Monday 14 December 2015

Seasons Greetings 2015

If your able to take some time off this year I hope your able to spend it with family or friends.

It's good to take a break from work to recharge and reconnect, give BIM a break for a little while anyway ;-)

I'll be back blogging again in the new year...

Some things to keep an eye on for 2016 (Revit 2017).

BIM is moving towards being all about data management, from the information we put in (rooms, spaces, equipment, materials etc) to the info that can be pulled out in many different ways for many different uses. “Data Mining” is the next evolution of BIM and if you want to keep up you'll need to be at the forefront of Data management in BIM.

Direct to Fabrication, incorporating elements in your model that will be able to be sent directly for fabrication, this in conjunction with prefabrication... POW! (that's my batman move)

Computational Design.... Really, this is just the beginning of the computers taking over the world.

Enjoy the new Star Wars Movie "The Force Awakens", good to see Han Solo back.

See you in 2016... enjoy.

Oh, and if your south of the equator, look out for those six white Boomers!

Boomer and Gigi

Thursday 26 November 2015

Say Yes

Something I learnt years ago was to say “yes” when asked to participate or take on a role or a responsibility. This has become my philosophy in life, to say “yes” more often. This came about after a colleague, whom I respected, asked me to join a committee he was chair of. Prior to this we had parallel careers, we worked together at an Architecture firm and he quickly rose in the ranks and eventually moved on to bigger and better things. He now plays a senior role in a large architectural firm and is influential in the Architecture industry both locally and nationally.
This has become my philosophy in life, to say “yes” more often.
Early on I realized that I had to make myself stand out if I wanted to move forward. If someone asked me to complete a task I would say yes, even if what was asked of me was outside my comfort level. What I quickly found was that by stepping outside of my comfort zone that saying yes more often not only opened doors to opportunities but it also increased my knowledge and skills.
Start with asking questions, find out as much as you can by asking questions. People don't expect you to know everything and if you explain that your unfamiliar with the task people are more than happy to help, often people are so thankful to find someone who is willing to take on the job that they don’t mind helping you out and guiding you along.
Often I have found that the task or role isn’t as arduous as first thought, and with some guidance and a little ingenuity you’ll be surprised as to how quick you'll be able to catch on.
The point I’m trying to make is don’t let your self-doubt or reserve stop you from moving forward in both your personal and professional life. Don’t be afraid to take on something new, you may be intimidated or doubt your own abilities, but unless you take on the challenge you may never discover your full potential.
Take the risk, take on the challenge and say yes when approached to head up that difficult project, or join a committee or complete a task. I even got to a point  that when a trusted friend or colleague approached me I would say yes even before they asked me… I trusted their judgement and their faith that I have the capabilities to complete the task or responsibility they’re assigning me.
Some have said to me that if you say yes too often that you’ll take on too much or that people will take advantage of you. You, yourself, know the difference between opportunity and when you’re being taken advantage of. Make these opportunities work for you, learn new skills, make key connections and be know as someone who gets things done.   

Wednesday 25 November 2015

I'm off to Autodesk University again this year (2015).

Hope to see you there, if you see me please feel free to introduce yourself. I love meeting people who read my blog.... both of you....

If this is your first time at AU here are some tips.
  • Good luck requesting a Humidifier for your room... they're typically all gone by the time you remember. Just keep a glass of water by your bed at night.
  • Go outside at least once during the day, just to remind you what fresh air smells like.
  • Take a hand sanitizer.... germs are everywhere !!!!
  • Sleep, trust me you'll need it.. and I don't mean during sessions.
  • Dry air and carpet are a great combination to ZAP unwary bystanders.
  • Resist the urge to baa like a sheep during the line up at meal time... and if you do hear a sheep it's not me! ;-)
  • Wear comfortable shoes, your going to be on your feet all day and walking for miles (or kilometers)!
  • Meet as many people as you possibly can. This makes the AU experience more enjoyable and you can make some great contacts which you can meet next time you go. If you see me stop me and say hi. I'll give you a BIM Jedi decal (not approved by Disney).
  • It's Vegas, go down the Strip at night and also go see Fremont Street.
  • It's Vegas, enjoy yourself... but remember your there for a conference which you paid good money to attend, don't waste a day being hung over!
  • Make the event memorable... however don't be "that guy" that everyone remember for the wrong reasons.
  • Travel light. Your packing that c#@!p around with you all day... you really don't need your laptop! 
  • Sit at a different table during meals and introduce yourself to everyone at the table. Take lots of business cards.... trust me you'll need LOTS!
Finally, enjoy yourself !
It's a great opportunity to meet people. I learn the most after the sessions when I talk to people.

