Planning and implementation of collaborative working into large construction project

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Abstract

This report outlines a strategy for the planning and implementation of collaborative working into large construction project. It talks about the different types of collaborative working software services available, the cost involved in training and integration of the software in the construction project. The report also deals with the overall impact on cost, time and quality of project by working collaboratively; it also discusses the business benefits of using collaborative working techniques in construction Industry.

1) Introduction

"Construction is an Information dependent Industry. The amount of information generated and exchanged during a project lifetime is substantial. Thus, it is essential that the information exchanged is managed as efficiently as possible." As described by G.Mcintosh and B.Sloan (P.232-240, 2001).

As told earlier construction is information dependent so collection of data, analysis of the collected data and factual time communication of information plays a vital role in reducing the time, cost and maintaining the quality of work. At present, the root cause for project delays and cost overrun is the communication problems between the various departments of the organisation. Due to lack of communication between the various members of the project the timely decision making ability of the project manager is adversely affected, this in turn affects the planned completion date of the project and wastage of resources. To successfully complete a large construction project in the given time and budget effective co-ordination and collaboration between various departments of the construction company is essential. In this 21st century this can be achieved only through implementation of Information communication technology techniques in construction. The adoption of modern techniques of Information communication technology (ICT) in construction enhances the flow of information, better communication, greater transparency and better accountability, better decision making, superior management control and helps in getting geographically separated group to work together.

This report talks about:

* Various type of commercial software's available and there cost.

* Planning and implementation of collaborative working in a large construction project (approx £ 30 million).

* Advantages of collaboratively working.

* Business benefits.

The various phases involved in a construction project are tendering, planning, construction of designs and drawings, procurement (Materials, labours etc) etc. The various people involved in a construction project are contract manager, project manager, design manager, M&E manager, planner, site manager, quantity surveyor, document controller, site administrator, engineer, foremen and external organisations such as client, designer, subcontractor, materials /product /plant supplies etc the storage and real time flow of information between all these departments and people of the organisation is critical for the organisation to be competitive in the market. This real time flow of information can be achieved by effective utilization of the advanced tools and techniques of ICT which technological suppliers describe as "Project Extranets".

2) Commercial software service providers and the features of software

There are several software companies which provides project extranet for collaborative working these companies provides software as a service for an individual project, multiple projects for the contract period and complete ownership of the software. Some of the commercial software service providers are:

1. Asite

2. BIW Technologies

3. 4Projects

4. Build online

5. Business collaborator

6. Live Link

7. Causeway Technologies

8. Buzzsaw

9. Cad web

10. Sarcophagus etc

Since construction companies are project driven the collaborative working features required varies from project to project. Most often the collaborative working features are customised to suit the project requirement. Some of the general features are as follows:

* Project Inbox: At a glance through this folder the performance of the various activities can be found such as the ownership details of project, total number of documents and drawings available will be listed, recent uploads will be shown etc.

· Document Management Module: Project documents are electronically stored and indexed these documents can be easily traced by using powerful search engines.

· Tasks Module: This is one of the most important tools where work related questions are asked and information request is done.

· Drawings Module: New drawings and revised drawing are uploaded with numerous details onto this module.

· Photo Module: Project related photographs and other related visual images are stored here.

· Discussions Module: All project related issues are discussed here

The above mentioned modules are some of the basis features of the collaborative working which are generally used. Some of the advanced features are Team and Organisation Directory, Calendar, Multiple-Format Online Viewing and Redlining, Multiple Upload, Binders ('Virtual Documents') Module etc.

3) Planning and Implementation of collaborative working in a large construction project (Approx 30 Million):

The cost involved in planning and implementation of collaborative working into a large construction project is directly related with the scale of the project and the type of features required. "The higher the capital value of the project, the more likely it is for construction teams to use collaboration platforms. And the earlier they introduce the tools, the bigger the advantage." As described by Paul Wilkinson.

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