THE EFFECT OF TECHNOLOGY IN THE FIELD OF QUANTITY SURVEYING AND HOW IT AFFECT COST, LABOUR AND TIME
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
The construction industry has recently witnessed a paradigm shift from traditional paper-based method of service delivery to electronic information exchange using Information Technology (IT), at least in the western world like UK. It is now evident that the adoption of Information Technology can enhance construction productivity and improve communications for effective decision-making and coordination among construction participants. The ability of the industry to avail itself of technology depends on the level of usage by construction participants including the Quantity Surveyor (QS) who plays a major role in the management of project success determinants, such as cost, time and quality.
It is apparent 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 unquantifiable impact on business systems and processes (Rivard et al., 2004). Advancement in information technology has made possible fundamental changes in the method of practice in all businesses and industries although at different levels (Li, 2000). The global acceptance and widespread adoption has accelerated the dimensions of competition not only among organizations globally but among professions locally (Hampson and Tatum, 1994).
The construction industry with the aim of leveling their colleagues in other industries have embraced the use of information technology such as internet, computing, telephoning, satellite communication and electronic mailing 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 information technology depends on the adoption of new technologies (Castle, 2002). There is quite a lot of development in all areas of computer application to the industry. Of note are the expert systems, artificial intelligence, knowledge-base systems (KBS), artificial neural networking (ANN), robotics and computer aided design (Arif and Karam, 2001). Rivard et al. (2004) opined that the evolution of information technology 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. He noted that this is already the case in many of the developed countries around the world. In lieu of this, Honey (1998) 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 quantity surveying profession in Nigeria has experienced significant changes over the past decade in terms of the scope and type of services provided within the construction industry (Oladapo, 2006). These changes have occurred primarily in response to changing industry/client demands, information technology developments, increased levels of competition for services and the vital role of the quantity surveying in achieving improved service delivery. Moreover, given the increasingly global nature of construction industry obstinate by extremely high levels of domestic competition and resultant low profit margin levels, there is no doubt that the construction industry has to improve its information flow and project delivery mechanism (Wager, 1998). Thus, as information flow increasingly become electronic, quantity surveying 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. In summary, the Nigeria construction industry in general and the quantity surveying profession in particular are facing the challenges of effectively utilizing the rapid expanding technological environment in which it operates to its full advantage (Oyediran and Odusami, 2004).