Evaluation of the extent of ICT use in the building industry in Uganda
Sebanenya, Julius Daniel
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The construction industry has over the years been criticized for inefficiency and poor quality productivity. This situation has been associated to the industry’s ineffective communication and exchange of information and data during project execution. In fact, the construction industry in Uganda has lagged behind other industries regarding adaption and use of new technologies more particularly ICT (Peansupap, 2012). In the recent past there has been some sort of recognition of the need to use ICT for improving data and communication in the construction processes. Nonetheless, contractors in the Ugandan building industry still largely use manual and traditional process in conducting business and performing tasks. Yet the manual process presents numerous disadvantages that directly affect productivity. With such a backdrop, this study was conducted with the aim of evaluating the use of ICT for productivity improvement in the Building Industry in Uganda. To achieve the aim and specific objectives of this study, a quantitative research approach was adopted with the help of questionnaires which were administered to contractors registered with the Uganda National Association of Building and Civil Engineering Contractors. The findings revealed that majority of the contractor’s used some form of ICT tools and systems as reflected in their organizations’ ICT infrastructure. There was high usage of ICT hardware such as desktop computers, and laptops among other devices. Microsoft Project software was identified as the most popular software used for project planning and scheduling whereas Estimate software and WinQS were popular in estimating and cost calculations. The use of AutoCAD as CAD software for the drawings production and modelling was equally observed. Contractors viewed ICT usage as critical to the running of their organizations as it adds value to their performance. The current usage of ICT was just average though a considerable number of contractors felt it was low. Contractors highly used ICT to execute activities such as production of project Drawings, works scheduling and planning. There was moderate use of ICT for activities such as purchasing and invoicing, resource management, and subcontractors among others. There was a notably high usage of a number of ICT tools such as Electronic-mail (E-mail), Mobile internet, Global Positioning Systems (GPS), while modeling and visualization and Building Information Modeling (BIM) ICT tools were found to be moderately used. The most prevalent factors hindering use of ICT were; rapid changes in ICT technologies, high cost of training professionals in ICT, satisfaction of employers with existing work methods, and budget constraint for ICT investment due to high cost of ICT investments. It was also observed that there was some resistance within some contractor organizations about use of ICTs due to fear of fast and accurate tracking of their financial resources leading to taxation. Conclusively, notwithstanding the several challenges faced by the Ugandan building industry, ICT is well recognized as a significant means that can help increase the effectiveness of communication and data exchange during the construction process. Indeed, there is a significant level of awareness among the contractors about the potential benefits ICT can offer to their operations. Hence the level of ICT usage on some of the contractors’ activities in the building industry in Uganda was quite encouraging. Although the majority of the firms were deficient in the use of most advanced ICT tools and applications. Notably the extensive non-use of ICT is associated with financial, human resources and technological level of absorption of ICT advances. With such limiting factors to use of ICT, the study recommended for financial Support for ICT Investment for Building Contractors, provision of training and management support for ICT in Building Construction Firms, the need to promote the use of ICT through increased external requirement in which construction clients take into account the contractors ICT technological capabilities as a criterion for selection, and incorporating into the construction courses a robust content of ICT education which will generate adequate construction ICT skills acquisition.