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Automation in Construction 46 (2014) 11 – 21 Contents lists available at ScienceDirect Automation in Construction

Contents lists available at ScienceDirect

Automation in Construction

journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/autcon

journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/autcon Review Survey of digital technologies in procurement of

Review

Survey of digital technologies in procurement of construction projects

Eziyi O. Ibem , Samuel Laryea

School of Construction Economics and Management University of the Witwatersrand, I Jan Smuts Avenue, P.O. Box 20, Wits 2050, Johannesburg, South Africa

Avenue, P.O. Box 20, Wits 2050, Johannesburg, South Africa article info Article history: Received 18 November

article info

Article history:

Received 18 November 2013 Received in revised form 3 June 2014 Accepted 10 July 2014 Available online 26 July 2014

Keywords:

Construction procurement Digital technologies Information and communication technology ISO 10845 Literature survey

abstract

Digital technologies are increasingly being used to support the execution of all aspects of the construction pro- curement process. However, there has been no systematic attempt to identify and catalogue the different digital technologies and tools available for executing construction procurement activities so as to guide those involved in procurement on the options available to support the six basic procurement activities identied in ISO 10845. The method used to identify 36 different digital technologies and tools used in construction procurement was a literature survey involving systematic identication and review of 78 articles published in 52 different sources between 1993 and 2014. The 36 digital technologies and tools identied include ten generic tools used across the procurement process. This is followed by four applications for establishing what is to be procured; four for soliciting tender offers; one for establishment of procurement strategy; two for tender evaluation, two for award of contract and thirteen for contract administration. The research shows that the majority of existing dig- ital technologies are web-based applications that facilitate real-time communication and collaboration across construction supply chains. The effort made to map digital technologies with the ISO 10845 framework presents a useful contribution to current discourse on digital technology use in construction procurement. It seems inter- esting that despite the progress made in the evolution and use of digital technologies in construction, there is still no single digital technology which integrates all six construction procurement activities into a system that procurers can adopt to manage the entire construction procurement lifecycle. This should be addressed. © 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Contents

1. Introduction

 

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2. Research design and methods

 

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3. Construction procurement activities

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4. What are digital technologies?

 

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5. Intersection of digital technologies and construction procurement

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6.

Results

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6.1. Digital technologies available for construction procurement activities

 

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6.2. Evolution of digital technologies for construction procurement activities

 

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7. Discussion

 

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8. Conclusion and recommendations

 

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Acknowledgements

 

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References

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1. Introduction

The use of digital technologies (DTs) as electronic tools for conducting business transactions, including production and marketing of products as well as procurement of goods and services, has grown signicantly in dif- ferent industrial sectors in the past ve decades (see e.g. [13].) Despite

Corresponding author. E-mail addresses: Eziyi.Ibem@wits.ac.za (E.O. Ibem), Samuel.Laryea@wits.ac.za (S. Laryea).

0926-5805/© 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

the common notion that the construction sector tends to be relatively slow in adopting DTs, when compared with other industries such as manufacturing; nance; and transportation, evidence in the literature shows an increasing use of DTs in the procurement of construction pro- jects internationally. The following empirical studies amplify this point:

Analysis of the use of e-Procurement in the public and private sectors of the UK construction industry Eadie et al. [4] Building Information Modeling (BIM) application in Malaysian construction industry Latifet al. [5]

12

E.O. Ibem, S. Laryea / Automation in Construction 46 (2014) 1121

A survey of 120 construction rms on e-Procurement value for construction companies in Malaysia by Hashim et al. [6]

Use of information and communication technologies by 227 small and medium-sized enterprises in building construction in Turkey by Acar et al. [7] and

Adoption patterns of advanced information technologies in 152 U.S. and 13 Korean construction rms by Williams et al. [8].

Digital technologies (DTs) generally refer to information and com- munication technologies (ICTs) that enable the production, storage and handling of information, and facilitate different forms of communi- cation between human beings and electronic systems and among electronic systems in digital, binary computer language as dened by Hamelink [9] in a study on new ICTs, social development and cultural change. For the purpose of this study, DTs encompass stand-alone, inte- grated and web-based technologies and tools used in capturing, storing, processing, displaying and communicating data and information in the course of executing the different stages and functions of construction procurement activities. The benets of using DTs in construction are generally considered to be enormous. In fact, Hashim et al. [6] identied the benets of using electronic tools in the procurement of construction projects to include among others increase in process quality, cost savings, user satisfaction, increased responsiveness and productivity, market expansion and effec- tiveness in project delivery. These may explain why the use of DTs and tools in the execution of construction procurement activities is increas- ing internationally as shown in empirical studies including the surveys of 127 respondents on the current state of e-commerce technologies' applications in the construction supply chain in Sydney Australia by Zou and Seo [10]; 70 executives in 25 construction rms on the impact of using an e-marketplace in construction supply process in Chile by Alarcon et al. [11]; 368 respondents on the impact of electronic procure- ment technologies on procurement practice in the U.S. by Quesada et al. [12]; and a survey of 66 architects, contractors, engineers and quantity surveyors on the state of e-Tendering in Nigeria by Oyediran and Akintola [13]. The published literature reveals that since the introduction of electronic data interchange (EDI) technology in the late 1960s for procurement related activities and subsequent adoption of computers in business transactions in the 80s; there has been phenomenal growth in the use of different kinds of DTs in the business of construction. The studies reviewed also show that DTs are produced and supplied by different vendors for different markets; and their descriptions combine technical and application domain specic terms that users may not be very familiar with. Consequently, intending users nd it difcult to un- derstand the differences and similarities between the various packages and their speci c applications in the procurement of construction projects. This obviously suggests that the existing literature on DTs available for procurement activities is highly fragmented and that there has yet been no attempt to identify, classify and systematically document the available systems, packages, tools and/or applications in the market. In the face of an increasing number of DTs and tools in construction, there is a need for a comprehensive overview of digital technologies and tools used in the procurement of construction projects for academic and practical purposes. This will provide a useful point of reference to assist practitioners in selecting the most suitable package(s) to support the execution of procurement activities. A better understanding is needed of the different DTs and tools reported in the literature and their specic applications in the procurement of construction projects. Therefore, the research aim was to systematically identify, classify and catalogue the different DTs and tools available to support the construction procure- ment process. The International Standard on Construction Procurement ISO 10845 [14] was adopted as the framework for breaking down con- struction procurement into six basic activities. The DTs identied were then mapped and cross-referenced to ISO 10845 to create a logical

approach for establishing an intersection between procurement and digital technologies. The achievement of the research aim was guided by the following research questions:

What are the different digital technologies and tools available to support the execution of activities involved in the construction procurement process?

How do digital technologies and tools published in the literature relate to the six basic procurement activities outlined in ISO 10845?

How has digital technology used in construction procurement evolved over the years?

A comprehensive approach was needed to address these questions. In the rst instance, this comprised of a detailed literature survey conducted with the help of Scopus, followed by a systematic mapping exercise of the ndings to the ISO 10845 framework. The remaining part of this paper has been structured to provide understanding on the research design and methods; current knowledge of construction procurement; DTs and their uses in construction procurement activi- ties; intersection of DTs and construction procurement; and how DTs used in construction have evolved over the years. The paper ends with a discussion of study ndings and some concluding remarks.

2. Research design and methods

This paper is part of a broader study designed to investigate the use of electronic procurement in the South African construction industry. The choice of research approach was informed by the need to address the research questions from evidence-based literature. This was impor- tant because in their paper on integrative review, Whittemore and Gray [15] made it clear that the need for research reviews to combine the advantage of evidence from multiple studies regarding a specic issue to inform practice. It is perhaps the unique advantage of using research reviews to bring together evidenced-based knowledge and practice on specic subject that led several authors, including [1619] to adopt a similar approach in their studies. The data presented in this paper is substantially secondary data ob- tained through a survey of the existing evidence-based literature on the research subject. A comprehensive search of peer-reviewed articles and conference papers were conducted between July 2013 and March 2014 using Scopus online database as the main source of literature. The choice of Scopus was based on its advantages in covering a wider range of journals, and special features in keyword searching and citation analysis as explained by Falagas et al. [20] in a comparative study of the strengths and weaknesses of PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, and Google Scholar. Our search algorithms combined text words such as:

construction procurement , digital technologies in construction projects; e-commerce technologies in construction; e-procurement technologies; and information technologies in construction procurement, published all year to present. Similar approach was adopted by Vaha et al. [21] in their paper on extending automation of building construction-survey on potential sensor technologies and robotic applications; and Ibrahim [19] in a review of evidence in the use of digital collaboration technolo- gies in a major building and infrastructure projects. Both journal articles and conference papers were included in the searches as academics and practitioners depend on journals and confer- ence proceedings in the dissemination of research ndings and acquir- ing information on recent and emerging developments in their different areas of interest. Also, the choice of the search criteria was informed by the need to capture relevant and current international research literature on the subject. The searches returned a total of 999 items comprising 555 journal articles, 428 conference papers and 16 lecture notes. As would be expected, a number of items appeared in the search results of digital technologies in construction projectsand e-procurement technologies. In selecting the articles that were reviewed, three criteria were adopted.

E.O. Ibem, S. Laryea / Automation in Construction 46 (2014) 1121

13

The initial selection was based on the titles of the articles and conference papers. This was done to eliminate articles that are not directly related to the subject matter under focus. The selection criterion was based on the review of abstracts of the articles. This was to ensure that only the most relevant articles were reviewed. The third was based on the citations of the articles as priority was given to articles that have been previously cited in other articles. However, to ensure that majority of the articles

and conference papers reviewed were not dated; recently published arti- cles were also selected. In addition, the references of selected articles were also reviewed to identify other relevant peer-reviewed articles that may not have been captured in Scopus database. A total of 78 published works were reviewed as shown in the references section.

A majority of articles reviewed are case studies and surveys and the

basic unit of data analysis was the individual articles. Since the data are mainly qualitative in nature, content analysis was the primary method of data analysis. This involved identifying the individual technologies and tools and their speci c applications in construction activities as captured in the articles. The technologies and tools identi ed were classi ed according to their applications in supporting the execution

of construction project activities.

3. Construction procurement activities

In view of the vast amount of literature on DTs used in construction

project activities, it was important to identify the aspects of construction activities our survey is focused on. The ISO 10845 framework was adopted because this is the only international standard on construction procurement which fortunately outlines six specic construction pro- curement activities. There was also a need to establish an operational denition and generic roadmap of construction procurement. This was done by examining some of the seminal works published by researchers and practitioners. Although there are different de nitions of construction procure- ment, most are closely related in terms of meaning. For instance, in a paper on knowledge-based design of project-procurement, Moshini [22] described construction procurement as a process involving a se- quence of decisions and/or actions that a client engages in as soon as the need to acquire a new facility arises. In a survey of 22 professionals on the methodology to evaluate and improve procurement process in construction projects in Chile, Alarcon et al. [23] dened construction procurement as the process used to supply equipment, materials and other resources required to carry out a project. From the architectural perspective, Charvat [24] in the Architect's Handbook of Professional Practice noted that construction procurement is the process through which the client brings together the team and resources needed to translate project plans into physical reality. The International Standard Organization's document on construction procurement [14] also de- ned construction procurement as a process which creates, manages and ful ls contracts relating to the provision of goods, services and engineering and construction works or disposal, or any combination thereof. Construction procurement has also been described in the

Scottish Government Construction Procurement Manual [25] as the purchase of construction-related services with the ultimate aim of cre- ating a new building or structure, including all associated site works; and or alteration, refurbishment, maintenance, extension or demolition of an existing building or structure. From these denitions, there appears to be a consensus among re- searchers and practitioners that construction procurement is a process involving a series of activities and steps through which clients acquire speci ed goods and services related to engineering and construction works within a given period of time, cost and agreed terms. On what constitutes construction procurement activities, this may be described as the strategic activities performed by those engaged in the construc- tion procurement process from start to nish. A number of authors have put forward a generic roadmap to construction procurement by identifying the activities and tasks that are typically carried out in the

process. The studies summarized in Table 1 present seven perspectives on activities constituting the construction procurement process. Despite the similarity in the list of procurement activities presented by different authors, a conceptual paper on a generic approach to procurement processes, methods and procedure, by Watermeyer [29] made it clear that not all the steps will necessarily be required in a par- ticular procurement assignment. He further explained that a typical process of procuring construction project starts once the need for pro- curement is identi ed and ends when the need has been met. Table 1 also indicates that the different procurement activities can be re- grouped into six main construction procurement activities as presented in Watermeyer [29], Vitkauskaite and Gatautis [14,30]. This six-activity procurement roadmap rstly, helps to explain that construction procurement process begins with the establishment of what is to be procured and ends with administrating contracts to ensure that they comply with requirements. Secondly, it shows that construction procurement basically involves securing professional and non- professional services, construction materials and equipment as Grilo and Jardim-Goncalves [31] also explained in a conceptual paper on BIM-based perspective to electronic procurement in the architectural, engineering and construction industry. Simply put, construction pro- curement activities encompass all the stages and functions involved in creating, managing and delivering construction projects. Regardless of the steps or activities involved in the procurement of construction projects, there are basic principles that should underpin the process. These include fairness, equity, transparency, competitive- ness, and cost effectiveness as explained in ISO 10845 [14]. These prin- ciples are essential in ensuring that construction procurement delivers

Table 1 Elements of construction procurement activities as identied in the literature.

