Project management and 4D and 5D BIM

Project management and 4D and 5D BIM, an “obligatory” passage

In applying the BIM model, time and cost planning relies heavily on the Project / Program management methodology and in particular on knowledge areas relating to managing times, costs, risks, communication, integration and contingencies.

What are the points of contact and the collaboration systems between the various figures that operate based on these new methodologies?

This time we will analyse how and where Project Management and Building Information Modelling (BIM) come together, help each other and create a focal point for innovation in the construction industry.

The professional figures dedicated to BIM

Let’s start by analysing the figures dedicated to BIM according to the 11337 Standard and those dedicated to Project Management. Generally there are 3 figures dedicated to the digital management of information processes in the construction sector, consisting of two types: the first two operate at the management level and the other at the operational level. On the management side, we have the Information Manager (BIM Manager), and the Information Coordinator, (BIM Coordinator). On the operational side, instead, the information modeller of graphic models dominates the scene, namely the BIM Specialist. The Information Manager looks after the drafting of the information specifications and/or offer and is the reference figure for the coordinator, consulted by the contract manager or project manager to report on the design stages. The Information Coordinator, the second management figure, looks after the correct application of the general rules set out by the manager and defines specific information relating to the contract. This figure also performs all coordination activities and obtains the desired results, participates in all coordination meetings relating to the same models, directs the work of the modellers therefore working in close collaboration with the contract manager or the PM. Finally, we have the graphic model information modeller (BIM Specialist or BIM Modeller), operational figure responsible for preparing and updating the objects and models and the extraction of the related data. This figure works closely with the coordinator to whom they report any event of relevance to the information process.

The Design phase

The standard therefore correlates the first two managerial-type figures overseeing the BIM in the design phase to the figure who must have the full requirements of the entire project cycle, which goes from planning to the assignment of design services to the call for tenders, all the way to the execution and closure of the project, namely the Project Manager who for a public work, for example, must be the “Solely Responsible Project Manager”.
Building information modelling, with its information management system is essentially aimed at the collaboration of all designers involved in the design and safety aspects, decisively and positively impacting on two areas of project management: integration and communicationIt should be noted that the Project Manager spends approximately 70% of their project related time communicating. Succeeding to have a model full of information during the design phase therefore makes it easier to identify the eventual risks associated with the execution of the work and assessing the impact and probability of their occurrence.The BIM model therefore starts to bring the construction world and the Industry 4.0 realm closer and closer together as, albeit virtual, the product (the design) represents a genuine industrial digital prototype.

The 4D and 5D part of BIM

BIM, in terms of the 4D and 5D aspect, manages to facilitate and sees to the completion of the design phase that impacts on planning, having as input processes the IFC file and as output  the bill of quantities deriving from the parametric design, the execution timeframes grouped by Work Packages and the associated costs, which spread over time generate an S curve and  the baseline of the costs or of the construction budget. Unfortunately the schedules with the non-graphic information exported from the various design software are not enough of their own. Therefore being able to import one or more IFC files associated with the same federated model, into a software that then makes it possible to manage, during the execution phase, the planning of time and costs, is of fundamental importance. The parametric scope (architectural, structural, plant related, etc.) must be linked to a work process (from the pricelist -> list of prices -> cost analysis) and to an estimate of the times (Gantt), also parametric.


The design variations and phases that develop around a BIM model through the LOD (Level of Detail) must be correlated in terms of the QTO (Quantity Take Off) documentation to a measurement which in turn is linked to a WP as part of a WBS that defines the relative timelines. For example, in a preliminary design (LOD 200) for a reinforced concrete element we can “settle” on an incidence per cubic metre of concrete of the kg of steel necessary for the reinforcement specified in the design. During the computational phase therefore, from the first estimates, we will tie the parametric object to a work process. This link will remain fixed to the benefit of future dimensional changes and detailed design, such as when we will be provided with the reinforcement details from the executive plan (LOD 400) having the possibility to determine the future benefits to the Facility Management (LOD 500) through the As Build.
In fact, in reference to the design, the planning of the same benefits from advanced project management techniques in terms of virtual environment aspects and the fact that the continuous changes and studies of the models require “agileproject management techniques to avoid unnecessary work. It is hoped that real computational models (different from QTO) will start being used soon, which will facilitate the various input and output phases of the design. Starting from the BEP (Building Execution Plan), in fact, the design part becomes exponentially crucial for all subsequent phases. In the next article we will analyse the execution phase. 


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