I think that perhaps our biggest challenge in BIM is the different industry perspectives/ personalities and agendas that we have within the design/ building construction/ building management space.

Those of us who have been in the BIM implementation space for many years would agree our biggest challenge is always (a) resistance to change and (b) a conflict and misalignment of industry sector values and agendas.

~ M. Van Kolck

Now before I continue I will be clear in stating the following: This blog post is riddled with generalizations simply because without being general I won’t be able to make my point. So if any of my observations offend you feel free to console yourself that they simply don’t apply to you or take the opportunity to see if perhaps there is a slither of relevance in what I am saying.


So let’s have a closer look at some of the misalignment of values and agendas within our industry. All attributes listed below are just my perception and I place no judgement on these observations. There are some very good reasons why certain personality types are drawn to various sectors within our industry. For example, we need engineers to be fixated on practicality, safety and structural or mechanical integrity. We also need our designers to be visionaries so that we build a world filled with less mass-produced, ghost-like, buildings that are void of personality and the imagination of the human spirit.



  • Visionary, Idealistic, Imaginative, Creative, Detail orientated
  • Their identity lies in their unique way of viewing their world and their endless pursuit of creating beauty and spaces that uplift those that experience them
  • Resistance to following any solution that makes them feel less unique. Architects could be found arguing that no single systemized solution could possibly ever apply to them, their client, studio or firm.
  • Resistance to “mass-produced” solutions.
  • Their fear of losing projects to other firms causes them to be far more reluctant to push back when the industry or project demands are unrealistic. As a result the Architects are often the sector of the industry that wears most of the cost in delivering BIM projects simply because they assume responsibilities more easily when other industry sectors drop the ball, refuse to take accountability for certain tasks or make extreme demands.
  • Prone to making too many design variations and creating great strain on project resources and profitability as a result of over detailing their models or specifications.
  • Can be controlling in nature due to having a strong tendency towards perfectionism and wanting to protect their vision.
  • Tend to over detail documentation since they distrust that their design intent will be adhered to without detailed specification. Can be known to over specify.
  • May be more easily influenced by external validation that they are unique and that their quest for beauty is essential, even noble. (Something the software industry has worked out and mastered about marketing to this type of client.)
  • Projects are less likely to be profitable because design variations can consume resources and profits and architects/designers are cautious to charge for too many variations especially when they are often the cause of the next design change/improvement.
  • Staff can become exhausted with imposing high pressure deadlines and endless overtime hours worked, in the midst of constant re-designing of the project vision.
  • Might try to avoid conflict with client in terms of negotiating higher fees or more reasonable project timelines but could raise the roof in the battle for the perfect door tag! ;-)

ENGINEERS (Our Planners / Analysers)


  • Engineers are dominant in their practical mindedness
  • Tendency to share information less freely.
  • Have mastered the art of not demystifying exactly what they do so or how they do it. (E.g. Home renovation TV shows abound but we don’t see a DIY engineering program making prime time TV.)
  • Less concerned with aesthetics, in general.
  • Far more concerned by safety and workability. (As they should be)
  • Feels most comfortable in systemized solutions but does not always like to assume or take ownership of roles or accountability outside their current industry scope of agreed responsibilities.
  • Can be accused of being less pro-active (at times). This might simply be because this industry tends to attract more analytical personality types who may be less swayed with ideals of social integration (as opposed to architects/designers who are hard-wired to strive for harmony)
  • Probably attracts a more methodical, even cautious, personality type that finds value in concentrating on safety, mathematics and problem solving. (Again, this is a good thing and appropriate for their role.)
  • Reluctant to assume accountability for things that are not within their scope
  • Hesitates in modelling too soon for fear that the architects/ designers will change their minds. It would not be uncommon to hear an engineer boasting “We only start modelling our stuff when the architects have finally stopped changing things, which basically never happens!”
  • Architects are often known to assume more responsibility than they should in the BIM model because “the engineer hasn’t started modelling yet”
  • Projects are more likely to be profitable because re-work is kept to a minimum.