Authors

Elements of construction procurement

Moshini [22]

Client's decision about the acquisition strategy for a facility e.g. building

Determination of the most appropriate way to organize the procurement process

Organization of the project team

Construction production process Appointment of a project manager

Love, Gunasekaran and Li [26]

Design development process

Selection of multi-disciplinary project team

Developing the design

Charvat [24]

Brown, Ashleigh, Riley and Shaw

[27]

European Union directive on procurement [28]

Watermeyer [29] Vitkauskaite and Gatautis [30] ISO 10845 [14]

Scottish Government Construction Procurement Manual [25]

Construction production process Design

Preparation of construction documents

Construction contract administration

Establishment of client's objectives

Selection and appointment of designer

Preparation of outline design and cost estimates

Selection of constructor

Start construction

Need identi cation

Specication of requirement

Tender process and award of contract

Management of contract

Termination of contract

Establishment of what is to be procured

Deciding on procurement strategies

Soliciting for tender offers

Evaluating tender offers

Awarding of contracts; and

Administrating contracts to ensure that they comply with requirements

Setting up of the project

Dening the project

Assemblage of team

Design of project

Tendering

Construction;

Post project evaluation and post occupancy evaluation

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E.O. Ibem, S. Laryea / Automation in Construction 46 (2014) 1121

value for money as explained in a conceptual paper by Watermeyer [32] on procurement strategy.

4. What are digital technologies?

Having established an operational de nition of construction procurement and its component activities in the preceding section; it was also important that we delineate what we refer to as DTs in this study. In doing this, attempt was made at reviewing the evolution of DTs, identifying their unique characteristics and the different classica- tions currently available in the market. From the account by Hamelink [9] we understand that there are four phases in the evolution of DTs. The rst phase was the pre-1838 era when the rst telegraphic transmission was invented by Samuel Morse, and information transmission was done manually. This was followed by the invention of electricity, electro-mechanical power, which led to the development of communication gadgets like telegraph, telephone, radio and television. The third phase was the integration of telecommunication and computer technologies in the 1950s, which were separately used and information was handled in analogue mode before the 1950s. The last phase featured the replacement of the ana- logue mode of information transmission with the digital system. This began in the 1960s with the development of digital switches and trans- mission facilities and rapidly grew in the 1980s when digital products like compact discs (CDs) were introduced into the market. It is evident from the foregoing that the incubation period of ICTs was over 100 years, while their digitization, that is the process through which sound, text, voice or image is converted into digital and binary computer language [33] took another 20 years or so to accomplish. In an editorial on emerging technologies for BIM 2.0, Underwood and Isikdag [34] described the digitization of ICTs as information/digital rev- olution that has given rise to systems and applications such as the inter- net, mobile/smart/android devices, social networking, virtualisation, cloud computing technologies, sensor networks and few others. Notably, the digitization of ICTs enhances the capacity of communi- cation channels, quality of information and data transmission and eco- nomic efciency in storage, retrieval and processing of information as Hamelink [9] explained. This suggests that the capabilities of DTs to bring together electronics, telecommunication and data-processing technologies and handle different kinds of data (e.g. text, sound, or pic- ture) simultaneously have contributed in providing users with informa- tion appliances, communication systems and networks that have problem-solving capabilities. Therefore, the three basic features of digi- tal technologies: convergence and multi-functionality; intelligence and ubiquity are no doubt very important attributes responsible for making DTs indispensable tools where good data management, ef cient integration of activities and functions, effective communication, collab- oration and coordination of work process are required. Broadly speaking, DTs and tools have different architecture and in- clude such tangible things like computers and computer accessories, communication gadgets; and intangible things such as software pack- ages, communication networks and the internet. DTs are also designed to support the execution of a wide range of business transactions and human activities, including construction work. Hence, in terms of their applications, DTs can be classied into six main groups. These include those used in capturing, storing, processing, communicating and displaying data and information as well as those used for integration, collaboration and coordination of work process with capabilities to support processing, communication and integration functions as shown in Table 2.

5. Intersection of digital technologies and construction procurement

Despite the abundance of publications on digital technologies in construction, the evolution and intersection of digital technology use and procurement are not clearly articulated in the literature. In a

Table 2 Classication of digital technologies based on their functions.

