Advanced BIM data management

Dear TeamCAD website visitors,

With this text, I would like to announce a series of articles where I am going to write about advanced BIM data management. As BIM is increasingly being set as the default standard for project design, the implementation of the BIM workflow is becoming essential for both designers and investors, and it also increases for contractors.

How one sees BIM could be very differently interpreted depending on the viewing perspective. Because of that, in the following text, I process different interpretations of the BIM workflow depending on who is the viewer – designer, investor, or contractor. In the following articles, I am going to carry over my thoughts, conclusions, and suggestions, based on more than fifteen years of experience in implementing BIM workflow as BIM coordinator and BIM manager in international design and consulting company.

BIM implementation from the designer perspective

For the designer, BIM is usually the workflow that helps him draw a 3D model of its discipline, and which is going to be coordinated with other disciplines in the project. Often, but not as a rule, the BIM model within a particular discipline is also used for different calculations. Thus, for example, the structure BIM model is often used for structure analysis, the MEP model is commonly used for various calculations such as heating and cooling installations calculations, while the architectural model is most often used to design architecture and check the coordination of an architectural project with other disciplines in the project. Besides BIM data generated for the designing needs of the particular discipline in the project, the BIM model is often used for the quantities of the materials. The quantities of the materials are not the same as the bill of quantities, and those two terms we should not be confused. The bill of quantities is the contractor's obligation, and the designer could do the quantities of the materials. It could be beneficial for the investor in deciding for the most economical design solution in case the client has to choose over a few design solutions in one project.

We could say, from the designer’s perspective, that above mentioned BIM activities imply as sufficient contribution in generating BIM data. Also, we could say that every discipline in the design process generates a lot of BIM data, which could be used for the design process optimization within a particular discipline.

What is the problem in the above mentioned is that BIM workflow often wrongly represents generating data and parameters which designer needs for its discipline, with no ambition to share generated data with other disciplines and project participants in an arranged way. In that way, we often have a problem with too much data and too many parameters in a BIM model of a specific discipline, which most commonly stay in that particular model of the discipline. As such, they do not worth anything for other disciplines in a project.

The easiest way to illustrate the BIM model without well-planned and arranged data exchange between disciplines is with the following image, which I am going to explain with comparing the worth of load which truck transports:

truckload compared with BIM data

The truckload could be compared with data that stay „captured“ in a BIM model of a specific discipline. Unfortunately, in the vast majority of projects, the data generated in a BIM model of a certain discipline stays useful only for that discipline in a project. The data arranged similar to the truckload, loses worth significantly, and substantially limiting full BIM potential, keeping in mind that almost every project is multidisciplinary in the investor’s perspective. Basically, without data exchange between different disciplines in a project, we cannot even say that BIM workflow is applied in full capacity in a particular project.

It should not be mistaken that only sharing parameters and data is enough by itself, because it may seem very chaotic, like an example on the following image:

dogs as chaotic BIM data

Exchanging the BIM data of a particular discipline with other disciplines in a project makes sense only if the data and parameters are shared with other disciplines in an optimized and arranged way. I often point out in my presentations and speeches in different professional conferences that I in BIM is the most crucial thing and that information in a model of a certain discipline worth if and only if it is shared in a wright moment of the design process.

dogs represented as well arranged BIM data

To sum up, the essential prerequisite for the successful BIM workflow implementation in the design process of the multidisciplinary project are:

    • establishing the efficient BIM workflow inside a specific discipline and efficient data flow within different disciplines in a multidisciplinary design process;
    • excellent communication in the whole project team;
    • efficient and arranged data sharing at the right moment of the design process.

It is possible to achieve the prerequisite mentioned above only with the BIM workflow automatization, both inside the discipline in a project and data sharing in a multidisciplinary design process. I am going to write about the BIM workflow automatization in the few following articles.

BIM implementation from the investor perspective

I often hear opinions that it is effortless to cover this topic because each of us finds ourselves in the role of investor several dozen times every day. By definition, when you buy goods, it is in the interest of the buyer of the goods or services to obtain the highest quality product and to pay as little money as possible for that product. There is, however, a problem with placing investors in the project in an appropriate context.

If the investor is not BIM educated, he will very often be satisfied with a project printed in a paper, most commonly A0 and with the different calculations, that he would pass to the contractor to build a building which is a subject of the investment. The not BIM educated investor is going to be satisfied by delivering a project in paper format and by building construction. The problem is that he will not even be aware that such a project format would cost him much more than a BIM project, and there are many reasons for this. I am going to state some of the reasons:

  • inadequate coordination between disciplines in a project, which means more construction site issues, more construction delays and very often need for “additional works” which makes construction financially difficult for the investor;
  • impossibility of building’s lifecycle simulation;
  • impossibility of calculating facility operational use expenses;
  • impossibility of giving or selling the digital model to the facility manager, who is going to use that building for maintenance planning and continual updates of the completed state of the building.

table with projects compared with BIM model with too many data

All of the lacks mentioned above, and many more others that I did not count, the BIM educated investor would avoid. He would be aware of the BIM workflow advantages, and he would actively participate in BIM workflow and engage BIM manager, who would work in its interest. With the document „BIM Execution Plan“ or abbreviated BEP, BIM educated investor would formulate BIM requirements, both for designers of different disciplines and for the contractor, who would hand over the digital models to the investor after design and construction phases. These models would then be handed over or sold by the BIM educated investor to the facility manager to manage the operational maintenance costs of the facility as efficiently as possible.

