Why PLM and BIM fail in the same way?

Why PLM and BIM fail in the same way?

I want to come back to the topic that drives more of my interest lately – BIM and PLM. In my view, PLM and BIM have some future potential. It will come from “post-interoperability” world – the word when vendors stop fighting data and will start a fight for openness. I was writing about that almost four years ago in my post – PLM and BIM: Common Roots or Common Future? We are still not in the post-walled-garden world, and I’m not expecting it coming soon. This post is not about a bright future of PLM/BIM 3.0, but about some observation about similarity in failure of both PLM and BIM.

I’ve been reading an article in aecbytes – Getting a BIM Rap: Why Implementations Fail, and What You Can Do About It. The article is talking about two main non-technological aspects related to implementation and adoption of BIM practices and products – people factor and change factor. Here is my favorite passage:

BIM implementation is not really about software. It’s about organizational change—and wrenching, disruptive change at that. Our experiences—and the experiences of our clients—have demonstrated that people and processes are far more important than technology.

Of course, BIM is an absolutely wonderful tool, and it has great potential to streamline costs and processes, to help different disciplines communicate effectively and to ensure little confusion on a job site. But to get to that promised land of benefits, you have to pass through the wilderness of adoption, which always seems to hinge on organizational change, not technology. This is the inconvenient truth.

It made me think about additional aspects of commonality between PLM and BIM – they fail in the same way. Which led me to some thoughts related to adoption of both PLM and BIM software.


Do you remember the following post I made a year ago – PLM: How to Fix Technologies and Stop Fixing People? I wrote it after listening to John Gage keynote at COFES 2011. One of the phrases resonated – “Technology is easy. People are hard“. The influence of people is a significant factor in software product implementation that requires from people to re-think the way they are doing their business. Both PLM and BIM software can eliminate some roles in organizations and change business processes between organizations. It makes the process of software adoption long and complicated. This is a place where failure comes very often.


Changes is another aspect, which very often comes together with data and process oriented software like PLM and BIM. The specific character of almost every enterprise-level data and process management software is to focus on how to change organization – improve processes, re-organize business relationships, change tools, etc. It is extremely hard to people, since change is hard. So, it leads to failures.

What is my conclusion? To work with people is hard. To make a software for people is double-hard. The time when software adoption was a problem of people is in the past. “Consumer behavior” is coming to enterprise software. Vendors in both PLM and BIM domains need to take a note and re-think the way software works. Painless adoption, user experience, adaptive behavior related to potential change – these elements need to become a priority for the next wave of PLM and BIM software. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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