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Technology alone cannot solve the building industries’ problems

I manage facilities for a 400-bed medical center. We are always under construction. We hire architects and they create wonderful concepts—everybody loves the concepts.If we have hired a construction manager to control the design process, we get solid information. If not, we look to the architect for details to assure ourselves that the design meets all of our needs. We get ‘pretty pictures’, but we rarely get dependable decision-making information from the architect at this stage. The images excite our staff. The architect asks us to take it on faith that everything is worked out. The decision to move forward becomes strongly weighted by emotion and not by facts.

   By the time we are able to understand the details, the architect has invested a lot of time developing the design. If everything is on track, life is good. If not, someone spends a lot of money to make corrections. Unfortunately, the costs often fall on us since we approved the ‘pretty pictures’. The tendency is to go ahead after tweaking the concept, since no one wants to spend the money or to start over. When we receive bids in this environment, they are often “drastically over budget. Then everyone panics and the architect gets defensive. The project gets ‘bought out’ or value engineered and things get lost in the process…

   Construction starts, and there are many changes that cost a lot of extra money. We juggle the changes within the contingency, so not everything can get done… Finally we move in but the problems are still not resolved, so… We struggle to run the facility—and problems continue to crop up. Then everybody realizes that we missed something important at the beginning… —Medical Facilities Director

This is the reality facing facility owners every day. For owners that embrace BIG BIM, this world is changing. They are looking at things in a larger context, knowing that they need to understand much more than technology. They know that, in the long run, a world-view that relies on highly complex desktop tools requiring file exchanges and API connections will sub-optimize the benefits and may well be the reason that keeps them from truly achieving the productivity benefits that are possible.

Public and private clients need a building industry that can deliver a sustainable and resilient built environment, on time and on budget, every time. By learning how to easily access just the right data at the proper time to solve the current problem, the building industry can begin to enable a larger conceptual framework that integrates with GiS, non-project business processes and other areas that both gain value and create value for the entire built environment value chain.

As an industry, we need to become an indispensable part of our clients’ success and the future of the built world.

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