Types of digital technologies

Examples

Capturing technologies

Keyboards, mice, trackball, touch screens, voice recognition systems, bar code readers, image scanners, palm-size camcorders Magnetic tapes, oppy discs, hard discs, RAM discs, optical discs (CD-ROMs), erasable discs, smart cards Software applications e.g. Microsoft Word, CAD systems Digital broad casting, integrated services digital networks, digital cellular networks, local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs e.g Internet), electronic bulletin boards, modems, transmission media (e.g bre optics), cellular phones, fax machines, digital transmission technologies for mobile space communications (e.g. Wi-Fi) Screens for computers and digital television sets, set-up boxes for video-on-demand, printers, digital video disc, voice synthesizers, virtual reality helmets Web-based Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP); Web-enabled project management software applica- tions, Building Information Modeling (BIM)

Storage technologies

Processing technologies

Communication

technologies

Display technologies

Integration and

collaborative

technologies

study on the impact of emerging information technology on project management for construction, Froese [35] identi ed three phases in the uptake of DTs in the construction procurement activities. Froese [35] also explained that the rst phase of uptake of DTs in construction was the use of stand-alone tools such as CAD system to support tasks like architectural design, structural analysis and cost estimating. This began in the 1970s as Vaid [36] explained in a survey of computer aided design software users in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Next was the adop- tion of computer supported communication technologies and tools such as e-mail, the web and document management system which began in the 1990s. The last phase began in 2000 with the development and adoption of integration and collaboration technologies, including BIM, cloud computing and web-enabled project management applications. The above suggests that there has been a paradigm shift in the use of DTs, from enabling model-based information to integrated data man- agement system. For instance, in a study on the introduction of extranet into the public-private partnership project to construct a new motor- way in Europe, Whyte and Lobo [37] found out that they were multiple kinds of DTs used by the different stakeholders in engineering and design works to promote interactions, knowledge sharing and coordi- nation practices. Similarly, in a recent review of evidence in the use of digital collaboration technologies in major building and infrastructure construction projects, Ibrahim [19] revealed that there is a gamut of in- tegrative DTs currently used in supporting the procurement of construc- tion projects. As he puts it; these technologies are known to assist in knowledge creation and understanding in different scienti c, profes- sional, organisational and social contexts (pp. 44). This suggest that in addition to the availability of labour, materials, equipment and nance, DTs are essential non-human resource engaged in conceiving, managing and delivering construction projects in contemporary times. The reasons for the increasing uptake of DTs in construction pro- curement are not farfetched. First, Love et al. [26] describe construction project delivery process as being naturally fragmented and project- based. Second, in their study on on-site construction management using mobile computing technology, Kim et al. [38] noted that partici- pants in construction process are faced with dif culties in collecting and sharing vital project information and data real-time due to location- al differences and sources of materials, labour and equipment. Third, construction project delivery process has also been described as involv- ing several activities ranging from design, construction, production, ma- terial supply, management to organization, and characterised by intensive generation and exchange of different kinds of information among diversied groups of participants as explained by Nawari [39]

E.O. Ibem, S. Laryea / Automation in Construction 46 (2014) 1121

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in a study of BIM standard in off-site construction. Indeed, there is a consensus in the literature that these features contribute to delays in project delivery and low productivity in the construction sector as explained in the following studies:

Evaluation and improvement of the procurement process in construc- tion projects by Alarcon et al. [23]

Construction craft workers' perceptions of the factors affecting their productivity [40]

Electronic procurement benchmarking exercise in the AEC industry by Chen et al. [41]

Construction project procurement routes: an in-depth critique by Oyegoke et al. [42]

Against this background, Becerik [43] in a review of past, present and future of web-based project management and collaboration tools and their adoption by the US AEC industry made it clear that successful delivery of construction projects requires constant and unimpeded communication, collaboration and exchange of accurate project data and information among the different multidisciplinary stakeholders. These ingredients are unfortunately lacking in the paper-based con- struction procurement methods. This is probably because the technolo- gies and tools used in executing paper-based procurement activities lack adequate capabilities in capturing, storing, processing and trans- mitting the large volume of heterogeneous project data and information generated in modern day construction procurement activities. In another development, O' Brein et al. [44] noted that nowadays, clients are getting clever in requesting for value for money, higher quality products and services, shorter construction cycle time and access to up-to-date information at every stage of the construction procurement lifecycle. Therefore, in a bid to address the challenges associated with paper-based method of executing construction procurement by improving integration, collaboration, knowledge management, site management and work process, several studies reviewed here including [38,45] have shown that there is increasing use of DTs in construction projects delivery process. It can be inferred from the foregoing that the adoption of DTs in construction projects is basically to enhance the levels of interactions, collaborations and information exchange among project participants leading to standard coordination of activities and functions, which are essential for improving productivity and ef ciency in construction procurement process and ensuring value for money. Therefore, despite the challenges associated with the use of DTs in the procurement of con- struction projects as reported in several studies; the emerging consen- sus among authors, including Kim et al. [38] and Quesada et al. [12] suggests that the use of DTs in the procurement of construction projects is indeed a step in the right direction in the quest to meet the expectations of clients in the 21st century and beyond.

