BIM Training / Competency – A Guest Blog by Duncan Reed (@djhreed67) – Divisional Design Manager, Balfour Beatty Major Projects

Some thoughts on BIM Training / Competency.

The term ‘BIM competent person’ came up again on Twitter two days ago which I have to say got me pretty fired up. On my journey into work yesterday my thoughts on this developed well beyond the limits of Twitter, so it is with great thanks to Casey for posting this blog on my behalf.

On the day after the BIM Task Group has published a tranche of BIM protocols, standards and guidance, it seems that talking about training is very pertinent.  And for me the key word is standards.  The UK BIM Task Group should be rightly lauded for the strategy they have developed and the fact that this is now being held up as a set of global standards is testament to their work.  But if these standards are not understood then they will fail and so, for me, this where effective training comes in.

Currently there is lots of software training out there but very little (if any) BIM process training.  Hopefully this is what UK Building Smart is looking at.  And here lies my concerns that with a technology that is moving so quickly, how do we train people to a recognised standard?  There are probably as many ways to do BIM as there are Execution Plans published, and that is the beauty of the work flows that BIM offers.

Personally I find my knowledge grows on a daily, if not hourly basis, so how can someone define a competent person against such a fast moving target?

As a Navisworks user I had a 2 day initial training course, but I’ve learnt far more from colleagues, tweets and blogs since then, than I did in the course.  That’s in no way due to the course being wrong – you’ve got to start somewhere, but self-learning is equally important.  Being motivated to do better, by setting your own goals, you are much more likely to succeed.

But more fundamentally, is “BIM training / skills” even the right phrase? – surely we need to remember BIM is the cover story for actually just ‘doing construction’ better, for being more efficient.  Remember the words of Mr Morrell in November 2011 –

Collaborate you Bastards!

BIM is disruptive technology so very hard to pin down.  The skills that the industry need to improve upon are how to build better, and BIM is just one piece of the jigsaw.  It is this overall process that we need to be training people for.


Duncan Reed, Divisional Design Manager, Balfour Beatty Major Projects

 Duncan is a Chartered Civil Engineer with 22 years contracting experience, 16 of which have been in Design Management. Duncan started his career as a site engineer with Tilbury Douglas, now Interserve, and progressed to being a Site Manager before moving to Clugston Construction where he began his career as a Design Manager.  Duncan joined Balfour Beatty in 2004 and became Divisional Design Manager in 2009.  He is responsible for a team of 13 Design Coordinators and Managers on schemes across the North East of England, Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and East Anglia.

Duncan sits on the Balfour Beatty steering group that is driving the implementation of BIM on all schemes across the UK business; this group is working in conjunction with their design consultants, supply chain partners, suppliers and software vendors to ensure a fully integrated approach to the delivery of BIM.  Duncan is currently responsible for 9 live BIM projects where his teams are working to achieve collaborative modelling in both 3D and 4D.

Duncan is a strong advocate of achieving better interoperability and a supporter of an openBIM approach to construction processes.

Duncan can be found here on Twitter:




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