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Do SME contractors really need BIM level 2 support?

The Department for Business Innovation and Skills suggest that over 98% of UK construction contracting businesses are SMEs, so clearly the AEC industry and the UK Government have a responsibility to ensure that the benefits of BIM are clearly seen for small and medium practices.

Not just for the larger players

There is a misconception that BIM is only for large practices, aligned to the view that it is useful for larger, more complex projects but not for less complex ones. This is evidenced in the NBS National BIM Report 2017 which surveyed BIM adoption by practice size. It uncovered that small practices (with 15 or fewer staff) were less likely, at 48%, to have adopted BIM than larger ones.

BIM adoption barriers that SMEs face

Whilst Tier 2 contractors are generally ahead with their adoption (having to align with Tier 1 contractors), it’s the Tier 3 level who can face challenges in adopting BIM which can impact winning-work on larger projects, particularly in the public sector. Challenges for SMEs include:

  • Skill shortage. It’s clear that the training of staff is a huge issue in terms of delivering the efficiencies required by BIM standards. Better to receive outsourced support.

  • Processes. Some practices see the implementation of BIM Level 2 standards too confusing or difficult, so a lack of BIM “champions” will slow-down business-as-usual for BIM.

  • Cost. Smaller firms see greater cost barriers, such as investment in BIM-enabling software, replacing hardware, and purchasing data infrastructure storage and security.

Raising the barriers for SMEs

There have been strides made by industry, software developers and central Government to make BIM more appealing and realistic for SMEs such as:

  • Standard documentation. The Government has attempted to tackle the difficulties with the introduction of standard documentation such as PAS 91 and continues to consult on strategies for making public sector procurement more accessible to SMEs..

  • Software accessibility. BIM authoring software licence models are changing - to make it more affordable for smaller practices to buy or hire. The introduction of Software as a Service (SaaS) is an affordable option as you can purchase on a pay-as-you-go basis from a cloud service provider..

  • Simplification. Measures were announced to remove the barriers to public contracts by abolishing pre-qualification questionnaires (PQQs) for low-value contracts and mandating the use of core PQQs for high value contracts which require BIM credentials.

The BIMstitute

At The BIMstitute (, dedicated BIM specialists are able to work with your SME (although size is no barrier).

The team is passionate about raising awareness of BIM within the SME marketplace, and helping companies to move into new and bigger markets by unlocking new, more efficient ways of working and articulating the value proposition and business benefits.

Get in touch today with to have a conversation about BIM adoption, implementation and delivery support.

Meet the team

Come see us on Stand 232 at the National Infrastructure Forum on Tuesday 13th of June 2017. Get your free ticket at

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