To whom is the article intended?
The article is intended for all clients (contracting authorities) who would like to choose a quality BIM contractor for their future project. It is based on the experience of implemented tenders (small-scale public contracts) and procurement procedures pursuant to Act No. 134/2016 Coll. on Public Procurement, as amended (“PP“). The article is an introduction to the system of qualitatively oriented selection of the BIM model contractor and related outputs – i.e. 2D drawing, quantity take-off, etc. This article applies to the Czech law.
The title of the article hides 2 tasks. Selection of a designer and at the same time selection of a contractor of the BIM model. While the qualities of the designer are very difficult to evaluate, the qualities of the submitted model, or other outputs from the BIM model can be very pregnantly specified and recognized.
Today, many designers present themselves as having advanced knowledge in the field of BIM. These designers are divided into several groups:
- They don’t even have BIM software tools, but usually can do “everything”;
- They heard about BIM, they have BIM software tools, but designing in 2D;
- They heard about BIM, they have BIM software tools, they are designing in 2D and making a simple 3D model for visualization;
- They have and can partially use BIM software tools, they partially generate documentation from a 3D model;
- They use software tools for BIM to generate 2D drawings;
- They can make top use of BIM software tools, in addition to 2D drawings, they use the BIM model for other outputs – virtual reality simulation, quantity take-offs (QTO), analysis of energy use, etc.
- They can make top use of BIM software tools, in addition to 2D drawings, they use the BIM model for other outputs – virtual reality simulation, quantity take-offs (QTO), analysis of energy use, etc. They have a BIM coordinator(s) and have a detailed modelling standard, they are proficient in the structure of IFC, its exports and imports.
The aim of the selection procedure is to choose designers from the last two groups. At the same time to comply with all provisions of the PP.
Public procurement is generally a highly formalized procedure for selecting a supplier of services or construction works. When awarding it, the contracting authority must comply with a number of established rules and obligations. Where the contracting authority has “free hands”, it must also ensure that by setting various requirements (requirements for the subject of the public contract, requirements for the qualification of suppliers, etc.) does not violate the principles of public procurement – non-discrimination and equal treatment, transparency and proportionality. It is true that the smaller the innovative approach, the safer choice of supplier. At the same time, the less innovative approach the investor chooses, the less likely he is going to choose a high-quality supplier and to realistically check his experience before the actual stage of implementation of the public contract, i.e. before the moment of concluding the contract and subsequent performance of this contract.
However, in order to choose a quality contractor for the BIM model, we would recommend not to take a path of least resistance, but to make the necessary effort to realistically verify the possibilities and capabilities of suppliers already during the tender procedure. This procedure certainly increases the administrative and technical complexity of the preparation and implementation of the procurement procedure on the part of the contracting authority. It certainly contributes to the complexity of preparing an offer to a supplier, however, in such a complex area as the use of BIM, it will pay off for contracting authorities. PP knows the institutes and mechanisms through which real knowledge and the ability of suppliers to use BIM can by verified. However, these institutes are not commonly used.
The chosen method of selecting a BIM designer is summarized in Diagram 1:
Points 1 to 6 represent the individual steps of the procurement procedure. The individual steps include:
- documents and their parts (specific parts related to the BIM are marked in green – fixed or yellow – to be completed by competitors) and
- related activities (marked in blue).
For greater clarity, even for people without knowledge of BIM, a parallel order with a car is blended in the text. It is marked in blue.
Description of individual phases of the tender procedure:
Step 1 – preparation of tender documents
Preparation of tender documents. The tender document consists of several key parts, which are made up of separate documents:
- Tender documents;
- Contract for works proposal;
- Documentation of the previous project stage (technical basis for the preparation of further stages of project documentation);
- Control document – BEP (uniquely prepared for the BIM project);
- Sample definition (prepared uniquely for the BIM project);
- Assessment criteria (prepared uniquely for the BIM project).
