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Building Information Modeling has been touted as one of the most promising developments in the Architecture, Engineering and Construction industry Azhar et al, 2008. Starting from the inception stage to project completion and finally the operation phase, BIM assists various stakeholders such as the Designers, Architects, Engineers, Contractors, and Project/Facilities managers through the design, marketing, documentation, construction, tendering, bidding, ongoing facility management and maintenance of the buildings. Regardless of commercial, industrial or residential projects, BIM is poised to substantially improve the design, documentation and construction processes (Suermann, 2009).
BIM is a technology that is presently gaining momentum within the AEC industry (Johnson & Gunderson, 2009). The need for BIM is increasing significantly and the industry has witnessed the growing awareness and implementations of this technology in many of the top consultancy and contractor firms (Ang, 2012).
1.2 BIM in Local Context
Apart from overseas, BIM is also gaining more attention in the Singapore construction industry as the public sector is taking the lead in the push for BIM implementation locally (Cheng, 2011). Building and Construction Authority (BCA), the local construction and built environment regulatory agency has formulated a five-year plan to encourage the construction industry towards implementation of BIM into their work processes. BCA aspires to raise the percentage of BIM usage to 80% in Singapore construction industry by 2015 (Cheng, 2011). This is in conjunction with the government's plan to improve the construction industry's productivity by up to 25% over the next decade (BCA, 2011).
As such, it will be made mandatory for architectural, structural and (Mechanical & Electrical) M&E plans to be submitted electronically through Construction and Real Estate Network (CORENET) for regulatory approval by 2015, starting with obligatory architectural e-Submissions in 2013 (Refer to Figure 1.1). In order to facilitate the transition from 2D (2-Dimensional) drawings to 3D (3-Dimensional) BIM, BCA has developed a standardized set of BIM e-Submission templates to eliminate the hassle of needing to adapt to new ways of submitting the relevant documents (Cheng, 2011).
Figure 1.1: Phased Mandatory BIM e-Submission (Cheng, 2011)
To further promote wider adoption of BIM in the Singapore construction industry, BCA has also set up the Centre for Construction IT (CCIT) to reach out to various players in the industry via seminars to promote success stories of BIM implementation. On top of that, a BIM fund of an amount of SGD$6 million has been catered to subsidize part of the cost incurred in training, consultancy, software or hardware (BCA, 2012). One key area of the road map also encourages Singapore universities to conduct courses of BIM, and organize BIM workshops regularly (Khemlani, 2012). In preparation for the industry to be BIM-ready, BCA Academy has also launched a new Specialist Diploma Programme in BIM during May 2011 which coaches BIM managers and coordinators to manage BIM projects for multi-discipline coordination and collaboration (Cheng, 2011).
Despite BIM being actively promoted in Singapore, its usage among building professionals still remains low locally. Compared to The United States of America (U.S.), United Kingdom (UK) and other Nordic nations such as Norway, Denmark and Finland, the rate of BIM adoption in Singapore is found to be trailing behind these countries (Khemlani, 2012). According to BCA's Build Smart magazine's December 2011 issue, only 39% of construction firms in Singapore have adopted BIM. This figure is still way below the desired 80% set by BCA.
1.3 Research Problem
While many professionals believe that BIM is the panacea for the existing problems persisting in the AEC industry, a large number of potential stakeholders still remain at the opposite end of the spectrum. Most are found to hold reservations and remain skeptical about the benefits that BIM claims to bring upon them, thus giving remarks that BIM is likely to be a marketing trend that will pass before it ever aids the industry (Hoban, 2011). In response to that, Suermann (2009) has mentioned that the adoption of BIM is moving ahead at a much faster rate than the amount of empirical data that can justify its implementation. This is well supported by Sun & Zhou (2010) as they feel that there are insufficient studies to conclude whether BIM has an impact on the construction industry.
Therefore, it is argued that the availability of cost-benefit information will be of utmost importance for professionals in the building industry in order to accept BIM (Neelamkavil & Ahamed, 2012). As such, it has being identified that Return on Investment (ROI) analysis is one way that justifies such investment. Yet, there is no industry-standard method to evaluate the ROI of BIM (McGraw-Hill Construction, 2012). Computation of the true nature of ROI is also proven to be an uphill task (Neelamkavil & Ahamed, 2012).
