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.

Interested in speaking with our consultants, visit: Proactive's website.

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


Common Methods to Develop and Update BIM Execution Plans Owners Should Understand

June 18, 2021 0 Comments

BIM Execution Plans (BEPs) are living documents that require regular updates so project personnel can successfully and efficiently implement and coordinate Building Information Modeling (BIM) on construction projects. The BEP helps ensure that the advanced technologies correctly optimize workflow and model flow throughout the project's lifecycle. Each team partner contributes to the BEP as it is designed and created to communicate processes and procedures for the whole project team. The plan must be developed and updated collaboratively to ensure the BEP is useful and transparent to all parties. The three most common methods of updating include:

1. File-Based Distribution

2. Collaborative Platform

3. Third-Party Administrator 


 File-Based Distribution

Typically, for File-Based Distribution, the entire project team will schedule and attend regular meetings to develop and update the BIM Execution Plan. A BIM Manager will represent each company. Usually, each team prepares a BEP template that is collaboratively integrated into one master document during the initial meetings. After the accumulation of the preliminary document, each company receives a copy for review. Each BIM manager will either approve the document or request changes pertaining to its work. If a change is requested, the process restarts, and each team must meet again to discuss the BIM Execution Plan. This informs all project personnel of any changes made to the document to maintain transparency. This process repeats until all BIM Managers reach an agreement that the BEP is finalized and sign the document. Later additions and updates (BEPs should be updated regularly to reflect changes in workflow and responsibility) to the BEP will have to go through the same review process. It is common to receive requests for new additions before reaching agreements on previous document changes – which can unnecessarily extend the approval process (and cost to develop the BEP) if owners are unable or reluctant to manage the process and maintain strict collaborative protocols and version control. For this reason, File-Based Distribution is losing favor compared to more streamlined BEP approaches.

Collaborative Platform

 In a Collaborative Platform, each team partner agrees to use one digital collaborative platform to create and update the BIM Execution Plan. GoogleDocs or OneNote can be used to discuss changes made to the document – these are great collaboration tools. Project management platforms like Basecamp or Asana can manage review and approval assignments. Like the File-Based Distribution method, the documents must be discussed in meetings and approved through a collaborative review process. This method leverages newer technology and software to increase efficiencies to document creation, editing, and version control. However, the process must still be managed to achieve efficient consensus and acceptance.  If project owners do not have the requisite in-house expertise to manage this effort, it can become cumbersome and unwieldy, with the Owner becoming a bottleneck to completion.

Third-Party Administrator

Working on behalf of an Owner, a Third-Party Administrator (TPA) will plan, guide, and facilitate the creation and review process of the BEP. Each team will submit content and / or changes that the third-party administrator will compile and review. By utilizing a TPA, the process is efficiently guided by a BIM expert with the Owner's goals in mind, making the TPA the lynchpin between individual team members and the overall project.  Use of a TPA can also provide corollary ROI: Standardized documentation across multiple projects, single-source accountability, efficient document templates and hosting platforms, leading-edge hardware/software access, knowledge of industry best practices, etc.


Applying one of these three methods when developing and updating a BIM Execution Plan is important as they create a more collaborative and streamlined process. If project teams fail to collaborate efficiently and regularly update the document, the BEP will no longer be relevant and useful. If an owner is uncomfortable managing this process or lacks the bandwidth or technical BIM expertise, utilizing a TPA is often the most practical and efficient option to achieve desired project goals.


BIM Execution Plans: Writing for Success

June 11, 2021 0 Comments

BIM Execution Plans: Writing for Success

BIM Execution Plans (BEPs) are designed to communicate agreed modeling processes and procedures for the entire project team. It is imperative to refine this information to create a coherent, concise document, eliminating vagueness and ambiguity in modeling and documentation requirements. Here are three steps to guide you while writing concise content for BIM Execution Plans:

  • Prepare
  • Write
  • Review 


A BEP becomes much easier to write after refining each process and creating diagrams using Business Process Management Notation standards (BPMN). Unfortunately, most BEP’s do not include these flow diagrams and instead focus on writing down processes in a technical paragraph format. It is common to see these diagrams underutilized; however, we find that preparing process diagrams hone details to an easily digestible visual format, sequentially identifying “who” does “what” and “when”, greatly benefitting the entire project team.  Once the processes are defined and diagrammed, you can move on to organizing the remaining document content.

