Background and Objective: In spite of the important roles digital technologies play in the procurement of construction projects, there is a limited understanding of the extent of their adoption in Nigeria. The aim of this study was to investigate the different categories of digital technologies used by stakeholders in the design, tendering and construction stages of building projects and factors that influenced the decision to adopt them in the Nigerian building industry. Materials and Methods: The data were sourced via a questionnaire survey of 213 professional consultants, client organisations and contractors in the Nigerian building industry. Descriptive statistics and relative importance index (RII) were used to analyse the data. Results: The findings show that 61.5% of the participants were architects and quantity surveyors and most of them used software packages at project design stage and communication technologies at the tendering and construction stages. However, besides email, only very few used web/cloud-based systems, applications and services at the tendering and construction stages of building projects delivery. The top four most influential factors in the decision to adopt digital technologies in the procurement of building projects were the benefits of these technologies in eliminating geographic barriers (RII = 0.861), enhancing efficiency (RII = 0.855), promoting good inventory management and record keeping (RII = 0.813) and effective communication amongst project team members (RII = 0.812). Conclusion: Stakeholders in the Nigerian building industry use more of project data creation and communication technologies than intelligent systems; and thus, significant barriers exist in the adoption of intelligent systems in the procurement of building projects in the study area.
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The building industry is faced with challenges resulting from inefficient communication, collaboration and poor coordination of activities and low productivity. In the midst of these challenges, the society expects this industry to play a prominent role in the provision of buildings for residential, work and recreational activities and at the same time contribute to achieving the sustainability agenda1. These expectations have compelled stakeholders in the building industry to seek ways of achieving efficiency and effectiveness in building procurement process and minimising the adverse impacts of building construction activities on the environment2. To align with current demands, one of the significant changes that have taken place in the building sub-sector, which is part of the construction industry, is the transition from the use of manual tools and processes to the adoption of digital technologies at the design, tendering and construction phases of buildings and infrastructure projects1,3.
Digital technologies are primarily information and communication technologies (ICTs) that engender effective production, storage, handling and display of different kinds of information and data and interactions between individuals and electronic systems using digital computer language4. Whereas Whyte and Lobo5 and Ibrahim6 viewed digital technologies as digital objects, Ibem and Laryea7 explained that digital technologies encompass stand-alone and integrated tools, applications and software packages used in creating, processing, storing, displaying data and exchanging information. Based on this understanding, digital technologies as used in this study refer to the different kinds of non-manual tools, information systems, applications and services used to support the execution of activities related to the design, tendering and construction of building projects.
According to previous authors7,8 digital technologies occur in five main different categories. The first category includes software packages used in architectural and engineering designs, cost estimation and word processing. The second category includes technologies and tools for capturing project data digitally. Third is hard infrastructure and communication technologies for processing, storing and displaying data and information. There are also repositories and databases, for the display of structured data related to building materials, equipment and machineries. The last category of digital technologies represents intelligent systems or 3CI technologies that facilitate communication, collaboration, coordination and integration of information, people, processes and activities involved in project delivery.
The existing studies9-11 have examined the importance of digital technologies in achieving effective collaboration and integration of construction procurement activities. In addition, Usman and Said12 have identified the role of ICTs in construction site management, while Zhou et al.13 have demonstrated how digital technologies can promote construction safety. In the Nigerian construction sector, the studies by Oladapo14,15 revealed that the use of software packages like MS Word, MS PowerPoint, AUTOCAD, WinQS and MS Project and Internet service like email was very high, while the use of e-Business aspect of the Internet was low. The author noted that the changing trends in technology and client/customer have had significant influence on the adoption of digital technologies by construction firms in Nigeria. In another study, Ibironke et al.16 also found the use of software packages like Masterbill (MB3+), QS Elite, Win QS (Estimating and QS Software), Snape (vector) and Catopro amongst quantity surveying firms in Lagos. The authors however noted the high initial cost of acquisition, the lack of infrastructure to support their use and security concerns were the key factors militating against the critical mass uptake of these software packages by most quantity surveying firms in the study area. In a survey of the extent of adoption of e-Tendering, Oyediran and Akintola17 found that among architects, contractors, engineers and quantity surveyors in Abuja and southwest Nigeria, the most predominant digital technologies used at the tendering phase of construction projects were hardware (e.g., computers systems) and Internet services (e.g., e-mails), while the most frequently used software packages were ArchiCAD, AutoCAD and MasteBill and WinQs. That study however, revealed that there was relatively low usage of digital technologies in making and receiving payments for construction related activities in this country.
