BIM Execution Plans: The Importance of an Owner’s Clarity of Communication

June 25, 2021 0 Comments


Have you ever dealt with issues stemming from miscommunication? Whether personal or professional, clear communication is essential to remove ambiguity and potential conflict from any situation. The development of a BIM Execution Plan (BEP) is one area where clear, succinct communication is vital. While there are many facets of communication that are essential in BEP development, we will be highlighting some of the most frequently encountered issues and applied solutions:

1.       Influence vs. Manipulation

2.       Conflict Resolution

3.       Written Communication

By understanding how these tools are used in BEP development, BIM Execution Plans become more effective and useful, making sure your projects “start off on the right foot”. The ultimate goal is to foster productive and collaborative relationships to assist in your BEP development and implementation. 

Why Owner Influence can be Better than Owner Leverage

The words influence and manipulate deal with producing an effect without an apparent effort or action. The key difference between the two is consent. When you influence a person, you use positive leadership to gain a positive outcome. When a person is influenced, they have the choice to accept or reject that influence. Manipulation, on the other hand, attempts to “introduce stress, anxiety or discomfort to achieve a desired goal”[1]. When you manipulate someone (for example, pressuring a partner to accept a clash resolution hierarchy or as-built tolerances that are not beneficial to their firm), you risk losing any trust you have built with that individual and introduce negative association, hindering collaboration.

When developing BEPs, influence is much more useful than manipulation. There are multiple parties involved in BEP development, and an atmosphere of transparency and collaboration is essential. Communicating clearly with influence-based methods will develop trust among team members and lead to more efficient BEP development (less time arguing, more time doing).

However, no matter how hard we try, sometimes parties with differing goals may not agree on the best path forward. When this happens, conflict resolution may be utilized to generate a positive outcome.

How to Resolve Conflicts Related to Differing Party Goals

Conflict Resolution is defined as the informal or formal process that two or more parties use to find a peaceful solution to their dispute. When you cannot influence another party to accept or comply with your BEP requirements, you have several options. Companies often employ manipulation techniques to force the other party to comply through leverage or contractual authority, which may work but risks damaging your business relationship. Depending on the circumstances of the dispute, a better path forward may be conflict resolution.

By choosing to utilize conflict resolution rather than enforcing compliance through leverage, you can fully communicate needs, goals, and grievances. This method gives the other party the opportunity to do the same. The process provides a direct communication platform offering transparency with the other party to resolve the conflict. If you have created a relationship fostered by trust and influence, chances are the other party will want to work with you to reach a cooperative agreement.

The Importance of the Written Document

Written communication is an efficient way to convey detailed information to large groups of people (for example, all parties involved in the BEP development process). After all, the BIM Execution Plan itself is a form of written communication that exists as a pre-determined and agreed-upon set of guidelines. Written communication serves to document decisions and agreements in perpetuity, mitigating room for interpretation and loss of accuracy in recording information over time. The language within a BEP must therefore be clear, concise, and understandable to be effective. Verbal agreements on BEP content should be documented in real time during BEP review, in writing, so that issues are not revisited repeatedly, delaying BEP approval and running a costly tab for design and construction professionals to re-plow old ground.

Hopefully, the solutions discussed above will provide food for thought as to how your firm approaches BEP development and implementation, creating positive outcomes for all owner, designer, and contractor team members.

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[1] Social Engineer News Vol. 4 Issue 45: