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Benchmarking the Use of Information Technology in Construction Management

Essay by   •  April 2, 2019  •  Research Paper  •  8,041 Words (33 Pages)  •  31 Views

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CHAPTER ONE

  1.         INTRODUCTION

1.1        BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

The nineteenth-century as noted by Hitchcock (1981) was an age of unprecedented expansion in virtually every of human endeavor in which new ideas from inventors, philosophers and artists were formed. This era of technological evolution, the information, communication technology being a vital part of the computer age is speedily gaining recognition in virtually every sphere of life. The use of information technology (IT) to support construction management in construction provides a useful case study of performance improvement for the industry. In construction, which is relatively slow to change, there is often a mismatch between the time when technology suggests change, the business needs of a company, and fluctuations in workload. Where studies are made of the benefits a new technology would bring, they often fail to take account of all the different ways in which time can affect the result. Civilization has embraced the need for adequate information dissemination and the various means by which it can be done and this has given rise to information technology (IT) which can be defined as the study and use of system (such as Computers and Telecommunications) for the storing, retrieving and sending of information (Oxford University Press, Pocket dictionary 2002).

 In today's competitive business environment, efficient management of the construction process is essential for companies to monitor the value chain of the entire construction network. Evidence suggests that undesirable occurrences in construction firms, such as extensive delays in the planned schedule, serious quality problems and cost overruns, are to a certain extent related to poor benchmarking of the project goals and objectives, subjective judgment and the lack of a systematic construction management approach hinders the analysis of the current and projected performance of the construction process, which is necessary to achieve benchmarked project targets.

Benchmarking is one of the management techniques the construction industry needs to adopt if it is going to meet new targets of increasing efficiency through the use of information technology to support the entire construction management process, Benchmarking is driven by a desire to engage in best practice among construction managers. The idea is to locate the best practice in the industry, emulate it and improve performance in terms of cost, quality, speed or risk management or even all of these together (Atkin and Brooks, 2005). Benchmarking is an excellent tool in bridging that effect as stated by (Ramsey, 2013) those companies operating multiple sites internationally can monitor efficiency through benchmarking and multinational organizations also benefit a lot from the benchmarking process. (Leibfried and McNair, 1994) defined benchmarking as an external focus on internal activities, functions or operations in order to achieve continuous improvements. As a tool to manage change benchmarking recognizes the futility of maintaining a competitive edge in a dynamic market place.

In Nigeria, the construction industry still has a significant gap to bridge in order to reach best practice in its use of IT to support construction management, the common trend in all these is the desire to improve the way we design and construct the building construction industry. The concept of project modeling or electronic prototyping is seen by many of the more innovative construction professionals as the only way to improve the record of the industry.

 Fundamental changes are required in technology, information management, culture and procurement forms to allow an advanced use of IT to support electronic communication and trading at all levels in the construction process, the technological infrastructure to manage the transition is readily available and awaits to be harnessed.

1.2         STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

In this era of “faster, cheaper and better use of IT” (Kenneth Crow, 2000), the use of computer technology has immensely contributed to the performance improvement of construction industries in the areas of the use of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), Hard copy Transfer, advance design software, E-Business, E-commerce etc., Information technology, its use and importance though being recognized but does not translate into use in the construction industry due to poor exploitation of these infrastructure. As a result of poor performance efficiency due to the low exploitation of Information Technology (IT) to support construction management, the industry is faced with a poor insight into the level at which the impact of IT use in construction organization and management can improve their gross efficiency output ratio and hence tackling the plague which has faced the industry, i.e. late completion, exceeded budgets, and poor quality.  

1.3         JUSTIFICATION OF THE STUDY

The justification of this study is to identify the importance of benchmarking IT for increased output in supporting construction management in the Nigerian construction industry. This will be supported by studying the internal and external practices of efficient companies with a view to learning and implementing superior processes that will contribute to a strategic competitive advantage, benchmarking is that response that has a well-developed management toolkit for identifying the processes that will migrate between companies and for providing a methodology for enacting the implementation of the improved process. The findings and recommendation of this research will tend to inquire into the information technology and construction management relationships, and one of the basic tools for construction management still depends on the use of IT, its importance and use. Is it recognized? Does it translate into use? How available is it? Is it assessible? Etc. the question keeps coming, hoping for suitable answers to the questions at the end of this research.

1.4         AIM AND OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY

1.4.1         AIM:

The aim of this research is to benchmark the use of information technology in construction management by  Nigerian construction firms.

1.4.2         OBJECTIVES:

The above aim shall be pursued through the following objectives:

i.         Determine the availability of Information Technological infrastructure within the Nigerian construction industries by establishing the availability of these resources to manage the construction process.

ii..        Determine the knowledgibility and accessibility of personnel’s in using the IT infrastructures in construction management within the construction industry firms.

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