An investigation into the use of construction management softwares: a survey of construction firms in Nairobi, Kenya
Despite unprecedented growth of the construction industry in Kenya, it is still bedeviled by numerous challenges in delivering construction projects efficiently particularly because of poor construction project management. This problem can be addressed interalia by improving the quality of construction project management through the use of modern tools such as construction management software for planning, administrating and executing construction activities within the construction firms. This study hypothesized that poor project management amongst construction firms in Kenya can be attributed interalia to insignificant usage of construction management software. Accordingly, the objectives of the study were to identify the extent of use of construction management software in the construction firms in Kenya, what they are used for and the benefits of using these softwares. In addition, the study sought to establish the challenges that construction firms experience in using construction management software. The research method used was a survey in which the respondents completed questionnaires and the data obtained was then analyzed using statistical analysis software. The study findings indicate that majority of the construction firms surveyed had been in business for more than 10 years and were indeed using construction management software to manage their construction projects. MS Project was found to be the most widely used software and this suggests a significant lag between the construction management software technology that is currently available and what is being used in the Kenyan construction industry. The findings also showed that majority of professionals engaged in managing construction projects were quantity surveyors. Most of the respondents in the survey indicated there were benefits of using construction management software thereby demonstrating the importance of these softwares as an effective tool for managing construction activities in their firms. These benefits include ease of planning construction activities, scheduling labour and equipment with ease, ensuring accurate estimates, increase of profit with less risk, simplifying document management and reducing the complexity of HR issues. The findings revealed the various challenges that construction firms face in adopting construction management software including lack of information about these softwares, lack of personnel having adequate working knowledge and familiarity with these softwares, lack of a structured approach in the firms for planning construction activities and cost of the softwares, among others. The study concluded that though majority of the construction firms were using software tools to manage their construction projects, the uptake of construction industry specific software products is very low. Secondly, the study concluded that the most significant benefits of using construction management software to the construction firms were ease of planning construction activities together with scheduling labour and equipment with ease. Lastly, the most significant challenges that hinder the adoption of construction management software are lack of information about these softwares and lack of personnel having adequate working knowledge and familiarity with these softwares. The study recommends that professional forums be used to promote adoption and extensive use of modern construction management softwares by local construction firms and that universities and tertiary institutions that train manpower for the construction industry be encouraged to incorporate skills in the usage of construction management software as part of their curriculum. This will lead to improvement in the efficiency of the management of construction projects.