Making the Case for a BIM Content Strategy

Making the Case for a BIM Content Strategy

Published by Yellowbryk on 12th Sep 2017

The GOOD news AND the BAD news is that your AEC project teams are resourceful. It is extremely fortunate that your project team is resourceful because that means they can respond to the unexpected challenges that are inevitable in any building project and bring the project to a successful conclusion.

The BAD NEWS is that when faced with the almost daily challenges of missing or bad BIM content, the project team will resolve the problem. Why is that bad news? Because when your project team is resolving BIM content (for example, Revit® family) issues, they are NOT doing design. They are NOT resolving technical or design issues. They are NOT exploring alternative solutions. They are NOT collaborating with the full project team. They are NOT moving the project forward. Your firm is NOT earning its fee.

The problem is this: A “missing BIM object” sets off a chain of activities that can take hours to complete.

Take the case of an Architect looking for a specific door type. This could be because of need for security or fire protection or aesthetics. The designer will have to stop what they are doing (and at the very least) initiate a search in your firm's BIM content library. For an MEP designer a similar situation will arise with a missing terminal or device or valve. This is a situation that occurs multiple times per day at your firm. Right?

What could be wrong with that? This: Research has shown that it takes an knowledge worker an average of 25 minutes to recover from an interruption in their work flow. So every time a modeler needs to stop and look for a Revit family, they are losing 25 minutes of productivity – 25 minutes of project progress. If this only happens once per day per person and the project team is only 4 people, you are losing 100 minutes per day of project progress. By the end of the week, you've lost more than a person-day of work on that single project. Do the simple calculation to find out how bad things are at your firm – and on your multi-firm projects. This stuff really adds up. AND it is invisible.

Let us say you don't believe the research mentioned above. You can believe that interruptions have no time-cost --- that re-finding your place in your train of thought is instantaneous. You can believe that the context of your design thinking is instantly retrievable after an interruption. We have something else for you to consider.

Every time “missing BIM content” or “missing Revit family” happens, a chain of activities is started by the person affected. Here is a partial list of what is likely to happen .

  • Search for the family in the project browser ( < 1 min,)
  • Search for the family in the firm library ( 1-3 min.)
  • Search for the family in previous projects ( 5-25 min.)
  • Search for the family on Autodesk Seek ( 5-10 min.)
  • Search for the family on a few of the other BIM content distributors ( 10 – 40 min.)
    • ( has indexed the content provided by over 20 BIM content distributors.)
  • Search for the family on a known manufacturer's website ( 3-10 min.)
  • Search for the family on the internet using Google or Bing ( 15- 90 min.)
  • Ask someone else to build the family and wait for them to complete it. ( 5-15 min.)
  • Build the family themselves. ( 30 – 160 min.)

All of these activities (except the first 2) are non-trivial tasks. Each of these activities could take 5 to 15 minutes. It is likely several of these activities will be tried. If we assume the task is done in just 12 minutes, on average, then the time-cost of a missing family is 48 minutes per day on our example project above. That is 240 minutes or half a day lost each week.

My belief is that the time-cost estimates I've used above are low, and that you will eventually agree with me as you read further in this series on BIM Content Strategy.

In any case, you, your firm, and your practice, is losing effectiveness every week if you don't have a BIM Content Strategy that is implemented across the firm. Every AEC firm needs a BIM Content Strategy to minimize the time-cost of missing content. And, the strategy needs to be well communicated to the firms designers, Architects, Engineers and production staff.

Discussion Questions

What are the elements of a BIM Content Strategy?
What is the preferred sequence for implementing a BIM Content Strategy?
What have you done that has proven effective in your firm?


  • - an index of Revit content provided by over 20 BIM content distributors. Thousands of building content manufacturers are in the index. Bluebryk is probably the fastest way to find quality free Revit families.
  • - a “Revit content store” for families that are not available from building product manufacturers.