It is evident from the foregoing that although several research efforts have been made at investigating the adoption of digital technologies in construction in Nigeria, the existing studies only capture the views of professional consultants and contractors and excluded the perspectives of clients who are the main procurers of building projects. In addition, none of the published works examined the factors that influenced the decision by stakeholders in the Nigerian building industry to adopt digital technologies in the procurement of building projects. In view of this gap in research, the current study investigated the adoption of digital technologies in the procurement of building projects in Nigeria.
The two key objectives were (1) To identify and categorize the different digital technologies used in the procurement of building projects and (2) To examine the factors that influenced stakeholders decision to use the identified digital technologies in the procurement of building projects in the study area.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Research design: The data used in this study were drawn from a larger research project designed to investigate the use of e-Procurement in the Nigerian construction industry. Evidence in the literature reveals that previous studies14-18 related to this subject used the survey strategy with the administration of questionnaire as the principal data collection method. Based on this and the merits of cost effectiveness and greater coverage in a short time associated with survey research as explained by Bird19, this study relied on a questionnaire survey of building industry stakeholders in Nigeria in generating data for this study.
The questionnaire used in the collection of data for this research was designed by the authors based on findings from the review of literature. It had three sections. The first section helped in the collection of data on the roles of the respondents and their organizations in the Nigerian building industry. The second section was used to collect data on the different types of digital technologies used at the design, tendering and construction phases of building projects, while the last section was used to gather data on the factors the respondents considered important in their decision to adopt the digital technologies identified in the second section of the questionnaire. In collecting data on the frequency of use of the different digital technologies in the procurement of building projects, the participants were asked to indicated the frequency of use of each technology, tool or application identified based on 3-Likert-type scale using 1 = Never used, 2 = Sometimes and 3 = Always. In addition, the respondents were also requested to rate 29 carefully selected factors in the order of their importance in influencing the decision of their organizations to adopt digital technologies in the procurement of building projects using 5-Likert like scale of 1 = "Not Important", 2 = "Least Important", 3 = "Undecided" 4 = "Important" 5 = "Most Important".
Data collection: The main survey was preceded by a pilot survey in Lagos in April 2015 with the target population being architecture and quantity surveying firms and client organizations. Responses obtained from 30 participants in the pilot survey were useful in making necessary adjustments on some of the questions in the questionnaire. The main research was conducted between June and November, 2015 in Nigeria. It involved a survey of architecture, building construction and quantity surveying firms and client organizations in the country. In view of the geographic size of Nigeria, there was a need to sample all categories of firms across the country to enhance the validity of findings of this study. Consequently, the researchers took advantage of annual meetings of stakeholders in the building industry to collect data for this research. The data from architecture firms were collected during the Architects Colloquium held in June, 2015 in Abuja, while the data from building construction firms were collected at the Annual Builders National Conference and Meeting, at the University of Ibadan, Ibadan in August, 2015. Similarly, the Annual QS Research Conference held in November, 2015 at the Federal University of Technology, Akure, provided the avenue for the collection of data from Quantity Surveyors. In each case, respondents were randomly selected for questionnaire administration, which was done by hand. In addition, data were extracted from client organizations, including government agencies and multinational oil and gas, telecommunication, building construction companies and banks in three major cities of Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt. One key step taken to ensure that only one respondent from each organization was included in the survey, the participants were requested to write the names and locations of their organizations at the end of the questionnaire. Although the authors and six trained Research Assistants distributed 500 questionnaires, 213 valid questionnaires representing around 43% of the total questionnaire administered were retrieved.