6. Results

Here we present ndings of the survey of DTs available for construc- tion procurement activities; and how the technologies and tools have evolved over the years.

6.1. Digital technologies available for construction procurement activities

The focus here is on different DTs and tools available to support execu- tion of the six basic construction procurement activities in ISO 10845 [14]. Table 3 shows a list of the different DTs and tools available for supporting the execution of each of the six basic construction procurement activities, their descriptions and numbers as identied in the survey. From the second column of Table 3, it is evident that in addition to following generic technologies and tools:

E-mail, and word processing software applications (e.g. Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Word, PowerPoint); computers (desktop, lap-tops,

tablets); servers, storage devices, telephone, fax and online payment platforms for goods and services used in routine ofce activities

Web-enabled project management software application packages (e.g. Primavera systems, Meridian project systems; Microsoft Project collaboration etc.); and

Network technologies, including Local Area Network (LAN), Wide Area Network (WAN), Intranet and Extranet,

which according to Wong [46] , in case studies of intranets and extranets in UK construction enterprises are important in the exchange of project information and data among the different participants; 26 other DTs and tools were identied to be available to support the execu- tion of the different construction procurement activities. This shows that in all, there are 36 different DTs and tools currently available for ex- ecuting the six basic construction procurement activities identied in ISO 10845 [14]. Of the six basic construction procurement activities investigated, the survey reveals that the administration of contracts to ensure that they comply with requirements of contracts has the largest number of tech- nologies with 13 different technologies. This is followed by soliciting for tender offers and establishment of what is to be procured with four technologies each (see Table 3). This indicates that there are more tech- nologies and tools for construction procurement activities involving a wide range of tasks or functions than those involving very few tasks/ functions. Therefore, it can be inferred that there is a relationship be- tween the number of technologies and tools published in the literature and the tasks involved in each of the six basic construction procurement activities identied in ISO 10845 [14]. Table 4 shows four different classi cations of digital technologies and tools based on their uses in the execution of six construction procurement activities. This classi cation is based on the framework already established in Table 2. From Table 4 it can be seen that the rst category represents tech- nologies for data acquisition. These include technologies and tools such as multimedia and project cameras, sensor networks and others; and are primarily used to capture project data and information mostly at contract administration stage as El-Omari and Moselhi [47] explained in their study on integrating automated data acquisition technologies for progress reporting of construction projects. Such data help in various ways, namely in site record, inventory management, monitoring the progress and performance of construction projects. The second are tech- nologies and tools used in data processing and storage. Examples are tools and devices like computer hardware (desktop computers, laptops, tablets) and accessories (e.g. word processing software and CAD sys- tem). They are used in processing different kinds of construction project information acquired using data acquisition technologies and tools and also storing the same for further use. Communication technologies are the next group of DTs identi ed in the survey. As the name implies, they are used to exchange project data and information among the participants in construction pro- curement activities. Communication technologies are known to facilitate sharing of knowledge, information and ideas among those involved in construction procurement activities at improved speed without data loss. Most of these technologies involve the use of net- working and internet technologies and make communication easier, faster and cost effective. Examples are the internet, e-mail, wireless technology and others. The fourth and last category is the intelligent systems. These are intel- ligent systems, software packages and applications that help procurers solve construction procurement problems. They are knowledge-based or articial intelligent systems used in strategic planning of construction projects, estimating, and tendering and project management functions. All intelligent systems depend on the internet to function and have capa- bilities of serving as communication tools and at the same time enabling collaborations, integration and coordination of work processes at the different stages of construction procurement activities [19]. Hence, they

16

E.O. Ibem, S. Laryea / Automation in Construction 46 (2014) 1121

Table 3 Digital technologies available for construction procurement.