There are two areas of document formatting and organization that are particularly important when populating a BEP. The first is dividing the document into sections logically and systematically (normally, organized by the operational roles of each party). Utilizing the process diagrams your team has prepared, group similar processes into sections and subsections. Next, number each section and subsection with a standardized hierarchical system prior to adding technical content.


The keys to writing a useful BIM execution plan are simplicity, accuracy, and clarity.  Remove unnecessary verbiage and be as specific as possible when defining project requirements. When writing about the project or teams, refrain from using general nouns. Avoid “the design team,” “responsible parties,” or other template-based descriptors. Instead of using “TBDs” and generic placeholders for information, specifically identify responsible parties by name and include deadlines for deliverables, where appropriate.

 “A common violation of conciseness is the presentation of a single complex idea, step by step, in a series of sentences or independent clauses which might to advantage be combined into one.”  page 24.

 It is easy to fall into the trap of writing “steps” when using process diagrams for reference. Resist writing enormous paragraphs about why processes are necessary, or repeating the information in the process diagrams, both of which will inflate the size of your BEP and distract from its true purpose (efficient communication of BIM processes and requirements to the project team). Debate and concurrence on BIM processes should be completed before writing the Execution Plan.


After completing your first draft, proofread the complete document from beginning to end, highlighting areas you want to adjust. If possible, utilize other proofreaders as a resource before distributing to the project team. The ultimate goal is to gain input from the project team concerning the accuracy of content; one final review through a second set of eyes will mitigate errors and omissions.


Preparation, organization, and internal peer review are cornerstones to development of successful BIM Execution Plans.  The effort expended by your organization on the front end of BEP development exponentially reduces the time spent by many other team partners (architects, engineers, general contractor, modeling subcontractor trade partners) on the back end, condensing your design delivery timetable and reducing overall project cost.


Additional Resources


June 02, 2021 0 Comments


Subcontractor Default Insurance Carriers will take note of 4 Autodesk Construction Outlook Report findings

As the Autodesk Construction Outlook report confirms, the old adage remains true, “Subcontractors do not die from starvation; they die from overeating.”  For those of us who have endured several construction market recessions, we know that subcontractor default risk increases post-recession.  During recessionary periods, which we’ve certainly seen in the last twelve months, subcontractor working capital, which goes towards absorbing overhead, becomes strained when the workload is reduced. While many subcontractors took advantage of the PPP loans that were available in 2020, that additional support is not likely to continue. As market activity increases coming out of the pandemic, subcontractors will be hungry for new work to replenish that working capital.  However, taking on more work with less working capital can lead to disastrous results, including failure to meet payroll, failure to pay second tier vendors, and at worst bankruptcy. Reviewing subcontractor financials on a more frequent basis, often referred to as con-qual (continuous qualification) will be important as General Contractors evaluate their ability to take on more work. The four points below show that con-qual is critical as we move through 2021.

Point 1: Non-residential new construction starts were down 33%

Autodesk reports that from April to September of 2020, non-residential new construction starts were down 33%.  That means less revenue for subcontractors, and less working capital.  Because the duration of the pandemic impact is unknown, subcontractors are reluctant to reduce overhead and other costs. What happens if the starts that were delayed all come back at one time? Subcontractors must be staffed appropriately in that case. The unknown duration of the pandemic impact and the reduced number of starts put a squeeze on many subcontractors and makes them hungry to engage when the market recovers.

Point 2: Bidding activity is now up 36% from pre-pandemic levels

Enter a market rebound. Autodesk reports January 2021 bidding activity is up 36% from pre-pandemic levels.  That number demonstrates market wide demand, and hopefully a full recovery and then some. But, that drastic change can be troublesome. Hungry businesses now have something to eat.  Many general contractors are getting a substantially higher number of bidders than they have in the past.  Subcontractor pricing is driven down, which in turn squeezes their profit.  These factors lead to further reduction in working capital, exactly at a time when the capital is needed. Subcontractors additionally may be willing to take on more risk in their subcontracts, which can be problematic in a time where supply chain disruption and material price escalation is impacting many trades.

