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UK BIM Alliance

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UK BIM Alliance: Helping the industry talk to each other about BIM

Su Butcher introduces the new structure of the UK BIM Alliance and talks about what its doing and how you can get involved.

The UK BIM Alliance is a collective of the industry’s BIM interest groups who have come together to help the Construction Industry reach BIM Level 2 Business as Usual by 2020. By coming together, we can co-ordinate what we do more effectively and help facilitate our industry move to implementing BIM.

Whilst many of us have been BIM enthusiasts for some time, we have all been speaking on behalf of our own different groups and, with the exception of the BIM Task Group which has now moved on to other things, there hasn’t really been an independent voice for the industry where people can go for an impartial perspective not affected by commercial concerns. We aim to speak to and for the industry on BIM, and to help the industry speak for itself.

UK BIM Alliance Communications Strategy v1.1Our audience is the industry – not just construction but all professionals involved in the built environment. For many of these people, BIM and Digital Construction is yet to have significant relevance to how they work. We will work with the BIM communities, industry organisations and the media to help communicate with this audience.

The Alliance interest groups span the whole built asset process, from clients through designers and contractors to manufacturers, and across many sectors and areas of interest, and across the country. We do not seek to replicate their work, rather to use that work for the improvement of all.

Think of one of the Alliance’s roles as a kind of dating agency – making introductions and facilitating communication between groups of people across the country already working on promoting BIM. For example:

  • Promoting the work of all the BIM4 groups and Regions to the wider industry
  • Helping find interested and experienced people and putting them in touch with people running relevant projects.
  • Helping the BIM4 Groups and Regions to know what each other is doing.
  • Introducing content (often produced by BIM4 Groups) to events (often hosted by the BIM Regions)
  • Raising funds to support our work and to support specific projects

How do you get 50 interest groups and an industry representing dozens of disciplines to talk to each other? This is a challenge for us within the Alliance as it is on a day to day basis amongst built environment professionals. We have started to put together guidance on communication behaviours, but first we needed a structure in place.

Organisational Structure

Over the last year, the Alliance has developed an organisational structure which will help it support everyone working to our common aim and assist channels of communication.  Our organisational structure has three elements:

  1. Operations,
  2. Projects, and
  3. Engagement

All supported by the Executive Team. Here is a brief introduction to each of them.

UK BIM Alliance Organisational Structure v.1.5

Operations

The operations team looks after the general administration of the Alliance including finances. It also supports the Executive Team who make decisions about how to push forward the Alliance’s objectives. Operations are assisted by a Secretariat which is run by CIRIA.

Operations are setting up a Common Data Environment to share files that will be able to meet our specific needs for security and data sharing standards. We’d like to be an exemplar, of course. The team are also working on a communications hub to facilitate day-to-day internal communications by people within the Alliance.

Meanwhile our website ukbimalliance.org is being developed by Operations into an external hub for people in industry to find information and contact the right group or individual within the Alliance. Here we will publish advice and guidance, opinion and resources with an independent voice.

Projects

The Alliance will run projects in the gaps where they aren’t being run by others, but more particularly we want to help support BIM projects that cut across industry. One of our first projects is therefore dedicated to understanding what work has been done already and where the gaps are.

We are setting up a system to help identify and evaluate potential projects and find volunteers to contribute to them. You can already suggest projects on our website here and volunteer your expertise here.

Current projects include

The advantage of these projects is that because they are Alliance projects they are industry wide and not influenced by commercial interests. Anyone will be able to submit case studies, for example, and they will be rated by a voting system. That said, the Alliance needs assistance from industry individuals to help make these projects happen. Please let us know how you can help.

Engagement

As communications is our major focus, the Alliance’s Engagement team has an essential role. It solicits content for publication across the industry media and is working with a PR company to develop a three-year strategy for communicating with industry about BIM and how to reach Business as Usual. As a first step the team is evaluating the current perceptions of BIM across industry and identifying the challenge that faces us.

Our main source of communicating with the industry remains via the BIM4 Groups and BIM Regions and their meetings and members. Each interest group has its own expertise in its own area, and a wealth of contacts and experience. The Engagement Team is reaching out to all BIM4 Groups and Regions to develop channels of communication both with industry and with other BIM communities.

The Alliance has its own fundraising team, raising funds to pay for alliance operations, projects and engagement. Funders can become Patrons of the Alliance, and there are a range of benefits of patronage [more information coming soon – get in touch if you’re interested]. There are also opportunities to fund specific projects. We’re looking for professional fundraising support to join this team. Contact us if you’re able to help.

At the core of the Alliance are its people, who meet four times a year at The Alliance Forum. People come to Forum meetings out of interest in BIM, representing themselves or one of the many communities or regions. Get in touch if you want to come to the next meeting on 14th September, which will be focusing on Alliance projects.

Working Together

Everyone in the UK BIM Alliance – either in all the communities or in the Alliance itself, are volunteers. People who participate in this group are giving their time and expertise to help move the industry forward, and of course it looks good on your company and personal CV too. If you have read this article and you want to help – be it in a small way by coming to events or in a big way by joining a team, please get in touch – we are sure to be able to find a way to use your skills. 

If you aren’t already, please also sign up to the Alliance Newsletter here so that you can come to events, read reports and articles and keep in touch with all our activities through one simple fortnightly email.