The concept of working in one central Building Information Model (BIM) is becoming increasingly popular. Reports in literature as well as industry practitioners describe the lack of good implementations for IFC import/export in current software tools. The so-called ‘round tripping’ of an IFC model cannot be performed without data loss, making the merging of data into one central data repository impractical. This feeds discussions about the workability of IFC in relation to a homogeneous software environment. In the Netherlands several experiments were conducted to research if IFC still meets the needs from the AEC industry. The observations and opinions from users refute current theories and perceptions on collaborations using IFC. This paper describes a collaboration process called ‘reference models’. User opinions from the research state that the use of IFC, in an suitable collaboration process, meets the needs of the industry even better than homogeneous proprietary software environments.