Data analysis: In the data analysis, the reliability of the scale used to measure the respondents perception of the importance of 29 factors in the decision to adopt digital technologies was examined using Cronbach reliability test. The result returned Cronbachs Alpha value of 0.773, which is greater than 0.6 recommended by Pallant20. Thereafter descriptive statistics and relative importance index (RII) were used to analyse the responses obtained via the questionnaire and this was done using the Statistical Package of the Social Sciences (SPSS) Version 20. Specifically, descriptive statistics were used to compute the proportions and percentages of the seven variables used in describing the professional roles of the respondents and the profiles of their organizations as well as their responses on extent of use of digital technologies. The influence of each of the 29 factors on the decision to adopt digital technologies was examined. Ranking of the factors was done based on their relative importance index. The relative importance index (RII) for each factor investigated was computed using the equation:
|W||=||Weighting given to each of the 29 factors by all the respondents in the survey|
|A||=||Highest possible score, which is 5 in the current study|
|N||=||Total number of respondents in the survey|
Profile of respondents and their organizations: Table 1 shows profiles of the respondents in the survey and their organizations.
From the result in Table 1 it is evident that the highest number of participants in the survey were architects (35.2%), followed by quantity surveyors (26.3%) and builders (22.1%). The result also shows that 35.2% of the respondents were employees of government organizations, while around 33.8% worked in consulting firms. It is also evident in Table 1 that a around 44.1% of the respondents organizations had staff strength of below 20 employees, 59.2% of them are more than 10 years old and 39.4% of the organisations have only one office in Nigeria. This result suggests that most of the organisations have staff strength of more than 20 employees, more than 10 years old and have more than one office in Nigeria.
Categories of digital technologies used: Table 2 shows the result of the different software packages used at the design stage of building projects. The result shows that in the design of building projects, the most commonly used software package was AUTOCAD, followed by ArchiCAD, Revit and SketchUp, respectively, while software packages like RealCADD, CGS Revit Tools, SolidWorks, Draftsight, Vectorworks and VariCAD are not commonly used by the respondents.
Table 2 also reveals that the most commonly used software packages in project cost estimation were non-CAD based estimation software packages, including Masterbill (MB3+), QS Elite and Win QS, followed by CAD-based quantities, take-off software applications and BIM-based construction materials and quantity takeoff software, respectively.
Table 3 is a display of the result on the digital technologies used at the tendering stage of building projects in the study area.
|Table 1:||Profile of the respondents and their organizations|
N: Number of respondents. Source: Authors Field Survey (2015)
The result (Table 3) reveals that a higher percentage of the respondents in the survey used e-mail to exchange project briefs and specifications such as call for tender offers. It is also evident in Table 3 that whereas in the submission of expression of interests, design proposals or tender offers, the most commonly used digital technology was the e-mail, followed by Internet-based systems/software applications, Compact (CD)/digital video disc (DVD) and project portals, respectively, while the use of electronic data interchange (EDI) and cloud-based systems and applications such as SharePoint and dropbox was very minimal. In addition, the result also reveals that the most common digital technologies used in the evaluation and selection of expression of interests, design proposals and tender offers was internet-based tendering software applications and Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) technologies like Skype, Google Talk, Windows Live Messenger and others.
|Table 2:||Digital technologies for project design and cost estimation|
|Source: Authors Field Survey (2015)|
Table 4 is the result showing the different digital technologies used at the construction stage of building projects as identified by the participants in the survey. It is also evident in Table 4 that the most popular way of communication amongst project team members was via e-mail, followed by the use of mobile communication Apps, Web 2.0 technology and Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) technologies, respectively. For work scheduling, Microsoft Project was identified as the most commonly used software package, followed by BIM and project management software applications, respectively. Furthermore, Table 4 also reveals that in purchasing building materials and/or hiring equipment, very few people used e-Market place and Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) technologies, while tracking the movement of materials from suppliers to construction sites was via wireless communication networks.
