What is BIM – Strategy, Process, or Technology ?

BIM is an integration of process and technology to enable the efficient life-cycle management of facilities (the latter including vertical and horizontal physical infrastructure… buildings, roadways, utilities, landscapes, etc.).  BIM is a digital integration of previously disparate processes and technologies to allow organization to better link the built environment to support physical and functional requirements, while at the same time optimizing return on investment and associated impacts upon the environment.  Considerations include design, procurement, construction delivery methods, construction management, condition assessment, repair, renovation, adaptation, utilization, capital planning and budgeting, life/safety, security, and sustainability.

BIM is divergent from the traditional antagonistic and inefficient architectural, design, engineering, construction,  and operations management process which have been responsibility for the lack of overall productivity in these sectors.  BIM is a collaborative process involving all stakeholders/shareholders and is supported by an integral digital framework.  The latter enables rapid, scalable deployment and consistent/transparent deployment and management.


BIM - Integration of Process and Technology to Enable Efficient Facility Life-Cycle Management


BIM requires a structured approach relative to terms, definitions, data architectures across multi-disciplinary knowledge domains to allow for efficient, transparent data sharing and re-use.  Some of the associated, currently silo-based competencies and activities are shown in the below graphic.

BIM requires the integration of currently disparate processes and technologies



The Levels of BIM – Defining BIM and BIM Strategy

A Framework for Change

The AEC’s sector transformation from disparate management practices and scattered silos of information will be greatly aided by the adoption of 3D/4D/5D object-oriented BIM software, common interoperability standards, integrated construction delivery business processes such as IPD and JOC, supporting technologies, and the growing awareness of life-cycle and total cost of ownership practices.

Many currently view BIM as a 3-dimensional representation of the built environment, primarily for use during the design and construction phases. This narrow focus is inconsistent with the definition of BIM – “Building Information Modeling is the process of generating and managing information about a building during its entire life cycle.”

The National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) notes the following about BIM. “The scope of Building Information Modeling (BIM) directly or indirectly affects all stakeholders supporting the capital facilities industry. BIM is a fundamentally different way of creating, using, and sharing building lifecycle data.” BIM is a digital software system and an open standards-based collaborative business process targeting life-cycle facility management. It includes: 3D (visualization); 4D (time-scheduling/life-cycle analysis); and 5D (cost-estimating/capital planning), which serve as a common, centralized repository/portal for all life-cycle building related information, from concept thru deconstruction.

The combination of standardized information and facilities management processes enables facility life-cycle and total cost of ownership management. BIM’s expansion to incorporate all facility life-cycle phases necessitates standardized business process, taxonomies, and data architectures. Interoperability and standardized content at all levels of granularity from building models to systems, subsystems, components, and individual units are required.

4Clicks COAA Article – BIMF – BIM Framework – BIM for FM

Exemplary efforts in this area include COBIE, IFC, and Ominclass. COBIE (Construction Operation Building Information Exchange), Industry Foundation Classes (IFC), OmniClass™ Construction Classification System (OmniClass or OCCS) are data models, definition, rules, and/or protocols intended to define data sets and information pertaining to capital facilities throughout their lifecycles. COBIE, for example, is a specification for capturing design and construction information for facility managers and operators in a digital format. The standardized data architecture was developed to replace the current ad hoc process of leaving disparate piles of paper documents and digital files behind after a contruction project is completed.  All of these standards promote the exchange/sharing of accurate and reusable building information.

Figure 2 – Building Information Management Framework (BIMF) illustrates the roles and integration of several of the complementary knowledge domains, processes and technologies that are components of a 4D/5D BIM strategy. These components include: master planning, capital planning and management systems (CPMS), design, cost estimating, procurement, construction delivery methods (IPD, JOC), construction, construction management, operations, maintenance, repairs, computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS), space planning and utilization (CAFM-computer-aid facility management), and deconstruction.

What is BIM – Software, Business Process? – BIM Definition – NIBS – National BIM Standard – BIM Standards

Both….  BIM is a digital technology and a business process for life-cycle facility management, from concept thru disposal.

The below figure represents components of a BIM strategy.

What is a BIM?

The National Building Information Model Standard Project Committee defines BIM as:

Building Information Modeling (BIM) is a digital representation of physical and functional characteristics of a facility.  A BIM is a shared knowledge resource for information about a facility forming a reliable basis for decisions during its life-cycle; defined as existing from earliest conception to demolition.

A basic premise of BIM is collaboration by different stakeholders at different phases of the life cycle of a facility to insert, extract, update or modify information in the BIM to support and reflect the roles of that stakeholder.

The US National BIM Standard will promote the business requirements that BIM and BIM interchanges are based on:

  • a shared digital representation,
  • that the information contained in the model be interoperable (i.e.: allow computer to computer exchanges), and
  • the exchange be based on open standards,
  • the requirements for exchange must be capable of defining in contract language.

As a practical matter, BIM represents many things depending on one’s perspective:

  • Applied to a project, BIM represents Information management—data contributed to and shared by all project participants.  The right information to the right person at the right time.
  • To project participants, BIM represents an interoperable process for project delivery—defining how individual teams work and how many teams work together to conceive, design, build & operate a facility.
  • To the design team, BIM represents integrated design—leveraging technology solutions, encouraging creativity, providing more feedback, empowering a team.¹

NBIM standard will incorporate several elements described later in this document but the focus will be on standardized processes which define “business views” of data needed to accomplish a particular set of functions.

What is BIM?

BIM is best thought of as “a digital representation of physical and functional characteristics of a facility…and a shared knowledge resource for information about a facility forming a reliable basis for decisions during its life-cycle; defined as existing from earliest conception to demolition.”
(Source-NIBS-National Institute of Building Sciences 2009 –