Does Your Project Need a BIM Coordinator?

The benefits of a model-based construction process are obvious, but you cannot achieve them without some extra effort. Interoperability is still an issue when different project participants with diverse design systems and varying maturity levels try to cooperate. A new role, BIM coordinator, has emerged in Finland to help collaboration in the new era.

Finnish construction projects have used project document servers for over 20 years. It has become a norm that the client provides a project server for the exchange of CAD and other documents. Now more and more companies are exchanging building information models instead of traditional CAD files.

Models that are out of date or incompatible undermine the benefits of BIM. Someone has to coordinate the process and check that the models actually work together. The responsibility falls naturally into the hands of the architect. However, many architects lack the knowledge and resources to actually do the job. Instead, the client or the architect can hire a BIM coordinator.

The work of the BIM coordinator starts by setting up goals for the project’s BIM workflow: the kind of models there are, why they will be created, and how they will fit together. The coordinator carefully maintains a collection of models from different sources and makes sure that the information is interoperable and up to date.

One of the leading figures in BIM management is Tomi Henttinen, founder of Gravicon. His firm not only provides consulting services, but also develops software. Gravicon was the BIM consultant for the demanding Helsinki Music Centre project. Tomi mentioned in a recent press interview (Rakennuslehti 7.2.2013) that adequate planning before a project actually kicks off is a critical success factor for BIM. He also stated that the use of BIM usually increases design costs, but that the investment is worth making when you consider the whole construction project.

A BIM coordinator can provide many value-added services during a project, like requirements management, quality check-ups, quantity takeoffs, and data conversion. For the moment, coordination services are badly needed, at least on the most demanding projects.

Photo of the Helsinki Music Centre by Aarni Heiskanen