In this era of digital transformation, contractors are discovering the payoffs that come from using digital tools to unlock the hidden value that exists in the data they already have on hand. For architecture, engineering, and construction firms, modern cloud-based ERP systems are a central piece of this puzzle, and we use the word “central” advisedly. Moving scattered and disorganized data out of its silos and into a single centralized database unlocks insights and efficiencies that would otherwise have gone undiscovered.
For these construction companies, Building Information Modeling (BIM) solutions are another crucial piece of this puzzle. Adoption of BIM brings with it immense benefits in terms of everything from collaboration and planning to cost management.
In certain respects, BIM can be compared to lean manufacturing—it’s an approach that reduces costs, waste, inefficiency, and risk through better and more strategic planning. In fact, a survey by Dodge Data Analytics, U.S. contractors reported an overall increase in ROI thanks to BIM utilization driven by:
- a 25% improvement in labor productivity;
- a 25% reduction in labor;
- a 5% reduction in final construction costs; and
- a 5% boost in speed of completion.
But here’s the key point. Some of the best and biggest rewards arrive when both of the puzzle pieces—ERP and BIM—are in place.
That’s because integrating BIM technology with the capabilities of an AI-enabled, cloud-based ERP such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central results in a whole that’s far greater than the sum of the parts. Let’s look at why.
The ABCs (and the 8 Ds) of BIM
BIM, as you’re probably aware, uses digital tools and technologies to go beyond 2D blueprints and create intelligent 3D digital models of not only physical facilities themselves, but also their functional characteristics in a way that’s dynamic, continually updated, and accessible to multiple stakeholders.
But sophisticated BIM technology goes well beyond 3D facility design to incorporate the fourth dimension, time, with 4D scheduling data, as well as cost data (sometimes described as 5D), and even factors like sustainability (6D), facility management (7D), and occupational health (8D).
One of the greatest benefits of BIM is that if you change one aspect of the plan, the building model is smart and responsive enough to calculate and incorporate the impact of that change on the rest. Enlarge one room in a house, and you will have to reduce one or more others to accommodate it. Change one milestone in the schedule, and you will likely need to adjust others as well.
And if you’ve got a design clash, like trying to run an HVAC duct through a load-bearing wall, or a lack of buffer space, or problems with scheduling or workflow, BIM technology will identify and flag those problems for you so you can address them before you get so far down the road that they become major headaches.
How BIM Drives Success for Constructions Firms
Here are some of the other transformative benefits of BIM.
BIM allows all stakeholders—from architects and engineers to builders and contractors—to collaborate continuously instead of working in silos and consulting separate sources of information. Working from a shared model and communicating changes in real time reduces miscommunication and misunderstandings, and prevents situations where incompatibilities aren’t discovered until it is more expensive or inconvenient to correct them.
With the intelligent workflows that BIM technology creates, any change made during construction automatically updates the planning and data for all stakeholders.
The need for rework has substantial negative impacts on both budgets and schedules. The improved planning and problem-spotting that BIM makes possible reduces rework and keeps projects moving ahead smoothly.
Efficiency and Productivity
Better access to accurate data for all stakeholders also boosts project momentum, allowing everyone to perform their roles with confidence and fewer delays while waiting for updated plans or requested information. It helps make sure projects are completed on schedule, as well. When everyone is on the same page, deadlines are easier to meet.
BIM makes it easier to estimate and manage costs at every stage of the process, through better access to real-time data and smarter forecasting tools, as well as the way it helps to eliminate the root causes of cost overruns as noted above.
Smarter planning, better collaboration, and more accurate forecasting minimize wasted time, labor, and materials, which in turn boosts sustainability and drives better cost management.
Better planning and communication, the ability to spot and address potential problems in advance, and less rework in general all help improve jobsite safety for work teams.
BIM technology helps identify tasks and process that can be automated, which means skilled workers can reserve their time and focus for high-level tasks. That also helps contractors address the ongoing scarcity of skilled labor.
The Payoffs of BIM + ERP Integration
As you can see from the list above, the most transformative benefits of BIM are powered and enhanced by real-time access to complete and accurate data at every stage for the collaborative team.
And that’s why integrating BIM with a cloud-based, fully modern ERP such as Dynamics 365 Business Central that can also leverage the power of AI, machine learning, and sophisticated analytics is crucial to achieving those rewards.
With BIM + ERP integration, you get a single source of truth with less redundancy of effort, reduced expenses for IT, and the advanced forecasting and modeling capabilities you need to accurately visualize projects from start to finish, and make a quantum leap forward in terms of successful management, execution, and results.
How Sikich Can Help You Achieve BIM + ERP Integration
Sikich can help your construction firm integrate BIM with Dynamics 365 Business Central. We leverage leading third-party applications to seamlessly connect the two and streamline operations from start to finish.
Take advantage of enhanced workflows and avoid time-consuming data entry or unforeseen delays. Let your team focus on what they do best.
Want to learn more about how Sikich can help you achieve the rewards of BIM + ERP integration? Reach out to us today.