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Change management strategies for BIM implementation

Change is constant in today’s architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry, stirred by environmental, social, political, technological, and economic stimuli. As such, it’s important to know how to understand and effectively manage change.

MindTools defines change management as:

‘A structured approach for ensuring that changes are thoroughly and smoothly implemented and that the lasting benefits of change are achieved.’

(MindTools 2008)

Early theorists considered change management as a process that slows efficiency as people and systems get disturbed in their original routines to embrace change. However, more recent findings conclude that organisations can perform better by incorporating change management as part of their corporate plans.

There are a wide range of theories that influence change. Todnem (2005), for example, undertook a critical review of organisational change management theories focussing on:

  • Change management by the rate of occurrences
  • Change management by the way the changes occur
  • The scale of the change

Let’s explore each one of the critical reviews of the organisational change management theories below.

Change management by the rate of occurrences

Generally, change can be incremental or radical. Incremental is a change which slowly improves the processes in the team, while radical or transformational change could change the way an organisation is structured or its culture and values. An example of this is a Business Process Reengineering (BPR) where a significant change is needed to improve the quality of service an organisation provides.

In his review of change management, Todnem (2005) recognised varying rates to the speed and passage of change. Todnem (2005: 371) classified the occurrences as:

  • Discontinuous
  • Incremental
  • Smooth incremental
  • Bumpy incremental
  • Continuous
  • Continuous incremental
  • Punctuated equilibrium

Change management by the way changes occur

Todnem also categorises the way changes occur as:

  • Planned
  • Emergent
  • Contingency
  • Choice

While it is advised by all theorists to plan the process of change, a planned change might not be appropriate when it comes to transformational change, when there is a need to react in a rapid manner (Burnes 1996 in Todnem 2005).

Emergent change, on the other hand, is a change that is accepted by a team as an ‘on-going’ and ‘open’ process. While contingency and choice discuss the situation and context of an organisational team and how those affect the decision to adopt change.

Change management characterised by the scale of the change

Change management that focuses on the scale of the change is characterised by fine-tuning, incremental adjustment, modular transformation and corporate transformation (Dunphy and Stace 1993).

Todnem (2005) explains that:

  • Fine tuning (convergent change) concerns ‘a process to match the organisation’s strategy, processes, people and structure’ (Senior 2002 cited in Todnem 2005)

  • Modular transformation is defined as a change that focuses on adjustments of divisions/sections/departments of an organisation

  • Incremental adjustments are regarded as an approach of change that is related to gradual and slow modifications made to managerial processes

  • Corporate transformation refers to changes in the organisations’ strategies and the way they do things in the long run

Your task

Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a new approach to managing projects and data in the AEC industry. Organisations are now carrying out changes to incorporate BIM in their projects, whether mandatory or voluntary.

Identify which change management approaches the manager should use at corporate, strategic and operational stages of organisational planning to comply with BIM.

Provide reasons for your choice of change management approaches. You can use the discussed approaches above or other change management theories.


Dunphy, D., Stace, D. (1993) ‘The Strategic Management of Corporate Change’. Human Relations 45 (8), 905-920

MindTools (2008) Change Management: Making Organizational Change Happen Effectively [online] available from https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newPPM_87.htm [1 August 2018]

Todnem By, R. (2005) ‘Organisational Change Management: A Critical Review’. Journal of Change Management 5 (4), 369-380

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This article is from the free online course:

BIM Implementation within the AEC Industry

Coventry University