See you there!

Wednesday 18 November 2015

Being an Outstanding BIM Manager - 4

4.     Software

How to keep up-to-date on software, including new processes and implementation and roll-out of new or add-in software.

Gone are the days when we would skip every other release and continue working on our old version of software... and even then quite often have to save down to share files with consultants. Nowadays with Autodesk Subscription there are no reasons not to upgrade.

Take advantage of what you pay Autodesk every year in your subscription fees and maximise your software ROI by upgrading and utilising the add-ons and every piece of software you have as part of your sub. If you start missing releases it's a bigger learning curve to catch up... learning curves slow down production!

Our projects are getting larger and more complex, the performance of Revit is improving with each new release.

Get it.
Test it.
Use it.

Work with IT, they need to have an understanding of how you use the software and it’s demands. Explain the ROI of utilizing add-on’s and subscription tools, upper management may not understand BIM but they understand ROI.

That being said, make sure when you implement an add-on or additional tool you roll it out to the right people, you want to maximize its effectiveness and improve its chances of success, you can only do this with the right people who are willing to test new tools… bugs and all.

Friday 13 November 2015

When to Colour Inside the Lines

I’ve often written about giving your team the freedom to explore alternate methods of performing a task, or working through a process. We typically call this thinking outside the box or colouring outside the lines. Here’s the flip side to that, when you need to think inside the box or colour within the lines.

We develop process for a reason, typically to manage quality control and efficiency by providing a means of achieving consistency. When developing a process we explore ways of achieving efficiency in completing set tasks in order to achieve set goals, you invested time and effort exploring alternate methods. I’m constantly looking at ways to improve a process and welcome suggestions and feedback on how the process is working out or could be improved. That being said, you may come across an individual who will second guess every aspect of a process, whether it be through pure enthusiasm, or arrogance, you need to be able to manage this person as they can quickly become a disruption to you and your team.

Clearly explaining why things are done a certain way can quite often clarify any misunderstandings.

Harness enthusiasm
Harness the individual’s enthusiasm by directing their attention to a more productive role. Firstly sit down with the team, not just the individual (you don’t want to single anyone out), and explain the process and why things are done a certain way, if the consensus is that the process is broken or could be improved the individual probably is onto something. If not, and this individual still thinks things can be done in a better way, involve this person in the development of other processes, you may have just found your next QC champion.
If this person is just being disruptive then you may have the wrong team member on your project, it may be best to redirect this individual to a more productive role on another project where they feel they have more control over the project, failing that, it’s time to involve your HR department. It may just be a case of the person feeling underutilized and redirecting their efforts may be a solution.

Don’t misinterpret dissension with enthusiasm.

Colour within the lines
By encouraging your team to colour within the lines you providing them with a set of constraints (not a bad thing) or boundaries that allow them to be creative in a focused direction. Giving your team members a clear set of goals allows them to focus on a task and, when accomplished, gives them a sense of achievement. This can only be done when they have a clear direction or a roadmap to achieving their goal or tasks, this gives them clear boundaries and the confidence that they can then explore these boundaries.

We all do well when given a task and the tools to achieve a set goal, don’t disregard questions about your process, but don’t let it become a disruption to your team.

Direct you team to colour within the lines and encourage them to be creative.

Wednesday 11 November 2015

Remembrance Day 2015

November 11th is Remembrance Day here in Canada.

Unfortunately I'll be traveling on this day, I typically pay my respects by attending the very well attended memorial at our local hockey arena. I'll be paying respects in my own way on November 11th.

I've become a bit of a history buff of the fist world war thanks to my Dad, particularly about the ANZAC's (Australian and New Zealand Army Corp) and the Canadian involvement.

Here are a few great movies to watch this time of year....

Two Australian sprinters face the brutal realities of war when they are sent to fight in the Gallipoli campaign in Turkey during World War I.

The lives of a troubled veteran, his nurse girlfriend and a naive boy intersect first in Alberta and then in Belgium during the bloody World War I battle of Passchendaele.

