Over half of SMEs could be ‘frozen out’ of government contracts

‘More than half of small firms ‘not ready’ for introduction of BIM Level 2’

Small and medium-sized firms could find themselves unintentionally ‘frozen out’ from competing for tens of billions of pounds of central government contracts in just a matter of months, according to new survey findings from the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA).

The survey, carried out with leading industry partners, shows that over half of contractors (54%) with a turnover of less than £1 million are ‘not ready at all’ for Building Information Modelling (BIM), while 3 in 10 firms (30%) with earnings between £1 million and £20 million were in the same position.

Yet the picture for larger building services contractors is very different: with the government deadline for the mandatory use of ‘BIM Level 2’ in all Whitehall-procured contracts looming, 11% of the largest firms (turnover over £20 million) say they are not at all ready for BIM, with the majority either fully ready, or nearly fully ready.

The survey also found –

– Only 1 in 3 contractors (34%) with turnover below £1m have a ‘BIM champion’, compared to almost 3 out of 4 firms (72%) with turnover above £20m.

– 8 out of 10 firms (80%) with turnover below £1m do not have a ‘BIM planning group’, compared to just 1 in 3 larger contractors (36%), with turnover above £20m.

– Only 1 in 4 small firms said there is enough ‘practically useful and publically available’ information on BIM, compared to over half of larger companies (54%).

– Almost 7 in 10 of all respondents (69%) said they do not have a suitable BIM management process in place yet.

ECA Director of Business Services Paul Reeve commented: “Our survey shows that the majority of building services SMEs are not ready for BIM and could find themselves effectively frozen out from central government contracts. 

“The ECA has developed a four-point action plan to help building services firms prepare for BIM Level 2, and we will be working with our industry partners to drive this plan forward.”

The ECA’s four-point action plan is as follows:

– A ‘BIM readiness checklist’ will be released shortly, to help firms identify the necessary steps to ensure they are prepared for BIM Level 2.

– A ‘BIM jargon buster’ will also be made freely available, to help firms navigate through the maze of BIM terminology and acronyms and work out what BIM means.

– Case studies will be developed to broaden the understanding of what it takes to engage with a BIM project.

– Finally, the ECA will work with partners over a range of awareness, training and deployment issues, including efforts to develop a common approach towards the use of ‘BIM objects’.

The ECA’s sector-wide ‘BIM readiness’ survey was backed by a range of partners and supporters across building services. They included the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE), BSRIA, the Building and Engineering Services Association (B&ES) and SELECT.

The full results of the survey, which attracted hundreds of responses from contractors, consultants and others associated with the sector, will be released later this year.

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