It seems so long ago now, the latest Digital Construction Week was back – bigger and better with a great turnout.
I wanted to share my advice here from the Small Business: Big Innovation panel session. Anne Kemp from UK BIM Alliance was the Chair with these five questions:
1. What impact has the BIM mandate had on SMEs?
The mandate has opened eyes up to the potential that digital brings – in particular, process efficiency.
At the same time, selecting the correct ‘tool for the job’ is daunting due to the vast choice available. So much so, some may not make a selection at all.
My advice here is to get your human process working well first, then match software to that process – not the opposite.
2. How should SMEs be tackling the BIM and digital agenda?
From experience – be selfish.
We’re told BIM is about improving processes. We see workflow improvements for both design and construction, but why not manufacturing?
Manufacturers shouldn’t see BIM as another marketing tool. BIM is not an alternative to a CAD file. The true value is in process development.
But why be selfish? For SMEs to invest, they need quick results. By embedding new technology and processes in your own business first, you de-risk the investment. You can reap the rewards while the rest of the industry plays catch-up.
3. What are the biggest barriers for SMEs and how do you see the digital agenda changing that?
A recent BIM4M2 survey suggested that “cost of development” was the biggest barrier. I disagree.
I have managed this with a small budget and others can too. It’s about looking at your business as a whole – are you taking digital serious or not?
Read my post on Making the Shift to Digital for more on this.
The biggest barrier for me is fear. But, let’s face it, who’s going to admit to this? Whether there’s action or no action, I put it down to two reasons:
- Fear of being ready too soon (exhausting resources before the revolution begins).
- Fear of being ready too late (missing the revolution).
To overcome this I go back to my last point, invest in improving your own processes. Don’t even think of it as BIM, rather working digitally to benefit business.
4. How can SMEs better equip themselves for technological change, why should they care?
The partner you chose to help you on your way is crucial. I would encourage SMEs to work with an advisor who understands what it is to be an SME. (This may save you receiving one of those eye watering quotes too!)
5. What practical guidance would you give?
- Before spending money ask yourself, what problem are you looking to solve?
- Get the human process working well first, then match the digital tool to that process.
- Be honest about your capability.
Final point, in order for this ‘revolution’ to progress, it may pay to focus a little less on perfecting ‘BIM’ and a little more on selling the benefits to the rest of the industry.