Point 3: Supply chain disruptions may last 18-24 months

Enter a risk for which there is no playbook – what is happening to our supply chain? Some Amazon packages come early; some don’t come at all.  And the construction industry is no different.  Autodesk refers to the Institute for Supply Chain Management (ISM), who reported that 95% of those surveyed are experiencing supply chain disruptions, and that the impact is expected to last 18-24 months.  Subcontractors have responsibility for timely performance, but with a disrupted supply chain, they may struggle to keep up.  Many defaults arise out of a subcontractor’s failure to adhere to schedule, so disrupted supply chains in themselves often cause an increase in defaults. Couple that with decreased working capital, and it will be hard for subcontractors to deploy additional manpower to accelerate through a delay caused by a disrupted supply chain.

Points 4: Material Cost Variability is here to stay

And if those 3 points were not enough, how about if we throw in some material price variability?  Autodesk reports that the pandemic-related temporary close in production facilities may decrease supply in the coming years, which will increase pricing.  Because the pandemic is now a known event, and no longer an unforeseen condition, subcontractors will have to base their pricing on the best data available.  But will that be the cost 2 years from now, when the purchase occurs?  It is difficult to tell.  And that risk will likely sit squarely on the subcontractor.

Hopefully, the construction market continues to rebound as the US emerges from the challenges of the pandemic.  But that re-emergence will surely come with some challenges for each of us to take note.  Thank you to Autodesk for your fine research and information presented in the 2021 Autodesk Construction Outlook which can be found here (


Class 105: Float

June 01, 2021 0 Comments

Float, also known as “total float,” is defined as the amount of time an activity can be delayed without impacting the overall project. It can also be defined as the “difference between the pairs of start and finish dates for each task.”1

If an activity is delayed and directly causes delay to the overall completion of the project, this activity is on the critical path and has zero or negative float. However, if an activity can be delayed 15 days before causing delay to the overall project, this activity has 15 days of float.

Every day that an activity with zero float is delayed, the overall project duration is extended by one day. Conversely, activities with positive float can be delayed by the number of days equal to its float value. As float is absorbed, delays to an activity become closer to impacting the overall project duration. Activities with negative float, a common result of delayed activities tied to a constrained completion milestone, have been delayed beyond what is feasible to meet the finish date of the overall project. 

Example of Float in a Construction Schedule:

In the mixed-use skyscraper example, activities have a range of float values that can be used to determine which activities are most important to completing the project on time. Activity 11103, Install Pit Equipment, has 388 days of float, meaning is can experience delay up to 388 calendar days before impacting the overall project completion date. Activity 34110, Mechanical Rough, has -74 days of float, meaning this activity and others within its sequence of activities are scheduled to occur later than their target dates. Typically, project teams will work to mitigate delays to activities with negative float to minimize the impacts to the project completion date. As seen in this example, analyzing activity float values helps determine which activities have the most significant impact on achieving project completion. 

What is the difference between free float and total float?

Float is typically used interchangeably with the term total float. Total float is the type of float used in the example above. However, there is another important type of float called free float. Free float is defined as the “maximum amount by which an activity can be delayed beyond its early dates without delaying any successor activity beyond its early dates.”1 Typically, critical activities, or activities with zero total float, will also have zero free float; however, free float and total float values can vary when non-critical activities are sequenced concurrently with other activities. While free float is important to understand, total float is more commonly used when reviewing construction schedules. 

Float Summary:

1. Float informs schedule reviewers of which activities have the most significant impact on achieving the project's intended completion date. 

2. Negative float is how far behind an activity is from its planned early start/finish date. 


Key Terms:

Float (Total Float) – amount of time an activity can be delayed without impacting the overall project

Activity – individual component or step of a construction schedule 

Free Float  amount of time an activity can be delayed without delaying any successor activity beyond its early dates 


1. AACE International Recommended Practice.  Cost Engineering Terminology.


Class 104: Activity Relationships

June 01, 2021 0 Comments

Activity Relationships, also known as schedule logic, define the order in which schedule activities should happen. AACE states “Activity relationships determine how activities relate to one another and establish schedule logic.”1

As stated in the definition above, activity relationships create the logic in a schedule.  AACE defines Logic as the “Relationship describing the interdependency of starts and finishes between activities or events. Every activity should have a predecessor (except for the initial activity or event), and every activity should have a successor (except for the ending activity or event). Activity logic is determined by need to meet competing constraints defined by contract requirements, physical capabilities of trades performing work, safety concerns, resource allocations, and preferential activity relationships.”1

A predecessor activity is an activity that must start or finish, depending on logic, before its successor activity can start. Likewise, a successor activity is an activity that occurs after another activity.

