Assessment Of The Impact Of Information And Communication Technology In Sustainable Quantity Surveying Practice In Nigeria

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Assessment Of The Impact Of Information And Communication Technology In Sustainable Quantity Surveying Practice In Nigeria


Abstract


Information and communication Technology (ICT) nowadays have great impact on the construction industry and the way it works. The technology is viewed as crucial for effective and successful project delivery. Currently, Quantity Surveying (QS) appears to be one of the few professions that have not been profoundly transformed by the application of the technological advancement offered by digital revolution especially in a developing economy like Nigeria. The study examines the extent to which the Nigerian quantity surveyors have been moving with the times of information technology. The aim is to identify the challenges faced by the professionals by examining the factors affecting the use and adoption of computer applications in a dynamic world of explosive growth of the information communication technology (ICT). The study adopted a survey design methodology. A survey based on structured questionnaire was used to elicit the relevant data from Quantity Surveyor who are all members of the Nigeria Institution of Surveyors. In all, fifty (50) respondents completed the questionnaire. The data was analyzed using the Relative Importance Index and Mean/average Score. The study identified four main factors from the literature and the survey as important factors affecting the adoption and use of ICT by Quantity Surveyors in the Nigerian construction industry. Thus, budget constraints for ICT investments, lack of commitment by management towards ICT, lack of training and technical support for construction professionals in ICT, inadequate ICT content of construction educational system. The survey revealed three main professional quantity surveying software known among the Nigerian QS thus Masterbill, QS Elite and Win QS, however, yet they are not frequently used in their practice. Finally it was recommended there should be financial support from both the private and public sector for ICT investment in construction industry, also to there should be increase in ICT content in construction education at all level.

Keywords: Information Communication Technology, Quantity Surveyors, Adopting ICT in Construction


Chapter One


General Introduction

1.1 Background to the Study

Quantity Surveying is not a new profession but a profession that has been with the human race since time immemorial. Although it was not formally developed in the pre-historic days, human find a way of making necessary estimates of cost of materials and the whole Endeavour in constructing their buildings. (Nortey, 2015). However, a more formalized way of the profession was developed by the British in 17th century which provided a scientific and grandeur to the profession (Ofori, 2012).

It is also evident that we live in a dynamic world characterized by incessant technology change, the explosive growth of information and communication technology (ICT) otherwise shortened as information technology (IT) has had a deepening impact on business systems and processes (Rivardet al., 2004). The advancement in ICT has made possible fundamental changes in the method of practice in all businesses and industries although at different levels including the construction industry (Li, 2000). The construction industry with the aim of levelling their colleagues in other industries have embraced the use of ICT such as internet, computing, telephoning, satellite communication, electronic mailing, and AutoCAD applications to perform most, if not all of their activities (Ibidapo, 2000). The quantity Surveyors’ ability to avail themselves of these emerging opportunities provided by the advent of ICT depends on the sof ICT application in the industry with some noted ones like the expert systems (ES), artificial intelligence, knowledge-base systems (KBS), artificial neural networking (ANN), robotics and computer aided design (Arif and Karam, 2001). Rivardet al. (2004) opined that the evolution of ICT will have a profound impact on how organizations in the architectural, engineering and construction industry operate in the way other industries such as manufacturing and banking have adopted and benefited from long ago. Honey (1998), noted that this is already the case in many of the developed countries around the world. In lieu of this, he reported that the turn of the last century has seen a reduction in paper-based operation in quantity surveying (QS) offices in UK while electronic led-processes are leading to less dependence on taking-off sheets and other ancillary stationery. The QS profession in Africa has also experienced significant changes over the past decade (Oladapo, 2006) and these changes have occurred primarily in response to changing industry/client demands, IT developments, increased levels of competition for services and the vital role of the Quantity Surveyor in achieving improved and efficient service delivery. Hence, there is no doubt that the construction industry has to improve its information flow and project delivery mechanism as opined by Wager, 1998. Thus, as information flow increasingly become electronic, QS computing facilities, software and databases will need to develop in a compatible manner. Nigerian quantity Surveyors will need to adapt to changes in work patterns to improve their efficiency and develop new markets to maintain competitive advantage and enhance profitability through the adoption of IT.


