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Brits' BIM certification mandate may be recipe for confusion

Brits- BIM certification mandate may be recipe for confusion

O P I N I O N | Aug 10, 2015

With three different BIM certification providers on the U.K. market, and more likely, it's time for one, national BIM standard where all can see what’s being assessed, argues the author. 

by TERRY GOUGH, managing director, Swiftbuild Ltd.

Personally, I do not feel that the current BIM accreditation solutions being offered [by BRE Global, Lloyd’s Register and Ocean Certification] actually deliver anything other than a nice piece of paper with the word “certificate” written on it.

I think the current accreditations on offer are utter nonsense, as in each case they’re only assessing one company. One company acting on its own, does not make Level 2. The criteria that they are being assessed against – simply BS1192 or PAS1192-2 – is ludicrous. What about all of the other PAS or BS documents that make up the full lifecycle of BIM?

How do the assessors determine the structure of information or indeed what information is required at each information exchange/data drop? Or is this something that is viewed as being within the other PAS documents therefore is not assessed nor accredited?

Companies are being accredited against systems and procedures. [But] if that’s all it takes to deliver BIM, then we should all be accredited to BIM Level 2 standards. But what about the supply chain and what about all the stakeholders?

Maybe we just need to sign up to ISO 9001? Where companies have ISO 9001 [Quality Management] systems and procedures already in place, why do they need this additional BIM accreditation at all? Does it prove anything different to the current ISO accreditation? Or should BIM be incorporated into the quality system?


My view is that we should be incorporating BIM processes within existing company processes and not re-inventing the wheel, (something) which the construction industry is really good at.

As noted above, three companies now provide BIM certification, but who is ensuring that they are delivering consistency? [Editors note: Of the three currently available, the BIM certification products they offer will not be consistent with each other, and are not mapped to a UKAS standard.] If not nipped in the bud now, this trend could become a huge issue as more and more accreditation companies spring up and claim to be certifying companies' ability to deliver BIM Level 2.

By 2016, we may see lots of BIM accreditors flogging their wares to unwary customers who think they are actually getting something that means they have met the government mandate of Level 2. But actually, the process will give them very little.      

Can trust be maintained with any such unregulated solution?

I am sure this debate will rage for a number of years, or until the BIM community is sucked in by accredited companies who say “we can deliver what’s on the BIM tin”, but actually only deliver one of the ingredients. A certification accredited by UKAS or some other governing body should be offered so that we can ensure that it actually means something and is not just lip service.

At this point, I fear that the accreditation offered is nothing more than a slip of paper that you can hang on your wall to say that you “just might” have gained Level 2 understanding in BIM.


Let’s all raise the bar here, good people of the BIM community, and let’s get some form of recognised approval for companies to ensure that we lead the way when it comes to all things BIM.

A former shopfitting joiner and later a project manager with Skanska UK, the author is a "BIM champion" on the Kent County Council, when not working in Peterborough for Swiftbuild. This article first appeared at the CIOB BIM+ Portal, drawing the comments below...


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Wes Beaumont | Posted: August 3rd 2015

Surely the best place to start would be BIM L2 certification for a programme of works or for a Project Management Office. Big infrastructure programmes would benefit from this approach but unfortunately it goes in the 'too hard box' for many.


Elizabeth Kavanagh | Posted: July 30th 2015

Do we believe that there a place for certification?

I believe a certification approach has benefits as part of a process of change but not as an absolute statement of capability.

Assessing structure and process is not the same as stating that you are capable.

Capability is dynamic and will evolve therefore a certificate for a firm based largely on process seems insufficient on its own.

I think there will be other tools which could supplement these.

I take Terry's point that “One company acting on its own, does not make level 2”.

Assessing a firm rather than a project team across firms seems to be more restrictive in terms of impact.

The BS11000 looks at project teams which would seem a more suitable approach given the aims of collaboration across firms.

I think the negativity of these comments are that certification doesn’t go far enough and the commentators have an appetite for more…is that true to say?

It seems what we want from a certification scheme seems to be the question here.

Which needs are not addressed by this? How else can they be addressed?


