Building Information Modelling (BIM) can be defined as a set of tools, processes and technologies that are enabled by a digital multi-dimensional representation of the physical and functional characteristics of a built asset. The ‘fourth’ dimension (4D BIM) incorporates time-related project information in the 3D model to simulate and optimise the project construction process. To achieve this, the 3D objects within the aggregated design model must be linked with each activity in the construction schedule. However, the levels of maturity and expertise in using BIM amongst the project participants still varies considerably. This generates collaboration problems within the project and adds further obstacles to the ability to derive full benefits from BIM. Ideally, 4D BIM can be automatically generated, but in reality, because the 3D and 4D models are created separately and at different stages of the project, this is not currently possible, and the process requires considerable manual effort. The research reported in this paper was prompted by the construction of a new training and research building: the Nanterre 2 CESI building in France. It proposes an efficient approach that minimises the effort of creating 4D BIM construction schedules. The CESI four-phase process aims to help project participants to fully exploit the potential of 4D BIM and enables: 1) a clear expression of the 4D BIM objectives; 2) the identification of information requirements and relevant workflows to achieve these objectives; 3) the implementation of a project schedule; and 4) BIM model production to suit the 4D BIM use case. Although the CESI approach was developed in the context of the French contracting system, the observations and conclusions of this study are intended to be generally applicable.