1.2 Problem of the Statement

From the background information presented, it is evident that, the importance and emerging roles of Information Communication Technology (ICT) to the Quantity Surveyor (QS) in the construction industry cannot be ignored. However, one of the obvious contests of the Nigerian Quantity Surveyor today is that, majority of the surveying processes continue to rely heavily on traditional means of documentation and communications such as face-to-face meetings and exchange of paper documents such as Bills of Quantity, drawings, specifications and site instructions (Mohamed and Stewart, 2003).

Anumba and Ruikar (2002) recounted certain flows within the construction industry which also applies to the Quantity surveying industry. They stated that the traditional information and communication are mostly characterized by manual and slow processes and hence,

Producing numerous paper copies of documents and drawings.

Management of a loose document is often time-consuming and tedious.

Library archives of documents need to be maintained to effectively access data as and when required.

The reliance on third parties, such as courier services, can lead to delays and losses.

The added expense incurred in the delivery of project documents to project members who are geographically distributed

Yet, the traditional construction sector all over the world including that of the Nigerian Quantity Surveying industry are required to move towards innovation of their services to achieve more efficient processing systems and service delivery methods.

For this reason, the vast benefits offered by ICT in the construction industry though seems recognized, its adoption and use as normal part of the Quantity Surveying management and process is still low; and contractors among the major players, have often been cited as those who use ICT least of all (Peansupap and Walker, 2004).

While this situation could probably be true within the Quantity Surveying industry, specific details regarding the extent of application and problems facing the use of ICT among the Nigerian Quantity Surveying industry still remain unclear. This study seeks to assess the situation in Quantity Surveying industry in Nigeria.


1.3 Objective of the Study

The aim of the study is an Assessment Of The Impact Of Information And Communication Technology In Sustainable Quantity Surveying Practice In Nigeria.In achieving the aim of the study, the following objectives were outlined.

  1. To identify the ICT products / software used by QS in Nigeria,
  2. To identify the effect of the use of ICT in Quantity Surveying delivery in Nigeria and
  3. To identify the factors hindering the use of ICT by QS in Nigeria.

1.4 Research Questions

The following are some of the questions which this study intends to answer:

  1. What are the internet-based tools, resources and applications are the Quantity Surveyors in Nigeria utilising in their consultancy work?
  2. What are the online activities the Quantity Surveyors engage in as part of their work?
  3. What are the potential benefits that Quantity Surveyors can enjoy from the incorporation of information and communication technology in their day to day work?

1.5 Significance of the Study

This research seeks to investigate the impact of ICT application to Quantity Survey practice among Consultancy Firms in Abuja, Nigeria. This would enable the construction industry engage all the cost consultants in the construction industry on a real-time basis. In addition, it will provide grounds upon which other applications and uses of the internet would emerge, for example, the formation of cost databanks, construction information silos and the creation of primary and secondary sources of information.

The study also seeks to encourage the exploration of technologies that run on the internet that would facilitate the efficient running of projects, for example, use of internet-enabled mobile devices namely tablets, smart-phones, mobile phones and laptops. The use of these devices coupled with the emerging Generation Y of the Quantity Surveyors who rely a lot on online interactions could transform how the QS will carry out their work in Nigeria. The profession ought to identify points where it will evolve with the emerging technological trends especially the internet. The construction industry would also spur a wave of innovation through the adoption of the internet by the Quantity Surveyors. Potentially, QS packages and software suites can be run online by utilizing the Cloud Technologies. This would in turn raise a breed of consultants who will analyse the data and information and relay the conclusions/evaluations back to the consultant Quantity Surveyors or institutions interested in the information.


