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At Strang, Scott Fanello Leads Our BIM Team

Scott honed his expertise through 20+ years of BIM leadership. He is a passionate proponent of BIM and is often invited to speak at national conferences on the subject. 

SyncMAGAZINE caught up with Scott to discuss his role and responsibilities as Strang's BIM Director.

BIM = Building INformation Modeling 

BIM is an advanced 3-dimensional model-based process that generates and distributes critical data among key project personnel.

This tool presents an augmented information loop designed to explore and explain the complex corollaries of the design, construction, operation and maintenance of today's intelligent buildings.

Within Strang, we practice a proprietary project management model entitled, Design Synchronicity. This "by design" disciplined protocol integrates the vision, values and priorities of our clients with the combined skillsets of our architects, engineers, interior designers and ultimately, the contractor partners.

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The Interview: part I

SynchMAGAZINE:  So first off, how does a “Director of BIM” differ from say a CAD Manager and BIM Manager?

Scott: Great question! The role of a “BIM Director, BIM Manager or BIM Leader”, comes down to relatively the same thing. We have a plethora of responsibilities based upon the needs of our respective staff.  And since every operation is different, BIM roles are dynamic and diverse. Basically, we provide leadership throughout the organization to strengthen staff proficiency and productivity, ultimately helping to ensure optimal project outcomes.  Depending upon need, BIM leadership may be focused on a technical role, whereas some organizations call upon BIM experts to help direct the strategic path forward.  We’re prepared and ready to do both.

SynchMAGAZINE:  Could we ask you to summarize your responsibilities here at Strang?

Scott: At the moment, my primary function is to hone our core BIM procedures. That means developing quality practice standards together with resource materials that guide our staff to be as precise, consistent and collaborative as possible – that is very important to me. In addition, developing and maintaining project execution plans is also vital. And, making sure all team members (internal and external) are in sync and have a mutual understanding and set of expectations is crucial for a successful BIM project. Another aspect I’m heavily involved in is educating our staff on utilizing the teamwork and coordination powers of our BIM platforms. For example, running clash detection during design is a great benefit, not only for ourselves, but for our partners and our clients.

the interview: part II

SynchMAGAZINE:  What additional responsibilities might BIM leaders expect to assume?

Scott:  Training and education is paramount, not only for staff, but also for management and our clients. The transition from hand drafting to CAD was fairly easy… same basic principles, just different, more efficient tools. Transitioning from CAD to Revit; now that was an entirely new process with all new tools which means a steeper learning curve.

Other key roles that need to be fulfilled include research and development into new technology, potential office strategies and process improvements, troubleshooting and assisting staff with technical issues, setting up project models, managing software (licensing, installs, etc.), analyzing and executing model health checks to ensure they are functioning efficiently, content creation and maintenance, and my personal favorite, clash detection.

SynchMAGAZINE:  What would you say are some of your challenges in this role?

Scott: Like many of us today, time management is my biggest challenge. Not so much project schedules but managing to get everything accomplished in a timely matter. Obviously, troubleshooting software or model issues will always be a priority.  However, finding time to research new tools or processes while providing adequate service to our staff can be difficult. There are a considerable number of functions that need my attention, so being able to manage and prioritize what needs to be done is a crucial aspect of this role. That’s true for most BIM leaders.

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the interview: part III

SynchMAGAZINE:  Have you found anything to help you in your day to day tasks?

Scott:  Absolutely! I rely heavily on my “Power Users” within Strang. We have a large number of individuals with strong passions and desires for our BIM functions. Having individuals that can champion areas like virtual reality, content creation, document QC’s, detailing, etc. has been a huge help for me. I cannot give those people enough credit for their contributions to our organization! I’m a strong believer in empowering those who have a passion for something… why hinder them from doing something they have a desire to advance in, it will only improve things for everyone involved!

SynchMAGAZINE:  Is BIM leadership your only passion?

Scott:  I would be less than honest if I said yes. I do have a passion for many things actually.  For instance, I’m a big diesel truck enthusiast, I like to play the drums, and most importantly I love spending time with my family.

Aside from being Strang’s director of BIM, I still enjoy being involved in the design of projects. Staying involved in the design process helped me earn my professional license as an electrical designer. Both roles surprisingly work hand-in-hand and I’ve learned so much by doing both. The BIM leadership aspects have taught me about general building construction – from equipment layouts, to system coordination, to construction timelines.  The design aspects have taught me ways that I can help others improve the BIM processes and day-to-day tasks. Plus, there’s just a certain credibility and trust you earn from your staff when you’re down in the trenches with them.

Click below to watch Scott Fanello explain what BIM leadership means at Strang.

the interview: part IV

SynchMAGAZINE:  Any big tickets items you’re looking forward to in the future?

Scott:  I’m highly interested in the development of augmented reality (AR). AR is more fluid and natural.  I like the idea of visualizing abstract components as you are moving around them, rather than those elements moving around you. It’s one thing to walk your client through their potential facility in a virtual ream, but a whole other experience to take them to their site and show them what their facility could look like in real time!

SynchMAGAZINE:  Any last thoughts?

Scott:  Regardless of technology advancements or cool tools we get to utilize on the job, remembering there is a human element involved is still important, and in my opinion no software or process will truly eliminate that completely. Communication and collaboration still needs to happen on a personal level and should never be replaced or taken for granted.

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In this issue, we give you an insider's view of major changes taking place at the UW Chemistry building, an interview with Strang BIM manager Scott Fanello an an update on our project at Northern Sky Theater in Door County. We'll also give you the latest on happenings around Strang.