The tendency with BIM is to think of it as an approach that’s solely used by larger, public sector businesses or government projects. And while those bigger companies are often seen as BIM guinea pigs, the benefits afforded to them mean that SMEs shouldn’t sit back and wait until it’s adopted by others first. Rather, small to medium-sized businesses could benefit from investing fully in BIM in order to gain from its advantages.

Here we’ll touch on BIM with regard to SMEs, including its benefits, any challenges that might face SMEs, and some expert advice from those in the know.

What are the benefits of BIM for SMEs?

Generally, the benefits of BIM for SMEs are the same as those for bigger businesses and government projects.

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Enhanced Communication

Communicating with clients is made easier, too. Architects, engineers or designers may well be used to speaking to others in their field, but to the outside layperson, their concepts and language might be too difficult for a client to fully grasp. BIM accelerates communication by presenting technical information in an interactive format. And since things are updated in real time, everyone stays up-to-date on even the smallest of changes.

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More Cost-Effective

Some SMEs may fret about the cost of BIM, but in the long term, it’s a remarkably cost-effective approach to take as it ensures mistakes at the construction phase are avoided. This failsafe, known as clash detection, is invaluable if problems arise at a later stage. Since every step is recorded, users have a record of every step in the lifecycle of a structure. As a result, the amount of documentation is reduced, as there’s no need to worry about duplicated or re-designing certain things, saving you a whole load of time as the process moves on.

Greater Collaboration

Even for SMEs, BIM allows for greater collaboration between all members of the team. Thanks to BIM’s cloud functionality, smoother and more streamlined communication is easily possible. Designs can be viewed and reviewed, and there’s no need to worry about files disappearing or becoming corrupted because all the history or a project’s evolution is securely stored.

Better Continuity

At the heart of BIM is the idea of a streamlined workflow. Since the process supports the entire building lifecycle process, from its inception to its construction all the way to its demolition later down the line, all aspects of a project’s lifecycle can be documented and updated. This means no data is ever lost, providing a clearer, smoother journey to the end of the project

Improved Visualisation

At the design stage, 3D modelling allows for a real-world imagining of a project. From detailed floor plans to its overall energy performance, the whole design can be viewed before the construction stage starts.

How should SMEs get started with BIM?

  • Weigh up your purchase options

    There are plenty of options open to SMEs when it comes to purchasing a BIM solution. Now more than ever, you’ll find purchase models with lower upfront costs. These purchase models, such as desktop software rental and cloud solution licenses, a smart decision for smaller companies.

    These are temporary measures that reduce the cost risks if your business finds itself in a fallow period after a boom in business. If the work truly starts to dry up, then they can stop renting or licensing until business recovers. This keeps upfront costs low and lets businesses tailor their budgets to incoming opportunities.

  • Find solutions that encourage cloud and mobile accessibility

    In finding a BIM solution, look for those with cloud capabilities. Being able to access models, blueprints and other job data is essential in this day and age. Cloud and mobile accessibility in conjunction with BIM illustrates the latter’s ample flexibility, a must for modern businesses.

  • Take it a step at a time

    BIM has a wealth of features at its disposal that may seem overwhelming at first. The important thing is that for SMEs attempting to implement BIM, they shouldn’t worry about using all of these features from the start. Instead, they should focus on learning a process that solves an individual problem, then look at solving subsequent problems one by one.

  • Get support from senior members of the team

    Although BIM promotes collaboration, it’s important that the people in the highest positions remain convinced of its potential. Without this support, BIM implementation will not be successful. Somebody driving the idea forward will see quick changes in day-to-day operations as a result. And since smaller business have fewer workflows and policies installed, it could well actually be easier to get these changes put in place compared to larger businesses.

Are there any major challenges that may face SMEs?

The cost of implementation

Cost of Implementation

The cost of implementing BIM is something of a myth that tends to be off-putting to those unfamiliar with the process. While the upfront costs can be pricey (if you don’t look in the right areas), even so, the longer-term benefits serve to counter the initial expense.

Technical barriers

Following on from the above point, with everyone carrying out daily tasks, and directors and managers unlikely to get their hands dirty, who is responsible for producing the data itself? If everyone is too busy, someone from outside may need to be brought in which could become a problem for businesses looking to keep costs low.

No time to change the old system

As well as resistance from the top level of staff, BIM adoption may meet barriers simply for reasons of time. If you’re used to doing one thing and business is booming, it could well be a challenge to switch systems around when time is of the essence.

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