The Water Diviner:
An Australian man travels to Turkey after the Battle of Gallipoli to try and locate his three missing sons.

And a new one:

Hyene Road:
Three different men, three different worlds, three different wars - all stand at the intersection of modern warfare - a murky world of fluid morality where all is not as it seems.

All good movies worth watching.

Lest we forget....


Monday 9 November 2015

Being an Outstanding BIM Manager - 3

3.     The “BIM Effect”

How does BIM affect the other departments in your firm?

BIM has an impact in all departments such as IT, Human Resources, Marketing and Finance.

If you work in a fully *BIMplimented firm, or are making the transition from CAD to BIM you would have noticed that BIM has an impact on the operation of your business.

As a BIM Manager you can advise and provide valuable information to other departments in the company. Take a good look at your company’s current Work Flow or Flow of Operations manual. Quite often the “Flow of Op’s” is based upon traditional methods of drawing and document creation and doesn’t really fit well with today’s Building Information Technology use in Architecture.

BIM has had quite an impact in the AEC industry over the past number of years and in most cases our traditional Architectural business model hasn’t changed. We need to look at expectations of output and time at each stage. Personally I have found as a direct result of implement BIM that we need more time during Design and Development and less time for Working Drawings. This change impacts contractual agreements, fee structure and client expectations. BIM has had a direct impact on every stage of our Flow of Ops manual from marketing to administration to production.

IT: Internal or Outsourced
Working with IT is critical, your IT support needs to have an understanding of BIM and the demands it has on a project. BIM needs to work in conjunction on IT as IT manages the network, the Revit Server, computer requirements and can be a valuable resource creating scripts etc.

Evaluate your needs for training and your best possible options, if you’re not comfortable instructing maybe you have a power user who may be comfortable instructing or possibly you have external resources available.

HR: Staff Selection and Training
Who knows your technical staff better than you do?

Who can evaluate a potential employee's BIM skills better than you? Be a part of the interview process, even create a BIM or Revit skills evaluation test. Typically I can decipher how good a potential employee's Revit skills are just by talking to them and asking them pertinent questions.

You know your technical staff's skills better than HR, it's up to you as the BIM Manager to improve your technical staff's skills by making training and education options available.

Same applies to team selection, you know the best people for the type of project, their skill sets, what types of projects they like to work on and also when and how to "push" them forward and place them in a team position to help them move forward.

As an active BIM Manager you will have the best knowledge of your staff’s skillsets. Quite often you will know who the best person capable for a specific project.  I communicate regularly with project managers and discuss what Tech’s are available (or coming available) and make suggestions which people would be suited for project teams. Keep in mind that you don’t want to burn out your Revit Power Users, typically after a particularly arduous project I’ll give that team a break and recommend them for a simpler “fun” project, and on the other hand I’ll gently push those tech’s that I think are ready for it to step into the role of Project BIM Captain. Resist the urge to step in and take over a project… it’s not your role.

Finance: BIM’s impact on the bottom line
Traditional billing method still working for ya? How about billing?

Advise the project manager on time line expectations and billing time line.
BIM has changed the typical design time line and unfortunately the billing sequence still does not reflect that change.

BIMplimented - Full BIM implementation. A firm utilizing BIM technology to accomplish its goals as a profitable entity.

Make time to know your colleagues in other departments, eat your lunch with them, greet them in the elevator. By getting to know your colleagues that are “outside your circle” you’ll develop a better understanding of the challenges they face and see ways where you each will be able to help one another.

Educate your colleagues (marketing, finance, HR, event reception) on BIM and it’s impact of the business, this will give them a better understanding of the benefits of BIM and your role in the company. You don’t necessarily need to run a workshop for them just have a conversation.

Participate in the staff meetings, give updates on new features, tools or even give your perspective on where the technology is going and how it will impact the industry.

Monday 2 November 2015

Being an Outstanding BIM Manager - 2

2.     Quality Control

Outline, develop and maintain a quality control process. Examine your documentation of protocols and procedures around the design process, strategies for sharing and working with consultants, and how the Revit model can be used with other software and consultants.

The BIM manager must develop and maintain the BIM support files and documentation including the structure, development and maintenance of templates, define what constitutes a comprehensive component library, and outline how to develop and maintain a quality assurance and quality control system. 

