it really as good as they say it is?
Logically ROI isn’t evident on the first project using the BIM process, at least not for most. Knowing this, firms might tend to wait for others to make the change, then learn from their successes and failures. Some will hire staff who have worked at a firm that adopted BIM expecting that they will have the experience and know-how to transform the firm. Unless that person has a track record of successfully migrating businesses from one process and associated technology to another, then the expectation is unrealistic, especially if the newly hired “BIM guru” really wants to be a design professional first and a BIM manager or implementer second.
How many companies who have adopted BIM or are still thinking about adopting BIM look back in time to the days when the AEC industry migrated from drafting boards to CAD? Yes, sweeping changes have washed over this industry before. Manual drafting predates computers by centuries. CAD and BIM are still new kids on the block, relatively speaking. The more established firms that migrated from manual drafting to CAD have stories about the cost of equipment, lack of industry expertise available and the time it took to train staff, develop standards and ultimately become more efficient and profitable using CAD-based workflows. There are not a lot of industry professionals in the workforce today who have experienced both upheavals. When you do find them, they may be holding positions of leadership in organizations that are viewed as leading-edge in design technology.
There are different sources for BIM adoption and ROI data. Numbers vary and don’t always account for the high numbers of SOHO (small office/home office) firms using CAD. A McGraw-Hill SmartMarket Report listed BIM adoption at 28% in 2007, growing to 71% by 2012. Again, by the numbers, those percentages are driven by larger firms with large numbers of users adopting BIM vs. a much smaller percentage of smaller firms. Many firms indicating they have embraced, adopted and employ BIM workflows and technology do not always expose how much of their work is BIM-based. Some firms are BIM capable in order to compete with larger firms that are BIM proficient.
The ROI for BIM adoption varies by company. Will your firm achieve up to five times payback on the dollars invested in a project like one firm has reported? How much money will you save? Or will you just know that there is value to your firm in using the BIM process? Some ROIs that are difficult to quantify in terms of dollars include:
- Energy savings
- Fewer warranty problems
- Less risk
- Reduced errors
- Efficient LEED calculations
- Fewer RFIs
- Owner satisfaction
- Ability to compete
- Less rework
Anyone can admit that the items on this list have value in terms of cost-savings. You may not be able to point to an exact amount, but the firm’s bottom line will be improved at any rate.
Any successful implementation of new design technologies and workflows requires a deliberate approach based on knowledge of current workflows and changes needed to implement new workflows and technologies. A certain amount of stubborn determination to make it work “no matter what” goes a long way toward successful adoption. Casual implementations either take longer and cost more, or they fail. Successful implementations need a plan, strategy, acknowledgement of the costs, and a willingness to see it through to its successful end. Following a sound plan will ensure a higher degree of success in less time.
To get started on your BIM implementation plan, contact Applied Software today. The industry-trained experts at Applied have been guiding companies through the BIM implementation process since the early days of Revit nearly 20 years ago. They can help you make the ROI list your list.