construction worker with white helmet sitting on table with a laptop and some architectural plans

How BCF can save the Industry $1 Billion every year?


The BIM Collaboration Format (BCF) can save $1 billion every year for the AECO industry. This most underappreciated, simple and genius open standard should be utilized much more to allow our industry to reap the benefits. And, no, it is not just for Building Information Modeling (BIM). Here is how we use Catenda Hub (previously Bimsync) and BCF to help save that $1 billion.

According to McKinsey, the Construction Industry spends about $10 trillion on goods and services every year. We know that efficient digital processes can cut costs and boost productivity. Much of that relates to better communication among different stakeholders in projects. Let us assume that improved communication will improve things by at least 1%, most likely a huge underestimation. Furthermore, let us assume that 10% of this 1% has to do with tasks, issues and decisions during design and construction of an asset. If every single software vendor out there would support the open BIM Collaboration Format (BCF) standard, then BCF alone would save our industry $1 billion every year.


Fragmented industry

One of the main challenges of the AECO industry today, continues to be its fragmented structure. For every project, numerous stakeholders need to collaborate and overcome different challenges and conflicting goals. To improve upon this situation, buildingSMART International designed the open BCF standard so that it would be easy to communicate on tasks, issues, decisions, RFIs, etc., across software, stakeholders and information silos in a project. Basically unleashing relevant and necessary information that is typically unavailable today. The standard is well defined, flexible and simple. It is probably the most powerful, but also the most unappreciated standard available today.

Imagine you are a carpenter on site minding your own business, but as you walked to your place of work this morning, you notice a safety net that was loose around one of the staircase holes in the concrete floor. Or perhaps as an owner you inspect work on site in a certain section that is considered complete. Or, maybe, you are an architect working in your favorite design software and, unavoidably, during the design iteration process, it is discovered that the elevator shaft needs to increase in size. In all these different use cases, how are the issues communicated to the relevant project stakeholders? Email? Text message? A phone call? Ad hoc meetings? If you run a big General Contractor, and you have 173 larger projects every year, having a structured database of all these different issues for each project will allow you to measure the performance of each construction site and give you the ability to continuously improve your margins.


Different needs and different outcomes

These are all vastly different situations, with different needs and outcomes. However, all of them can be supported very well with the open BCF standard. That is exactly what Catenda Hub (previously Bimsync)does, for all these use cases, without forcing a certain set of tools, or a certain set of workflows on you. Instead, adapting to the way you work with the tools you love.

See article: How Catenda Hub (previously Bimsync) Helps BIM Managers.

The carpenter doing his job on site should be able to just use the solution his company loves, to report on his work and on potential safety issues, regardless of the project. The app should be able to communicate with the chosen project software, through a standardized protocol (as the open BCF standard is), and not bother the carpenter with new apps all the time. As a carpenter you have better things to do.

And the same should be the case for the owner representative, the architect and the CEO of the General Contractor. We at Catenda make this a reality with our Catenda Hub (previously Bimsync) platform. As a high quality and focused design collaboration tool, we allow any software out there to connect and take part in the distribution of issues, tasks, decisions, RFIs, etc., via BCF. We have even built our own plugins for many of the most popular design tools, to make the workflows easier for the individual expert contributor in the project.


BCF extended to all things NOT BIM

BIM Collaboration Format (BCF) sounds like something only relevant to projects and people who use BIM (Building Information Modeling) for construction projects. This is very far from the truth. The standard specifies how a generic issue should be described with specific data fields. For example, it allows you to attach a due date to the issue in a way a computer can understand. You can write a freeform description and add it to the issue, allowing another human to get a better understanding of the issue. Or you can assign someone in your organization the responsibility for the issue itself. This is also something the computer will understand, and will become a treasure trove of data for you to mine in order to continuously improve your organizations performance. The standard also allows you to decide what kind of issues you accommodate in your project, for example “task”, “decision”, “safety issue”, etc. It also allows you to decide what type of status each issue should have, for example “open”, “done”, “approved”, etc., allowing you to use the workflow of your choice.

Even though our main product is called Catenda Hub (previously Bimsync)most of our day to day operations at Catenda do not involve BIM directly, but our open BCF based issue management system in Catenda Hub (previously Bimsync) works very well to keep our business growing. Catenda Hub (previously Bimsync) allows you to manage issues, while being 100% compliant with the BCF standard. It also allows you to manage documents and, of course, to manage and visualize models (BIMs). Issues, documents and models are seamlessly connected and contextualize data in a very powerful way. For example, to run our internal meetings in Catenda, we have issues of the following type: “Meeting”, “Issue” and “Task”. Every meeting issue will link to all relevant Tasks and Issues in addition to spelling out the agenda. Then, for each meeting, we walk through the tasks quickly, then spend time discussing the issues. Looking back, we have a complete record of what we spent our time discussing and how well we did on closing tasks in time.

See article: Drop Meeting Minutes and Boost Productivity.

This is just one way to utilize the power of BCF, there are many other ways that will suit your workflows and help you benefit from the digital potential. If you want to have your share of the $1 Billion, then make sure the software you buy has complete support for the open BCF standard, and obsessively put everything into your favorite issue management system. BCF is a very short acronym for a standard that delivers HUGE results.


BCF - Building Collaboration Format
BCF – Building Collaboration Format

Håvard Bell, CSO at Catenda.