An investigation into BIM and Assessment Methods


by: Ammar Azzouz, MSc. Alexander Copping, Ph.D. and Paul Shepherd, Ph.D.

Current BIM Assessment Methods (BIM-AMs)

Research in the area of BIM-AMs has matured noticeably since BIM was first coined as a term more than a decade ago. Over this period, the BIM field has witnessed a growing body of development in the number of methods and tools developed by academics and professionals (CPI, 2011; VICO, 2011). Since the first AM was developed in 2007, research into BIM-AMs has evolved increasingly, but is still lagging behind other AMs, such as green building assessments (Kam, Senaratna, Xiao, & McKinney, 2013b). Some of these BIM-AMs have more significant strengths and weaknesses than others; for example, some tools are more user-friendly, easy to apply and practical, whilst others are difficult to use and require more time to complete. The literature of BIM-AMs focuses on either software or procedural aspects of the BIM implementation process (Succar, 2010). NBIMS-CMM, which was developed in 2007, focused only on the technical part of the BIM process. However, while the development of AMs has proliferated gradually since then, more recent research has observed the limitations of the previous tools and addressed more factors to be measured. Consequently, in the past few years, BIM-AMs have shifted from evaluating one aspect of BIM to assessing wider measures related to people, business processes, technology, communication and information exchange. This paper attempts to address the limitations and challenges of these AMs by presenting a brief history of the development in the BIM-AMs field.

From the perspective of this paper, current BIM-AMs have a number of limitations. Three of them are posed; inaccessibility, absence of documentation and subjectivity. Firstly, some of the current BIM-AMs are not readily accessible in terms of methods development, because of public access and cost issues. bimSCORE (2013) is an AM that provides a brief free assessment online (FREE 004 version). However, it requires a fee to access its ‘NOW 010’ version, which provides written and concise results on BIM maturity. Another issue related to inaccessibility is the restriction on some of the AMs to be used only within their original research team, due to their commercial value. The Owner’s BIMCAT is the latest AM, developed by Giel (2013) for her PhD at the University of Florida. Unlike other researchers on BIM-AMs, Giel provided a comparison of the existing AMs presenting areas of similarities and differences. However, the thesis itself is inaccessible until 2015. The second limitation of the current BIM-AMs is the lack of documentation where some of the methods were developed and no further research was carried out. The ‘CPIx BIM Assessment Form’, the only AM developed in the UK, is available on-line in PDF format, but it lacks publications describing the concept of the tool and the certifying process (CPI, 2011). Similarly, another AM, was developed a number of years earlier, ‘BIM Proficiency Matrix’, and was not supported with further documentation (Indiana University, 2009). However, the main limitation is the absence of publications on the conceptual and methodological approach of this tool. In general, the reasons behind these two barriers, the inaccessibility and lack of publication, could be due to agreements that some researchers sign with their funders, or the lack of support and funding for further studies on their work.

The third limitation of the existing BIM-AMs is the inherent problem of subjectivity. Research on BIM-AMs relies on high levels of qualitative measurements to evaluate BIM implementation. Factors of measurement included in these tools are subjective and qualitative in their manner. Exceptions can be found in only a few of the identified AMs where researchers attempted to include both qualitative and quantitative measurements (VDC Scorecard and Characterisation Framework). They addressed quantitative factors such as time spent on creating model and number of stakeholders creating and reviewing it. A major criticism of subjective measures is that they rely on the personal judgement of participants, which is influenced by their level of knowledge and current status in the organisation, whereas objective measures are more quantitative and exact (Nicoletti & Pryor, 2006).

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