Parallel with car:
I want to have a unique car made. I’m not a manufacturer. But I will edit it myself in the future, and therefore I need its detailed production description (= parts of the BEP to be filled in by the competitors – yellow parts of the document). I know what are the most important parts (steering wheel, 4 wheels, brakes, etc. = fixed parts of the BEP given by the client (contracting authority) – the green parts of the document). To be sure that the manufacturer can really produce and describe the developed car, I will ask for a model of the car (= sample) from him. I will appreciate if the car will have selected additional functionalities (= selected assessment criteria), which it will be showed to me (= final interview with a presentation) with a model of the car (= sample) or with a car already made by it.
Step 2 – processing of bids by competitors
From the point of view of BIM, the key in this part is the correct compilation of the BIM sample, supplementation of the BEP and supplementation of the documents for the purpose of assessment the bids within the individual assessment criteria. Of course, it is necessary to document all other requirements for processing of tenders, whether they are requirements set directly by the PP or determined by the contracting authority (e.g. prove of basic competence, professional competence, technical qualifications, etc.). The compilation of the sample and its consistent description in the BEP will certainly be the most demanding part of processing the offer. The designer demonstrates advanced knowledge of creating a BIM model and the ability to pass detailed information about it to other project participants, i.e. the construction contractor. The assessment of bids is not based on the knowledge of working with BIM (this is assumed, e.g. by processing the sample and filling in the BEP). The assessment is primarily based on the competitor’s commitment to:
- delivery of other functionalities and services (e.g. virtual reality, = a car can wade through a river), or
- parts of the BIM model (e.g. wider modeled area, = roof rack will be supplied) or
- its outputs (e.g. automatically generated survey report).
This method of assessment is currently so-called “best value” method. However, the supplier’s previous experience can also be assessed.
Step 3 – bid assessment
The contracting authority carries out a simple assessment of tenders. He compiles the bidding order.
Step 4 – evaluation of BEP and sample model
The offer with the highest point rating (the most economically advantageous offer) is subject to a closer evaluation. In addition to the evaluation of the general “contract” parts of the tender (e.g. documents proving the basic competence), the parts supplemented by the designer of the BEP and the submitted samples are also assessed.
The evaluation of BEP and sample is a key (and perhaps the most challenging) moment of the whole selection. In our conditions, model validation by the contracting authority is a practically unknown activity . Perhaps precisely because the contracting authority must be equipped with advanced knowledge and tools to control this model , . Without this step, however, the inexperienced designer would easily slip through the selection network.
A positive evaluation of the sample and the BEP is when the following is met:
- BEP control document – its completion is complete and unambiguous, it describes the sample;
- Sample of BIM model – meets the required range and quality.
In case of a positive evaluation, the competitor proceeds to the interview and presentation phase. If the result of the BEP and sample evaluation is negative (in the spirit that it cannot be corrected without considerable effort), the competitor is disqualified and replaced by the second competitor.
Step 5 – Interview and presentation
The interview and presentation before signing the contract represents the last phase of supplier selection, in which the contracting authority is really able to check and assess the knowledge of the competitor in BIM, as well as the declaration of functionalities and other services in the assessment. The competitor is obliged to demonstrate in a given way the assessed functionalities to which he has committed himself (e.g. commissioning of virtual reality at the place of the contracting authority, = to demonstrate the river crossing by car) and to demonstrate (prove) knowledge of the BIM model.
Step 6 – Concluding the contract
If the competitor succeeds, a contract of works is concluded with him. The contract of works will, of course, include the obligations given by the assessment criteria, as well as the BEP governing document and other relevant parts of the tender documents.
The article summarizes the findings from the system of qualitative selection of a designer for a project led by the BIM method.
The described method of the designer selection and the set conditions for the supplier selection really guarantee that the designer of category 6) and 7) will participate in the tender procedure and subsequently the designer who is really familiar with BIM design will be selected.
What are the reasons for such a claim?
- large investment of knowledge and know-how when submitting a bid;
- clearly set qualitative output boundaries;
- easier detection of deficiencies in the model (including project documentation) by the contracting authority.
Last but not least, the method described above is advantageous for the smooth transfer of the BIM model to the next phase of the project – the selection of the construction contractor. This moment has already proved to be a problem for several BIM projects. The models could not be extracted in the next phase of the project due to their insufficient description, qualitative deficiencies or missing source files. The projects were thus delayed or switched to the “standard” mode of project documentation. This could be avoided by using the described method of designer selection.