Survey of Building and Construction Owners Finds BIM Use Growing While IT Investment Still Lags

11 Dec, 2007

Eighth annual survey by FMI, CMAA examines technology adoption and offers IT investment advice for building and construction company owners.

FMI and the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA) released the Eighth Annual Survey of Owners, which indicates a growing use of building information modeling (BIM) technologies but a continued lack of investment in information technology (IT).

Based on more than 200 responses from a variety of owner types and industries, the FMI/CMAA Eighth Annual Survey of Owners reveals that BIM use is accelerating, and collaborative construction work processes are increasing, paving the way for construction companies to make the technological shift to BIM to better address the current needs of construction programs.

Despite the expanding use of BIM, however, nearly 25% of owners still do not know how much IT spending takes place to support project objectives, the report states. Owners who apply technologies use them in ways that have limited observable impact, making financial or productivity-based justifications for their use difficult.

According to the survey, 35% of all respondents have used BIM processes and technology one or more years on some portion of their capital program. Owners who adopt BIM are likely to have 50 or more projects annually and are not likely to construct public facilities, the report states. Additionally, these owners are likely to use design-build or highly variable project execution approaches and are likely to demand and use electronic documentation throughout the process.

"One consistent trend we've noticed throughout the years is the increased application of collaborative work models," said Marise Mikulis, senior consultant with FMI. "This is happening in the office and the field. Technology use in construction is obviously resulting in higher quality project execution, but owners are still having trouble justifying IT as a business cost."

With every new technological shift, building and construction company owners should plan and prepare for capital and training investment, said Mikulis. FMI recommends the following ways that building and construction company owners can recognize IT as a sound business investment:

  • Make the decision to adopt BIM, and make it a priority. Assign a champion in the organization to be accountable for leading and teaching others about the technology.

  • Persuade top management to support new technology adoption. Conduct quarterly (or more frequent) internal strategic technology discussions and explore opportunities for embracing technology for profit, with a focus on the field, not the office.

  • Communicate early and often about the program, to keep all levels of the organization informed about changes and receptive to adoption.

  • Choice of actual technology and products should fall lower on the list of adoption concerns. Many sound options are available from multiple providers. The technology that works for your business process is what is most important.

  • Document in advance areas where BIM can generate benefits. Identify "hard" quantitative benefits (time and cost savings, business growth) and "soft" qualitative benefits (collaboration successes, risk avoidance).

  • Work with partners and suppliers who have adopted BIM. Be prepared to educate or change your business relationships.

  • Mandate competence in technology as a requirement for advancement in the company.

  • Use technology to educate and train employees.

The FMI/CMAA Eighth Annual Survey of Owners also discusses other construction industry-specific issues and concerns currently facing owners, such as material costs, the need to attract industry workers from the next generation, and LEED/Green Building.

The annual Survey of Owners surveys, analyzes, and summarizes trends and concerns of business owners in the building and construction industry. For more information about the FMI/CMAA Eighth Annual Survey of Owners, contact FMI Corporation at 919.785.9359.