BIM in the real world

BIM Lessons from Cross Rail Presentation

I attended a presentation a month or two ago by Malcolm Taylor, Crossrail’s Head of Technical Information. As a born Londoner, I took a special interest in this tunnelling  project which connects east & west London.

I usually go into these sessions with a sense of trepidation and ‘here we go again‘ of the inevitable BIM hype, too much Powerpoint and strange little sandwiches with the crusts cut off for lunch.

This one was a bit different: instead of a sales presentation by somone who has never worked on a real project, there was a senior, industry-experienced and credible engineer talking quite openly about an interesting project.

There was very little in the way of whizz-bang technology. You might even say the presentation style was low key and not exactly scintillating.
However, the general theme was one of realistic BIM expectations & proper planning to produce tangible benefits.

Malcolm’s presentation had a level of credibility & practicality that is often lacking.
It was refreshing to hear.

So, all credit to Bentley for sponsoring the event- we need more like this and less of the other type.

Key points

My take from Malcolm’s presentation was:

  • Planning, simplicity and discipline as success factors in BIM.
  • Governance is critical
  • The technology matters, but should not be the main driver
  • The quality of modelling is much more important than quantity
  • Importance of data structure, integrity, accuracy & completeness
    (refer to my post Less is More)

Malcolm was quite open in saying that not everything worked and that if he did it again, then it would be quite different.


The realities of construction, particularly large infrastructure projects, is that it is a tough business. I am sure that people closely involved in the project could list many BIM headaches. They might even paint a different picture on the success of BIM.

However on the whole, BIM on this this project seems to have been successful and it appears that the right people, strategy and processes were put in place. There are certainly some lessons here for other large infrastructure projects.


One of the links below describes something called the ‘BIM lifestyle concept’, whatever that means….

Bentley make you jump through all sorts of hoops to get a copy of the presentation- it is available if you attended, but I’ll get in trouble if I post it here.