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What’s a BIM Execution Plan and Why Should MEP Firms Have One?

The construction industry is by now well acquainted with the concept of Building Information Modeling, or BIM. It isn’t completely ubiquitous yet – especially in a global framework – but this 3D model-based process has changed the way many architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) professionals plan, design, build, and operate buildings and infrastructure.


As the construction industry learns more about BIM, a BIM execution plan will become necessary. This 3D model-based process has changed the way many AECO professionals plan, design, build, and operate.


BIM files provide incredibly detailed and information-rich collections of data. These can be accessed and collaborated on by numerous stakeholders and participants, from designers to contractors and owners. A BIM project must also be put into action, however, and a detailed BIM Implementation Plan can help interested parties, including mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) firms to make the most of the technology.


What is a BIM Execution Plan?

A BIM Implementation Plan, also known as a BIM Execution Plan or BEP, is now an essential element of many construction projects, especially for particularly large or complex projects with a number of different parties in collaboration. The plan can principally be used to help ensure that all parties are on the same page when it comes to collaborating and taking the project forward. It should show an overall plan of execution, keeping the big picture clear and in focus. In the UK’s BIM Level 2 standards, for example, it is defined as a "plan prepared by the suppliers to explain how the information modeling aspects of a project will be carried out".

Why MEP firms should have one

Communication is key in any collaborative project, and this certainly holds true in the construction industry. An MEP firm working on a large project plays an important role, but is still only one cog in a larger machine. A BIM Implementation Plan can ensure that every player and stakeholder knows the part they should be playing and when – as well as what to expect from other individuals, teams, and organizations.


What information is in it

There is a lot of information that should be included in the plan, including how the data in the actual BIM files should be generated, managed, documented and shared. It should include elements such as agreed roles and responsibilities within the BIM process, a strategy for key deliverables, and a guide to vital project milestones. Project Implementation Plans and Task Information Delivery Plans can be components of the overall implementation plan, which demonstrates when information will be prepared, who is responsible for doing what, and which protocols and procedures they will use.

The BEP should also include practical working procedure details such as file name conventions and the software that will be used, as well as a common set of annotations, abbreviations, and symbols to be used in the BIM process.


Types of BIM Implementation Plans

BIM Implementation Plans can be separated into pre- and post-contract plans and the information they contain will vary based on this. There are two types of BIM plans: the pre-contract and the post-contract BIM plan.


1. Pre-contract BIM Plan

Pre-contract implementation plans are the initial plans presented during the tendering stage. The supplier will set out their proposed approach, capacity, and other details. The exact details contained in the pre-contract plan may be formulated by the supplier, or it may address requirements set out by the employer in a document such as Employer's Information Requirements (EIR).


2. Post-contract BIM Plan

Once the contract is given, a further BIM Implementation Plan will be drawn up, i.e. the “post-contract BIM plan,” to confirm supply chain capabilities and to fix details moving forward. A master plan can also be added. Individual Task Information Delivery Plans can be used to further show who is responsible for each strand of information being delivered.


The benefits of having a BIM Implementation Plan

A BIM Implementation Plan can provide a number of key benefits. As a comprehensive document that helps different members of the team identify and execute the function BIM provides in the various phases of the project, it can help everyone stay on the same page and present a clear plan of goals and targets every step of the way.


The main benefits of having a BIM Implementation Plan include:

  • Communication

Having a plan in place encourages early communication. It also sets out who is responsible for communicating information along different stages of production, while prescribing responsibilities in certain areas.


  • Collaboration and standards

This is particularly important for large or international projects, where different regions might have different protocols, standards or regulations. International teams can collaborate via a single plan, preventing the creation of silos and multiple plans or ideas on how to do things that might not all fit together.


  • Time savings

It might take time to put the plan together, but once it is up and running, it will set out key deliverables, procedures and other information that will streamline the BIM process and keep everyone moving forward. This can save a lot of time in the long run.


BIM Execution Around the World

BIM is taking off across the world. A BIM Implementation Plan can help ensure that any requirements are met, especially on cross-border collaborations. This holds especially true since adoption and execution varies in different regions, both in levels of take-up and in standards and regulations.


The first US state requiring BIM
In 2010, for example, Wisconsin became the first US state to require construction projects over a certain budget to incorporate BIM. BIM adoption is mandated for all Public Buildings Service projects and BIM is also becoming more commonplace throughout the construction industry as a whole.


BIM adoption across Europe
An example of a country leading in BIM in Europe is the UK. Here, all centrally-procured (i.e. government) construction projects are required to use BIM and meet official BIM Level 2 standards. This also sets down guidance on what should be included in a BIM Implementation Plan. However, BIM is taking off in other parts European countries as well.

The Scandinavian countries of Norway, Denmark, Finland, and Sweden were early adopters of BIM, with public standards and requirements in place. In France, an official BIM Standardization Roadmap was published as part of the country’s national strategy for digitizing the construction industry (PTNB) and at the start of 2018, a Belgian construction firm became the first to obtain the UK’s BIM Level 2 certification.


BIM adoption is clearly on the rise around the globe, so a BIM Implementation Plan can help everyone involved in the project to make the best use of it. In the coming years, we’ll no doubt see BIM becoming commonplace, so it’s important to be proactive in establishing a plan early on. What steps is your team taking towards a BIM Implementation Plan? Leave a comment below!