Who’s Leading Your Project’s BIM Effort?

Building Information Modeling (BIM) Coordination has become a common, yet critical, part of large construction projects and complicated renovations.  When providing BIM Proposals for my Contractor partners lately, I’ve been surprised by how many General Contractors are placing the responsibility of “VDC Manager” (Virtual Design and Construction) on the Mechanical Contractor.

What Is The Role Of The VDC Manager?

The VDC Manager is responsible for organizing the efforts of the BIM Coordination Team.  This person typically establishes the meeting schedule, organizes the team, manages clash detection, encourages off-line coordination, and most importantly, keeps the effort on track so that construction deadlines can be met and direction from the coordination team can be ready.  Many other tasks are handled by a good VDC Manager (see list below).

Who Should Be The VDC Manager?

The General Contractor reasons that since the Mechanical Contractor has the largest part of the BIM Coordination effort and typically a good grasp on the coordination process, they are in the best position to lead this effort.  The challenge is that the Mechanical Contractor DOES have the heaviest workload of the BIM Coordination team.  With all that they have to model and coordinate, they can easily be distracted from the responsibilities of the VDC Manager.  We typically partner with Electrical Contractors, it seems to me to be a conflict of interest.  The Mechanical contractor, understandably, has the Mechanical piping and HVAC installation and efficiency as their priority.

It would be like asking the Tater Tot manufacturer to set the menu for school lunches – you know tater tots will be on the menu every day.

The most successful BIM Coordination Teams we have been a part of were lead by a dedicated VDC Manager.  His focus is to:

  • Encourage communication between the trades throughout the effort
  • Organize and facilitate solutions to clashes
  • Act as a liaison between the General Contractor, Design Team, and the BIM Coordination Team
  • Ensure the integrity of the Coordination Model
  • Enforce the diligence of all involved to adhere to the BIM Execution Plan
  • Provide the coordinated model according to the project schedule

The Challenge For Small To Medium Sized General Contractors

Large General Contractors typically have a department that handle the VDC Manager position on each project.  At times however, these departments can be overloaded.  As a solution, sometimes smaller projects they are managing will delegate the VDC Manager role to the Mechanical Contractor (see above challenges with such a decision).  Other small to medium sized general contractors do not have a department that handle the BIM Coordination effort, resulting in this, again, being handled by the Mechanical Contractor.

A Better Solution

For a multitude of reasons, having a dedicated VDC Manager is a better solution for all BIM Coordination Teams, Owners, and Projects.  To assist with this need, Jigsaw Solutions is now offering dedicated VDC Manager services.  Contact us today if this is a service your company could benefit from.