||Several authors have lamented that research efforts in construction IT have not embraced the issues associated with implementation and industry practice (Betts, 2000) and that the rhetoric and visions associated with construction IT are sometimes distant from the reality of construction usage (Koskela, 2000). This paper discusses the observation-participation method (Yin, 1994) as a way to ground construction IT research in industry practice. This research methodology considers the industry as a point of departure, followed by examination of a case study using the observation participation method (Yin, 1994). In this methodology, the researcher is not merely a passive observer, but assumes a variety of roles within the case study and participates in the studied activities. The observation-participation method application to the case study offers the opportunity to see what others have not yet seen (Stake, 1998) and allows gaining access to events and groups, which, in other ways, are inaccessible to scientific research. The researcher perceives reality from the point of view of someone “in” the case study instead of someone “external” to it.The research goal was to test 4D Planning and Scheduling (4D-PS) to demonstrate its benefits as a CAVT (Computer Advanced Visualization Tool) applied to the case study. The objective was to find out how 4D model reviews can help generate more constructible projects by assisting construction planners in optimizing construction sequences, identifying and resolving schedule conflicts and providing feedback from construction teams to design teams. To get tangible results, 4D-PS needed to be researched in a real life context. Hence, the observation participation method was the most suitable research methodology to accomplish this task. This paper presents our experience with the observation-participation approach on a large construction project. It details some of the organizational and business challenges of creating synergies between a business and a research focus. 4D-PS uses 4D models to accomplish construction planning and scheduling tasks. It was applied on the case study project by the first author in collaboration with other project constructionPlanning team members. The result was an optimized, detailed, construction schedule for 100,000 cubic meters of concrete that was verified and visualized by using the 4D-PS methods developed by the team. Opportunities for improving the schedule were detected through 4D simulations, and the sequence of activities was quickly adjusted in response to feedback from the project planners. The corrected sequence was then again verified using the 4D method. 4D-PS lets planners formulate tighter, more finely tuned construction plans, and it also helps to develop contingency plans to handle delays in material deliveries or unavailability of resources. Important decisions concerning deadlines, sequences, and resource utilization, which ordinarily would have been made later at the job site, were better made ahead of time to avoid rework in the case study project, and the construction team became convinced of the value of improving the construction plan through the use of 4D-PS.
Rischmoller L, Fischer M, Fox R, Alarcon L (2001).
4D planning and scheduling (4D-ps): grounding construction it research in industry practice. Coetzee G, Boshoff F (ed.); IT in construction in Africa 2001; Mpumalunga, 30 May - 1 June, South Africa; ISBN 0-7988-5531-2,