Variations are the bread and butter of the industry.
This is, of course not something that people will willingly admit to, after all it gives a bad image to accept that the ‘oil’ of the industry is something that should be eliminated by all logic of fair markets.
Add to this, that for years almost all BIM promoters used the ‘No Variation’ promise to sell the idea of the industry (or at least their direct targets) upgrading to BIM – and considering the advancement of Mandated BIM in recent years by that logic, there should be little left to combine BIM and Variations, apart to keep promoting that when BIM works, no Variations will occur, or if they do, they happen so early in the project that their cost/time impacts are insignificant. (visualize here those curvy graphics that give absolute ‘proof’ to this theory).
Yet, I think that those prepared to analyze and understand the reality of the industry without constantly looking through rose-tinted glasses, and what variations do to all participants on a daily basis will find BIM (in almost any shape or form) useful when tackling variations, regardless of what side of the ‘variation fence’ they may be sitting.
One area is ‘Visualizing Claims’.
Nowadays a claim for a variation (and/or EOT) will include massive numbers of drawings, BOQs, complicated P6 schedules and often lengthy narratives. Yet, a series of screenshots of even a rudimental 3-4D model will tell the same story in a much more powerful way. For the latter to happen, one would of course need someone that had the ability to make or at least manage models, be able to interrogate and eyeball commercial managers, planners, delay analysist and the like, while often being mocked and looked at as techy-jockeys of pretend-sciences.
Regardless, if one is prepared to go beyond these somewhat unpleasant treatments and persevere and win the support of the claiming – or claim assessing teams – the results could be really pleasing for all.
So, BIM-mers out there with a bit of ‘oomph’ give it a go and plant yourselves within your organization’s Claim teams. Trust me, nothing beats the joy of successfully visualizing a screwed up critical path or uncovering the knock-on effects of a small omission in a Claim. It does help to be highly conversant in modelling and have a good handle on how buildings are put together as well as be aware of the tactics QS-s and Planners usually use to pull the wool over each other’s eyes – but some of these skills can be developed even while the BIM Claim exercises are under way.
The next step of BIM involvement would be assisting in ‘Quantifying Claims’
This part is definitely not for the faint hearted of the BIM practitioners. No matter how much is said in BIM promos on ‘Automatically Getting quantities off BIM models’ – one needs to know how to model ‘construction style’ and derive quantities comparable to traditional BOQs understood by average QS’s. Still, when it works, it works beautifully. In a supporting environment aligning the two sides – construction modellers and claim (creating or assessing) QS’s could be and should be possible.
I kept this post pretty generic, I do know, of course how to write very detailed ‘how to’ instructions, for both approaches (could be called Standard and Advanced version of BIM support to Claim Management); Anyone interested to know more, contact me through my LinkedIn profile.