BIM and change management: the way to digitalization

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The term BIM or Building Information Modeling describes a working method of networked and collaborative planning, execution, and management of buildings. The relevant building data is digitally modeled, combined, and recorded. The structure is mapped as a virtual building model, which participants use as the primary tool. The focus is on the centralized and shared management of project information. Thus, BIM is used in construction throughout the entire life cycle. As a reminder, BIM is a method and not software! When implementing BIM in a company, the factors of people, processes, technologies, and guidelines must always be considered. Most BIM newcomers, therefore, have to go through a change process. To what extent can BIM and change management fit under one roof?

If the company-internal integration of BIM is to succeed, a change is required that encompasses the entire organization. The integration of BIM is a challenge for many employees, as they have to show a certain willingness to leave familiar planning habits and set new processes. A wide variety of resistances can arise on the part of employees, which work on different levels, but can be effectively eliminated through the efficient integration of BIM and change management.

BIM and Change Management – and People in the Organizational System

A person in an organization moves in different roles and contexts so that many mutual dependencies or a social network of relationships arises. This system, which consists of positions, communication, rules, and many unconscious processes, can be summarized under the term “culture”. If a change such as the integration of BIM is to be implemented, this social system must be set in motion. A change must be planned that looks at the organization holistically. The fields of strategy, structure, and culture need to be managed with professional methods throughout the change, and the respective employees need to be involved.

The following figure illustrates the typical reactions of employees about an ongoing change project:


In the figure, you can see that shock and denial initially occur when a change is approaching, such as the implementation of BIM to replace the conventional way of working. The shock experience can unfold in various ways, which can be followed by general rejection if communication is poor. Due to demographic change, for example, long-established 2D CAD planners will initially be shocked to have to give up their expert status in the field to use innovative tools such as BIM.

However, if the vision and the added values of the change are efficiently and structurally guided by change communication and the employees are involved, the first phases of denial are followed by rational acceptance. If the added values are then accurately communicated at the various levels, e.g. through pilot projects, training, personnel development measures, and if the employees are involved, the rational acceptance is followed by emotional acceptance. The phase of emotional acceptance is the phase of the big turning point on the part of the employees. In this way, the employees are guided away from the phase of initial rejection – and towards the phases of trying out, realizing, and integrating the change, thus putting aside the resistance regarding the BIM implementation.

Set the System in Motion With BIM and Change Management – But How?

Employees are the most important resource in terms of change. Active integration and communication with employees is the fundamental element on which a change should be based. The change can be better embraced through the aforementioned pilot projects and clear and direct communication. In addition to the communication framework, the positive vision can alleviate the fear of change and build trust on the part of employees. In this way, the initial phase of shock can be overcome more quickly.

Let’s Imagine We Want to Integrate BIM as a Method in a Company: 

The organizational structures with their respective processes and interdependent dependencies are analyzed to determine the fit between BIM and the organizational structure and processes. Furthermore, the organizational culture is assessed to find out which unconscious rules could stand in the way of BIM. For example, if employees have been working with conventional methods for some time, the chances are high that they will initially be reluctant to accept innovations in the company. Once these initial analyses have been completed, the decision for BIM can be made. Thereupon, the added values achieved through BIM can be integrated into the company’s vision to give a positive impetus for change through imagination.

Once the vision for BIM has been created in all its facets and with a focus on the benefits for the employees, the respective communication goals can then be defined. After the aforementioned basic means for change have been worked out, the personnel development measures that are needed at the employee level can be integrated into the form of a project plan.

These can be, among other things, the pilot projects mentioned above, BIM training, coaching, team development, or collegial consultation, which will help to establish acceptance on the part of employees. In the project plan, the above-mentioned elements for the change project are now recorded in a specific time frame. In this way, you as the project manager are aware of the initial rejection phase and can calmly face the integration of your change project – or not?

We at DiConneX GmbH are experts in BIM and Digital Twinning. We place particular emphasis on holistic considerations and individual methods and processes to accompany you individually and sustainably into the digital age. Change management in this context means that together with our consulting team, we will ensure a comprehensible and well-structured BIM implementation in your company. Have we aroused your interest? Keep up with the times and contact us at any time by phone or via the contact form.

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