BIM-Interview – Bilal Succar
1: Dear Bilal, please introduce yourself for the readers of BIMSource.de
Thank you Stephan for this opportunity. I’m a BIM strategist, assessor and researcher based in Melbourne, Australia. I’ve worked in the construction industry for a nearly ten years before focusing exclusively on BIM and digital transformation. I studied many subjects (management, design, fine arts, organisational culture…) and – after a long break – completed my PhD in BIM performance improvement. I’m the director of BIMexcellence.com, an online platform for assessing the performance of individuals, organisations, and teams. I have participated in many industry initiatives, published a number of academic journals, and presented my research/work in a number of countries. I share my thoughts through social media and especially my two blogs BIMthinkSpace.com (intended for the informed practitioner) and BIMframework.info (intended for domain researchers).
2: What is the best thing about your job?
As an independent researcher with my own start-up business, I enjoy the ability to investigate the topics I care about, share knowledge with like-minded professionals, and work with highly-intelligent people from different parts of the world.
3: Do you have a favourite and worth reading BIM / industry related blog/website?
There are so many excellent resources for BIM industry news like BIM+ and BIMcrunch. However, these are not enough to keep pace with the flood of information available on a daily basis. To capture most of what I need, I rely on LinkedIn and my Twitter feed to identify the best resources. Through these, researchgate.net and other social media, I follow the works of many experts and academics who share their valuable insights and provide an endless stream of links to rich content.
4: Do you have a favourite and worth reading BIM / industry related book?
I’ve read many (but not all) BIM-focused books which sadly vary a lot in quality. If I have to choose, the best one to date – I believe – is still the BIM Handbook by Charles Eastman (and others). However, since the BIM field moves much faster than books can be published, I tend to depend more on peer-reviewed journals and conference papers to learn new things. While these are not always fun to read, I find that they provide the best return on effort.
5: From your sight, what are the fascinating possibilities BIM can provide?
BIM provides the language necessary to improve construction efficiency and reduce process waste. Even a minimum capability in using BIM software tools can significantly boost productivity for those using them through data-rich visualisations and documentation efficiency. The benefits increase substantially when organisations start collaborating using model-based workflows. This would allow them to coordinate their respective spatial requirements, improve cost planning and construction sequencing. However, the most fascinating possibilities are only available when project stakeholders move beyond model-based collaboration and start integrating their models with external databases (e.g. GIS and Building Automation Systems), and synchronising all their deliverables across the facility’s whole life cycle.
6: In your opinion, who do you believe is leading the way towards the use of BIM and BIM regulations?
I’m assuming you’re asking about ‘leading countries’ rather than ‘leading organisations’. With respect to countries, there’s no overall leader in the BIM space despite all the hype and publicity. We can only identify leadership in specific areas of BIM adoption. For example, we can safely say that large US contractors are leading the way in exploiting BIM tools and integrated workflows. We can also clearly identify UK’s policy makers as leading the pack in specifications and standards. Finally, we can give the uncontested leadership in open collaboration to Norway and Finland. Having said that, in my view, following the ‘leader’ or – even worse – copying the leader is counterintuitive. Each country should chart its own route while learning from the successes and failures of others. Of course, we need to align the requirements and standardise the deliverables across countries, but each country will still need to define the workflows and procedures that best suit their local culture.
7: In your opinion, how does the future of BIM look? Which part of BIM will be the key role?
BIM encourages process innovation within our industry. As a term, it has a limited shelf-life and there will be a new term to replace it within a few years. However, if we look more widely and not focus on the term itself, there’s a fascinating future for integrated digital workflows within organisations and across project teams. The key to all this is – not tools, standards or protocols but – education. That is, unless we can figure out how best to educate our current and future professionals, then we are bound to miss much of the benefits from adopting BIM tools and workflows.
8: Thank you Bilal for taking time for the interview. One last advice for people who are BIM rookies?
The best advice I can give to every professional and academic is to invest their time in understanding the problems our industry is facing and how we can solve these through open collaboration and knowledge-sharing. There’s so much to be un-learned and much more to be learned: Try to learn as many software tools as possible. Try to learn from the experiences of others by joining user groups. Try to understand the international standards being released and protocols being developed. Most importantly, try to involve yourself in wider discussions than what you typically need in your daily work. BIM is about digital transformation in our industry and there’s a role for each of us to play in it. Finally, thank you Stephan for this opportunity; I’m sure your blog will be an excellent resource for BIM beginners and experts alike.