How Architects Can Find and Align With the Right BIM and VDC Partner

  • August 24, 2021

Over the last few years in the architecture community, there’s been greater adoption of 3d scanning technology to create accurate as-builts and existing condition models. And certainly, the events of 2020 prompted a significant tailwind for this as many suddenly had to reconsider how site and structure information was gathered and shared.

Whether it was out of sudden necessity or wanting to reduce the risk of investing too much in BIM, many architects opted to outsource this part of the process to an outside partner. Going the partner route comes with a number of benefits such as not having to hire and train an in-house team or invest in equipment, and it gives you the flexibility to quickly scale up or down as needed. But not all partners are created equal and the wrong one can end up costing your firm in more ways than one.

In this final post of the three-part series on scan-to-BIM in architecture, we’ll provide tips for how to evaluate the right BIM partner and red flags that can help you avoid a potential pitfall.

Experience and expertise matter

Architects have unique needs and workflows that differ from their counterparts in the construction community. Any good BIM partner will understand those workflows and the unique needs of your architecture firm.

Tip #1: Find a partner with deep industry expertise and experience in working with architects.

When evaluating a potential partner, ask about not only their BIM and VDC expertise but also their experience in working with architects. They should be able to show you past project successes and the outcomes or deliverables of those projects. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask for references and talk to those references about their experience –– what went right, what went wrong, how did they handle obstacles and solve problems? Ask for case studies that match the size and scope of your project. Approach this as you would if you were hiring someone in-house.

The ideal partner should bring additional value beyond simply providing a 3d scan.

Technology makes a difference

The expectations in the building community are continuously evolving, and many of those standards can no longer be met without advanced technology. The level of technology a BIM/VDC partner uses is important.

Tip #2: Align with a partner that is invested in innovation.

Even if you’re not up to speed on the latest hardware or software, you can ask about how they approach innovation and staying current. How committed are they to their team’s ongoing education and development? What’s their plan for adopting new technology and sunsetting old technology? How frequently do they investigate and invest in new hardware and software? Are they willing to invest in a new tool to meet the needs of a specific project?

A partner’s commitment level to innovation is a big indicator of their adaptability and adoption of the latest technology.

Adaptability and accountability are key

Meeting schedule deadlines is table stakes. Though you should investigate their history of meeting deadlines, and if they’ve ever had to complete a project on a compressed timeline and how they executed it, you also want to know they are willing to work to your specifications.

Tip #3: Find a partner that is adaptable to your needs and accountable to your timeline.

A good partner will deliver documents to your specifications and work within your templates. Deliverables should be plug and play, not create extra work for your team. They should also possess a high EQ (emotional intelligence) and be able to empathize with your team and the way you do business to create alignment. A high EQ can also be an indicator of their accountability and ability to problem solve versus place blame.

Communication is also a core part of accountability. Frequent communication and an established chain of communication are important in any BIM project, no matter the size or scope. Ask potential partners what systems they have in place for regular check-ins and project management.

A good VDC partner should be like an extension of your team –– even if it is only for a very short time. They should enable you to expand your in-house capabilities and add to your competitive edge. If all of that aligns, then hopefully you’ve found a long-term strategic partner that you know you can rely on time and time again.