CONSTRUCTION (Our Problem Solvers and Building Makers)


  • Can often be quite unsympathetic to the plight of the architect.
  • Known to be frustrated with trying to marry the ideals/visions of the artist with the practicality and affordability of project outcomes
  • Can be less precious about design and concentrates more business/ profitability of building of actual project.
  • In cases where the construction firm is also the client a much larger focus is placed on design but the profits of owning the final building product can help wear some of the design variations more easily than normal Architect/ Design firms can.
  • Tends to dominate the BIM delivery if they are the project client, especially since they benefit directly from the mandates that are made.
  • Are often not consulted right until costing stage of the project which can create disjoin in the BIM integration workflow and result in potential variations later in final project design stage.
  • Generally less focussed on the practical processes, workflows, documentation hours required to achieve BIM models and more attached on the end result of deliverables.
  • Can be labelled as the bully in the play yard. A Construction Manager might argue “It’s the Architect’s problem if he can’t fight back or argue for more commissions if it takes longer to build a LOD 400 model!”
  • Focussed on getting the job done.
  • Often frustrated with high pressure deadlines and problem solving on the run. Dealing with unexpected variables on site and undefined decisions that the Architects or Engineers might have missed along the way.



  • I have always said that QS is a ‘black art’ filled with a keen sense of grounded intuition and complex calculations and considerations of costing, time lines and deliverables.
  • Highly skilled at allowing for all kinds of variables within the construction process.
  • Whilst they are referring to the BIM models more these days to check sizes and quantities I do still believe that much of what a QS manages to do and calculate cannot be defined on a sheet or in a drawing.
  • They are reasonably isolated on most BIM projects and their specific needs are largely unquantified within the industry in terms of general industry understanding of exactly what they need.
  • Creating data for QS’s in terms of costing can often be ineffective or almost meaningless since they often have their own highly intricate costing schedules and formulas that extend far beyond the purchase price.



  • Easily forgotten in the process of BIM
  • Often inundated with far too much unnecessary data and poor management of digital data.
  • Their biggest challenge is being able to allocate the appropriate data easily without having to step over endless amounts of excessive data that is simply not relevant.

SOFTWARE INDUSTRY (The Powerful Industry Persuader)


  • Highly reliant on marketing with extreme effectiveness and ruthless precision to sell their software solutions.
  • They are leveraging of their opportune timing of being able to facilitate BIM collaboration with the use of digital technology.
  • I believe that the Software Giants in this industry sector are deliberately slowing down the pace at which solutions are being released to the industry to some degree. This may sound cynical – I know – but it’s simple business. If the software industry committed to creating an integrated/universal BIM solution within the next 24 months they would not make the same money than if they drag this process out for years on end. Much like the health industry – they make more money when their clients are sick or in need of care.
  • Of course the best way to drag out arriving at any universal BIM solution is to convince their clients that they are unique and that they ‘need’ a customised solution to meet their specific aesthetic and client data needs. They need to persuade the client that a single integrated solution is not possible and they spend a lot of money every year doing exactly that!
  • Improvements in BIM software must be regular and incremental to keep industry hope alive that the BIM challenge could possibly become easier to manage one day. They might call it “clever marketing strategies to ensure long-term viability of their product”
  • The software industry holds the key, resources, capital and skills to many of the digital tools that could redefine BIM in a very short period of time if they had the incentive to do so.
  • Unfortunately BIM Software giants thrive when our industry is misaligned and confused. This is because we are not united in holding them more accountable for improving the speed and efficiency with which to solve the technical aspect of the BIM dilemma.

With all these different industry personalities in our building BIM project environment it becomes obvious why creating a BIM solution would be an extreme challenge. The issue of why BIM is taking longer to solve in the building industry (as opposed to the car industry, as an example) becomes far more apparent. In the car industry the Client is the Manufacturer, Designer and Engineer, their values and agenda are aligned and easily mandated.

Perhaps the best way forward for BIM to really excel in our industry is for the industry to redefine the context within which we interact and to quantify exactly what they cost is when we are not a united front? Maybe it is time for everyone to “own our stuff” and to reflect on whether we are really doing as well as we would like to pretend that we are.

Our industry is not a bad one to work in but I have observed that it can be quite petty, judgmental, arrogant and very egotistical. It seems to me that everyone is so busy making sure that their turf, their job, and their fixed way of being is protected that no one is really working towards true integration for BIM, the project and most importantly – the various project teams and their client. I would like that to change and to see that every team throughout the lifecycle of a BIM project is winning and that some BIM teams are not falling through the cracks so easily. BimBoomBam_Revit_UpsideDownBim-9

Perhaps our goal should not be Building Information Modelling but Building Integration Modelling? Well – that’s enough of my philosophical ramblings… I hope this has also been food for thought for someone else out there in this big wide world.

