BIM In-house or Outsource

What is better: do BIM In-house or Outsource?

Building Information Modeling requirements are found on more and more construction projects these days. I have read many articles and blogs speaking about this topic and many Contractors and Subs are asking themselves the same question.

However, is this even the right question?

First, the word “Outsourcing” does not have a very good connotation because it is often associated with Off-shoring to India and many companies have had poor experiences. So let us redefine Outsourcing BIM, REVIT or Bentley Modeling as simply having a third party that is not a permanent employee produce the work.

In this arrangement, you have clear advantages and disadvantages. For example, one advantage of a Permanent Employee is that you have him/her available anytime. You are already “buying” his/hers 160/180 hours a month…This can also be the problem. Even if you do not have the work…you are still buying those hours every month…With a BIM Outsourcing Partner, you only pay when you need it. However, unless you have a lump sum arrangement with the BIM Company, in both cases you run the risk of exceeding your budget because it takes the Employee or the Outsource firm more time than expected.

Today people are working on a project from many different locations and it is becoming more par for the course. With the advancement of communication technology, it doesn’t really matter whether there are employees working from home, another office or an Outsource BIM firm. Is very typical that during the design phase of a project, Architects and Consultants are in different cities, states or even countries if we talk about projects outside the US. No doubt, a remote setup takes better project management and communication but clearly it is a lot better to have expertise geographically separated than non-expertise next to you.

Some companies insist that it is better to have “control of the Expertise” and therefore insist that in-house BIM is the best strategy. However, in-house still does not give you complete control because an employee may leave you for your competition tomorrow in search of a better paycheck. When you weigh this vs. having a trustworthy relationship with a BIM Partner whose expertise you can count on for the long run, the “control” factor is not tide to either strategy you choose.

Therefore, you can be equally successful or unsuccessful with each business model or with a mix of both. Whether its employees that you are hiring/training or a BIM Outsource partner, the real question should not be “In-house or Outsource BIM” but “How do you best select your BIM Experts”.  In the end and in both cases, employees and a BIM Consultant, it is about the people with which you have a business relationship. Ultimately, you need to make sure they have the right experience, they communicate well, they are accessible and they are accountable for the quality of their work.

Axel Krüger
ENG President