The Next Step in BIM: Facility Management

In recent years, there has been an enormous effort on the part of the Owners of Work (DO) to increase the importance of the operation and maintenance phase of buildings. This effort has also been made in terms of changing how the life cycle of a building is viewed, with regard to the costs of the different phases. According to some studies, only about 15% of the total costs of a building are applied in the construction phase. Not forgetting the huge effort on the part of the DO to reverse this scenario, it should be noted that there is still much to be done.

In the following table, adapted from the BS ISO 15686-5:2008 standard, it is possible to verify that the construction of the building is just one of several costs inherent to the entire life of a building.

Life cycle costs of a building (adapted BS ISO 15686-5:2008)

The growing awareness of the importance of the operation and maintenance phase, which occupies about 80% of the total cost, leads to a need to manage the building after construction, thus emerging Facility Management (FM). FM is a resource management that combines people, physical location and process management experience in order to provide vital support services of the organization. 

FM core values

  • Law Suit
  • People
  • Locations

The progressive increase in the use of FM, together with the prominence that the Building Information Modeling (BIM) methodology has obtained in recent years, lead to the need to change the current approach to facility management. In this way, this type of management will be provided with the latest technological innovations such as the use of BIM.

Given that the BIM model is not just a three-dimensional model of the building, but an information repository of the entire building, the integration of the BIM methodology with FM becomes natural. Therefore, the BIM-FM methodology consists, very succinctly, in the application of Facility Management (FM) using the functionalities provided by the BIM model, either from the geometric model or from the database that contains all the necessary data of all elements.


The use of the FM methodology no longer represents doubts as to the value of its use and it is generally accepted and proven that the application of this methodology brings added value to your organization. However, despite the unanimity regarding the return on investment resulting from its application, when referring to BIM-FM, this is one of the issues that normally arises with its implementation. 

Currently, some studies point to the validity of the financial return. However, ndBIM argues that each case should be analyzed individually, as there are several factors to be analyzed. Some of the factors that we consider indispensable in the analysis of each project are, for example: the type of project, the state of the project (new or existing), the existence of a BIM model, the use of some type of FM methodology and, in case of use, the existence and types of outsourcing contracts.

More and more methodologies and tools are emerging that support and simplify this implementation process. One of the innovations that drives the integration of BIM-FM is the use of the Construction Operations Building information exchange (COBie), since this makes the integration even simpler and faster than the implementation of the FM methodology. This was included in the BIM implementation roadmap until 2016 in the United Kingdom, with the delivery of the building's COBie file being considered one of the minimum requirements. 

COBie is a standard for the exchange of information related to the building and its purpose is to exchange non-geometric information of the elements present in the model. The use of this tool encourages the collection and introduction of information in the model during the phases in which it is obtained, instead of the traditional process, where it is accumulated and gathered at the end. This posture does not lead to an additional cost, but rather to a change in the way information is gathered, representing an added value for the owner.

For ndBIM, this is the best method of applying the BIM-FM methodology. In the situation represented, the implementation of the methodology does not present any type of additional cost for the owner in relation to the FM methodology, given the existence of both the model and the duly organized information, which together with the software license are the main costs of its implementation. On the contrary, the application of BIM-FM still finds advantages over FM, as it is not necessary to create specific information and 2D plans for the use of the FM tool.

For current users of the FM methodology, the switch to BIM-FM does not represent a sudden change in the way it is applied, but constitutes an evolution. Currently, there is an increasing number of FM applications that, not being BIM solutions, already allow their connection with BIM models. This option means that there is no loss of existing information, but rather a complement to it. This merger, in addition to the expected advantages of using BIM-FM, improves the management of changes, eliminates the need to repeat 2D CAD drawings and facilitates visualization through 3D.

Another case that presents itself as one of the great examples of application are government properties and the fact that they have several assets in a concentrated region. Thanks to BIM-FM, it is possible to provide all information about properties and equipment, including their location and history, allowing maintenance teams not to be assigned to just one property. It makes it possible to transform these teams into units that can travel to any of the properties, whether or not they are familiar with them, with all the necessary information, thus admitting a reduction in the resources allocated to the task.

Another advantage of using the BIM model is the possibility of energy simulations. Have you ever thought how much you could save on your energy bill by changing your building's coating? At a time when energy efficiency is the focus of attention and one of the main global concerns, the fact that the BIM model has the thermal properties of the materials, thus allows the energy simulation of the building without great effort or increased costs. The simulation results allow you to calculate the time to payback on your investment with great ease.

In order for our customers to better understand this BIM-FM implementation process, we chose to present a case study carried out by ndBIM in the application to a school centre.

School building under study

Case study

This building, already in operation, does not have any type of BIM model or management system. For this implementation it was decided to use ArchiCAD as modeling software and as BIM FM solution. This type of information is fundamental for the development of the implementation plan, which is divided into 4 phases:

  • Definition of requirements;
  • Data collection;
  • Center modeling;
  • Integration with the BIM-FM solution.
BIM-FM Implementation Process

Definition of requirements

When defining requirements, it is extremely important to define the purpose of the model to collect and model only what is really necessary. In addition to making the process longer, introducing unnecessary information into the model will only make it more cumbersome. Furthermore, the fact that the solution used for management is Software as a Service (SaaS), that is, a browser-based solution, making this option even more essential. For this Center, the following purposes were considered necessary:

  • Contract management;
  • Maintenance;
  • Stock management;
  • Creation of performance indicators (KPI's) for benchmarking.

Data collection

At this stage, not only the collection of data related to the physical plant of the center was considered, but also the information necessary for its management. The information relating to the building is all in digital format and ends up representing the final screens of the building, currently known as As-Built.

Center modeling

The Modeling of the Center was carried out in accordance with the existing plans of the project. However, due to some changes made about which there is no information, it is necessary to verify these changes in the field, so that the model represents the current state of the building, as-managed.

When carrying out the modeling of the Centre, the information collected regarding the equipment was also inserted. Another precaution that must be taken into account when modeling is related to the specifications required for integration with the BIM-FM solution. The following image shows the model of building zones.

Model of building zones

Integration with the BIM-FM solution

After modeling the building and introducing the information into the components, it is synchronized with After synchronization, the remaining information is inserted, this time using Excel sheets or directly in the application's browser.

From this point on, the entire management process is done in which, when necessary, is updated with the BIM model.

Synchronization between model and


With the implementation of this methodology, there are several expected advantages, varying according to the application cases. Some of these advantages are shown in the following figure.

Advantages of BIM-FM implementation


With technological evolution, the adaptation of the BIM-FM methodology by the Work Owners is a logical, natural and inevitable step. Initially, and in line with what happens with many other methodologies, there is an initial inertia to change on the part of some players in the sector. 

This is a methodology of extreme interest due to its potential for process optimization. While in the traditional process the management of facilities is a phase outside the rest of the construction process, with an abrupt transition between phases, with the use of this methodology, there is continuity between the different phases. This continuity allows greater functionality and usefulness of information for the Owner of Work.

If you think it's important to manage your building, why not bet on the evolution of FM? Get in touch with ndBIM, and we will be your partner in this implementation. Together we will define the best future for your organization.