The other day I met with a close friend who has co-founded a very, very successful internet software business called Hubspot. While we were talking about strategy for our SaaS based businesses he said, “It’s a distributed world!” This started me thinking about the AEC industry and how GC’s and Subs interact. One of the next big things in our industry is model based interaction between General Contractors and Subcontractors in the bidding stage. Today this interaction is done mostly with 2D drawings in online Plan Rooms (remember it’s a distributed world). Subcontractors are asked to bid on complex building system projects by reviewing 2D drawings which do not give them any 3D context or model based quantities.
A few weeks ago I spent a morning at iSqFt in one of their conference rooms where a giant wall is dedicated to a dashboard of very impressive real time statistics about the work being bid through their network. In just about 4 hours while I sat there, 3,000 bids were solicited from subcontractors. Clearly to me the ability to manage and interact with your subs through this online system is a big advantage. Otherwise there is no way you could spend the time to contact all the potential subcontractors and review the project with them to source the competitive pricing you require for your next bidding building project. If a 2D picture is worth a thousand words then a BIM model view is worth far more! Especially in the context of a $50 million dollar construction project. It is invaluable to allow the subcontractors a view of the model with the bid scope visible and the context of the rest of the surrounding systems ghosted for reference. This allows them to better understand the project and the scope and to make an educated decision on whether to bid, and if so, how much.
The use of Building Information Models in Construction, often known as VDC started very slowly around 2003. Since then it has picked up significantly to the point where if you do not have BIM or VDC departments in your construction company you are considered backward or out of touch. Initially it didn’t really hurt until forward thinking companies like Webcor, Suffolk, Turner, Hensel Phelps, and others started using it against their local competition… when you start losing a $50 million projects to them on a frequent basis it starts to really hurt!
Smart GC’s invest in the future which is investing in their business. Model access for subcontractors through an online Plan Room is not just an idea, it is the right thing to do! This provides the opportunity to continue to improve project results. And for those of you calculating ROI for VDC it is another way to leverage a model.
In closing, guess which contractors are already using the iSQFT / Assemble connection to help their subs?
Don Henrich is an accomplished technology veteran in both the MCAD and the AEC industries. As Chief Operating Officer of Assemble he is responsible for strategic vision, sales, marketing, customer support, partners, and field operations. Don and his wife Noel have three children, reside in Marblehead, MA and spend as much time as possible sailing on Massachusetts Bay.
If you enjoyed this post, please help it spread by emailing it to a friend, or sharing it on Twitter or LinkedIn.