Let another ripple go forth and make this a better industry to work in by sharing this post if it resonates with you on some level  ;-)



Revit & Business systems by Michelle Louw [Implementation Article – AUGIAECEDGE]

For those of you who have not noticed I’m a bit of a system fanatic ;-p

Recently I was asked to write an article on Revit and Business systems for the brand new E-magazine in the USA called AUGIAECEDGE

Here is a shortcut to my recently published article:  (Page 9 & 10)

Here is the link to the AUGIAECEDGE:


In my opinion I believe the ultimate aim of a Revit® Manager should be to duplicate good quality Revit® knowledge and best practices and standards to all drafting staff within the office.

  • Document Revit® standards in your office. In my experience such documentation results in fewer questions, interruptions, mistakes and unknowns. I even use it as a reference myself if I can’t recall why I set up something a certain way.
  •  Document Processes
  • Have a training strategy in place for training staff of various skill levels, keep expanding and investing in staff training
  • Consider independent review?
  • Teach, monitor, audit and teach some more
  • Auditing can be an invaluable training opportunity


Personally I am not a fan of project specific content hidden in obscure places. I suggest considering a Project-specific-library with sub folders in it for each relevant project number. Consider having all project specific content all in one library location – and not under individual project folders scattered across the server. I think it is a waste of time and resources when users file their families on their C:Drive or in some remote location.

It’s an absurd solution in my opinion and ensures that families will be made over and over again for no good reason, due to inefficient file management. It also makes auditing and monitoring content inefficient and I assert problematic to say the least.


Here are some things that I think and Revit® drafter should be able to look up instantly in your firm. I could go on and on about this but I will refrain from doing so…. This is a very short list that covers a few of the minimal essentials that should be available as a reference for staff instantly in a form of a guidebook or intranet resource.

  • Define Family naming conventions
  • Match family name with a location in library
  • Define Office standards to View naming conventions
  • Define Office standards with Family subcategories
  • Define Office standards in regards to Shared Parameters and Family categories
  • Define Office standards with View Templates and Filters
  • Define Office standards in regards to Phasing
  • Main Office Library. Location, folder structure, management and auditing process
  • Where do you keep Project specific content – Where is it kept? Who reviews it?



The answer is ‘ YES – yes and YES ‘ but for those of you who find my perspective too rigid I have also added some other comments below which might help you come up with a workable, more flexible solution.  Personally PLAN A is the most compromise I would make on any of my systems because I find my methodology works really well when implementing Revit® in larger firms of 100 or more drafting staff.


  • Drafters create a temporary place holder. The required component is ordered & made by approved content creator.
  • The approved content is then loaded into project to replace temporary family and Revit Manager places a copy of the new family in the main library for duplicate use in future. (Or to a project specific folder. * See my comments of Project specific libraries.)


  • Most families are crude cube representations in 3D, with relevant offsets & parametric intelligence. Floor plan and elevation representations of objects are created in line work to ensure they appear correctly in required sheet production views.
  • Drafters could create their own families with 2D representation but these families still need to be audited some how.
  • More sympathetic 3D model representation may then be updated if required for families in specific views that are required for certain presentation or documentation deliverables.
  • Although this is not a sexy option – it may offer a suitable change over solution while libraries are slowly generated.
  • I would say however that certain objects will still need full modeling like doors and windows.


  • Essentially everyone creates their own components themselves. (Anything they need)
  • Dependant on size of office. (Small companies may need to do this but will need strict procedures in place if they want to keep everything in check)
  • Train, monitor, and train some more…… and more….. and more……
  • Have a strict review system
  • Define office standards clearly and meticulously to ensure some standards and automation can be used in Projects
  • Revit Manager should make a regular practice of auditing library weekly in medium-sized firms using this approach.
  • Families can be saved to a location to be approved, edited and issued by Revit Manager (Time consuming)
  • This option can potentially risk file stability, processing speed and office output productivity
  • Company will potentially need to compromise on system automation benefits (depending on auditing process)
  • My thoughts……GOOD LUCK!!!


