The Responsibilities of the Design Technology…Person

I’ve been looking for a topic to write about for my first article on Medium and I think I’ve got it. I joined LinkedIn back in 2008 and soon after, created a group called “CAD Managers Becoming BIM Managers Becoming…” for people like me whose roles and responsibilities were changing or, more accurately, evolving into something else. After a short time, however, I basically ignored the group. Last week I logged into LinkedIn and took a look at it. As of this moment, there are 3282 people in it. This shocked me somewhat. Not so much that there was such a huge number of people interested in this topic, but that so many people wanted to take part in something I had created. So, I penned an apology to the group, promising that I was now going to take a more active role.

A group member replied to my message with a really great post about being in a similar position of job definition transition, as well as a frustration about a lack of consensus of what BIM actually is (in comparison to the easily defined CAD), as well as a “ho hum” state of BIM, which is to say, it does as much as we need it to do, so why take 100% advantage of it’s capabilities?!? I had a few responses that I thought would translate well into a Medium article, so, here goes:

The first point brought up spoke specifically about the title of the group. What are we? he asked. First, we’re CAD Managers, then we’re BIM Managers, then what? I like the eventual title I found myself with, “Design Technology Specialist”. The “specialist” part is neither here nor there, but the “Design Technology” part is important because it removes the “one-trick pony” attachment that, unfortunately, BIM got from CAD. We support and promote ALL design technology-related aspects of projects.

The next item referred to producing models to varying degrees of completeness. I don’t think that “completeness” is what we should be measuring on. We should measure on whether or not the model achieves the initially agreed upon BIM uses. It can be a very complete model, but if you’re just producing drawings from it, while important, frankly, who cares? Drawings should be a default product of every building information model anyway.

The next point was about Project Managers who just don’t get it. On the one hand, I completely agree. On the other hand, I think people in Design Technology Specialist roles haven’t given them enough training on how to manage BIM-based projects from beginning to end. And it’s important to emphasize that the training needs to be about project management, and not Revit essentials (although that’s a good supplement).

Next, there was a comment about clients proving to be slow. Clients need to be given a reason or, more specifically, shown a reason. They’re interested in a project being done on time and under budget. We can’t just tell them to, “Trust us, BIM is faster.” We have to show them.

For the rest of the comments, it really seemed appropriate to go back to what I mentioned about BIM Uses. The LOD, the schedules, the schematics, the details, etc. The first question that we need to answer is, “What are we after with a three dimensional, data-filled model?” That question then needs to get broken down into the question, “What are the products we’re trying to get from the model?” Another way of asking that question is, “What are the BIM uses?” I think the mentality that we need to move towards is that the Building Information Model is NOT the goal, it’s the method to achieving that goal.