Building Information Modeling (BIM) enables process transformation across the design, construction, operation, and retirement of an infrastructure asset. The following seven D’s, or dimensions, of BIM break down the importance of BIM, from maintaining accurate data to the advanced applications that rely upon it.


At its core, BIM is comprised of data—zeros and ones. If those data points are not reliable and up-to-date, trust erodes and the value of BIM diminishes. As data is generated and shared, it should be exchanged in machine-readable formats that align with established interoperability standards such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the National BIM Standard (NBIMS). 

Vector Drawings

In many scenarios, a simple 2D representation in plan or elevation view is preferred to a more complex 3D isometric view. These 2D vector drawings are  exported directly from the 3D single source of truth.

Virtual Coordination

3D coordination and constructability review is a cornerstone aspect of implementing BIM. When project teams can build the project virtually before reality, it allows for major design flaws to be identified and resolved without significant cost and schedule delays. The challenge with capturing the value of virtual coordination is time. For a project to streamline construction with BIM coordination, teams have found it helpful to increase their investment of time and resources during the design and planning phases.

Schedule Simulation

The term “4D BIM” refers to the integration of 3D building elements with their schedule duration and construction sequence information. By analyzing multiple scenarios through animated sequences, expert builders and inspectors can quickly identify and resolve schedule flaws that may otherwise affect the reliability of construction delivery dates if not identified. To identify and communicate sequence issues effectively, the information stored in BIM and the project schedule can be organized and aligned through a common work breakdown structure.

Productivity Analysis

If 4D BIM looks to plan for the future, 5D BIM looks to analyze what was planned versus what actually happened. By comparing forecast production rates with actual labor and material reports, any differences between the two can trigger an issue and root cause analysis. By categorizing and trending similar deviations, future projects have the opportunity to look for the anticipated challenges and resolve them before they occur. A full 5D BIM production plan and historical analysis involve the integration of WBS data between asset, schedule, resource, and cost information.

Lifecycle Sustainability

Access to more project data with greater certainty allows stakeholders to plan and make decisions with greater confidence. Extending access to reliable BIM data from design through construction into operations and maintenance phase maximizes the potential return on investment. This can lead to more sustainable decisions that look holistically at the total cost of ownership.

Predictive Operations

The seventh BIM dimension looks at performance data across a large set of projects to analyze for predictive trends. Machine learning, artificial intelligence, and Internet of Things (IoT) devices combine with BIM to produce leading indicators of project health.