BIM Execution Plan for pre-Operation Phase

Development of BIM Execution Plan for BIM Model Management during the Pre-Operation Phase:A Case Study - Yu-Cheng Lin et al. Buildings 2016

Background and introducution to the study

More and more projects are designed and built with the support of BIM tools and BIM processes. As a natural progression of this many owners are considering implementing BIM support also for the operational phase of the building life cycle, and using those new build projects to spearhead the transition to BIM for FM.

In parallel BIM for FM is turning into a hot marketing topic and the messaging kind of assumes the power of contracts, regulations, government initiatives and owner involvement during the project phases will bridge the gap between construction and operations. BIM supported operations will run smoothly from day one.

Our experience is a bit different. We also see the big potential and we see visionary owners and facility managers well on their way to transform how buildings will be operated. But we also see that there is no free lunch for the pioneers. There is still hard work to do to bridge the gap between handover and operations and new technology and new work processes mean that a big change management effort is needed.

We are sharing our journey here on this blog, but we are also interested to learn from other sources. When we look for academic work on this topic most of the available research are centered around either

  • How models and modelling can support efficient operations, or
  • Optimizing project closeout and commissioning to make sure good as built and operation and maintenance data are handed over to the owner

Again the processes are expected to move nicely into each other, or the researchers have decided to focus on each of these in isolation. There are exceptions however. In today's blog post we will look at a study that describes a process to bridge the gap between commissioning and operations.

BIM execution plan for the pre-operations phase

(This post is the first in a series where we will summarize a relevant and interesting research paper covering a topic relevant for Building Information Management and/ or Facility Management. Look for the "Areo Papers" tag to see more papers as the list grows.)

About the study

The study suggests there should be an early stage of operations (pre-Operation) after project closeout and before the main operations phase. During this pre operations phase the delivered as-built models need to be confirmed and updated according to the FM requirements of the owner. The study proposes and develops a BIM execution plan for BIM FM model management for during the pre-operation phase. The study also include learnings from a case study where the proposed BIM execution plan was implemented

The primary objectives of this study include:

  • identifying for owners the primary problems regarding BIM implementation for FM;
  • developing for owners a BIM execution plan during the pre-operation phase; and
  • exploring limitations, addressing problems, and providing suggestions based on the implementation of the pilot case study.

Proposed BIM execution plan for the early stages after closeout

The research proposes a BIM execution plan consisting of seven core elements for BIM for FM model management in this pre-operations phase. All the seven elements should be documented for future sharing and revision. The elements are :

BIM FM Execution Plan core elements

  • BIM-FM Implementation Team - Establishment of a proper team with roles and responsibilities. The study proposes seven major roles : FM manager, owner, BIM Engineer, IT Engineer, FM Staff, Facility Suppliers and Users.
  • BIM-FM strategy - Goals and objectives for implementing BIM for FM should be defined with the whole FM team including top management.
  • BIM-FM documents - The study proposes development of documents and tables to assist with BIM model inspection work. The documents and schedules describe both what information should be in the models and also what documentation should be linked with BIM model elements.
  • BIM-FM Process - To accomplish BIM for FM usage current processes needs to be documented, new BIM processes needs to be designed and transition processes needs to be developed. A combination of knowledge of both existing processes, new process and technological possibilities are important for this step.
  • BIM FM information Collection - This step involves identifying the information to be displayed and integrated with the BIM models. The information needs of the organisation needs to be defined, including element breakdowns, level of development and facility data
  • BIM Models Inspection Mechanism - When as-built models are handed over to the owner, there is a need to inspect the final BIM models for FM usage. The process includes inspection of BIM element information, verifying positioning and determining what information requires updates and revision. Model inspection can be done on site with the BIM models on tablets for model inspection. Issues and deviations can then be logged directly with descriptions, photos and links to the model.
  • Rules for BIM for FM model usage - the study splits this item in two parts. First it proposes “Color plan development of BIM Models”. This coloring approach describes a very visual way of using the models to manage and analyse the facility during operations. One source of coloring is facility/ equipment classification. Another is use of coloring schemes for different statuses. The study also discusses Level of Detail (LOD) under this item. The suggestion is that not all BIM models/ elements require LOD 500 as a FM requirement. The reason for this is that the need for detail needs to be balanced with the challenges of big and bulky models. The study proposes a detailed required sheet to understand the needed level of detail for each element type. The second item in this main component is described as “The confirmation of Information for BIM Model”. This item summarizes five types of required information for each model element. They are basic information, geometric information, detailed information, supplementary information and related maintenance information. The study includes a sample required sheet with checklist items for each of the listed categories

