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Paper w78-2001-71:
How do small and medium-sized consultancy practices perceive information technology in the new economy?

Facilitated by the SciX project

Tah J H M, Carr V

How do small and medium-sized consultancy practices perceive information technology in the new economy?

Abstract: Information Technology (IT) is very much an enabler, and there are many perceived benefits from its successful implementation within an organisation, including time savings, reduced waste, better information exchange, and even cost savings. However, the rapid changes taking place in this area are potentially problematic for the many small businesses involved in what is essentially a very fragmented construction industry. A series of five recent workshops, held at South Bank University in collaboration with the Construction Industry Council, the Department of the Environment, Transport and Regions, and the Information Technology Construction Best Practice programme, aimed to deal with this issue, and to solicit the opinions of those most closely involved. Attendees were invited from a number of professions, including engineers, architects, building surveyors, and quantity surveyors, all of whom were from consultancy practices which can be considered to be small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) within the construction industry. The IT knowledge of the attendees varied from novices who realised their computing skills were lacking, to IT managers and directors whose knowledge of systems and support issues was considerable. Presentations were made on the future of IT within the construction industry, and by professionals with considerable experience of implementing IT strategies in construction organisations. The ensuing discussions covered many areas of concern, including: the problems and difficulties associated with implementing a successful IT strategy within a construction SME; the merits and flaws of moving away from document-driven models to a data-repository-driven central project model; the potential for E-commerce and the use of the Internet within construction; the rise of construction web portals, and the use of web-based collaboration; problems and concerns associated with interoperability and standards within the construction software domain; and the role of other technologies, such as virtual reality, within the industry. There were many concerns from the attendees regarding the current use of IT in construction. It was generally seen as something which was necessary – even vital – to the success of organisations, but many felt that, as a consequence, they were being forced to deal with issues which shouldn’t exist ideally (such as the lack of computer-aided drawing (CAD) standards, and the multiple vendors in the CAD software market.) Also, some felt that they were being pushed down IT routes they wouldn’t have previously considered due to the requirements of clients. Indeed, a number of attendees felt that something which was sold as being greatly beneficial to many organisations seemed to consume vast quantities of resources in some cases, yet there was still very much a feeling of a need to ‘be in there.’ Details of the demographics of the attendees are presented, and the subjects of greatest concern during the discussions are detailed thoroughly. The paper aims to provide a snapshot of the IT concerns of SMEs in the construction industry as it enters the 21st century.



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Series: w78:2001 (browse)
Cluster: papers of the same cluster (result of machine made clusters)
Class: class.collaboration (0.069301) class.economic (0.044484) class.communication (0.037222)
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Permission to reproduce these documents have been graciously provided by CSIR Building and Construction Technology. The assistance of the editors, Mr. Gustav Coetzee and Mr. Frances Boshoff, is gratefully appreciated.


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