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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I think I figured it out - The secret of the future of design and the ultimate answer to AutoCAD vs Revit [BIM Rant][Architect Profit Holy Grail]

So, you know I've been ranting lately. I'd like to apologize for it, but I just can't. The more conversations I have with owners, contractors, subcontractors and LEED firms, the more the conversation turns to liability, refusal to share documents, incomplete drawings, coordination issues and more.

At a recent meeting with a contractor, the owner of the firm said to me, "Greg, Revit seems so amazing. Why isn't every architect using it?" Anyone who wants to, you can call me and I'll give you my answer. I'm not going to publish that little gem here.

Today, I was talking with a drywall contractor who's company has offices in several states. During our conversation, he mentioned how much documentation his company does to protect itself. He said there are many times he has to sue the general contractor for errors and ommissions so he can reclaim funds for delays and change orders. That really doesn't lead to a lot of future business and he said they had to spend a lot of time on the documentation to protect themselves for the eventual lawsuits.

Then it popped into my brain, Defense Contracting. Taking an adversarial position where a contractor or subcontractor via letters, emails, RFIs and other written documentation, sets the stage for recouping funds for discrepancies and delays. It's a lot like defensive medicine where doctors perform a number of tests on a patient to prevent themselves from being sued in case of a misdiagnosis or, even worse, death. That adds a lot of costs to the medical system, and could be harmful to the patient.

This defensive contracting doesn't make for the best relationship between the architects and contractors. My dad was just telling me that every time he hires an architect, he crosses out the section in the AIA contract that removes the architect's liability on the project for errors and omissions.

Tonight, as I was watching Hell's Kitchen (wonderfully recorded on the modern technological wonder the DVR - anyone miss their VCR?), it came to me, the secret to it all and what's broken in the AEC industry and who the winners and losers will be.

Are you ready? Are you sitting down? I'm almost thinking I should charge for this information. Instead, I'll make you a trade. Everyone who needs Revit, Navisworks, IES or Ecotect training, please use my company www.CADDCenters.com from now on. Help me help you, and if you have an office in Florida, we really want to be your reseller.

So, here's the secret.....Teamwork. The difference between CAD and BIM is the relationship between all of the individuals inside your company, your consultants and the contractors. Every time you tell a contractor you won't give them the dwgs or the BIM model, you're not part of the team and working to complete the building. By using AutoCAD with it's lack of coordination between disciplines, lack of intelligent data for clash detection, estimating and building performance analysis, you're not part of the team.

It's why the contractors are winning the battle. They're working with their subs to find all of the issues before construction so they can all make more money. Every time you withhold information or the digital data in the name of "copyright protection", all you do is open yourself up for the contractors and subs finding reasons to document more and more issues and really make your life hell.

Watching Hell's Kitchen and seeing how one team communicated, shared information and worked together, while the other team didn't talk to each other or work with each other, it led to a total failure of getting the job done. I guess if you look at the fact that there's only one winner on the show and everyone wanted to do what they could to make others look bad so they would win, they all ended up losing. I guess it's an ineresting dynamic where everyone's forced to work together, yet everyone's being selfish and doing as little as possible to help others and pretend to be part of the team.

As we look forward to Integrated Project Delivery, it's shared risk and shared reward. Anyone being selfish, looking out for their own good and not working as part of the team, dooms the entire team to lose profit. IPD forces you to work together. Crazy huh? You're "forced" to work with others so you can all make money. What a horrible way to approach the one thing that can help you stay in business.

It's not that the old workflow of CAD is bad, it's partly that any changes that need to be made and shared with others, leads to more cost, less profit and who wants that? The less you do on the CDs, like not including door and window schedules, means more work for the contractors to count and measure. I'm sure those of you who don't include schedules do that because the door schedules rarely match the number of doors on the plans. I can say that, because as an ex GC, I can't tell you the number of times the schedule never matched the counted quantities. Unless I'm mistaken, counting doors and listing them on a schedule isn't that complicated. I know, you're rushed at the end of the CD phase and things get missed. So, why not just use Revit that automatically counts every door, window and even piece of rebar.

Wouldn't it be great to use software that automatically counted up objects in the building so the contractors don't have to waste valuable time doing it, finding discrpancies on the plans, send you RFIs during bidding or building, forcing you to get defensive, issue change orders and then have to issue addendum drawings.

So you see, the software you use affects your relationships with pwners and contractors. This is why the construction market is embracing BIM so readily. It's making them even more money, while the architects bitch and moan about the cost of upgrading and training for Revit. They just don't want to be team players and create models that make it easier for everyone to work together on the owner's behalf.

There you have it. This is the only way that architects will survive the recession and have a future as part of the AEC team. Join Team BIM if you haven't already. Get your consultants using Civil 3D, Revit MEP and Revit Structure. Is that going to cut into your fee? You're going to pay one way or another. It's going to cost you in construction administration, errors and omissions insurance or lawsuits. BIM is a business decision. The workflow and process of CAD that you so strongly cling to, just doesn't help you make money. It's tearing apart the architectural industry.

I'm glad I've finally figured it out. It's all so clear to me now and what a relief. I've been trying for months to find out what the problem is for the adoption of Revit and BIM. It just didn't make any sense as to why AutoCAD users refuse to migrate. It's selfishness. Job security of CAD operators who don't want a technology that gets the job done faster. Selfishness of spending money and investing in Revit. Yes, Revit is an investment. It's not an expense. Mr. Principal of AutoCAD 2004 using firm, your beating Autodesk by not upgrading your software and giving them your money, is only going to force your 30 year old company that you worked so hard to create, just crumble up and wither away.

