4D BIM for Construction

10 Point Checklist: Is 4D Construction Software Right For You?

Posted by Sue Dengenis on Oct 1, 2015 8:53:48 PM

Wake Up and Smell the Sawdust!!

According to the CIOB (Chartered Institute of Building), the construction industry’s ability to deliver projects on time fell from 45% in 2014 to 40% this year. That’s dismal.  We hear these disappointing stats regularly and yet little seems to change, year after year.  Is the problem a lack of leadership, poor technology or a faulty process?  My opinion, some of all of these, but I will save that discussion for another time.  I am more interested in how to create change.   How do we move the industry to a position of leadership in both innovation and performance?  The good news is, the change has already begun- if you haven’t noticed you need to wake up and seize the opportunity- the future is bright and truly exciting!     

 Follow the Light

Thank you to the courageous leaders who have stepped up and who have challenged decades of conventional thinking- because of you, a new day has dawned in construction.  Attend an industry event, listen and look at all the new technology emerging.  Construction is at least a $5 trillion dollar industry, significantly higher depending on how you define “construction”- smart tech companies see the problems and they understand the opportunity- the potential to make a positive contribution to an important industry, as well as the opportunity to make a bit of money. The result is a huge amount of new tech tools: virtual reality, augmented reality, drones, laser scanning, dashboards, data analysis, sensors, wearables….  The geeks have arrived and just in time!  Some of their new technologies work, some still need work…some have begun to revolutionize the industry.  One thing is certain; the days of general purpose technology are over, the construction industry is finally getting purpose built tools, and the ones that work are creating excitement and they are attracting some of the best and brightest to the industry.  Yes, the industry is slow to change, it will take time, but the leaders among us have fueled the train, it is moving forward and it is gaining speed.  Once it crosses the crest you best be prepared because there won’t be time later. 

A strategy for the 21st century

Technology alone will not solve the challenges faced by the construction industry so don’t wait for that day to arrive- it won’t.  Success will be driven by smart people, working in a highly cooperative process with technology that is purpose built for the complexities of construction.   One technology that has outstanding results on projects around the world is 4D Scheduling and Project Management software.  If you don’t know about it yet, find out- the stories will light a spark.

Here is a 10 point checklist to determine if 4D BIM is right for you:

  1. Do you believe a validated and reliable schedule provides a foundation for successful project delivery?   On most projects today, schedules often follow rather than lead the project.  “With the tools currently employed on most projects, project participants see more work than benefit from the schedule,  they take a more passive role; doing the minimum to keep the scheduler off their backs.  They end up doing what makes sense in their own limited view, regardless of the wellbeing of the overall project. “   Clearly this needs to be fixed.
  2. Does your schedule clearly identify safety issues, congestion, and no work zones to minimize risks and hazardous conditions? Does the safety team understand and participate in early review of the plan? 
  3. Are temporary works, resources and equipment included and optimized in your schedule? There are significant potential savings here. 
  4. Can you easily identify space/time conflicts early in the planning stage so they can be resolved when costs are at their lowest? 
  5. Does the project delivery team engage and share knowledge to optimize the plan for the overall project rather than protecting their silos? 
  6. Are your subcontractors and specialty suppliers receiving up to date progress reports to ensure maximum productivity and cost efficiency on site? 
  7. Do you communicate clearly and efficiently ensuring the entire delivery team has a shared understanding of the project approach? 
  8. Are you confident that you can deliver every project on time? 
  9. Have you reviewed “what if” scenarios to enable informed and proactive decisions if things don’t go as planned?
  10. Are you innovating at every stage to ensure peak performance?

If you answered “Yes” to question 1 and “No” to any of questions 2-10, you should start a pilot project using 4D Scheduling and Project Management.  Don’t wait, just get started, the results will surprise you.

4D does one thing that revolutionizes planning and scheduling- it brings the visibility of CAD into the planning process so now, rather than interpreting Gantt charts and reviewing stacks of 2D drawings- the 3D model and the schedule are combined to simulate a project in real time in whatever level of detail is necessary- move forward- move back- review and edit your plan with your supply chain- optimize the schedule for the entire project not one phase or one subcontractor, rehearse your plan until you have confidence that the team clearly understands your approach and is ready for construction.  For the first time, the industry literally has a low risk, low cost practice field on which to review, optimize and rehearse a project before ever starting work on the site. 


In the early phase of a project, 4D is used to demonstrate your approach and to win work. Once the project is awarded, the 4D model is used to review the approach, identify out of sequence or missing tasks, to run what if scenarios, to perform clash detection on space and time rather than just design clash detection and to validate and optimize the plan.  Later, 4D is used for look ahead meetings, monitoring progress and reporting planned vs actual, resource utilitization, and finally, the 4D model can be used for commissioning, operations, and maintenance. View the 4D workflow.

A validated and optimized plan is the foundation of successful project delivery- it identifies the approach that the entire delivery team will use to achieve their objective, so it is important that the plan be clearly understood, validated and even rehearsed.  Consider this- construction is a lot like a football game- each game is unique- there are many participants with different expertise and knowledge.   The only way a team will win is if they practice hard, trust their plan and work together, play by play, to achieve their goal- to win the game.  Similarly- each construction project is unique- the team changes every project- to win requires the highest levels of coordination, trust and informed decision making.  That takes practice- but until recently- construction never had a low risk, low cost environment in which to practice - and the result has been decades of poor performance.  Don’t accept poor performance as a given- there are better ways- spread the word!

For more informaiton on Synchro PRO 4D Construction Scheduling and Project Management Software visit: https://synchroltd.com/

Part II of this article will discuss "What To Look For When Evaluating 4D Construction Software".  


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