AN APPRAISAL OF THE READINESS OF NIGERIAN BUILDING CONSULTING FIRMS TO ADOPT LEAN CONSTRUCTION PRINCIPLES
Studies have shown that construction projects are susceptible to problems such as low productivity, poor safety, inferior working conditions, insufficient quality, lack of timely communication and coordination amongst project stakeholders, and rising litigation. The adoption of lean construction principles within the manufacturing and other industries had led to notable improvement and resulted in improved time-to-market, reduced production cost, improved quality of the product and active customer involvement. The study was aimed at appraising the readiness of Nigerian building consulting firms to adopt lean construction principles. The method of study involved a critical exposition of related literature and empirical study employing the mean scores and VERDICT readiness assessment model for analysis. A structured questionnaire was issued to a sample size comprising 130 firms drawn from a finite population of 360 Nigeria building consulting firms operating within Northern Nigeria. The result of the study revealed that the level of awareness of lean construction principles is increasing. Also, reduced cost and less waste were identified as the most important benefits of adopting lean construction principles; availability of trained professionals and education and skills development are the most important facilitators for adopting lean construction principles; inadequate exposure to requirements for lean implementation and inadequate preplanning are the most important barriers to adoption of lean construction principles in Nigeria construction industry. Nigeria building consulting firms has process/project readiness to adopt but do not have management, people and technology readiness to adopt lean construction principles. The study concludes that Nigeria building consulting firms are not yet ready to adopt lean construction Principles. The study recommends continuous awareness campaign of lean construction principles and its potential benefits via education and training to professional bodies, tertiary institutions offering any building construction related programmes and stakeholders in the construction industry.
Construction is a key sector of the national economy of nations contributing a big portion to their total employment and revenue generation. The problems facing construction are well documented such as low productivity, poor safety, inferior working conditions, insufficient quality, lack of timely communication and coordination amongst project stakeholders and rising litigation (Koskela, 2000 and LePatner, 2007). The UK Government initiated reports such as the Latham Report (1994) and the Egan Report (1998), both of which recommended the improvement of the construction industry‘s business performance.
The Nigerian construction industry suffers from all the above mentioned problems. It has severally been characterized as inefficient with low productivity and lack of capacity to deliver and satisfy its clients. Oyewobi et al. (2011) attributed the drop in the Nigerian construction industry‘s contribution to GDP between 1980 and 2007 to poor performance and low productivity. Similarly, Idrus and Sodangi (2007) asserted that the Nigerian construction industry produces nearly 70% of the nation‘s fixed capital formation yet its performance within the economy has been, and continues to be, very low. Other criticisms facing the industry are time and cost overruns (Kuroshi and Okoli, 2010; Ameh and Osegbo, 2011; Ogwueleka 2011), inadequate planning and budgetary provisions, contract sums inflation, inefficient and poor service delivery (Kolo and Ibrahim, 2010).