Monday, November 18, 2013

BIM 101 for Andrew Hayward; Balfour Beatty plc: Head of Ethics, Risk and Assurance

On Sunday, August the 25th this year, within this blog I published the third instalment of the story I like to refer to as the ‘HK MTR BIM experiment’.

Although I was still very bitter over being fired mainly because of my actions related to this job (mainly, but not entirely) at the time of writing, I was still genuinely hoping to start an exchange of ideas going within the learned and even more importantly, experienced part of the global BIM community.
I was very eager not to breach confidentiality of the participants beyond quoting what was already out in the public domain. I definitely had no intention to create further cynicism towards mandating BIM, just wanted to call for caution, halt the horses of unbridled BIM enthusiasm that seemed to have driven some of the architects of the HK MTR’s 11xx line’s BIM framework as well as the creators behind many other large scale BIM initiatives currently in action all around the globe.

I wrote numerous blog-posts (at least the previously mentioned trilogy) I explained my story through a slideshow, with the help of my daughter, we turned it even into a youtube movie.
The reactions were meek, mooted, mostly negative, happening almost entirely behind closed doors, if anywhere.
Previously publicly available presentations on the goals and objectives of the grand ‘exercise’ were taken off air – then briefly put back just to disappear again for (I guess) good.
I suspect feverish modelling took place within many of the contractors’ offices to catch up with the dubious ‘3 month deadline’ so long gone, parallel with hastily amended specifications and briefs.
Could the entire line of contracts have been rewritten to suit the factual status of the job or had everyone just closed their eyes shut and hoped nothing bad will come out of this, I’ll probably never get to know, unless MTR ‘spills the beans’ 3 years down the track when the claims that were never supposed to happen due to the revolutionary BIM use still eventuate en masse?

For now, let me follow my colleague Andrew Hayward; (Balfour Beatty plc: Head of Ethics, Risk and Assurance) style who has bluntly dismissed my concerns of any wrong doings of Gammon on this case (as alleged by me and detailed on my other blog) and give him a just-as-arrogantly blunt lecture on BIM as set up on this large project by the HK MTR in collusion with their advisors and the actions that the directors of Gammon have taken to guide their project (and in turn BB) through this possibly fatal trap:

Timeline and background:
·         Sometime before 2012 Intelibuild had sold the idea of BIM being a great thing for MTR and employed ‘it’ at least on one project (West Kowloon Terminus project);
·         Sometime in 2012 MTR had negotiated and set in place a bunch of contracts with a number of contractors to build parts of the SCL (11xx) line and also obliged them to deliver those contract by following a highly prescriptive BIM approach.
·         This approach, though explained at a professional gathering where the CEO of Gammon was also presenting had somehow been missed by the bidders and later by the management of the project and the director in charge of BIM implementation. Missed and/or ignored.
·         As a result or due to some other reasons an unspecified amount of resources were spent by the project and the company on employing an alternative BIM, that was neither in line with what the client had asked for, nor had Gammon in house capabilities to deliver it.
·         An external consultant was hired to assist with the implementation of this non-complying BIM and engaged over a lengthy period of time.
·         I joined the company when it was close to the end of its 5th month of the contract. After my discovery of the mandated BIM and the 3 month cut-off I questioned the strategy of the project delivery team and the guidance given to them by the director in charge of BIM.
·         The struggle between them and me lasted around 6-8 weeks.
·         I foolishly assumed that the people in charge of the project truly wanted to tick all the boxes the client presented to them with minimal extra cost involved.
As in complying with the clients requirements, but also minimising the risk of unacceptable claims in the future and assisting the project delivery.
·         I had come up with various options of various risks and costs associated with each.
·         While all of this was happening the ‘alternative BIM’ set up by the BIM director carried on even though the goals or indeed results of it were not fully disclosed to me, yet all of it was technically under my portfolio. (The Head of Innovation reported to the BIM Director)
·         Even taking all its shortcoming into account, the MTR BIM spec had its heart on the right place and implemented correctly (or at least with the original intent intact) would have given the clients certainty beyond that normally awarded by contractors engaged on their projects.
·         The fact, that 8 months in their own contract Gammon was still trying to ‘all but wiggle out of this’ requirement is a testimony to their ‘special relationship’ with MTR.
·         The fact that they attempted to still get me take full responsibility for this non-compliance is a totally different story.
·         Or maybe it is not, just another part of the same one.
·         Either way, I got kicked out because I refused to implement a half-arsed approach to ‘a pretend BIM’, on the false pretence of saving money while probably much more money was being spent freely on BIM initiatives on this same project that benefited little more than the BIM director’s ego and his relationship with the alternative software and service supplier.

Everyone but me appears to treat this little incident as ‘water under the bridge’ and it could easily be seen a bit pretentious of me to think that me listing of these events will give Mr Andrew Hayward; (Balfour Beatty plc: Head of Ethics, Risk and Assurance) any new knowledge of what this ‘BIM thing’  is or may yet do to his ethics, risk and even assurance portfolio in the future.
But it may just get him to read up a bit on it and not just accept the assurance of any-old ‘BIM expert’ (even if he carries the reputation of a ‘trusted, talented director’) that things have all been done by the book.
Hong Kong may be a bit out of sight and out of mind but I’m not.

picture from here