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October 02, 2015

BIM Track: The Origins

We have heard a number of times since the announcement of BIM Track: "Wow, where did this idea come from?". To understand the context that helped us create and sculpt the idea, let us tell more about the history of BIM Track: where the need came from and where we are heading.

Open minds and open data

The story all started with the Québec City airport extension’s project team innovative mindset. Rolling back a few months ago, BIM One’s consulting team were assessing different building information management (BIM) solutions on the market to support the 100M$ extension of the airport. After a number of tests and reviews, none of them were offering the minimum requirements that a good collaboration platform should have. We then brought this idea to life with the help of the firms working on the project: GLCRM ArchitectsSNC LavalinStantecWSP and the client Aéroport de Québec Inc. We realized that BIM is a disturbing process, as the existing order of things needs to change to allow the optimized process to take place and bring its' benefits to the project. Sometimes what should work well doesn’t.

Tracking numbers and managing by evidence is what we learned on the field. A process should always be tested out by collecting data on how well it is working and by seeking continuous improvements in value. Always seek proof and don’t assume an improvement has been made. Because the client BIM’s expectations were so high, we had to find a way to test what worked and what didn't, so we implemented a system that helped us track performances through precise metrics.  The platform then became a way to confirm we had achieved project milestones with a proper level of collaboration and coordination: the key to successful project delivery. The best people to improve a process are the people who carry out the process themselves. By empowering the people operating the process with proper technology, we ensured the best possible project outcome.

The need for an organized collaboration process

We have all seen a number of project management fails in our time. A number of them are caused by uncontrollable circumstances but some of them are related to a poorly managed collaboration workflow. Our vision is that a good collaboration process should be quantifiable and transparent. A holistic approach to understanding project management performance is to treat each event as an entry in a timeline. It works a bit like a news feed. Imagine people exchanging data through a unique hub, the platform creating the collaboration performance metrics, and linking them to a project schedule. This method allows us to understand the impact of each decision on the coordination process.

The next generation of openBIM workflows

So what is coming next? A lot of current trends in the BIM process comes from other industries such as virtual reality from the gaming industry or laser scanning from the surveying industry but we believe that the next big thing will come from the inside. It’s called efficiency and optimization. Creating value by reducing waste, this is what the Lean management concept is all about and this is exactly what we do. Things have been moving so fast in the past decades that the terms “system integration” and “interoperability” have been forgotten by a lot of people. Working in a fast-paced environment, we rarely have time to think about doing things in a more efficient way, squeezed as we are between schedules and fees. In fact, we often don’t think about how we do the work, we just do it.

BIM Track's goal is to figure out how the work gets done and go about this in a systematic way. Processes are not perfect and if by some miracle it is, it won’t stay that way for a long. Being able to repeat the steps required to assess a process is the key to delivering long-term, sustained value. Our development team works on a different approach to creating value from the inside by reducing redundant inputs. What’s coming next on our design board is even more exciting, so stay tuned.

Carl Veillette

Co-Founder, Vice-President Innovation & Technology

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