Examine your internal documentation of protocols and procedures around the design process, strategies for sharing and working with consultants, and how the Revit model can be used with other software and consultants.

Having a manual is great…. When people read it and keep it handy. My experience is that after the standards document is created it is quickly out of date and easily forgotten and left on the shelf. By incorporating your standards into the template it makes it easier for people to follow.

Don’t be so rigid in your standards, they’re a guideline not hard and fast rules! Our industry is full of creative people who need boundaries but not fences. If it works and doesn’t adversely affect the process (ie; keeps the look and information consistent) give your staff the flexibility to improve how things are done, this can only be done if they have permission to “colour outside the lines”.

The “What”
      What exactly do we need to change?

The “How”
      How are we going to do this?

What are the Goals?
·       Produce a BIM Management system that meets the organizations goals of profitability,    consistency, efficiency and accuracy

·       Establish a collaboration and communications plan

·       Clearly defined BIM work plan – BIM Execution Plan

·       Consolidation of all BIM supporting documents

·       Address the needs and concerns of Project Managers and Technical staff

·       Structured in accordance with the existing flow of operations

·       Introduce/reference a quality assurance and control process (QAQC)

How we currently collaborate – the “traditional process”
  - File Exchange – VPN, Email, C4R…

  - BIMx, LOD Matrix, BIM Lead Meetings

  - Our consultants level of expertise in BIM

  - Their knowledge has an impact on our ability to deliver

  - Our level of expertise in BIM

  - Source out your Revit Rock Stars

  - All other aspects of our business including:
      Project Management
      Marketing and Business Development
      Human Resources

Ask when the last review of your companies QAQC process was updated.

Get organised! I know it takes time and we all have tight deadlines on projects, but nothing can create “time” like being well organised. Start with your own desk, take time each day to get organised and plan what you want to achieve that day, even if it all goes awry for the most part you’ll be able to check off your “to do “ list and get more accomplished.

Ask for feedback, you don’t have all the answers and getting other peoples perspectives widens your view of how things can be improved upon. Ask what works and what doesn’t work.

Buy some colour pencils and a colouring book, colour outside the lines… ;-)

Monday 26 October 2015

Being an Outstanding BIM Manager - 1

1.     Business Development and Direction

Examine how and where BIM can improve your business opportunities.

Advancing the BIM Agenda in your firm
Talk to the decision makers and present to them the benefits and capabilities of BIM.

How can we educate our clients to take advantage of our services.
Be a part of the initial project process, talk to the clients about what BIM can for the benefit of the project. Make the promotion of BIM a marketing opportunity for your firm.

Business opportunities utilizing BIM
What opportunities are out there utilizing the power of BIM; QTO, Visualization, Marketing, AR, VR.... etc....

Through the adoption of collaborative delivery practices, project outcomes are enhanced through the alignment of the goals of the project team and early involvement of all members of the project team.

Things to consider when establishing your BIM project are:
  • Who should be included in the team
  • Establishing principles of trust
  • Methods for enhancing effective collaboration and information sharing
  • Ensuring team success through successful collaboration
  •  Establishing project team decision making process
If you are not in a position to educate the decision makers start at a level where you can. 

Start with your peers, introduce them to new tools and features they may not be already using, you will quickly be known as one of the “go to guy” in your office and this will elevate you to a position where you will have an influence on those around you where your comments will be heard and given the proper consideration they deserve.

Next time you have the opportunity to speak with senior staff mention how aspects of BIM can be utilized for the benefit of the project. For example next time you’re in the elevator with a partner or project manager mention to them ways that the model and be utilized for the benefit of the company or the project.

Plant the seed….

Thursday 22 October 2015

Integrated Design Process - Where is the Value?

On Wednesday November 18th I'll be facilitating an executive event on BIM and the construction process titled: An Integrated Design Process - Where is the Value?

BIM and the effort towards a more efficient design and construction process is changing the way we design and build. How we communicate. How we collaborate. Yet, many organizations are struggling to see the results that BIM has promised.

BIM is a key tool for the success of a process that has existed for years - an Integrated Design Process (IDP). Join us for a series of presentation in which your peers will discuss how they are applying the concepts of IDP and where they are seeing the value.

