The #5 Reason to Implement IWMS in 2015: BIM and Facility Management

Bob Fahlin's picture

The integration of BIM into FM has been a long standing goal of many organizations and interest groups. There are several examples of early attempts at this integration across several existing CAFM and IWMS offerings. Despite the fact that many of these features have been available for a relatively long period of time, but adoption rates of this technology have been trivial at best. Why is this?

The integration of BIM into FM has been a long standing goal of many organizations and interest groups. There are several examples of early attempts at this integration across several existing CAFM and IWMS offerings. Despite the fact that many of these features have been available for a relatively long period of time, but adoption rates of this technology have been trivial at best. Why is this?

There is no single answer to this question, but hear is one answer. Many of the existing integrations of BIM and FM are heavily weighted towards traditional BIM technologies and user paradigms, ignoring the specific needs and use cases of facility managers and maintenance workers. This is not to say there is no value proposition for owners and operators in leveraging BIM for facilities management and maintenance activities. In fact, if done correctly, the value to the entire management life-cycle of buildings can be significant, maybe even a game-changer.

Where these early integrations have failed is in recognizing the specific use cases and interaction patterns of facility managers and maintenance management professionals. While there are some limited instances in which direct interaction with models and their 3D visualization can be useful, more often than not, it is the underlying data and relationships that hold the greatest value. Delivering this data in a manner consistent with how facility professionals work today is the key to wider democratization of Building Information Modeling and the value proposition it provides. As an industry, we need to step back and understand the specific needs of our users and the problems they are trying to solve. We need to consider how they work today and provide them with cost effective, solutions that tear down the barriers between adopting technologies and delivering solutions to specific problems.

What I personally find so interesting is that from a technology perspective we are on the verge of delivering capabilities that, until now, have only been seen in the movies. The ability for facility managers and maintenance workers to see through walls, floors and ceilings to view the infrastructure they conceal is enabling field technicians to interact with building automation and monitoring systems while simply looking at the equipment and infrastructure they control. This technology integrates spatial tracking capabilities am mapping support with geospatially tagged BIM data. This is an incredibly important new ability, and yet we continue to struggle to convey the value inherent in the technology.

At this very moment we have taken a step back from spouting the "awesomeness" of the technology. Instead we are focusing on listening to the specific needs of the various stakeholders in the building life-cycle management process. We are more focused on delivering solutions that solve their problems rather than simply forcing technology upon them. Listening to their needs is leading us to simplifying access and interactions with BIM technologies. We are eliminating the traditional high cost tools and steep learning curves that have long stood as barriers to adoption. And, moreover, we are delivering real solutions to real problems that feel natural and fit the needs of individual users.


One additional thought on this subject by Nancy J. Sanquist:

I recommend two publications:

  1. McGraw Hill Construction’s Smart Market Report, The Business Value of BIM for Owners which describes the growing importance of BIM and FM. It also lists all of the government mandated BIM programs around the world.
  2. BIM for Facility Managers, by Paul Teicholz available from the IFMA Bookstore.

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