Article #250 The Great Value of Having Building Information Model (BIM) Friendly Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)

The growing trend to use Building Information Modelling (BIM) in capital projects delivery as well as asset management has brought to the market many applications that integrates the BIM model with project schedule (4D), cost estimate (5D), work orders (6D), safety among others. Nevertheless, what most project stakeholders are looking for is an interactive BIM-enabled business intelligence and visualization solution that enables to manage, analyze, monitor, evaluate and report the performance of the different project management processes. A solution that enables integrating the different project management data sources with the BIM model without the least effort as well as flexible to meet the uniqueness nature of projects.

Regardless of the project management standards, requirements or maturity level that exists on any given engineering and construction, there will be always one practice that all those projects will have. This practice is the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). By definition, a WBS is a deliverable-oriented hierarchical decomposition of the work to be executed by the project team to accomplish the project objectives and create the required deliverables. It organizes and defines the total scope of the project. Therefore, a BIM friendly WBS needs to be adopted when it comes to managing engineering and construction projects.

The research document titled “Managing BIM-Integrated Information for Effective Look-ahead Planning” by Saed Hasan Saffarini and Ragip Akbas of Ozyegin University, October 2017, has identified a seven levels breakdown structure that provides each individual BIM entity with unique ObjectCode. The WBS figure below details those seven levels. It also shows an example of the BIM model ObjectCode “OZU_BE_L02-B_STR-CON_WALL_12563” where OZU is the project name, BE is the Engineering Building, L02-B is second floor level zone B, STR is the structure discipline (for example HVC is for HVAC discipline), CON for concrete works, WALL for Wall object and 12563 for the Wall ID. The ObjectCode field will be used in all applications used to manage the project processes including the scheduling tool like Primavera P6 or MS Project and project management information system (PMIS) like PMWeb.

To enable PMWeb to use the BIM friendly WBS, the WBS levels need to be created in PMWeb WBS module or imported from Primavera P6 or MS Project. It should be noted that on some projects, there will be a schedule driven WBS levels which might be different than BIM friendly WBS. In those cases, the Primavera P6 and MS Project schedules will use the schedule driven WBS while PMWeb will use the BIM friendly WBS. The BIM friendly WBS values will be added as one of the user defined fields in the project schedule software.

The BIM friendly WBS will become the basis for associating the different project records with the BIM objects. All records including but not limited to communications, quality, HSE, cost, contract, claims among others as well as project schedule activities will have the relevant BIM friendly WBS value assigned to it. Most of those records are either available out of the box in PMWeb or can be created using PMWeb custom form builder. For the project schedule data, there is the option to extract the data from the scheduling application, like Primavera P6 or MS Project, or from PMWeb if the schedule data was imported to PMWeb. Nevertheless, it is very common to have data from different data sources or applications associated with the BIM objects as long as the same BIM friendly WBS is used.

Microsoft Power BI, a data visualization and business intelligence application, enables the association of those data sources with the BIM model to enable stakeholders to have an interactive BIM-enabled business intelligence and visualization solution to manage, analyze, monitor, evaluate and report the performance of the different project management processes. MS Power BI will automatically associate the different data sources with the BIM model as long as those data sources use the same BIM friendly WBS values. The BIM model which need to be saved in IFC file format along with the required fields will be imported to MS Power BI using Vcad from BLogic whereas the other records along with their required fields will be imported from PMWeb and Primavera P6 or MS Project. BLogic is also working on a new release of Vcad that is expected very soon to allow importing the BIM models in their original Revit file format.

With this information and the association of the different data table, different layout reports can be created to display the BIM model and the different project management records that are associated with the BIM model. The report could also include different graphical visuals to analyze and summarize the information captured in those records. Those could include information that relate to the project schedule, cost, quality, health and safety, communications among others.

The MS Power BI report is an interactive report where the information will be automatically filtered depending on the selection made and for which the BIM model will highlight the selected BIM objects or assets. This will provide the report reader with immediate visualization of the BIM objects associated with the selected RFIs. For example, by selecting the RFIs that had been withheld for 12 days or more, the PMIS tabular and graphical visuals will display only those selected RFI transactions and the BIM model will reflect the associated BIM objects or assets. The user has full control to zoom and rotate the BIM model to have better visualization of the associated BIM objects or assets. The Vcad viewer allows having X-Ray view to locate the objects inside the BIM Model.

The same approach will be followed with other captured information in PMWeb including imported project’s schedule data with the option to link the Oracle Primavera P6 and MS Project schedule data directly. Accordingly, executives can now have access to the needed project schedule information in an interactive and intuitive format. For example, for the project’s schedule status dashboard, when the executive stakeholder clicks on the red bar for the delayed activities, the dashboard will automatically filter the delayed activities and display the BIM objects or assets that are associated with those activities. The dashboard could also include a section that details the reasons for the delayed activities that could be associated with the BIM objects or assets.

The same approach can be further used to improve the visual reporting for material submittal log which will usually include details of submittal items, category, CSI specification section, WBS level, project schedule activity, submittal approval due date, submittal planned submission date and the name of the manufacturer. The visual submittal log report can be used to visualize delayed submittal items, submittal items that are due for submission, approved submittals, procured assets or any other desired selection. The main value of the visual submittal log is enabling the stakeholders to visualize the assets associated with the submittal item and what impact they might have on the project.250 1

The benefits of having a BIM friendly WBS in visualizing, analyzing, monitoring, evaluating and reporting the performance of construction projects can also be associated with time-lapse cameras installed on construction sites. For example, EVERCAM Construction Cameras is now working on a solution to associate the data captured in their construction camera solutions with the project’s BIM model. This will enable the stakeholder to visualize the BIM along with the actual construction status feed from the cameras. This video explains the BIM-Construction camera integration concept


About the Authorfounder

Bassam Samman, PMP, PSP, EVP, GPM is a Senior Project Management Consultant with more than 35-year service record providing project management and controls services to over 100 projects with a total value in excess of US $5 Billion. Those projects included Commercial, Residential, Education and Healthcare Buildings and Infrastructure, Entertainment and Shopping Malls, Oil and Gas Plants and Refineries, Telecommunication and Information Technology projects. He is thoroughly experienced in complete project management including project management control systems, computerized project control software, claims analysis/prevention, risk analysis/management (contingency planning), design, supervision, training and business development.

Bassam is a frequent speaker in topics relating to Project Management, Strategic Project Management and Project Management Personal Skills. Over the past 35 years he has lectured at more than 350 events and courses at different locations in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and South America. He has written more than 250 articles on project management and project management information systems that were featured in international and regional magazines and newspapers. He is a co-founder of the Project Management Institute- Arabian Gulf Chapter (PMI-AGC) and has served on its board of directors for more than 6 years. He is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) from the Project Management Institute (PMI), a certified Planning and Scheduling Professional (PSP) and Earned Value Professional (EVP) from the American Association of Cost Engineers (AACE) and Green Project Management (GPM).

Bassam holds a Masters in Engineering Administration (Construction Management) with Faculty Commendation, George Washington University, Washington, D.C., USA, Bachelor in Civil Engineering – Kuwait University, Kuwait and has attended many executive management programs at Harvard Business School, Boston, USA and London Business School, London, UK.


Contact us