Planning Your Project

22May15

Architects and engineers are faced with managing an increasingly complex ‘ecosystem’ of tools. There is no question that different tools serve different purposes within the design and delivery process. However, connecting the dots into a working ‘pipeline’ can often be challenging. A lack of interoperability between the tools can result in information loss between project stakeholders, which can increase project timelines and negatively impact a team’s ability to iterate on a design.

Interoperability refers to the the ability to make different systems talk to one another. This is more than just a problem of ‘middleware’ or ‘file format’ and should be viewed as a critical project process. At a technical level, ‘interoperability’ might refer to the process of streamlining information exchange between two or more model authoring platforms. At an organizational level, ‘interoperability’ can refer to the ability for different stakeholders to work together towards a common goal.

Loss of information during BIM project
Building information timeline: rework, restarts, and data loss. Source: Phil Bernstein

The National Institute of Standards and Technology estimates that the cost of poor interoperability for new and ‘in place’ US construction amounted to $15.8 billion. A more recent survey conducted by McGraw-Hill estimates that, on average, poor interoperability can contribute 3.1% towards the total project cost.

Rework, restarts, and data loss are measurable consequences of poor interoperability. But ultimately the real cost of poor interoperability is that teams are restricted in how they do their work. This places limitations on a team’s ability to be flexible with their tools. Project teams will often be driven to restrict the range of tools they can use even if there are clear benefits and use cases for those tools. Worse still, a lack of interoperability can limit the amount of design exploration that can reasonably occur on a project as changes become more difficult to adapt to changes.

How can we avoid falling victim to complex data gymnastics and instead ensure we are focused on leveraging the best tools to get the job done?

Read the full article here

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