Why do you think owners are so gung ho on IPD? It's the best thing they can do to make sure that all of the team members are working together on his behalf. I still laugh every time I say IPD because the AIA created the IPD documents that require BIM and sharing of the model data. Your own people created these documents. The contractors didn't create IPD. Autodesk didn't create IPD. Autodesk just made IPD a reality by acquiring, adding Revit Structure and Revit MEP and expanding the technology. All of the other vendors at BIMCycle.com are all part of the technology team that will end up making a lot of money from contractors becoming design builders and having no problem investing in software and training.

I really have a vested interest in the success of architectural and engineering firms. If you have no business, aren't making money and aren't successful, you're not going to buy software from me or invest in my techs for training. I need you to be making more money. If you make more money, then maybe you won't mind paying for Autodesk subscription and Revit implementation. Help me help you. Revit is a proven technology. It does work. It is making companies money. It's all statistical facts now. There are no more excuses for not calling me or another reseller and finding out what it will take to get started and implemented.

So, are you ready to be a team player? Ready to be part of the winning team? Ready to make money? Ready to have fewer RFIs and Change Orders? There is no I in Team. There is no Me in BIM. Wait, that's backwards. There's an I in BIM and ME in Team. Oh well. I'd like to buy a vowel and solve the puzzle.

Thanks for listenting and let's all work together and join Team BIM. It is the winning team.


jestin, August 12, 2009 10:36 AM
I see the "waiting to adopt" attitude all too often as a software developer in the AEC industry. I think "waiting to adopt" can be paraphrased "waiting to fail".

2 comments:

Anonymous,  August 13, 2009 at 11:56 AM  

I partly agree with you. The problem lies with developers wanting fast tracked projects and Architects digging in to their originally ways of doing business. Architects by nature are designers and very few are good business people. Communication has generally flowed well in the architects office and with consultants. Coordination of all documents is another issue. Architects have been reluctant as originally taught to cross the lines of sharing information to the contractors for specifically what you mentioned and that was for them to find errors and to hold the information over the architects head to help pay for the project. CMGC developments force open communication but also has it's limitation with GMC contract.
Autdesk is driving the architectural community insane with conversions/versions that when you least expect it, they through in another pile of ***T to cause the flow of the work to decrease until you have digested the new crap sent to you. Autodesk used to develop in the early days version updates about every 2-3 years. I realize they have grown exponentially and need to feed the multitude, but do it with some finess. Don't spoon feed us with menu changes. This sites' 2009 menu conversion was a great option I have been asking for since 2010 came out. Finding things that you are used to working with is very non productive when a new menu structure is slapped into the software. Why not allow those who are power users to choose which one they prefer? They do it with Architectural Desktop, why can't it be done with Revit? It is the minor things that Autodesk does that is annoying and for the most part delivers a relatively good product. I fully understand the issues with the model sharing concept, if there was a way that Autodesk could lock out all components once designed and in place for issuance to the contractor, suppliers, and subs, then I can see this working. If there is no way to provide a locked set of documents and graphically showing it as a phased submittal for pricing and comments, (therefore allowing the new graphics to be represented for discussion from the perveyors) then I understan completely the issues of liability from the Architects stand point. Keep in mind, the contractor is only liable for that building for 1 year. The Architect is liable for that building for either the life of the building or his own life. Herein lies the debate.

Chris Bachman,  August 13, 2009 at 11:57 AM  

I partly agree with you. The problem lies with developers wanting fast tracked projects and Architects digging in to their originally ways of doing business. Architects by nature are designers and very few are good business people. Communication has generally flowed well in the architects office and with consultants. Coordination of all documents is another issue. Architects have been reluctant as originally taught to cross the lines of sharing information to the contractors for specifically what you mentioned and that was for them to find errors and to hold the information over the architects head to help pay for the project. CMGC developments force open communication but also has it's limitation with GMC contract.
Autdesk is driving the architectural community insane with conversions/versions that when you least expect it, they through in another pile of ***T to cause the flow of the work to decrease until you have digested the new crap sent to you. Autodesk used to develop in the early days version updates about every 2-3 years. I realize they have grown exponentially and need to feed the multitude, but do it with some finess. Don't spoon feed us with menu changes. This sites' 2009 menu conversion was a great option I have been asking for since 2010 came out. Finding things that you are used to working with is very non productive when a new menu structure is slapped into the software. Why not allow those who are power users to choose which one they prefer? They do it with Architectural Desktop, why can't it be done with Revit? It is the minor things that Autodesk does that is annoying and for the most part delivers a relatively good product. I fully understand the issues with the model sharing concept, if there was a way that Autodesk could lock out all components once designed and in place for issuance to the contractor, suppliers, and subs, then I can see this working. If there is no way to provide a locked set of documents and graphically showing it as a phased submittal for pricing and comments, (therefore allowing the new graphics to be represented for discussion from the perveyors) then I understan completely the issues of liability from the Architects stand point. Keep in mind, the contractor is only liable for that building for 1 year. The Architect is liable for that building for either the life of the building or his own life. Herein lies the debate.

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