Construction contract information management : an integrated systems approach
Even by 1980 it was observed that software for construction management comprised many independent packages with different programming languages and hardware. By and large, not only were these packages stand alone systems but they were also not suitable for their individual functions. Not only do construction projects increase in complexity but competition and volatile markets also generate pressures for better management and that requires integrated and effective systems. The hypothesis of this research has been that computer technology and systems concepts can be used to develop the necessary tools that will make integration possible and effective. To that end, the following research has been undertaken: * an investigation of the causes of the lack of integration, *a survey of the operations of the management functions, * the specification, development and testing of a computer-based system called PLUS VAL to demonstrate the viability of integration, * an assessment of PLUS VAL. Causes of lack of integration revealed include: * segregated education, training and working of functional groups, * development of software by people without the relevant expertise, * inadequate research and failure to apply research findings due to the structure of the construction industry. A survey of the operations showed: * the various methods of carrying them out, * the flow of data among them, * their interdependencies. The major features of PLUS VAL are: * it assists valuations, purchasing management and cost control, * it can be linked to estimating, planninq and accounting, * it allows quick access to contract information. Its assessment which involved demonstrating it to and interviewing potential users, and comparisons with similar packages commercially available showed that: * It provides all the facilities that the users wanted * It covers all the methods of operations of companies contacted - * It is more comprehensive than those surveyed - * Integration is possible and provides such benefits as: . reduced costs of data capture, . better use of computer storage, . reduced turn around times of data processing, increased data consistency. The results of the research show that the application of computer technology and systems concepts can produce effective integrated systems which not only assists contractors in carrying out their obligations but also provide reliable information for decision-making.