This type of design process and the construction completion results in ownership of a digital model of the completed state of the building, which can often be classified as having a "digital twin" of a building that is under construction or of the already constructed building. I am going to process the topic of "digital twin" in one of the following articles individually and explain in detail the optimal way of creating and handing over a digital twin to newly designed objects. I am also going to explain the need and value of digitizing existing buildings, all for that more efficient management of the building's operating costs and the cost of the life cycle of the building mentioned above.

BIM data from Revit

BIM implementation from the contractor perspective

When, as a very young engineer, I started working at a small contracting firm, the boss often criticized my laziness. It was because before undertaking a specific operation on a construction site, I did not draw that detail and elaborate it in CAD in many ways and more variants. I have to be honest that at first, I didn't even realize the need for it.

I remember his definition vividly that a drawing serves to make errors several times in suggesting a solution until the best option is reached. His conclusion, which I now completely agree with, was that a mistake in a drawing is much cheaper than a mistake in the construction site itself. Several drawings of elaboration of one detail cost the cost of paper and toner for the printer or plotter, while on the construction site, every mistake is very costly, as it often requires additional work and additional costs when constructing the building.

revision cloud in AutoCAD mistake funny

The story, which I started the section on BIM implementation from the contractor’s perspective, was intended to explain, through a straightforward example, the meaning of the most ordinary drawing of details and the construction of that part of the construction site. I hope you noticed in the introductory section about BIM implementation from a contractor perspective that I indicated that I elaborated on the detail in CAD and try to imagine how much savings can be made by applying a BIM workflow over a traditional contracting project made in two dimensions and paper format.

If we try to make a comparison between a CAD project drawing and a fully coordinated multidisciplinary BIM model, it would be easiest to make such a comparison by racing motors through dense forest and racing along a well-maintained Formula 1 race track, where motor racing along track with Formula 1 race track quality is, of course, the construction of a building using the BIM workflow.

Here are just a few of the key benefits that the BIM workflow provides, without going into a detailed explanation of each item, which I am going to do in one of the following articles:

  • 4D – digital simulation of the construction and simulation of the construction phases;
  • 5D - digital simulation of building construction, which also takes into account the cost of each element in the building. It allows us not only the making of the bill of quantities before the start of construction works but also an expense summary at any time during the construction. If the contractor has more than one active construction site, in simple terms, it allows the 5D contractor to manage the money and supply of materials in a simulated digital process of building multiple facilities, which would significantly benefit the contractor during the construction of the facilities;
  • 6D - facility life cycle cost calculation or facility maintenance cost management. By itself, developing a 6D model is not necessarily the obligation of the contractor. Still, it largely depends on the desire of the investor to whom they would entrust the creation of the 6D model.

I must mention that all of the benefits mentioned above of implementing a BIM workflow when building a facility cannot be implemented without a previously fully coordinated multidisciplinary BIM model. This leads to the logical conclusion that there should be an arranged relationship and trust between the designer and the contractor in the data they both generate during the design process.


Based on professional experience, I can say that in many cases, the role of defining BIM requirements and managing the generated BIM data between the designer and the contractor is taken over by the investor. The logical reason is that he finances the design of the project and the construction of the building, and therefore an arranged and efficient data management during the design process brings significant savings to the investor. In the case where the investor is also the end-user of the constructed facility, the arranged and efficient management of all the generated data by the designer and contractor seems to be the only logical solution that brings significant savings to the investor, and in this case to the owner of the facility during the design process, construction process and in managing the operational cost of maintaining the facility.

Having defined, and thus rounded up, data management and relationships between the designer, contractor, and investor in the domain of the BIM workflow and advanced BIM data management, I would like to finish this first article and announce more of them in which I am going to go deeper and in more detail in the topics I started with this one. In the following articles, I am going to cover the topic of "BIM Project Process Automation". There, I am going to discuss efficient data generation workflows, the role of Dynamo / Python scripts in more efficient data exchange within the BIM model of a specific discipline, and optimized data exchange between BIM discipline models in a multidisciplinary project environment.

If you have any questions, comments or want to know more about the topic I covered in Advanced BIM Data Management, please contact TeamCAD, who would be happy to provide you with additional information.

Until next time,
Predrag Jovanović



Predrag Jovanović – short biography

Predrag Jovanovic BIM manager Arup TeamCAD

Predrag Jovanović is a civil engineer with over sixteen years of experience in BIM technologies and over 2,500,000 square meters of BIM modeling and multidisciplinary coordination.

Predrag has much experience in BIM coordination and BIM management, which he gained while working at the international company "Arup" in the position of "Project BIM Coordinator".

In addition to designing, managing data, and BIM coordination on multidisciplinary projects, Predrag has been organizing and managing various BIM workshops for more than ten years, in which knowledge and experience in applying the latest BIM technologies and problems in implementing them are exchanged between employees. He is characterized by great enthusiasm for ongoing professional development, improving, and learning of the latest BIM technologies. He focuses on finding new and better ways to work, more efficient automation, and improving the BIM workflow.

Predrag is a BIM champion for the Arup Germany group. In addition to designing and BIM coordination, Predrag currently organizes and manages Skype Dynamo / Python workshops for the European region and BIM multidisciplinary workshops for Arup Germany. He has extensive experience in Revit Structure, Revit Architecture, Navisworks, Solibri, Reizto, Revit / Sofistik / GSA interoperability, data management (Dynamo, Revit / Excel link). He also has extensive experience in various project environments such as BIM 360, Aconex, BIMcloud, etc...

For more information about Predrag, please click on this link


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