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Digital leadership: An interview with Dinos Ipiotis

Updated: Oct 30, 2023

In today’s rapidly evolving construction industry, the role of the digital delivery team lead is critical. This role requires a deep understanding of information management in BIM and the ability to leverage digital tools and project processes, enhance collaboration and drive efficiency.

In this post, I invited Dinos Ipiotis, the digital delivery team leader in Sweco UK to discuss the challenges of being a leader in BIM projects, strategies for effective collaboration and communication and the integration of digital technologies throughout the project lifecycle.

Dinos has a background in implementing BIM in complex projects and he is proficient in real-time visualizations and virtual reality combining BIM data with appealing presentations. In his role as a digital lead, he is providing solutions to clients, aids in finding the best tools to automate tasks for his team, reviews existing workflows and proposes solutions based on the industry standards, provides visualizations and panoramic presentations and participates in research projects.

Can you describe your experience in overseeing BIM implementation in construction projects?

As a former BIM Manager and now a Digital Delivery Team leader, I am heavily involved in BIM implementation in construction projects. Part of my role involves reviewing the BIM documents sent by the client (Employer Information Requirements, BIM Execution Plan etc), setting up the projects, performing clash detections and reports, organising clash resolution meetings and performing QA checks in our deliverables. Additionally, we discuss the asset information requirements of the project, identify potential risks during the production of information and ensure the client receives the correct information at the right time and format.

Additionally, since Sweco is ISO19650 certified, I ensure that our projects are aligned with the standards, our processes follow lean principles, and our workforce meets the competency requirements through the mobilisation plan. Overseeing BIM implementation often requires knowledge sharing and mentoring so that our junior and less experienced colleagues upskill and gain more experience. Since BIM is a process, I identify the best tools and workflows to ensure our business's success, sustainability and profitability. Digital tools play a significant role in this, and today’s technology allows for better design solutions, improved workflows and overall monitoring of projects.

How do you ensure effective collaboration and communication between various stakeholders involved in BIM projects?

The initial effectiveness is driven by the clear requirements received from the client. We often need to discuss the requirements and sometimes inform them about the value their requirements may or may not have during the project. Once the requirements are established, stakeholders must constantly communicate to deliver the best results. The BIM Execution Plan sets the standards for effective collaboration and communication, and the Annexes of the BEP or the supplementary documentation may describe processes such as model extract workflows, issuing processes etc. Then, usually hosting biweekly physical or online BIM meetings, all stakeholders can discuss and collaborate, resolving all issues through the different Stages of the project.

Additionally, digital tools assist in this process by identifying clashes, assigning those clashes to the relevant stakeholders, and then identifying the solution. However, effective communication and collaboration can’t be achieved only by using digital tools. I had the joy of collaborating with passionate people who shared knowledge and tried to assist in all aspects. So, a combination of clear standards and requirements, constant communication, using digital tools to assist in collaboration, and last but not least, the workforce itself ensures effective communication and collaboration.

What strategies do you employ to optimize information management and BIM workflows to improve project efficiency?

Project efficiency is achieved through a combination of strategies. Initially, as a member of a larger team, I have identified standards and procedures that the teams should follow. ISO19650 drives these standards and procedures, and the defined workflows follow lean principles (examples include constant improvement, observation of actions, 5S etc). Therefore, we constantly consult standards documentation such as BS, ISO, and PAS and follow the RIBA Stages. This ensures that producing and managing this information meets the criteria that add value to the project. Giving more or less information than required is waste, producing costs both in efficiency and actual currency.

A set of technical guidance documentation in combination with webinars and presentations, ensures our workforce implements BIM workflows. Additionally, I constantly discuss with suppliers and software vendors to identify the best tools to assist in these processes. After thoroughly testing the software, a business case is demonstrated to the leadership team, and a decision is made about new software implementation. All these combined improve information management and BIM workflows to deliver efficient projects.

Can you provide an example of a challenging situation you encountered while implementing BIM on a construction project, and how you successfully resolved it?

We face small challenges daily, and digital complexity has created the profession and need for Digital Engineers. As a Digital Engineer, I try to overcome those daily challenges, from resolving processes, software glitches, workflow clarifications, etc. My colleagues often get in touch to seek answers for their struggles while using software or following procedures.

One of the most significant challenges I have faced is emerging people to embrace new technologies and workflows, meaning getting them out of their comfort zones and changing the mentality of “We have been doing this process in a certain way for years; why change it now?” People need to understand that things are changing; we cannot deliver projects the old-fashioned way, and the competition and expertise are high. BIM assists in the cultural change people must take to add value and reduce waste in construction projects.

For example, we recently worked on a large construction project and utilised BIM. Part of it was producing Builders Work Holes for the services to run through the different areas of the building. Using BIM and standardisation, we effectively communicated our requirements to the rest of the consultants. A separate file was set up, we automated the void provision through custom processes and elements creation, and by collaborating in a digital environment, we could produce the information, track comments from all stakeholders and resolve any queries in online meetings. We used the latest tools and technologies to achieve this. Doing this the old-fashioned way would take a significant amount of time which is an extra cost for nothing.

How do you stay updated with the latest trends and advancements in BIM technology, and how do you incorporate them into your work as a digital BIM lead?

I constantly check technology sites and forums, participate in conferences, and keep in touch with software vendors and suppliers via those conferences or online. Linkedin is a good source of monitoring the latest trends and technologies, giving people space to showcase their excellent work.

Regarding software tools, a business case is demonstrated to Sweco UK’s leadership team, explaining the benefits and challenges of the specific software implementation. This involves data safety and security, GDPR compliance, workflow and ease of use, training and implementation roadmap. Any new tool must be thoroughly tested before inserting it into the production pipeline.

For workflow process implementation, I discuss with my line manager and other team leaders where we see gaps or challenges in the existing workflow and processes. Afterwards, a new workflow approach is discussed and researched, and we create the new workflow proposal. The implementation of a new workflow is a long process. Demonstrations, training and monitoring are essential to successfully implement any new process within the teams. However, as we constantly evolve and improve, it is a necessity to keep up with the latest advancements, identify which add value and profitability to our work and implement them.

Interview by Nicoleta Panagiotidou

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BIM training by BIM Design Hub introduces you to the concepts and principles of Building Information Modeling, BIM, in line with ISO 19650 and provides sufficient skills and knowledge of the BIM process, standards and guidelines that support the digitalization of the construction industry.

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