How to choose the right BIM software for your projects? From certifications to requirements, here’s everything you need to know
Building Information Modeling (BIM) is a groundbreaking technology that is transforming collaboration in large-scale projects and it offers a wide range of tools: BIM Authoring, BIM tools, BIM collaboration platforms. But how do you choose the right BIM software for your needs? In this blog post, we’ll explore different aspects to consider when selecting the ideal BIM software for construction projects.
There are a number of common criteria that you should consider when choosing a BIM solution and its certification regarding its validity in handling a BIM process, especially in exchanging data through open standards, should definitely be on your checklist.
The software certification in relation to openBIM processes is an indicator of reliability and quality, validating the use of standards and solutions based on Industry Foundation Classes (IFC). This helps software vendors ensure that IFC data exchanges are consistent and reliably high quality. That’s why using certified BIM software is always recommended, since they meet the requirements and functionalities of the BIM methodology. You can check a software’s IFC certification directly from this page on the buildingSMART International website, the global entity leading the construction industry’s digital transformation.
When choosing the most suitable BIM software for a project, it’s crucial to consider the project’s specific requirements. These requirements are defined in documents known as EIR (Employer’s Information Requirements) and BEP (BIM Execution Plan) and represent a crucial part of BIM project planning.
EIR Documents (Employer’s Information Requirements)
EIRs, or Employer’s Information Requirements, are a set of documents defining the information necessary for project realization. These documents include details about project specifications, required information, and the formats in which this information should be presented. EIRs may include:
- Project details: outlining key project features like dimensions, purpose, and objectives.
- Design requirements: establishing design standards and technical details the project must adhere to.
- Project deadlines and phases: specifying key deadlines and different project phases, enabling accurate time planning.
- Delivery standards: indicating required data formats and information delivery protocols.
BEP Documents (BIM Execution Plan)
BEPs, or BIM Execution Plans, are documents defining how BIM will be used throughout the project. These documents detail how the BIM process will be managed, who will be responsible for what, and how BIM information will be shared and coordinated. BEPs may include:
- Roles and responsibilities: specifying key roles in the BIM process, such as the BIM coordinator and BIM Manager.
- BIM workflow: describing how BIM information will be created, shared, and updated during different project phases.
- Software integration: indicating which BIM software applications will be used and how they’ll integrate into the process.
- Quality control: explaining how BIM data will be verified and controlled to ensure consistency and accuracy.
When choosing BIM software, it’s crucial to ensure it can adapt to and support the specific requirements defined in the project’s EIRs and BEPs. A comprehensive understanding of these requirements and their integration into software selection will contribute to the overall success of the BIM project.
Types of BIM Applications
There are different categories of BIM applications, each with a specific role:
Authoring applications form the core of the BIM process, enabling the creation of model content based on project, industry, and BIM organization specifications. These are the software used to create and modify models (BIM modeling software or 3D modeling software). To discover the leading BIM modeling software, I recommend reading the article “5 Best BIM software for Architecture“.
There are also software allowing editing of information in IFC format (inserting or modifying classes and properties) or even modifying the geometry of the BIM model in IFC format, adding or deleting objects from BIM object libraries. These functionalities are entirely online and integrated into the Common Data Environment. It’s a significant advantage for work teams needing coordinated and collaborative model interventions without having to go through the authoring process performed on desktop workstations. In certain stages of the model’s information system life, like managerial or maintenance phases, this functionality is crucial as it significantly streamlines BIM model update processes. Below, you can see a video demonstrating how an advanced IFC editor like usBIM.editor operates, saving time in digital model update processes.
Model Checking Tools
Checking applications (or BIM Model Checking) verify model content quality without modifying it. They are crucial for project quality management. Usually, the set of checking rules applied to the model is organized into 3 consequential verification phases:
- BIM Validation, checking attributes and modeling procedures,
- Clash Detection, detecting interferences,
- Code Checking, verifying project compliance with regulations and standards.
To check and validate all data in an IFC model throughout every BIM process phase, you can try this BIM validation software for free. If you want to perform interference checks and manage conflicts between different IFC-openBIM models, you can try this BIM Clash Detection software for free. Both are functionalities of the usBIM ecosystem, the BIM management system for construction and infrastructure digitalization, developed by ACCA software.
Viewers are tools allowing visualization of BIM model content but don’t enable modifications or checks. An exceptional online navigator for BIM models, data, and documents is usBIM.browser: an integrated BIM viewer in usBIM enabling you to view large-size BIM models online, for free, indefinitely, using any device and with great performance.
The following video showcases some of its functionalities.
There are other BIM software utilizing information in verified models from checking applications (or BIM Model Checking) for purposes such as energy analysis, sustainability simulations, spatial assessments, and cost simulations.
In addition to certification and application type as common criteria to consider before buying a BIM software, you should add to your checklist:
- Vendor support: verify if the software manufacturer provides good technical support.
- Training: make sure that adequate training courses are available.
- Purchasing and maintenance Costs: Evaluate initial and long-term costs associated with the application.
Your choice of BIM solution is also an investment in the future. It’s fundamental to consider software certification, specific requirements, and application type to make an informed choice. Equally important, the right solution should not only be a tool to better fulfill your current tasks, but also to expand your range of services thanks to training and technical support provided by the manufacturer. That’s why we recommend you having a look at ACCA software website, where you can find out more details regarding BIM software for architecture, engineering, and construction useful for your projects together with training courses available to quickly become proficient with BIM software, and support services available to get you started when using the software.