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Friday, January 9, 2015

Does your firm need an in-house BIM Manager? The answer may surprise you...

It is no secret that specialization is one key to remaining relevant and valuable. This applies in almost any industry. I would like to put forward the argument that the position description "BIM Manager" is becoming too generic, too non-descript to actually be useful in evaluating or determining what a BIM person actually does.

In fact, most BIM Managers are already jack-of-all-trades, in that they handle many different roles. In my opinion, this is less than ideal. On the other hand, specialization leads to people who can do one or a few things very well, not a bunch of things adequately.

Consider this recent article on LinkedIn:

It rightly describes some of the abilities of a good BIM Manager, such as:
  • the BIM Manager must be an expert in that software, have the ability to train well, and have a refined sense of patience to ensure the trainees never feel intimidated, insecure or less than capable.
  • BIM Manager must be, or work with, the firm's IT support performing tasks which range from server maintenance and software licensing to computer builds
  • generating content for the firm to use
  • standards enforcement
  • R&D
  • etc etc
I agree that these qualities are great, and if they all reside in one person, that person can be extremely valuable to a business. But some of those tasks are not 24x7 (for example, specifying and deploying new hardware). Or, there simply isn't time to do justice to other tasks, like continual R&D. Why am I saying this?

1) If you are a BIM Manager, I think its time for you to pick a few core strengths and really work on them. Make yourself the best-of-the-best at... something.

2) If you are a Director or Manager, you need to consider that there may be gains in the divide-and-conquer rationale. Split up the position description of your BIM Manager and start giving it to specific people or outside-hires who can devote more time and attention at getting things perfect. Look for a company who has taken the role of BIM Manager and made it their core business, in effect, specializing in most of the things that good BIM people can do and offering these as individual services (like Virtual Built).

One other disadvantage to having a BIM Manager who can 'do it all' is that he or she becomes almost irreplaceable, or at least extremely difficult to separate from the company proper. I have been in exactly that position, wearing so many hats that I almost had to count them all to make sure I gave them all back when I moved interstate to a different employer.

I realize this post may be somewhat controversial, but I think it stands on solid ground. Specialized companies and individuals almost always create a niche that only they can occupy, meaning that continuity of work is assured.

What do you think? Feel free to comment... especially if you disagree :-)


  1. Totally agree 100%. BIM Managers from different trades "specialize" in what is specific to the needs of that trade. They may have a well rounded familiarity with all the tools, but you will spend most of your time concentrating on what is needed for your trade.

    I just moved from Architecture to Construction and it's dawning on me how much a difference there is in capabilities of BIM Managers. So, yes, I think there definitely needs to be some sort of more precise or specialized description of what any BIM person does. Whethere it's a Manager, Estimator, Clash Detection, Family Creator, Modeler, yada yada yada yada....

    I'm commenting here because just last month we were in a discussion about how bland the naming and generic the titles are. BIM Manager...BIM Specialist....BIM Technician

  2. Luke,
    I have followed your blog for a long time, and have high regard for your opinion.
    However, I have to express my discord with this post. Not that I entirely disagree with all the substance in your this post. But plugging your services under the guise of offering an expert and studied observation is unsavory. The backbone of any good blog is the integrity of the Author. When that becomes suspect, the blog looses it's meaning, and thus the audience.
    Best of luck with your new position. I wish you all the success.

  3. Found this article from a few years ago regarding job titles in BIM and VDC...


  4. Personally, what I have found is when I joined my current firm a number of years ago as their first BIM Manager my role was as you outlines with the development of standards and templates etc, very similar role to the traditional CAD Manager. I have found that as these standards etc are developed my role has naturally transitioned to include being involved in project start-up, firstly implementing the BIMx plan to a clearly defined role as project BIM Manager. I now have in place processes and BIM strategies for each project and have in place people in various “BIM” positions in the project team to facilitate the BIM process. My role now as BIM Manager has involved to be more involved in the overall BIM strategy in regards to the business plan and involved in the early stages of a project.
    This never occurred as a CAD Manager and I believe the Role as BIM Manager is still evolving.

    Great posting Luke!

  5. I don't understand why the BIM Managers role is always considered to be IT specific.
    If a BIM Manager doesn't have an understanding of ultimate deliverables how can they set up and manage a system that is effective?
    I've seen too many offices with stupidly complicated standards that no-one adheres to because they don't make sense to users, or contribute to what they are required to produce.
    A BIM Manager needs to have a good understanding of the software being used for BIM, and be involved in production of deliverables. They should not be expected to manage every software in the office, hardware, networks or other IT tasks.