How does the industry assess BIM Competency and Maturity?

I make no apology for the following statement “I personally have been interested in BIM competency assessments since 2011”, yes I know it is not the sexiest of subjects but please do read on to get to the good news bit.

How does the industry assess BIM Competency and Maturity?

I am sure many of you have heard of the term BIM Maturity or are familiar with some of the tools out there. The first one developed was by NBIMS CMM in 2007 which evaluated BIM in 11 areas using a 10-level scale, then graded your project into one of five levels of BIM maturity. The problem was users could adjust the weighting, skewing the results and opportunity for comparison.

Indiana University developed the IU BIM Proficiency Index in 2009 which evaluated BIM in 8 areas, 32 measures, and 5 maturity levels but within this system a score of zero indicated the non-existence of a BIM process, whereas a score of one indicted BIM was fully applied. I am sure many of you will appreciate the limitations here.

In 2011 BIM Quick Scan was launched in the Netherlands offered in two versions, a free online scan and a certified scan, the latter conducted by consultants who provided professional advice and recommendations based on the findings.

Penn State University in 2012 published their BIM Maturity Measurement tool, which was later adapted by Arup’s in the UK and publicised in 2014, with an aim to capture results and data from hundreds if not thousands of projects. This was a very noble objective, but once again in my view, the responses could be skewed depending on the interpretation by the person completing the evaluation.

One academic paper I sourced suggests that there are approximately 16 different BIM maturity measures out there, but I am sure there are more which will continue to evolve. If you want to explore this subject in more detail, I would highly recommend looking at the excellent research by Dr. Bilal Succar

It should be noted though, that the above systems are typically evaluating BIM Maturity at a project level, i.e. how projects apply BIM in delivery, and not the competency across an organisation. So, how do you assess an organisations BIM capability? This leads me onto my good news item which relates to Company or Organisation BIM competency assessments.

In 2011 CPIx published their BIM Assessment Forms which was a welcomed initiative, and it was proposed that they would provide a meaningful method of assessing a project member’s BIM competence and maturity. There are many valid questions within these forms, but in my opinion these forms are now very outdated, difficult to respond to, and often many of the returned forms simply included cut and pasted sections from the introductions of the BIM related standards. You can nod and smile now if you have ever done this. PAS91 Construction Pre-Qualification Questionnaires, which are widely used, consists of a primary question and four simple sub-questions relating to BIM, including an acceptance that staff will require BIM training and support during project delivery. The primary BIM question in PAS91 is the following:

“The questions O4-Q2 to O4-Q5 need not be completed if your organization holds a third-party certificate of compliance with PAS 1192-2:2013 *(or equivalent) issued by a Conformity Assessment Body accredited to provide conformity assessment services to that standard e.g. accredited by UKAS, and can provide information to evidence this”.

Yes, the world has moved on a bit since this publication especially considering PAS 1192-2:2013 has now been withdrawn and replaced with IS0 19650, but this leads us nicely into the world of BIM Accreditation and Certification schemes. I am convinced that third party independent assessment is a valid approach and Symetri partnered with Lloyds Register in 2016 after customers confirmed and agreed with this ethos, but not all the schemes are the same in quality or even in focus areas. I have been for a long time publicly shouting out that these schemes should be aligned to a minimum standard under the guidance of the UK Accreditation Service (UKAS) the National Accreditation Body. I was never alone with this point of view and in fact in 2017 the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI), as the key government stakeholders asked UKAS to consider how a common approach to accredited certification for organisations offering BIM Level 2 services could be delivered. Three years on and this initiative is moving forward. In my opinion the standards had to move from Publicly Available Specifications to either British or International Standards to provide a firm footing before UKAS could proceed. There also had to be an appetite for these schemes, Lloyds Register and other providers have demonstrated this very well, with interest and adoption increasing exponentially every single year.

UKAS are now embarking on a Pilot Assessment Programme for an accredited certification to ISO 19650-2. The pilot assessment programme will carry out assessments against the requirements of ISO/IEC 17065:2012 Conformity assessment — Requirements for bodies certifying products, processes, and services. The objective of this pilot assessment programme will be to confirm the applicability of the relevant standards, identify any areas which need further guidance and to establish a proportionate and robust assessment approach, all of which I very much welcome. Lloyds Register already deliver UKAS-accredited certification schemes and are now actively supporting this pilot with UKAS, but I will not be so bold to predict exact timelines here due to the current global health crisis and the impact it may have. The original timeline was nine months, so let’s just for now assume it is not too far away and being progressed.

When our colleagues at Lloyds Register confirmed this news at the start of the year, I was so happy. I have seen the value the current Lloyds Register scheme has provided to customers by aligning BIM to their business processes, but to unify all the schemes to a minimum, proportionate but robust assessment process can only benefit all parties, including Clients/Employers who wish to be confident in their supply chains competency and capacity to deliver a BIM enabled project.

I do hope you also see this as a good initiative for industry, even though you may not be as excited as me by BIM competency assessments.

So, what’s next?

You could wait until a formal UKAS accredited scheme is launched (time yet to be confirmed) or you could use the disruption the current global health crisis is causing to prepare and be ahead of competitors. This could be by updating your current standard methods and procedures to ISO 19650, ensuring there are no process gaps, or obtaining BIM Level 2 + ISO 19650 Accreditation/Certification via Lloyds Register or other providers. This final recommendation is because the schemes within the pilot will transfer to the UKAS scheme when formally launched, but any previous or current investment will be maintained, and any changes or additional requirements will be managed via the annual surveillance visits, so there is no need to wait.