How We “BIMed” Our Engineering Team

Matter has recently come to the conclusion of a 3-year journey rethinking traditional roles and workflows within Structural Consultancy. We conducted this in pursuit of a more collaborative and creative working model, to benefit not only the internal team but also key project stakeholders and to tackle industry stress points, challenging the status quo.

BIM and Digital Engineering have revolutionised the AEC industry. BIM enables the creation and management of digital representations of projects, enhancing collaboration and decision-making. Digital Engineering leverages digital tools to optimise the entire asset lifecycle. Together, they drive efficiency, accuracy, and collaboration in the industry, transforming project processes.

Matter has recently come to the conclusion of a 3-year journey rethinking traditional roles and workflows within Structural Consultancy. We conducted this in pursuit of a more collaborative and creative working model, to benefit not only the internal team but also key project stakeholders and to tackle industry stress points, challenging the status quo.

Since 2020 our team has documented and analysed the key findings, progressing a model that in theory would finesse workflow applications on digital engineering projects and enable our entire team to collaborate in one common data environment.

What follows is a high-level summary of this journey.

What we set out to achieve

1) Reduce Rework

During concept and design phases of a project, Engineers model and design in tandem with the BIM team, creating analytical models and communicating required design changes through traditional workflows into the BIM model. We looked to remove the communication gap and have one person design and build their analytical models with BIM models at the same time, bringing design solutions directly into project as intended. By upskilling engineers to be across both models and using the analytical model to directly influence the BIM model we reduce errors in design and greatly reduce the cascading effect towards site.

2) Holistic Workflows

As the base build of project disciplines, Structural Engineers must deliver a fit for purpose and detailed framework in order to accurately delegate systems and components for building commencement. Perhaps more importantly from the Structural professional’s perspective, these tasks provide the vital link between a digital design and the physical world. Using BIM models and cloud platforms across design collaborators, Matter better communicates design intent to greatly improve the accuracy of layout work right from the start. Using this single source of truth, we take into account the interactions between all disciplines to deliver more efficient and coordinated designs.

3) Reduced Costs

The time and labour that goes into design and modelling can account for more than a quarter of the total budget of many large-scale projects. Every misjudgment or error made during this process tends to have a snowball effect on the tasks that follow. Reducing the likelihood of late changes can be pivotal to the financial success of the project which is why Matter finds value in investing in technology to avoid the following pitfalls:

  • Contractors begin installations and realise errors along the way, causing timeline delays and tension between project parties – even this is still the optimal scenario.
  • Errors that aren’t caught immediately (the more likely scenario) are typically flagged after other dependent work has already commenced or been completed, forcing engineers to rework plans.
  • Errors that aren’t caught until phase completion for example when a slab is poured, will either require a redesign, or demolition and complete replacement to rectify the error.

Each of these scenarios creates more costs for more people. If BIM and Revit can be adopted to mitigate these possibilities then shouldn’t it be attractive to everyone? This was a key driver throughout Matter’s testing, to measure the benefits beyond Matter and across the entire construction process.

4) Improved analytical model collaboration

In building a Revit model at concept phase, we also create a functional analytical model. This version is often unused or ignored as a by-product of the BIM model. In harnessing an engineer’s understanding of best practice BIM modelling, there is a mitigation in the need for an additional analytical model to be produced. Instead we are able to export the BIM model into our engineering software and extract the analytical data, eliminating duplicate work and creating a more streamlined, time-effective and risk-reduced workflow.

5) Address the industry-wide skills shortage

The lack of access to skilled BIM Modellers has been recognised as a critical shortage across the construction industry leaving companies at risk. At Matter, we deflect ‘problems’ and instead look for opportunities. The opportunity lies in leveraging our existing workforce, and investing in upskilling to achieve a more dynamic team in the long term.

How we “BIMed” our Engineering team: 

Integrating a new software and even more, familiarising a team with this new software takes considerable steps and procedures. We set out to identify key staff who had shown a passion and aptitude for BIM technologies and then developed a framework to move forward:

  1. Created a skills assessment matrix
  2. Created video training libraries for staff to refer to, avoiding an overload of queries to the time-poor BIM team.
  3. Set up and managed workflows on cloud based platforms with issue tracking and allocation, for the BIM team review models and documentation.
  4. Formed clear roles and responsibilities.
  5. Set up workflows to be followed.
  6. Conducted trial reviews at allocated times and included staff feedback for accuracy.
  7. Implemented lessons learnt and modified.
  8. Created a library of dynamo scripts to help automate processes.

What we discovered

(positive outcomes)

  • Engineers experienced improved time management skills, a better understanding time required to produce detailed documentation and fully fleshed-out models at a high level.
  • Ability to identify problem areas early in the design process which reduced back and forth between the engineer and BIM team with little to no post-resolution required.
  • A polished analytical model for better software collaboration, and a greater understanding of how to achieve this.


  • Lack of finesse in final documentation presentation. This resulted in time-consuming rework to get polish into the model and documentation prior to issue.
  • Varied levels of interest and understanding in the process amongst structural engineers. Those with a passion excelled but there were some who’s passion lay elsewhere and found the learning curve too difficult.
  • Managing analytical design and documentation in unison, resulted in tight project timelines that became difficult to handle with this new model of design development.
  • Attrition of skills and experience as level 1 and 2 engineers moved towards senior levels and away from modelling.

What we are doing now

Marrying both positive and negative insights, Matter was able to identify plausible Revit integrations that would benefit not just the design and modelling outcomes but also the team.

  • Senior engineers now produce their schematic designs in Revit. This reduces the need for Bluebeam sketches which will ultimately need to be modelled anyway, thus effectively reducing rework and hours spent on the same task. Having a broader understanding of analytical model requirements, lead engineers are able to piece a more effective BIM model together for analytical use in engineering software. Engineers also gain a better spatial understanding of the building and what challenges may lie in the design.
  • Model handover to the BIM team for design development to achieve a higher level of detailing. This also keeps the specialist roles doing what they are good at and has better documentation outcomes.
  • Larger and more complex models will be set up by the BIM team to help harness their specialist expertise early on.
  • continuing R&D in this field to ensure we are at the forefront of technology and can take advantage of new developments and unexplored avenues.

Final outcome

Today BIM is at the heart of any successful building project. With the Architecture, Engineering and Construction industry (AEC) going through such rapid transformation it’s important to remain agile and open to new and emerging technologies. As digital design leaders, we wrestle with the volume of software available on the market but we can’t ignore the efficiencies afforded by Revit. The adoption proved challenging at times but ultimately vital to our competitive position.