1.6 Scope of the Study

The scope of the study was based on existing quantity surveying consultancy firms and consortiums operating within Greater Accra region of Nigeria. This was due to the fact that most of bigger consultancy firms operating in Nigeria have their head offices based in Accra. The research also focused on selected QS in construction companies in Accra. The characteristics of the QS were those who have been operating within the last 10 years.


1.7 Limitations of the Study

It is expected that some respondents, especially the registered Quantity Surveyors, will not complete and return the survey questionnaires used in the study. However, it is anticipated that firms with at least two Quantity Surveyors will be more willing to fill the questionnaires than those with one, since the questionnaires can be given to one of them. Time may be another limitation considering the potential population of Quantity Surveyors, the administration of the research study may experience inadequate time to satisfactorily conduct the study.


1.9 Organisation of the Research

The dissertation was organized in five chapters.

Chapter one introduced the whole thesis, highlighting the main subject and problem statement; the aims and objective, scope, methodology adopted and research outline.

Chapter two focused on the literature review and touched on information and communication needs confronting quantity surveying service delivery, and the quest for improvements through the use of information and communication technology (ICT) on the part of the Quantity Surveyor as a key Construction Management Professional.

The chapter also explained various factors, roles and barriers to ICT implementation in the construction sector. It further explored current drivers for use of ICT and various ICT tools and applications of the sector.

Chapter three was devoted to the development of the theoretical framework of the research, it explained the research methodology employed and also the statistical methods used in analyzing the results.

Chapter four presented the analysis of data obtained, discussions and interpretation of the findings of the survey.

Chapter five summarized the conclusions of the study and recommendations based on the findings of the study.


Chapter Five


Conclusions and Recommendation

5.1 Introduction

This chapter summarizes the results from the research and draws conclusions from the collated data. It begins by summing up all the core issues discussed earlier in previous chapters including a review of how the key objectives were satisfied and a summary of the results are described. Finally, conclusions are drawn and recommendations for action are also included.


5.2 Summary of the Research

The research so far has presented the aim, objectives and the background problems that induced the formation of the theoretical framework. Following this, a research methodology was sequentially adopted to answer the key objectives of the study as presented in the research analysis and findings. In addressing the aim and the objectives of the research, the main approach used was to review the current state of affairs in construction ICT literature. This was then trailed by investigating the use and relevance of these findings in Nigeria through survey questionnaire. At the end of the empirical study, the level of ICT infrastructure in the firms, the extent of ICT usage and a set of reasons hindering the use of ICT reflecting the different perspectives of the respondents were appropriately established. The research came out with key findings, some of which addressed the main aim and objectives.


5.3 Summary of the Research Findings

As mentioned earlier in chapter one, this research was set out to identify the effect of Information Communication Technology(ICT) in the field in Quantity Surveying delivery in the Nigerian Construction Industry, three research objectives were adopted in order to collectively satisfy this aim. The study produced some significant findings that are summarized below.

5.3.1 Objective 1: To identify the ICT products / software used by QS in Nigeria.

The findings have shown that, majority of the Quantity Surveyors in the survey use ICT and this was reflected in the responds from table 4.5, the results from the investigation also identified the top three professional software known and in use to be Masterbill (Mean affecting score= 2.64), QS Elite (Mean affecting score= 2.60) and Win QS (Mean affecting score= 2.66). However, none of them scored above the average mean score 3.00 implying that the software is not very popular amongst the Nigerian QS industry.

5.3.2 Objective 1: To identify the effect of the use of ICT in Quantity Surveying delivery in Nigeria.

Based on the review of data from literature, this aspect itemized some activities /operations of quantity surveying roles. It analyzed the level of computerization or digitization of these operations/activities and also the extent of usage of the advanced ICT tools and application using mean score. The findings illustrated in table 5 have indicated a high ranking level of computerization/ of most activities and operations identified in this study. It revealed that activities related Bill preparation, Cost control, Cost planning, Tendering, Final account, Cost modeling. The findings suggest that, computerization of these Qs role would highly impact the Qs service delivery the Nigerian construction industry.

