Data flow in building contractor organisations
Building contractors are unhappy about the existing post-tender use of the bills of quantities, particularly the way in which data produced by the estimator may be independently produced again or amended to a suitable format by other management functions. This research aimed at proposing better formats and presentations for the estimating data in order to reduce the repetition and re-work involved in the post-tender use of estimating data, hence to reduce the complexities in data flow in building contractor organizations. The work was primarily carried out for the Sri Lankan industry. To establish the scale and nature of the problem, past work on the format and presentation of estimating data and its current management was studied through literature, interviews and discussions with professionals in ten case studies. Proposals were formulated defining; an efficient classification and coding system, a well defined library structure, a new format to the contractor's copy of the estimate, and effective uses of the computer. The main proposal was to split the unit rate into its components and to provide a breakdown of resource requirements for each bill item. The documents prepared in two test projects were used to demonstrate the feasibility of the proposals in the earlier case studies, and feedback was obtained on the use and extent of use of the improved estimate in post-tender works. A live project was undertaken to investigate the practicability of implementing of the proposals. Finally, an independent survey, without disclosing the results derived from test projects, case studies and the live project was carried out to assess the acceptability of the proposals in the whole industry. All practical work was undertaken in Sri Lanka. The main conclusions derived from these works are; Any research that would investigate the contractor's efficient post-tender use of estimates hould be addressed to contractor organisations; and any proposal that would improve the contractor's data management should be based on contractor's presentation of the estimate. Although the contractors widely use the estimate in their management functions, the full potential is not obtained throughout the contract. Substantial re-work exists in the use of estimate in contractor's post-tender works. The average extent of use of the estimating data was measured at 50% the other 50% of data required re-work. Proposals presented in this research would increase the extent of use of the estimate, hence improve the contractor's data management. The new average extent of use of estimating data (after the introduction of proposals) derived from case studies was 75%. This new average, when compared with the earlier average (50%) showed a 50% possible improvement in the extent of use of estimate in the industry. Test projects, the live project and the independent survey, all showed that the proposals are not only feasible and practicable to implement in contractor organizations, but also acceptable in the whole industry as solutions which would improve the extent of use of the estimate and reduce the complexity of data flow in contractor organizations. The significance of these conclusions is that any contractor organization can adopt the proposals to improve their management because not only has their practicability been investigated but also their acceptability in the whole industry in Sri Lanka as a solution to data complexities is established. The conclusionsa re also of value to other countries.