Deriving from these statements, the lack of established methodology to evaluate the impact of BIM makes it difficult to convince the industry to embrace the implementation of BIM at a full scale as there is a lack of means for potential BIM users to understand why the money is being spent, as well as what the expected results are (Neelamkavil & Ahamed, 2012). The perceptions of BIM users on their interactions and experiences with BIM have also yet to be studied in detail. BCA and buildingSMART Singapore (bSS) are unable to present substantial information in these areas as well.
Hence, proper research should be conducted to ensure that the BIM implementation can show verifiable positive impacts and bring in business value for potential stakeholders.
1.4 Research Aims and Objectives
This dissertation aims to justify the initial investment in BIM and as a result, encourages greater adoption of this new technology within Singapore construction industry. This is done primarily by investigating the impact of BIM on the commonly accepted (Key Performance Indicators) KPIs of construction project and by reviewing the relationship between project KPIs and ROI of BIM. Since the construction industry is characterized by projects, analyzing the performance of adopting BIM approach in a project could answer the question of whether BIM is benefitting the industry (Sun & Zhou, 2010).
Parallel and as a consequence to the search for answers, several research objectives are being identified:
To evaluate the impact of BIM on project KPIs across different phases of a construction project.
To find out the relationship between the impact of BIM and various project KPIs which are deemed to be important by stakeholders at different phases of a construction project.
To investigate the relationship between project KPIs and ROI of BIM.
To propose a model to evaluate the ROI of BIM by assessing project KPIs.
1.5 Research Hypothesis
The hypotheses of this study are as follows:
BIM is able to improve project KPIs during pre-construction stage.
BIM is able to improve project KPIs during construction stage.
BIM is able to improve project KPIs during post-construction stage.
BIM is able to improve project KPIs which are deemed to be highly important to BIM users at different phases of a project.
BIM benefits the whole construction industry in overall.
Project KPIs play a critical role in ensuring a positive ROI of BIM within an organization.
1.6 Research Scope
This study focuses on the impact of BIM on the different project KPIs with particular emphasis in the Singapore's context. As such, only project stakeholders (architect, quantity surveyor, engineer, main contractor etc) based in Singapore were taken into considerations for the study. The validation of the research hypothesis and development of model would be solely based on the results consolidated from local respondents and thus, might not be representative of the industry outside Singapore.
1.7 Research Methodology
An in-depth understanding of BIM is needed to pragmatically understand how it has impacted the construction industry. Thus, an extensive literature review was carried out with the aim of contributing to the theoretical framework for this study. A survey questionnaire was subsequently conducted and the data will be analysed statistically to prove the research hypothesis. To present qualitative information to substantiate this research, interviews were conducted to provide professional's insights regarding this area of research. A conclusion of the research will then be discussed, with suggestions for further studies.
1.7 Structure of Dissertation
Chapter 1 highlights the general background of BIM in Singapore. This chapter also presents the research problem which lays the foundation for the research aim and objectives. The research hypothesis, scope and methodology are also defined in this chapter.
Chapter 2 defines the meaning of BIM and also explores the benefits of BIM across the project lifecycle. A section on the barriers to BIM implementation is also presented to provide some background information regarding stakeholders' reservations to BIM adoption.
Chapter 3 reviews on the different methods proposed by various authors to measure the ROI of BIM. The chapter also examines on the relationship ROI of BIM and project KPIs.
Chapter 4 identifies the commonly accepted project KPIs used by the construction industry. The identified KPIs will then be used as testing variables for the hypothesis in this study.
Chapter 5 discusses the research methodology adopted in this research, including the targeted sample group, data collection method and data analysis method. The explanation for the use of statistical test is also provided.
Chapter 6 reveals the characteristics of the respondents of the questionnaire survey.
Chapter 7 presents the findings and data analysis of the results collected from the questionnaire survey. Qualitative results from the interview would also be discussed in this chapter to validate the hypothesis formed in this study.
Chapter 8 presents on the final deliverable of this dissertation which is derived from the research findings and results of this study.
Chapter 9 summarizes and concludes the study by suggesting areas for future research.
The figure below illustrates the structure of this dissertation.