Case study

The paper references a case study where the proposed BIM execution plan was applied to a new building project in Taiwan. Due to confidentiality reasons the details of the case study is not discussed but some interesting material is included, e.g. screenshots of :

  • Views of the model before and after the pre-operations phase (Missing equipment in the handed over model was added to the Operations model).
  • Use of the detailed required sheet to identify missing element properties and updating them in the operations model.

Recommendations from the study

_The following recommendations are based on feedback from the case study:

  • successful BIM implementation adoption should be supported by top management of the owner
  • processes and strategy must be developed to encourage maturation of the BIM execution plan during the early stages of the operation phase
  • further effort is required to train FM staff using BIM software to handle revised and updated BIM as-built models
  • further effort and additional approaches are required to overcome reluctance to adopt BIM technology for FM during the early stages of the operation phase
  • senior FM staff should be trained to use the as-built models, as many could not use them without assistance
  • initial case study results should be used to educate users about BIM software adoption
  • staff should receive additional training, as required._


The paper states that “The combined results of the case study demonstrated that the proposed BIM execution plan was an effective management approach for operation and maintenance management”.

_The principal advantages of the proposed BIM execution plan, based on questionnaire results, were:

  • the FM staff and BIM engineers were able to identify and develop processes for BIM management based on their specific requirements
  • the FM staff were able to provide guidance on detailed integrated management work of BIM and FM through the proposed documents
  • the project engineers were able to track the newest versions of as-built models and briefly view changes when using them
  • the proposed BIM execution plan enhanced version and change management of as-built models easily and effectively in the web environment._

Limitations and challenges

The findings of the case study also revealed several limitations of the proposed BIM execution plan and its use. As we will see many of the challenges are not just with the plan itself but as expected it is just as much challenges in the quality and completeness of the data and the need lack of skills, resources and focus on this new way of working.

A summary of the findings were :

  • Big differences between the as‐built BIM models and the as built building
  • Developing of the proposed BIM execution plan initially lengthened the project schedule by two months
  • FM staff lacked the skills and time to confirm the accuracy of as-built BIM models and revise the errors.
  • FM staff lacked the skills required for BIM model development and therefore needed a lot of support from BIM engineers to supplement missing content
  • BIM models for operation require constant maintenance to keep them updated
  • Advanced management procedures and mechanisms for quality management of BIM models for FM must be identified and developed in the future.
  • One of the most challenging tasks with implementing BIM execution plan is the involvement of the BIM engineer in the project.
  • It is very difficult when these organizations lack the skilled BIM engineer or managers.
  • Based on the case study, some of the FM staff was reluctant in using BIM during the BIM implementation, since they thought their own work would increase because of their direct involvement.
  • Every BIM use for FM project is unique with different strengths, weaknesses, and priorities. Therefore, it is important to remember that any BIM execution plan for BIM requires different and significant effort for implementation.

Attribution and further studies

Areo welcomes this important research and thank the authors - Yu-Cheng Lin, Yen-Pei Chen, Wan-Ting Huang and Chia-Chun Hong - for the contribution. We are also grateful that the research was provided as an open access article to the community distributed under the Creative Commons by Attribution (CC-BY) licence

The end of the paper points to further related research (focus on strategic planning during the operation for continuing BIM model development, and further exploration of BIM management and strategies for FM) and we are looking forward to further learnings from the research group.