Factors influencing the decision to adopt digital technologies: Table 5 is a presentation of the result on the factors that influenced the organizations decision to use digital technologies in the procurement of building projects in the study area. The result in Table 5 shows that the factors in the decreasing order of importance in their influence of the decision to adopt the identified digital technologies in the procurement of building projects in Nigeria were the benefits of eliminating geographic barriers with RII of 0.861, benefits of enhance efficiency in project delivery with RII of 0.855, the benefits of good inventory management and record keeping with RII of 0.813 and benefit of effective communication amongst project team members with RII of 0.812.
|Table 3:||Digital technologies for tendering|
|Source: Authors Field Survey (2015)|
|Table 4:||Digital technologies for construction stage|
|Source: Authors Field Survey (2015)|
Others were the need to align with the global trends in digital technologies adoption in construction (RII = 0.801), the benefits of improved efficiency in collaborative work among project team members (RI = 0.794), advantage of less time spent on building procurement process (RII = 0.781), availability of IT manpower in the organisations (RII = 0.778), the involvement of less paper work (RII = 0.775) and others.
On the profiles of participants of the research, the result of this study shows that unlike the previous studies14-17 that presented only the views of professional consultants on the use of ICTs in construction in Nigeria, all key stakeholders in the Nigerian building industry, including client organisations participated in the current study Therefore, findings of this study can be generalised in the context of the Nigerian building industry.
|Table 5:||Factors influencing the use of digital technologies in procurement of building projects|
|Source: Authors Field Survey (2015)|
Regarding the categories of digital technologies used in the procurement of building projects by the respondents, the result reveals that there is a predominant use of software packages. Specifically, the study found that among architects and engineers the most commonly software package used in the design of building projects was AutoCAD, followed by Revit and ArchiCAD, respectively. On the other hand, the most common software packages for estimating building project cost include Masterbill (MB3+), QS Elite and Win QS. These results appear to be in line with those of previous studies14,17 which revealed that the most used software package for designing projects among construction industry professionals in the Nigeria was AUTOCAD and that by Ibironke et al.16 showing that Masterbill (MB3+), QS Elite and Win QS, were the most commonly used software packages for estimating the cost of construction projects in this country. The second category of digital technologies used by the respondents was communication and interactive technologies and tools such as e-mail, wireless networks (e.g., cellular modems, phones), web-based communication apps, Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) technology, Web 2.0 technology and electronic data interchange (EDI). The results presented in Table 3 and 4 show that in addition to the use of e-mail for communication, it was also used to exchange project briefs and specifications and in the submission of expression of interests, proposals or tender offers. Notably, this result is also consistent with the finding by Oladapo15 indicating that one of the most commonly used Internet services in the Nigerian construction industry was e-mail. It is also provides support to the findings of previous studies3,17,18 indicating that e-mail is the most common digital technologies used for tendering in construction.
In addition, the result also indicates that another category of digital technologies used as identified by the respondents was the repositories, including e-Catalogues and e-Market place. It was however observed that in spite of the strategic importance of this category of digital technologies in the estimation of building project cost, search for and purchasing of building materials and equipment as indicated in the literature7, a majority of the respondents in the survey were not using them for these purposes. This result corroborates that of the previous study by Oladapo15 indicating that the use of e-Business aspect of the Internet was low in the Nigerian construction industry. The last category of digital technologies used by the respondents was the "intelligent systems" that facilitate communication, collaboration, coordination and integration. This category of digital technologies comprises cloud-based systems and applications (e.g., BIM Microsoft SharePoint, Dropbox), Internet-based systems and software applications like project management and tendering software packages. This category of digital technologies has found relevance in supporting the execution of construction procurement activities like project specifications, tendering and monitoring of the progress of construction work remotely. The result of this study however reveals that most of the participants in the survey were not using this category of digital technologies in the procurement of building projects. The result is contrary to the finding Ibrahim6 indicating a critical mass uptake of this category of digital technologies in the procurement of major building and infrastructure projects across the world. This result implies that there are significant barriers to the adoption of the category digital technologies referred to as intelligent systems that have multiple function capabilities in the Nigerian building industry.