Construction procurement activities

Digital technologies

Brief description

No. of Technologies

Establishment of what is to be procured

Software applications Web-based applications for the selection and appointment of professional consultants by clients 4

Computer Aided Design (CAD) based software applications for architects, engineers and construction materials quantity takeoff for cost consultants Building Information Modeling (BIM) technology

Used in the production of construction drawings, quantities take-offs and optimize information ow and communication of

 

design intent. Format for transmission of drawings to contractors and sub-contractors via the Internet

Advanced CAD technology for is for the production of construction documents; visualization; coordination, analysis and supply chain integration (e.g. Autodesk Revit, Graphisoft ArchiCAD, Bentley Architecture)

Tekla Structures, Vico Constructor and Autodesk Naviswork Virtual reality technology Interactive, real-time 3D computer application that can be used at the early stages of project for client brie ng, bringing together

 

Establishment of procurement strategy Soliciting for tenders

the different participants in different locations in the planning and design processes. Web-based Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Used in managing construction supply chain. It also helps in Integrating all departmental and functional information ow in organizations into a single computer system, and thus assists in planning and managing organization's resources

1

Web-based Project Portals

Provide information about organizations, their products and services. Also serve as on-line transactions and exchange of infor- mation; medium for the transmission of drawings among project participants among other uses.

4

 

Web.2.0 technology Social networking platforms e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Blog, YouTube used in exchanging information and communication

Cloud computing technology

Provides access to computing resources and information technology services such as Custom made Internet-based software for

e-Tendering e.g. Software-as-Service (SaaS) on rental basis without any concern to the ownership, management and mainte- nance of the network's resources, applications and services Multi media technology Combines multiple audio and visual media and text data with computer as the integrator used in recording of instruction to bidders.

 

Evaluation of tenders

Videoconference Cloud computing technology Multi media technology

Used to conduct clarication meetings between client and bidders during tendering process before nal award is made. Custom made Internet-based software for e-Tendering known as Software-as-Service (SaaS) (e.g. DecisionMax Software).

2

Award of contract

Combination of multiple audio and visual media (e.g digital cameras) with text data and computer as the integrator used to capture contract award data.

2

Wireless technology Internet based applications for capturing and communicating data and information.

Administration of contracts to ensure that they comply with requirements

3D scanner or LADAR (laser distance and ranging) technology Radio Frequency Identi cation (RFID) technology

Works together with photogrammetry to facilitate rapid tracking of changes of quantities of work done in construction sites such

13

as excavation works. Uses radio frequency waves to acquire data. It used in identify, monitoring and tracking contractual, design or project management document and materials along the supply chain.

Project camera Web-based cameras used to capture and transfer live pictures of project sites directly to the computers of project team members for effective remote monitoring of progress of work. Bar code technology Automated data acquisition method used to track project cost and schedule information. Improves the speed and accuracy of data entering into computer systems. Similar to RFID but works on light waves. Multi media technology Use to track the performance of project progress in terms of time, cost, quality and safety as well as and performance and stored in different formats e.g. audio, video, text, animation and graphics. Records and documents project history, site visits, provide digital pictures of material samples and speci cations. BIM technology Used for the optimization of information ow among projects participants, including consultants, contractors, fabricators, manufacturers, and material suppliers via the Internet Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) Automated linkage between buyers and suppliers to transmit orders, receipts and payments electronically. Developed mainly for direct materials purchasing in industrial sectors. EDI involves computer-to-computer exchange of business documents in stan- dard, machine process able format between and among inter-organisational trading partners. Help in exchange of information and data between contractors and material suppliers of manufacturers e-Marketplaces Online market for suppliers and purchasers; e-catalogues play key role by providing information on products and services. Also provides search engines; On-line inquiry forms for quotations; electronic order f placement and transaction; send purchase orders; receive e-quotation; notication of the receipt of the purchase order;

Internet-based applications for capturing, communicating and transmitting data from project eld ofces to the internet. Help in the logistic aspect of construction supply chain management in request for information, material management, jobsite record keeping and quality control using voice, video and batched data formats.

Wireless technology e.g. Wi-Fi networks, WLAN; cameras, long-haul wireless; cellular modems, satellites communications, page systems Internet-Based Geographic information System (GIS)

analysis of suppliers with best competitive price. Geographic Positioning System (GPS) Outdoor satellite-based worldwide radio-navigation system formed by 24 satellites, ground station and user. It used in material

handling at construction site that is receiving and unloading; sorting, storing, recalling and agging, picking-up and loading tasks Tele, video and desktop conference Exchange of information between client and bidders before nal award is made. Sensor networks These are wireless sensor network used in monitoring and collecting data on physical and environmental conditions of construction sites and transmitting same to central computer network work system

Special information system, which maintains, manages, integrates and analyzes location-related (or spatial) information of different types and scales. Used in construction material procurement e.g. location of suppliers and construction sites and

E.O. Ibem, S. Laryea / Automation in Construction 46 (2014) 1121

17

Table 4 Classi cation of digital technologies based on their applications in construction procurement.

