What is BIM?

What is BIM?

If you’ve come this far, it is because you have probably already heard the phrases “implement BIM”, “BIM implementation” or “BIM methodology” more than once. But what does BIM actually mean? What is implementing BIM? What is needed for an implementation? In this article we will seek to answer these questions.


A BIM implementation consists of moving from using an analogous, isolated system, with little information incorporated and fundamentally manual, to another system that is characterized by information management; a parametric system that will tend to be open, that is based on collaboration and that will lead us to work in an integrated way.

We are, then, moving from working in islands to working in interconnected ecosystems, and if we are going to work in an interconnected way we need to speak the same language, follow the same policy, at least within the project team, and work under the same process system.

Traditional workflow vs. Collaborative workflow

In order to be able to work in this interconnected ecosystem, and to guarantee the continuity and scalability of BIM, this need should be part of the organizational strategy. For this reason, a BIM implementation must articulate 4 dimensions: processes, policies, technology and people.

Diagram of BIM dimensions, developed by ®Estudio ESE.


Regarding the process dimension, it will be necessary to establish process maps and workflows.


In the policy dimension, standards, guidelines, manuals and protocols should be defined.


Hardware and software infrastructure must also be implemented.


Finally, it is necessary to work with the human dimension, with the people who are ultimately at the center of this transformation.

This human dimension includes both technical training in software such as Revit, Archicad, Navisworks, Synchro, Presto, Solibri, etc., as well as how to work at each stage, how to exchange key information at the right time and with third parties, so that it is understandable to all parties, i.e., how to speak this new language.

Diagram of BIM dimensions with focus on people, elaborated by ®Estudio ESE.

Undoubtedly the 4 dimensions are essential, but the balance and strength of the digital transformation is based on people.


Articulating the 4 dimensions for BIM implementation is closely related to the BIM maturity levels, defined by the English specialized academy in 2008 through the Bew-Richard scheme.

They are referred to as "BIM maturity levels", but a simpler way is to think of them as states. This model, at a general level, speaks of 3 or 4 states, depending on whether we consider 0 as the initial state.

Simplistically, the states are: CAD, modeling, collaboration and integration.

BIM maturity levels model by Bew-Richard.

Level 0 or PreBIM.

It does not involve any type of collaboration and is characterized by manual production in CAD formats. Communication problems, higher demands and complexities are detected.

Level 1.

Parametric and automated production. Use of modeling software such as Revit or Archicad, but as an internal tool to achieve traditional deliverables. Models are not shared among project members. This is why this level is known as "lonely BIM".

Level 2.

Process changes and collaboration occur. The core is the implementation of the BEP (BIM Execution Plan). At this level models become important. Models are exchanged between collaborators. They are federated. ISO 19650:2018 is applied. A methodology is applied.

It is a model-based collaboration. We move from modeling to collaboration. Different agents exchange models or databases. Non-proprietary formats are exchanged, such as IFC. Interferences can be detected here. Standards are adapted. This is why it is known as the "collaborative BIM" level.

A document that internationally is known as EIR, also called in some countries as BIM Information Request or BIM Terms of Reference, which establishes the requirements for the exchange of project information, is very important.

Level 3.

At this level known as "Open BIM" there are paradigm shifts. The design is integrated from the start, based on the network. Several agents work in a federated model. Collaboration takes place in real time. The methodology is stretched over time during the life cycle of the project.

Obviously this is a very complex flow to implement but it achieves real-time collaboration from the beginning and throughout the life cycle. This increases the efficiency and effectiveness of processes and results.

The benefits are better risk management, lower construction costs, better integrated design, more reliable information, improved quality and a better understanding of the asset.


But then, what is implementing BIM? After having reviewed the maturity levels, it could be said that implementing BIM is taking the organization from its current state to maturity level 2.

This objective can be achieved by working on the necessary components, or in other words, by working on each of the dimensions as well as on the articulation between them.


A BIM implementation plan will start with a diagnosis to detect which components to work on, the organizational objectives, the time frame and the economic availability, among other variables. It is important at this point to be aware of the expected return, team availability, experience, capabilities and existing assets.

When we achieve greater clarity in this regard, we continue with the implementation plan and, once approved, we move forward in its execution to reach the last stage, which is the consolidation stage.

In summary, an implementation process is basically divided into the following 4 stages: diagnosis, creation of the plan, execution and consolidation.

In Estudio ESE we have accompanied companies through the 4 stages that include BIM implementation, in order to successfully reach the goal of maturity level 2, and start working collaboratively.

If you would like to receive more information about BIM implementation in organizations, or would like to schedule a meeting, please contact us at hello@axetbim.com