On the factors that influenced the decision of stakeholders in the Nigerian building industry to adopt digital technologies in the procurement of building projects, the result of this study is also in line with that of a previous study21 confirming that effort expectancy is one of the most influential factors in the adoption of digital technologies in construction business. This is in view of the fact that the first four factors identified in Table 5 are related to the benefits associated with the use of these technologies in construction procurement activities. Further examination of the result reveals that the first factor deals with the perceived benefit of digital technologies in eliminating geographic barriers for participants in building procurement activities. The result appears to be in line with those of previous authors2,5,6, who have alluded that one of the principal reasons for adopting of digital technologies in construction procurement was that they promote real time communication, collaboration, coordination and integration of tasks among project participants irrespective of their geographic locations.
The second most influential factor identified in the survey is the benefit of digital technologies in enhancing the level of efficiency in project delivery. Kim et al.22 and Boland et al.23 have also shown how the use of digital technologies can improve efficiency in the various aspects construction procurement activities. Onyegiri et al.24 and Hosseni et al.25 have also alluded that digital technologies were increasingly being used in the construction sector principally for the purpose of achieving efficiency and effectiveness in the entire procurement lifecycle of projects leading to increase in productivity and value for money. From the foregoing, it can be inferred that one of the main reasons for adopting digital technologies is the desire to curb the level of inefficiency and low productivity associated with the use of manual methods and processes in the procurement of building projects in the Nigerian building industry.
The benefit of good inventory management and record keeping is the next most influential factor in the decision to adopt digital technologies in the procurement of building projects identified in the survey. Nawari26 was of the view that in construction supply chain management, the manual method of capturing, producing, processing and storing project data was no longer effective due to the large volume of data involved and thus Peansupap and Walker27 opined that one of the ways for ensuring good inventory management and record keeping was to deploy digital technologies in construction procurement process and this helps in making information easily accessible by all parties at the shortest possible time. Therefore, the emergence of benefit of digital technologies in ensuring good inventory management and record keeping as the third most influential factor in the decision to adopt digital technologies in the survey did not come as a surprise. From these results, it is clear that the current research has further confirmed that in line with global trends, the relative advantage of digital technologies over the manual tools and processes is the principal factor influencing their adoption in the procurement of building projects in Nigeria.
This study attempted to identify the different categories of digital technologies and factors influencing the decision to adopt them by stakeholders in the Nigerian building industry. It revealed a greater use of stand-alone than integrative/intelligent digital technologies. The study also found that the benefits of digital technologies to eliminate geographical barriers, improve efficiency and promote good inventory management were the three most influential factors in the decision to use them in the procurement of building projects in study area.
This study provides a fresh insight into the different categories of digital technologies used and the factors that influenced the decision to use them in the Nigerian building industry. The findings are beneficial to researchers by uncovering areas for further research, especially, on how to improve the uptake and maximise the benefits of intelligent systems in the procurement of building projects in Nigeria. For educators, the study has identified areas of focus in the training of students on the categories of digital technologies currently used in the industry. It also informs manufacturers and vendors of the market opportunities for digital technologies in Nigeria.
The authors would like to thank the Management of Covenant University, Ota, Nigeria, for providing the facilities and a conducive environment for this study and financial support in the payment of the Article Processing Charges. The contributions of the anonymous reviewers whose comments and suggestions culminated in the improvement of the initial version of this study are also acknowledged.
- Ibem, E.O. and S. Laryea, 2015. E-Procurement use in the South African construction industry. J. Inf. Technol. Constr., 20: 364-384.
- Ibrahim, N.H., 2013. Reviewing the evidence: Use of digital collaboration technologies in major building and infrastructure projects. J. Infor. Technol. Construct., 18: 40-63.
- Oladapo, A.A., 2006. The impact of ICT on professional practice in the Nigerian construction industry. Electron. J. Inf. Syst. Dev. Countries, 24: 1-19.
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- Ibironke, O.I., D. Ekundayo and O.A. Awodele, 2011. A Survey on the use and Impact of Information Technology in Quantity Surveying Service Delivery in Nigeria. In: Procs 27th Annual ARCOM Conference, 5-7 September 2011, Bristol, UK., Egbu, C. and E.C.W. Lou (Eds.)., Association of Researchers in Construction Management, UK., pp: 433-442.
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