Ronan Collins asked an intriguing variation of that question in the discussion forum of the new Revit to Bentley user group. That question was the inspiration for this post.
Ultimately, I think we need Web-based BIM Servers that reach out and grab the data from the original source on an as-needed basis. Designers, modelers, constructors, subcontractors, and facilities managers should all be able to work in the native software environment that they are most comfortable with and which meets their needs and their employer's needs best. That utopia is not here yet, though the Onuma Planning System, Projectwise and Buzzsaw all contemplate such an place.
If we want to be able to deliver a BIM to an owner that can live up to even a fraction of the hype surrounding "BIM" I think we will need Web-based BIM Servers to fulfill all the promises of BIM. That said, we still have to deliver design, construction and legal services to our clients in the current environment.
The solution, from my perspective, to delivering the best BIM we can is to craft, draft, negotiate and execute a BIM Addendum / BIM Implementation Plan that addresses these thorny issues in a substantive way at the outset of the project. That cannot be done effectively in a Design-Bid-Build environment and it cannot be done very well in a Design-Build environment. It can be done - and should be done - in an Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) environment.
But far too few leaders in the industry are willing to learn ANYTHING about how all the moving parts of the IPD puzzle fit together. I've been offering workshops regarding the legal ramifications of IPD, BIM and Lean for MONTHS now and I've only had a hand full of forward thinking firms contact me to schedule actual workshops. For an industry shaken by the credit crises, and staring down the barrel of fundamental changes - IPD, BIM, Lean, LEED, Green Financing, Sustainability, Energy Efficiency etc. etc. - it is absolutely AMAZING to me how many high level thought leaders are willing to IGNORE the fundamental need to revamp the legal instruments that dictate their business processes and business relationships.
The key is to take the steps necessary to craft, draft, negotiate and execute a truly INTEGRATED agreement that will arm collaborative teams with the tools needed to address the myriad of new challenges the AEC Industry faces. If anyone is interested in scheduling a workshop with your collaborative partners to drill down through these issues let me know.