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BIM 360 Brings Real-time Inter-office Collaboration to Leading Consultancy Practice
Bailey Partnership wanted to gain the benefits of sharing architectural models, in addition to documents and data. They knew they could work more tightly if teams could share in real-time, contribute to models, and avoid the tedium previously associated with sending 2D drawings between offices, with all the time loss that such a process entailed.
Meet Bailey Partnership
Bailey Partnership is an award-winning design led construction consultancy providing multidisciplinary, integrated, and fully coordinated professional services in design and project management for the built environment. Established in 1971 and operating from offices in Plymouth, Exeter, Bristol and London, Bailey Partnership is a Building Magazine Top 150 consultancy.
Working with a wide range of clients across the UK and Europe, Bailey Partnership is always striving to build meaningful, enduring relationships with its clients and industry partners.
A constant focus on innovation is a central aspect of the company's commitment to continuous improvement, including workflows and adopting modern approaches to collaboration. Bailey Partnership wanted to gain the benefits of sharing architectural models, in addition to documents and data. They knew they could work more tightly if teams could share in real-time, contribute to models, and avoid the tedium previously associated with sending 2D drawings between offices, with all the time loss that such a process entailed.
The challenge – Working smarter and making concepts come alive for clients, internal teams, and contractors
“Now we can focus purely on what we do, rather than getting held up by how we do it."
Mike Smith, Senior Associate Architect and Practice BIM Manager, Bailey Partnership
Continuous improvement in quality outcomes: Enabling everybody everywhere to work together in real-time
Mike Smith is an experienced BIM enthusiast and advocate, who champions a methodical and technical approach which reduces costs in construction and frees up "more time to focus on creating better buildings." He joined Bailey Partnership at the start of 2018 as a Practice BIM Manager and Associate Architect. Part of Mike's remit is to pick up the pace at which the company takes BIM practices and conventions on board across its own processes. Another part is to drive continuous improvement in quality outcomes.
It was in pursuing this latter goal that Mike closely explored how Bailey Partnership's four offices worked together; how they passed designs between different teams who had complementary specialist skills but worked in different locations.
How to collaborate on architectural drawings and models
"We're confident cloud users here. It's how we collaborate on a daily basis, but there was a missing link," explains Mike. "We're working towards BIM Level 2 on all projects and that means we have to be able to work closely together on architectural drawings. Being able to do so is at the heart of BIM practices. The collaboration software we previously used didn't accommodate this requirement. We knew that BIM 360 Design could enable the collaboration capability we were looking for. We just had to put in some groundwork to be sure it would be the right step for the whole business and not just our architects. In that regard, it has exceeded all our expectations."
Build the business case: Assess ROI/time to value
As a first step in introducing a new way of working, the business case has to be sound. The change invariably affects the culture of an organisation and established modes of operation. A compelling logic behind any new software investment is essential, to convince all those who will be affected that it will be worth the effort, and the cost.
If the investment side works out but people are resistant to change, then adoption will be slow and ROI will be tricky. If the people are keen but the finances don’t stack up, a decision might be made that the time is not right for the investment. Money and motivation are of equal importance.
• Estimating the return on investment - Mike outlines how the Partners reached the decision, supported by a strong financial case: "We had to justify the cost against the benefit to the business. This was an exercise in simple mathematics. We divided the total costs of the licenses we'd need, by the number of users affected, to reach a cost per person. We then looked at the hourly cost of the current mode of operation around inter-office joint team working (and that's a process that would often necessitate people travelling between offices with all the associated travel costs and non-productive hours).
Traditionally, our architects would have to copy the model, and transfer it to another office where it would have to be re-opened, saved, worked on and then the whole process repeated to send the model back to the originator or project lead. The potential savings and the improvement in productive use of time were compelling reasons in themselves. Then we had to look at the people factor; how well BIM 360 would be adopted, and how quickly therefore it could generate a return on investment."
• Estimating time to value: More than just an architect's tool - Mike discovered that BIM 360 could benefit more than just the architects during the model creation phase. "Symetri planted the seeds of an idea as our planning progressed; we should purchase more licences than equated to the direct number of users, so that other disciplines could use the software too. As this idea gained momentum in the business, combined with the increase in productivity, everybody became a supporter. It has remained that way since we brought BIM 360 in."
Results: "Faster than we thought possible,” says Mike Smith
Bailey Partnership was up and running with BIM 360 in just four weeks; a timeline that delighted the senior management team and impressed Symetri. "The Symetri input had been invaluable from the start. When we were becoming familiar with how to use BIM 360 there were a few teething issues, mostly questions about how to use certain functions in the software. Symetri support was always on hand when we needed it; dedicated technicians at the end of a phone line ready to jump in with advice. They told us four weeks was a very fast time to value. It was reassuring to see our business case justified so quickly."
Real transformation: Extending capabilities, shrinking distance
Seamless resource allocation and optimisation
Mike states that the location issue was at the top of his agenda and that the barriers it created to uninterrupted productivity have now been removed. "We can now allocate resource to projects across all locations treating them as one cohesive, joined-up unit. It's easy for people to work with; across teams as well as within them. Open the model, work on it, save it, and everyone else can work on it at the same time, confident that the version they're looking at is always the latest version."
Bailey Partnership took on BIM 360 Docs along with BIM 360 Design. Cloud sharing for documents within the BIM 360 suite is integrated with design, unlike other cloud-based document sharing solutions. BIM 360 Docs allows access to the latest models, drawings, and associated documentation immediately from anywhere, enabling users to view, comment, and mark-up features; of value in QA and review processes and allowing interactivity with clients.
Better decisions and outcomes = more satisfied clients
"Both Revit and non-Revit users such as architects, directors and project managers can make more informed decisions far quicker," says Mike, "This significantly reduces project costs and delays. This is where Symetri's recommendation to obtain more licenses for extended business use outside the Revit team has paid dividends. Just through a web browser, our project managers and senior team can show the model to clients. They can conduct walk-rounds and fly-throughs in meetings, making any project automatically more collaborative as clients see how everything is going to look and understand far better at an earlier stage how everything is going to come together."
"Symetri took time to understand our plan and our business challenges, particularly around inter-office real-time working on Revit models. They demonstrated the value of BIM 360 as a business tool for non-Revit users as well as a powerful design tool. They've taken our collaboration capabilities well and truly into the digital age. We anticipate continued accelerated use of BIM 360 across our business."