There are four activity relationships used in construction scheduling. The four relationships are as follows:


The first and most common type of activity relationship is called Finish-to-Start (FS). Finish-to-Start is “a relationship in which the successor activity can start only after the predecessor activity finishes.”1 These are the most commonly used activity relationships, and as an industry best practice, it is recommended to use them as often as possible.


The next is Start-to-Start (SS).  Start-to-Start is “a relationship between activities in which the start of a successor activity depends on the start of its predecessor. The predecessor must start prior to the successor starting.”1


The next is Finish-to-Finish (FF). Finish-to-Finish is “a relationship in which the successor activity depends upon and can finish only after the predecessor activity finishes. The predecessor must finish first and then the successor can finish.”1


Finally, we have Start-to-Finish (SF). Activity A must start before activity B can finish. Start-to-Finish relationships are the most seldom used activity relationships and using them is discouraged by industry best practices.

Activity Relationships Summary:

There are four types of activity relationships used in construction scheduling. As an industry best practice, it is recommended to use Finish-to-Start relationships as often as possible.

Key Terms:

     Logic – Relationship describing the interdependency of starts and finishes between                         activities or events

    Predecessor – An activity that must start or finish, depending on logic, before its                                           successor activity can start

   Successor  An activity that occurs after another activity


1. AACE International Recommended Practice.  Cost Engineering Terminology.


Class 103: CPM Scheduling

June 01, 2021 0 Comments

Critical Path Method scheduling, also known as “CPM scheduling,” is a scheduling technique that calculates the amount of time needed to complete a project using task durations and task relationships. The Corps of Engineers Board of Contract Appeals states that “the critical path method of scheduling requires the logical analysis of all the individual tasks entering into the complete job and the periodic review and reanalysis of progress during the performance period,”1 and AACE describes CPM scheduling as a “technique used to predict project duration by analyzing which sequence of activities has least amount of scheduling flexibility [where early] dates are figured by a forward pass using a specific start date and late dates are figured by using a backward pass starting from a completion date.”2

Example of a CPM Schedule

The example above illustrates a construction schedule for a mixed-use skyscraper in which the software (Primavera P6) has used the Critical Path Method to determine the shortest feasible overall duration of the project. Each task, or activity, is connected to a series of other activities. According to CPM scheduling, there exists a particular sequence of activities in each schedule that defines the shortest amount of time needed to complete the project, which is called the critical path, shown by red bars in this example. Additionally, CPM scheduling does not disregard the other activities in the schedule; the activities that are not on the critical path can experience delay to start or finish dates without impacting the shortest possible duration of the project. These activities, represented by green bars in the example, have positive float.

CPM scheduling is an often-used scheduling practice followed in the construction industry. Most modern scheduling programs are capable of calculating and analyzing CPM schedules, which is important because most construction project schedules are too complicated to be calculated by hand.  Understanding the basics of CPM scheduling enables a schedule reviewer to follow the logic in a schedule and follow the sequence of events needed to successfully complete a project.

CPM Scheduling Summary:

1. The Critical Path Method is a common method for producing construction schedules and calculating the optimal project duration. 

2. CPM scheduling involves using the activity relationships and activity durations to calculate the earliest and latest start and finish dates for each activity, which then allows schedulers to determine the most efficient path through the overall project.

Key Terms: 

Critical Path Method Schedulingscheduling method that uses activity relationships and durations to calculate the earliest and latest start and finish dates for activities to determine the overall duration of the project

Activity – individual component or step of a construction schedule

Critical Path – the longest continuous sequence of activities in the schedule that determines the minimum overall project duration

Float – amount of time an activity can be delayed without impacting the overall project


1. Jon M. Wickwire, Thomas J. Driscoll, Stephen B. Hurlbut & Mark J. Groff, Construction Scheduling: Preparation, Liability, and Claims § 2.02 (4th Edition, 2021 Cum. Supp. 2018) No. 10S-90

2. AACE International Recommended Practice. Cost Engineering Terminology.