Information flow in house building organisations
This research describes an investigation into the information flows within the technical and commercial functions of house building organisations. It was initiated because of the evidence of poor data transfer and communications within the construction industry as identified by previous research. Little previous research had addressed the particular problems of the house building industry which accounts for up to a third of total new construction output in the UK. The organisational and information structures of six house building companies were examined and a typical organisational model developed. This model highlighted the importance of the technical and commercial functions of estimating, purchasing, valuations and cost monitoring/comparisons and the need for effective transfer of information between them. The information flows between these functions were studied and modelled using systems analysis techniques of data flow diagrams and entity-relationships models. The requirements for a computer-aided management system to improve and rationalise the information flows were identified and an integrated system, known as DEVELOP, was developed. The system was installed into a collaborating company and its advantages and disadvantages monitored over time. The main outcomes of the research are: (a) an organisational model for a typical house building organisation; (b) data flow and entity-relationship models for the functions of estimating, purchasing, valuations and cost monitoring/comparisons; and (c) an operational integrated management system for house builders that provides: (i) faster throughput of information (for example the time required to aggregated dwelling quantities for a typical development is reduced from three man days to one hour);(ii) greater consistency of information (by the provision of a company data library); and (iii) better communications between the functions (due to the integrated nature of the system and the adoption of a common coding system).