MT - Using BIM as a PM Tool: 3.1.2- Inductive Approach

The second part of the research question “How can BIM help Project Managers succeed in delivering complex construction projects" required a complete different approach. In this case an inductive approach was more adequate, because we were trying to come with a theory from a series of observations and from own experience. For this part, it was important to find out what were the expectations of AEC practitioners and their readiness to commit to a new technology and new processes. The opinion of construction professionals on how BIM can help AEC professionals to better deliver complex projects was also necessary.

Questionnaires (Annex I and II) were designed to gather data regarding the perception of construction professionals of BIM. These questionnaires, later explained in more detail, were the base to come up with the list of ways in which BIM can help the delivery of complex construction projects. For this part of the research both the primary data gathered from this questionnaires and the secondary data gathered from several sources were the corner stone that would allow the author to come up with a theory of how BIM can help Project Managers. At the same time, all this primary and secondary data was used to fulfil the 4 research objectives, which are here listed again.

1. To identify in which aspects is BIM implementation showing more benefits for the delivery of construction projects
2. To compare the benefits of BIM with the role of the Project Manager
3. To define which role should the Project Manager assume within the BIM framework.
4. To analyze the existing challenges for BIM implementation and estimate future developments that might mitigate these challenges.

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MT - Using BIM as a PM Tool: 3.1.1 – Part I: Deductive approach

The research methodology begins with a deductive approach. Our initial goal was to test the hypothesis that BIM is an adequate Project Management Tool.Our first step on the process of deduction, as explained in Lancaster (2005), was to formulate the above mentioned hypothesis. There was the initial assumption that BIM is a tool for Project Management. The answer to the question “Is BIM a Project Management Tool?” was assumed to be affirmative. Nevertheless, the assumption was tested for confirmation. To do so, on Step 2 (Figure 3.1) some Key Performance Indicators [KPI] for project management were defined and on Step 3 the information was compared to these KPI to assess the relevance of BIM for PM practitioners.

The information was gathered from secondary sources. These sources are detailed later on during Chapter 4 of this dissertation (Table 4.1). Secondary data from completed construction projects that implemented BIM was gathered to analyze in which ways the projects benefited from the use of BIM. The role and influence of BIM in these construction projects was compared with the role and influence expected from a Project Manager using the KPI that were defined (Table 3.1) based on the analysis of the role of the Project Manager from the PMBOK (PMI, 2004). Although each of the PMBOK Knowledge Areas includes a lot of different aspects, they were simplified using the main topic the author considered they dealt with. This might seem as an excessive simplification, but the creation of these KPIs was essential for the deductive part of the dissertation, and the translation from a complex set of variables to easy to understand KPIs was also needed.

The Coordination KPI was created from the Integration Management PMBOK Knowledge Area. The change in name from Integration to coordination is worth explaining. The change in nomenclature from Integration to Coordination (Table 3.1) was done after reading most of the Case Studies and finding that coordination was mentioned much more than the word integration. Analyzing the content of the Integration Management chapter of the PMBOK, coordination was seen to embrace most of its meaning like “Identifying that a change needs to occur or has occurred” or “Reviewing and approving requested changes“ (PMBOK, 2004 : p.96).

It is common practice on deductive research approaches to use an extra step to the process shown on Figure 3.1 (Lancaster, 2005). This extra step is usually called falsification or discarding theory, and it is based on the premise that the researcher should aim to refute his own theory rather than to prove it (Ibid.). In this case, and despite the unorthodoxy of the chosen approach, this last step will focus on the aspects that prove the theory and not so much on those that refute it. This approach was chosen because the deductive part of our research is just a starting point for the more relevant aspect of this dissertation, the formulation of a list of aspects in which BIM can help PMs to deliver complex construction projects.

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