Jack DeCandia | Posted: July 16th 2015

I tend to agree with John Eynon's comments. There is still a lot of educating to be done and any negativity is only going to make the task of BIM Implementation even harder than it currently is. We in Australia are some way behind the UK yet its frightening to hear the negativity here. Whether accreditation or certification is good thing or a bad thing is irrelevant. Something is better than nothing therefore those who do get certified (whether it is endorsed or not) will be better off and have more knowledge than those who don't. I agree achieving Level 2 doesn't fit the bill for everyone. Maybe consideration should be given to those companies that fit in to different levels of the LOD? Keep the comments on BIM positive and talk up the benefits. Lets face it, there is no better workflow solution than BIM.



Prof A Thomas | Posted: July 13th 2015

Interesting discussion indeed. This reinforces why the BIM report did not endorse or accredit any certification process or body. It was inevitable that some bodies would see an opportunity to provide a "badge" in any event. The truth is those that do satisfy the process standards on their projects will stand scrutiny, and those that don't will be found out - by informed clients. Sadly not all our clients are yet suitably skilled to know the difference. There is an on going capacity-building process underway in a number of frameworks and client groups which will fix this, and it is calibrated to the experience of the companies in delivering projects to the DPW and CIC protocol.


Adrian Shilliday | Posted: July 10th 2015

Agree - the big issue is that it is the PROJECT that achieves Level 2, as there are a whole host of different people with different standards and inputs brought together under a standard process.

Individuals may be capable of working in a Level 2 environment, and the extent of what they each do will vary hugely depending on what they do.

The Information Manager (IM) will do a huge amount from working with the Client to develop the EIR, BEP etc and managing the process, but a supplier may only need to provide a model to data standards.

How can you give Level 2 certification? To make it worse the standards/pillars of Level 2 are still moving and being completed.

There needs to be a standard Level 2 checklist that pulls together all the Standards, who should do what, to what extent of each standard etc. Only then can you define a Project Level 2 certification. It should be a bit like BREEAM, but considered from outset and integrated and not an add-on..



Raj Chawla | Posted: July 9th 2015

Excellent Terry! Bang on the head and well done you for naming names. Let me extend upon this a little bit. Quotes like “Interserve….the first company to get L2”. Well done Interserve, pat on the back. Great ad, but what nonsense. How do you measure performance – you don’t? Expensive piece of paper. The certification providers are indeed muddying the waters in sending out such messages. Firstly, level 2 is about due process. Due process in embedded into the core of a business and not simple gift wrapped with a piece of paper that says certificate. Secondly, level 2 is the sector achieving maturity, not one or two companies. This certification is poisonous, as it is that same old adage covering up the inefficiencies with a piece of paper. So, here is the gauntlet for the certification providers. Defend yourselves.


John Eynon | Posted: July 9th 2015

Whoa there, chaps! I think this article could actually even add more to the confusion!

I think we need to put this in a much broader context. Let’s face it, bearing in mind that probably at least 75% of the industry (2.25 million people?) have barely heard of BIM let alone understand what UK Level 2 is. So certification for them probably really isn’t an issue yet.

Secondly, even a cursory examination of the UKAS website reveals that BRE, Lloyds and Ocean already have UKAS accredited marks. I suspect the BIM marks won’t be far behind. Remember we’re all working to the same standards anyway. The Level 2 documents are now set, and won’t change much now apart from a bit of tidying up.

Most importantly, we are living in a nascent and fertile time. The picture is evolving, and the messages are mixed. Beacons of excellence sit alongside the naysayers and gloom and doommongers, and blockers.

At the moment, to disagree with the article, I think we do need registration and certification. If only because you can then know that a business or an organisation has a basic understanding of Level 2. Clients and other team members need to know who they’re dealing with, and their competency is rather like a licence to collaborate.

Something like BS9001 probably will be the eventual home for all of this. Although in practice we know on the ground 9001 registration doesn’t actually mean a great deal. I’ve worked with a lot of people who are supposedly 9001 audited and accredited with surprising outcomes!

And most major contractors are already embedding BIM processes in their mainstream management procedures, so progress is being made.

Accrediting the process performance is one thing, but what we really need is to learn to work together and collaborate properly in teams, across the industry, breaking the barriers and silos. There won’t be a badge for this but this change of mindset is now one of the key factors in progress on BIM adoption.

This isn’t perfect but for the moment accreditation, and some training to go with it, is no bad thing. In a few years when we’re all BIM experts and we don’t need BIM consultants anymore, and actually we won’t even talk about BIM (!) it will be different. But for now we need the training wheels to learn to ride the bike.

Sensational headlines probably make “good news” but actually don’t help the conversation. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water!

PS – Note to the Editor – If you delete this one as well, I’ll know there’s something going on! :o)


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