The key takeaways from this event are:

  • A practical approach to using BIM as a catalyst for the long accepted concept of an Integrated Design Process
  • The difference between an Integrated Design Process (IDP) and Integrated Project Delivery (IPD)
  • Current industry challenges and expectations.
Download the full event brochure.

This full-day event includes three presentations from five speakers, including a primer on innovative approaches to project delivery, and tips on how best to implement architectural and structural collaboration.

The seminar presents a unique opportunity to gather with like-minded individuals and mingle with experts in the BIM field; spaces are limited, so don’t miss out!

Registration fee is $250 per person. 

This will be a great opportunity to gauge the effectiveness of IDP projects and see how IDP is having an effect in our local market.

Click here to register. 

See more at:

Dear Architect... Please don't adopt BIM

Dear Architect.

Please don't adopt BIM, there really is no point.

Look at it this way, you won't ever get the opportunity to work late coordinating plan views with the elevations and sections. When your client makes a last minute change, if you adopted BIM, you won't be able to spend numerous hours chasing down changes in each view.... sorry, I meant viewport.

If you took on the onerous challenge of changing your culture and mindset to BIM what would you're clients think? Your clients have expectations. Drawings with your signature look is what’s important to them. What would the consultants think if you sent them a 3D Mode asking them to "collaborate"?

Just what can BIM modeling software do that 2D cad can't do anyway? All you’re doing is creating pretty pictures, no real value there! Where's the fun in not being able to track, coordinate and schedule all 300 doors by hand, mmm what fun!

Don't adopt’s a gimmick anyway and it won't last. Stick with what you've been doing for the last 20, sorry, 30 years. It’s working for you, right?

Adopting’s too hard… your staff doesn't want to do it and your computers can't handle it!


Your Competition.

Tuesday 20 October 2015

Get down on one knee

No, it’s not a proposal…

I use to work with a Senior Architects (later partner) who, whenever he was explaining something to you, he would get down on one knee beside your chair and patiently explain the detail or the design to you. He basically would get down to your level so he’s not “looming” over the top of you or leaning over your shoulder.

As junior staff member this senior person would make the effort to engage with me, a member of his team, at my level. This gained him so much respect and admiration from his staff that people would enjoy working with him and would go the extra mile to make sure tasks were completed to the best of their ability (or quite often better). We all wanted to please this person who was in a leadership role, we felt that he not only respected out capabilities but he also appreciated our efforts.

This individual has made such an impression on me that I adopted his technique of “getting down on one knee” when engaging with my team members one on one.

Engaging with your staff is important, at every level from the CEO to Custodian, each person has an important role in the business and has something valuable to contribute, make them feel valued by engaging with them on a human level.

Engagement is a fine line, you still need to be an authoritative position but also be seen as approachable. You should aim to be a great colleague, as opposed to a great friend, because one day you may have to discipline (or worse) a team member and there’s nothing worse than losing a friend because you had to do your job.

Get down on one knee to be engaging. ;-)

Wednesday 30 September 2015

Give your team the tools to succeed

Developing process to create inefficiencies.

Why develop a process
In a factory where your typical smart phone is assembled, there is a production line. Someone has put a lot of thought about that production line, the process of fabrication and how efficient the process of assembling a smart phone is.

The same applies to the design industry, however our focus is typically on the process of creating the design instead of production of the design.

Without an effective documented process and resources you’re production team is prone to inefficiencies. Every building is a “prototype”, however we still have the opportunity to create inefficiencies in the production process.

Get an “insiders” point of view
When I first became a BIM Manager I joined our project team to get an “insider’s” look into the production process. What I found was that without a process in place the team was not performing to their maximum efficiency, in fact they were performing at about %70 efficiency due solely to the fact that there was no process in place guiding them effectively through the production of the drawings.

These were capable people with many years of experience working on complex projects, the team had worked in the office together for many years, yet it was the first time that they have all worked together as a team in this configuration.
Without a team management process your team members lack a high level of monitoring and guidance that would allow them to be fully productive, work was being replicated and some tasks were not beings addressed causing friction and delays in the project production.

It was time to review our processes.

Develop a process that works
From this experience I developed a series of processes and resources that help the team become more efficient. We not only reviewed and modified the process of completing projects, we also looked at how the teams were assembled, how the team was structured and the dispercement of roles and responsibilities. By clearly defining the tasks of each individual we provided each team member with clear expectations.