  • Projects rely heavily on families. If we were to document a project and only had system families to use (like walls, floors, ceiling, topography, stairs and ramps), excluding railings of course, we wouldn’t get very far. So much of the projects environment is based on library content, whether it’s doors, windows, detail components, profiles, furniture, beam systems, lighting, equipment etc.
  • You can’t create BIM data without families Without families (especially non-system families) we won’t be able to offer comprehensive BIM solutions to our customers. That is why it is so important that the content is made accurately and all data is captured correctly in the appropriate data-exporting fields. Software like Navisworks and Cost-X need certain parameters set-up for the Revit® model to be most useful.
  • Office standards are dictated by families Without good and consistent family standards you won’t be able to set up much system automation in your office. E.g. Filters, View Templates, Schedules, Tagging, symbols, details, keynoting etc.
  • Project file stability , accuracy & performance is affected by the quality of families This is widely known by experienced Revit Managers and Autodesk support technicians.
  • Content….. Good quality content is STILL hard to find. Some people have said to me that it’s not possible to predict everything an office will need. And it’s true…. But in my experience – you can come pretty close. Much of the content can be preempted whether it is generic or project specific and I believe it’s best if content is made before hand and is ready for drafters to simply use. (Project specific content can be a bit trickier to anticipate too far in advance) Small offices may not be able to follow this approach, but could over time form a stable and consistent library.
  • Training….. Regular and good quality family training can still be hard to find and can be seen as a luxury, an optional extra, by Management. (This is an all too common implementation pitfall that can have costly ramifications)



Recently I went to a Bentley event to find out more about Bentley Architecture. Fergus Dunn provided some great slides which I think summarize the process and opportunities of BIM quite well. Thanks to Bentley and Fergus for sharing these slides with me and giving me permission to add these slides to my blog. I walked away from the event being impressed with some of the unique features that belong to Bentley Architecture such as spaces and the amazing ability to create mesh forms by using points in 3d. Of course I remain a fan of Revit but I believe there’s the right tool for the right task and I think that it’s important to remain open to all BIM capable software’s that are out there in the industry.

To find out more about Bentley Architecture go to:


I am not going to pretend that I know everything about this BUZZ word “BIM” because I don’t think it is that easy to grasp – The ramifications from a business and industry perspective is huge and so multi-faceted. The current enquiry for me is to move beyond any single software/supplier solution. BIM is so much more than a 3D model stuffed with heaps of “possibly useful” data and some sexy schedules. In this blog I will engage in a dialogue of “What is BIM really and how (as an Industry) do we actually pull this off? “ in the hope that this debate may lead to the expansion of my (and perhaps your) understanding of BIM beyond some of the surface solutions that are being promoted out there that seem to have little substance when I dig a bit deeper and challenge a typical software salesman’s solution.

Frankly – I’m bored of the conversation that everything should be stored in a 3D model and that schedule exports of quantity take-off’s equates to using “BIM”.

I guess technically it is – perhaps defined as “small BIM”. All I can seem to comprehend from my understanding and research is that the true concept of BIM in the context of industry change is far-reaching. I have read journals and definitions of BIM that truly challenge the efficiency of our industry and exposes the depth of data mismanagement and the enormous challenge that lies ahead to address some of the issues. This inefficiency results in project costs blowing out, wastage of resources, materials and the duplication of knowledge multiple times within the life cycle of a project. (Some statistics claim 7-9 times in a project is the same data recaptured by various Departments and specialists) There must be a better way – and in my opinion it means thinking beyond a single platform solution.

I am beginning to grapple with the enormous challenge that comprehensive BIM is asking of the Design and Construction Industry and I am curious to see whether egos will be put aside and territories will be merged within our industry in order to accomplish this enormous task. Of course – there is hope. I remain committed to see a solution that provides a sustainable, duplicative and comprehensive solution that does not result in information overload across Departments and just another version of chaotic Information management.

Does anyone have some insight or comments on how we could go about this?

© Copyright Reserved by Michelle Louw


Welcome to my blog page and I encourage you to use this and other forums to begin to challenge our understanding of BIM (Building Information Modelling) to move beyond 3D modelling, automated drawings and some sexy schedules or dare I mention the promise of the golden egg… “ODBC”(Ahem…. I’m not convinced – yet)

To those of you who have just started the BIM journey I congratulate you in your steps to do so. It is an exciting time. I would also like to invite you to consider these snippets of dialogue in this blog as a way to consider what lies beyond “small BIM” and what it would take to create an explosion of consciousness in regards to Business solutions, Industry ego’s and territories and how BIM fits into that equation? (Across the life-cycle of a project from Design to Facility Management and beyond)