5.3.3 Objective 2: To identify the factors hindering the use of ICT by QS in Nigeria.

The factors that hinder the use of ICT by QS in Nigeria can be put into five groups;

  1. Operational hindering factors which revolve around virus attack leading to loss of data, and associated problems, the rate at which softwares becomes outdated and require updating and Few QS software available to choose from.
  2. Educational problems identified from the study include QS training institutions not being equipped or positioned to give the required education to their students.
  3. Return on investment factors which revolves such as; Inadequate jobs in order to encourage investment in computer, High cost of hardware/software, The cost engaging computer literate is high.
  4. Management attitude; this hindering factor is attributed to Management of the organizations that rarely give in-service training to Q. S staff and reluctant see the need to computerize the QS practice.
  5. Lastly is the Myth factors which also include the fear that ICT may create unemployment for QS and hence ICT training and usage is for the coming generation.

5.4 Conclusion.

From the foregoing, it can be concluded that the technological innovation has positively impacted on the quality of quantity surveying services in the country. In addition, it could have enabled the firms to meet the high expectations of the client were it not for the poor ICT infrastructural facilities and inadequate power supply in the country. In this wise, the Nigeria Government and the professional institutions like the Nigeria Institution of Surveyors has a vital role to play at improving the ICT professional education, infrastructural facilities and power supply in the country to fully exploit the benefit of the technology in the Nigerian Construction Industry. In all, the positive impact of the technology on the overall quality of the services of the QS practitioner is an indication that it is a suitable and veritable tool for enhancing or improving the services of the Quantity Surveying Industry in the country.


5.5 Recommendations.

On the basis of findings and conclusions drawn from the study, the following recommendations are proposed.

5.5.1 Financial support for ICT investment in construction industry.

Investing in ICT is no longer primarily buying a piece of hardware or software. It is now more of a potential long term investment in the process of change itself (Cleveland 1999). Due to obvious tight margins for funding ICT within most firms as revealed in this study, there is the need for some internal policies towards ICT investments in quantity surveying and construction firms. It is therefore recommended that, the construction firms should be motivated by the direct benefits of ICT and draw deliberate policies that provide some proportion of their internal budget for ICT investments. This will aim to improve both productivity and profitability for their benefit. Again, based on the understanding on the returns on ICT investment, financial institutions can assist consultants and contractors in Nigeria to finance their ICT investment by offering flexible credit facilities to firms seeking to invest in ICT. This will support their operations to improve efficiency and payback the facility. Furthermore, construction client may support contractors upon request, to procure ICT equipments for their contracts as a means to support efficiency and collaboration on their projects. This will be deducted on installments from their progress payments.

5.5.2 Training and management support for ICT in firms.

As observed from the study, the management of construction activities is gradually moving from the traditional paper based format to more digital processes. It is therefore recommended that adequate ICT training and technical support for professionals especially the quantity surveyors in the construction firms should be vigorously promoted by employers and other stakeholders such as various professional bodies and associations of the industry in Nigeria. This should aim atproviding the necessary awareness and build capacity to meet future challenges in this marketplace.

5.5.4 Increase ICT content in construction education at all level

As explained by Foresight 2000, the advent of computer and ICT integration in the construction processes creates the need for “cross disciplinary education‟. By recognizing the importance of ICT education in quantity surveying and for that matter construction, it is recommended that a robust content of ICT education which will generate adequate construction ICT skill acquisition should be incorporated in construction courses as a supplement to technical knowledge and expertise in various fields of construction study. A re-think‟ in this respect will help to deliver the require ICT skills for the Nigerian Quantity Surveying industry.
This will also be significant to develop and support the understanding of how ICT could be use to support construction process at all levels to facilitate the necessary change and innovation.


Assessment Of The Impact Of Information And Communication Technology In Sustainable Quantity Surveying Practice In Nigeria


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