The team should not only have a process to follow but also have available to them the resources to be efficient in their tasks. Having unreliable resources, or worse yet resources your team are unable to find, gives them permission to create their own content essentially disregarding any quality control and wasting time.

Review your own processes with fresh eyes to see where you can make improvements, look at it from the standpoint of production and what resources you would need to efficiently complete the task at hand.

Tips on developing your process
Develop a process of production and create the resources to back it up. We spent a significant amount of time evaluating our existing processes, what was working, what wasn’t working and what holes existed in the processes. Through reviewing and developing processes we were able to clearly define the flow of operations at all aspects of our business.
  • Make your process easy to follow, keep it clear and easy to understand, don’t make a process too constraining or onerous or you’ll find that no one will follow it.
  • Make your process flexible to accommodate a variety of situations or project types.
  • Make it easily accessible, if it’s too many “clicks” away people will get lost and not bother.
  • Provide information on the process in a variety of formats, such as online, printed booklet form, pdf etc.
  • Have upper management promote and endorse your process, this will help with adoption.

Stages of developing a process

Continual promotion of your processes will take time, monitoring your team and constant reminders will need to happen as you develop a culture that follows the processes. If your processes are good you’ll find adoption, if not review the process with your team to find out how to make it better.


Thursday 24 September 2015

Revit Shortcut Guide

Autodesk have a excellent resource available in the form of a Revit Shortcut Guide.

From their website you can jump to a specific section or download the Revit Shortcut Guide PDF to either print or have available as a downloadable resource for your staff.

The Shortcut Guide is a great resource for all levels of Revit users including beginners all the way through to my power users.

Check it out.

Wednesday 23 September 2015

Being Organised

One key to being an effective manager is your own personal organisational skills. Not only the ability to organise other peoples, tasks, schedules, priorities and goals but to be able to organise your own!

Being an organised person gives you credibility to those around you, being seen as a prompt, well organised person gives the impression that you’re a confident person that is capable of getting things done right and on time, people will value your opinion and listen to your thoughts…
All this just because you’re organised.

So what does being organised mean?
Being organised allows you to focus your thoughts and tasks so you can be more effective in your time management by scheduling your tasks according to priority.

When you feel overwhelmed by your workload, creating a list will help you focus on addressing the critical items first. By clearly developing a list of tasks and prioritising them gives you focus and a clear plan of action. Having a plan relives you of the stress of an overwhelming workload by breaking your workload down into manageable tasks.

Here’s a tips on how to develop your “to-do” list.
Write a list every morning of the tasks you wish to accomplish that day, then sort them according to priority. Write down everything, from the simplest task such as replying to a specific email or phone call to the most complex, throughout the day add items to my list and change priorities if need be.

Tackle the most challenging tasks first, addressing the most challenging tasks first gives you a sense of satisfaction, even just starting a task or an action gives you a since of relief and puts you in a positive frame of mind for the rest of the day.

Break down your tasks into long term and short term, keep notes by your list items on the status and only cross off the item once completed or transfer the item to a current list.

I have two lists, I have a large “Tasks and Goals” book where I keep track of the big picture items, my long term tasks, goals and ideas are all kept in one place. I also have a secondary smaller “Daily Tasks” book where I write down my daily or weekly tasks as well as items I need to address later in the week or for when I’m in a meeting or in a specific office. This is part of my preparation for the week ahead, allowing me to start planning ahead.

When you’re feeling overwhelmed take a break and pick one of the easy items on your list, by ticking off completed items on your list will add to your feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment.

Don’t feel guilty about spending time getting yourself organised in the morning, spending time getting your thoughts together and how you plan on tackling the day ahead. This will put you in a good frame of mind for the rest of the day an prevent you spinning your wheels on items that will side track you from what you really want to accomplish that day.

Put your list in a prominent place on your desk, in plain sight so you can refer to it often allowing you to maintain your focus.

Finally: Feel the sense of satisfaction at the end of a hard day’s work as you review your completed list! There’s nothing better at the work day to go over you list with a sense of accomplishment as you mark off the tasks you have addressed throughout the day. Any unfinished items will be a good start to the next day’s list.

Great… now I can check “write article on lists” off my to-do list. ;-)