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Assessing supplier capabilities to exploit building information modelling

Yingli Wang (Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK)
Jonathan Gosling (Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK)
Mohamed M. Naim (Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK)

Construction Innovation

ISSN: 1471-4175

Article publication date: 31 May 2019

Issue publication date: 6 June 2019




A number of governments are making building information modeling (BIM) a mandatory requirement for all public works construction projects. While main contractors may be ready to comply with such requirements, the supply chain as whole may be vulnerable as lower-tier suppliers may not be able to adopt BIM. There is currently no objective approach to assessing BIM maturity; hence, this paper aims to develop a new approach to determine suppliers’ current vision and execution-based capabilities to exploit BIM and their capacity to reach a higher maturity level.


Based on UK Government BIM maturity levels, the authors exploit a unique data set made available by a main contractor, to determine a data-driven approach, using K-means, to assess the capabilities and vision of its supply base.


The authors find a direct comparison between our suggested K-means clusters and the UK Government’s BIM maturity levels. However, in interrogating specific cases, the authors find that using a subjective approach would have wrongly categorized certain companies. The authors also determine what capability and strategic developments are required for companies to move to a higher level.

Research limitations/implications

The method aligns with the existing UK BIM maturity model and enhances the model by determining the likelihood of a supplier in progressing to a higher level of maturity. The research was with a single case company, exploiting their existing survey instrument and data. A more comprehensive study could be adopted with a generic survey questionnaire.

Practical implications

The research may be exploited by companies to take a strategic approach to assess suppliers in BIM adoption and to establish supplier development mechanisms.


The data-driven approach avoids ambiguity of categories and mis-categorizing suppliers.



Wang, Y., Gosling, J. and Naim, M.M. (2019), "Assessing supplier capabilities to exploit building information modelling", Construction Innovation, Vol. 19 No. 3, pp. 491-510.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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