As a consequence of an explosion of BIM services demand, although there are still shortages of qualified BIM resources, many new BIM providers are appearing. If you decide to outsource work, you can find yourself with serious problems to the extents of not being able to construct, with payments withhold, because of choosing the wrong BIM partner.
Exactly the same can occur when hiring the wrong employee; however the intentions of this article focus on decisions to sub-contract BIM modeling efforts.
After speaking with several of our clients, we have coined five tips, on how to pick your BIM service provider.
1. Check specific experience
It is not only recommendable to find out how long the potential BIM provider has been in business, but also how long they have been providing the specific services you are requiring.
First check their portfolio and go into detail on what type of services they have provided for those projects and its claims. For example, if you are a subcontractor looking for someone to help you with BIM co-ordination requirements, a provider that only possesses “BIM design” experience is not appropriate. It is necessary to have a provider possessing “BIM construction” experience.
Everybody will probably claim 3D, 4D, 5D, 6D….XD. The reality is very few possess real lifecycle experience. So, ask for a specific scope of works on those past experiences your prospect providers have had.
2. Ask for references
Everyone can claim “we focus on quality” and “we provide the best service”, but just like when you hire an employee where their experience can always look fantastic, you need to check the facts. There is nothing like talking with someone that has already gone through the experience of working with such firm or individual.
When referring to such references, question specifically about “weaknesses”. One thing is producing a quality As-Built Model, another very different skill is producing BIM coordination for a sub-contractor, and another is providing a FM data-rich BIM model etc. It is also recommendable to raise the question of work quality, and how knowledgeable and how responsive the provider is.
3. Don’t confuse “low hourly rate” with your real cost
A low hourly rate is most of the times irrelevant when comparing bottom line cost. Obviously extremes are relevant; a really high hourly rate will affect total cost. There are three main aspects, first of all the quantity of hours a BIM consultant will take to complete a project. This can affect the total cost more than the actual cost per hour. Secondly, how much your own staff takes to complete the project. Finally, what would be the cost if the BIM work is not accepted by the client, or if you are missing deadlines and subsequently not receiving invoice payments.
Ultimately, a lump sum fee is the most suitable payment solution understanding “consultant’s direct cost”. Whereby, perhaps you can allow the “coordination” portion of the proposal to be T&M (Time and Material), because it can be unforeseeable, and you do not want the provider to inflate the quote just in case. However, it is critical to trust your provider of course.
If you have to babysit your provider, and your own staff due to a lack of BIM knowledge, this is where cheap can become expensive. For instance, if BIM deliverables are not on time, and not of acceptable quality, this is probably the main source of project deliverables pain. Alas, payments as contractor can be held and those are typically much bigger numbers than “BIM services fees”. When you hire someone that either is not experienced or does not have enough staff to deliver, this can be a risk.
4. Accessibility is critical
Expect for those rare cases where timing is not an issue, it is highly recommendable to hire a BIM consultant that is accessible, someone who responds to e-mails or calls within a couple of hours. This is specifically important for fast track projects. Accessibility depends mainly on a couple of things:
a) Company Culture to respond imminently or quickly. The provider can be in an adjacent building, but if they are not experienced in responding quickly, that can create a lot of stress during project performance.
b) Time zone is important to have a good time overlap, especially during a BIM co-ordination project.
5. Size…sometimes does matter
Company size particularly matters when a project is of a certain size, because a team with several BIM resources may be required. But even on smaller projects, if a modeler is sick and subsequently unavailable, it is essential to avoid an impact on deliverables. Furthermore, this is where defined company structure is imperative.
Finally, of course these are not the only important highlights; nonetheless these points serve as a basis when making the right decision for successful project delivery.
If you like to know more about how we can help you with your BIM needs, call us at 949-340-6924 or email: Axel.Kruger@ENGworks.com