Cascading & cumulative, BIM benefits multiply on complex projects

by STEVE JONESSenior Director, Dodge Data & Analytics (DD&A) | Aug 23, 2015

A TOOL IS ONLY AS GOOD AS THE RESULTS IT PRODUCES. The compelling business case for Building Information Modeling (BIM) hinges on the ability of users to demonstrate tangible and meaningful improvements repeatedly to a variety of project outcomes, positively impacting all key stakeholders.

Because those stakeholders’ fates are intertwined, the positive impact of BIM is cumulative through successive stages of a project, with design and preconstruction benefits contributing directly to improving downstream construction outcomes. When well-deployed, BIM can benefit the entire project delivery process for everyone. And ultimately, owners can leverage key data from model-based processes for decades of enhanced operations.


Complex projects such as hospitals, laboratories, airports and high-tech manufacturing have the greatest risk for costly problems, but our new SmartMarket Report, Measuring the Impact of BIM on Complex Buildings, demonstrates that the use of BIM has a high impact on reducing the risks and increasing the success rate of these projects. Based on interviews and surveys that were conducted this spring, the 58-page study was made possible primarily by the premiere partner support of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and additional funding from AIA, Microsol Resources, VDCO Tech, the buildingSMARTalliance, and Skanska. 


Owners, architects, engineers and contractors with significant BIM experience rated the impact of BIM on 23 separate complex project outcomes throughout the design and construction process, with the largest percentage noting the following:

  • 74% of contractors and 64% of architects report BIM has high impact improving the constructability of the final design, which can reduce or eliminate expensive rework in the field, and improve cost and schedule performance;
  • 73% of owners find that the use of BIM has a high impact on increasing their understanding of proposed design solutions, increasing their involvement in the design process and their satisfaction with the finished building;
  • 71% of engineers find that BIM has a high impact on improving the quality and function of the final design, traditionally thought impossible to do without increasing cost.

“As an industry, we need quantified metrics throughout the design and construction process to establish the solid business case for BIM on complex projects,” says Renee Tietjen, senior architect at the VA and agency-wide BIM program manager. “This was our goal in commissioning the study, and we hope that it is both a guide and an inspiration for project teams everywhere to continue careful evaluation of improvements from BIM and all the contributing factors that drive them.”


Metrics for positive outcome improvements cited by BIM users in the report include:

  • 40% of owners find that BIM use on complex projects accelerates completion by 5% or more;
  • 41% of contractors report that BIM reduces final construction cost by 5% or more.

The research also examines the drivers that enable these results. Better construction documents and improved teamwork and collaboration are widely recognized by all respondents as major contributors to project success. In addition, 63% of owners and 72% of contractors consider early trade contractor involvement to be a critical factor to achieve improved outcomes.




Our BIM studies over the last eight years have consistently shown that the industry sees value in BIM. However, this is the first study to start quantifying that value across hundreds of BIM users. There are enough successful completed BIM projects now to shift the conversation from stepwise process improvements for individual team members to tangible, repeatable and scalable impacts on overall project outcomes. That’s what will truly transform the industry.

The author is Senior Director of Industry Insights at DD&A. With Dodge since 2003, he has long been a respected thought leader on the impact of AEC technologies and high-performance project delivery. Jones previously held senior leadership positions at Primavera Systems (now Oracle) and KPA Design Group (now Stantec). He can be reached at

DD&A’s Donna Laquidara-Carr, PhD, LEED AP, also contributed to the report.

Note: This article Is from the BuiltWorlds archives. Some links, images, and text may not appear or function as in the original.