Wednesday, 8 January 2014

BIM, Process Planning and Mind Manager

I've been looking for a tool to capture the complex task relationships and dependencies on our projects. This interest arose from a recognition of that, while resource management software like Deltek can produce great utilisation and billing reports, a more visual tool is needed to communicate the on-going status of project tasks. As a high-level template for identifying the key project stages, I referred to the RIBA Plan of Work, which is the definitive UK model for the building design and construction process. It is generic enough to be applicable to all project typologies. it's clear that other standards would be applicable elsewhere.

Whereas in earlier versions of this process map, the project stages were indentified alphabetically, the latest edition uses a numerical sequence of work stages:
  • 0 - Strategic definition.
  • 1 - Preparation and brief.
  • 2 - Concept design.
  • 3 - Developed design.
  • 4 - Technical design.
  • 5 - Construction.
  • 6 - Handover and close out.
  • 7 - In use.
    The BIM Overlay to the RIBA Plan of Work was issued in 2012. It sought to map core BIM activities onto the key stages within design and contructiion process.

    I've used MS Project in the past and find that it's not the best tool when you have many tasks of unknown duration. I decided to try Mind Manager as a tool for developing a visual task breakdown. If you insert a few work stages and add the BIM Overlay comments as a callout, they look something like this:

    Let's say that we then expand on these Stages with sub-topics for a number of Management Activity Zones:
    • Development Management
    • Project Management
    • Resource Management
    • Design Management
    • Production Management
    • Facilities Management
    • Health & Safety, Statutory and Legal Management
    • Process Management
    The Map then looks like this:



    We can then apply an breakdown of the key processes within each zone. For this, we can apply the Process Protocol, a freely downloadable set of documentation developed by the University of Salford in the early 2000's. The processes defined therein are applicable to any project.

    The GANNT feature of Mind Manager (View tab) facilitates the mapping of actual project processes, milestones and even resourcing into the Map. I used part of the LG Science Park project schedule to see how this would work. The result was very encouraging.


    Some would ask: 'What this this got to do with BIM?' I would answer that the integration and monitoring of tasks (including individual BIM tasks) is a key means of implementing process transparency and efficiency on our projects.

    Mind Manager is by no means the only game in town, but I'm keen to discover the value that we can derive from such a useful tool.

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