Type of technology Component technologies/tools

Number of technologies identi ed

Data acquisition

Multi media technology

8

technologies

3D scanner or LADAR (laser distance and ranging) technology

Radio Frequency Identi cation (RFID) technology

Bar code technology

Project camera

Internet-Based Geographic information System (GIS)

Geographic Positioning System (GPS)

Sensor networks

Data processing and storage technologies

Computers

10

Servers

Software application packages

 

Hard discs,

RAM discs

Optical discs

Smart cards

Flash drives

Compact disc

Compact Disc Read-Only Memory (CD-ROM)

Communication

Video conferencing technology

9

technologies

Tele conferencing technology

Wireless Technology (WT)

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)

e-Mail

Network technologies

Web.2.0 technology

Telephone

Intelligent systems

Fax Web-based project management application packages

Web-based software for selection of consultants

9

Building Information Modeling (BIM)

Web-based Project Portals

Cloud computing technology (CCT)

e-Marketplaces

Web-based Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)

Virtual Reality (VR) technology

Electronic payment platforms

Total

36

can be described as communication, collaboration, coordination and integration (3CI) technologies.

6.2. Evolution of digital technologies for construction procurement activities

In examining the evolution of DTs identied in the survey, 1960 was adopted as the reference year. This is because it falls within the era when the digitization of ICTs began as previously highlighted. Table 5 presents a summary of the evolution of DTs and tools used in supporting the execution of construction procurement activities as identied in the survey. From data in Table 5 it is evident that DTs for executing construction procurement activities have generally evolved from stand-alone technol- ogies and tools such as fax, mainframe computers, word processing soft- ware packages (WPSPs) and CAD systems for performing procurement tasks in the 1960s and 70s to computer supported-communication net- works such as LAN, EDI, e-mail and social media for communication and exchange of data, to web-based technologies like project management software packages (WPMSAPs), BIM and cloud computing (CC) technolo- gies for the integration of activities, collaboration and coordination of functions among the stakeholders in construction procurement process.

It can be inferred from the data in Table 5 that in the past 60 years or so, three phases in the evolution of digital technologies used in the exe- cution of construction procurement activities can be identied. The rst phase was the evolution of information capturing, storage, processing and retrieval technologies such as computers and computer accessories, photo printers and CAD used in converting paper-based les storage

system to digitized information system. The second phase was the development of communication systems for information and data ex- change such as EDI, network systems, e-mails, the internet for inter and intra organisational connections and exchange of project informa- tion and data. The last phase was the evolution integration technologies that bring together data capturing, processing, storage and communication technologies. These phases can be related to the major developments observed in the evolution of different categories of com- puters from mainframe computer; BIM technology from 2D-CAD sys-

tems; wireless from wired communication networks; mobile from xed communication technologies and the evolution of internet-based transac- tion platforms from value added network (VAN)-supported EDI as well as the development of web-enabled project management software application packages as shown in Table 5. This evolutionary trend of DTs shown in Table 5 can also be linked to the account by Froese [35] as previously discussed.

7. Discussion

Arising from ndings of the survey are three key issues for discus- sion. These relate to the research questions. The rst deals with the number of the exiting digital technologies and tools for each of the six basic construction procurement activities. The second is related to how the DTs published in the literature relate to the six basic procure- ment activities outlined in ISO 10845. The third issue is the evolution of the DTs used to support the execution of construction procurement activities. The discussion of these issues is linked with the broader issues of interoperability among the digital technologies adopted in a construction project; and the security problem while information is exchanged among different systems. First, the research reveals ten generic data storage and processing technologies and tools as well as computer supported information and communication technologies similar to those identied by Usman and Said [48] and Onyegiri et al. [49] in their respective studies on informa- tion and communication technologies in construction design and pro- duction, and twenty-six other digital technologies available to support the execution of the six basic construction procurement activities. In all, the survey result shows that 36 DTs and tools are available to sup- port the execution of the six basic construction procurement activities. In relation to the above result, it was found out that a majority of the DTs and tools published in the literature and identied in the survey are web-based integrated technologies such as the intelligent systems and communication technologies, while very few are stand-alone tools for the performance of speci c tasks (see [8,50,36] ). Examples of web- based digital technologies identied include cloud computing technolo- gy, which provides an options for e-Tendering application known as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) currently used in tender prequalication and selection as described by Fathi et al. [51] and other related applica- tions also used in the selection and appointment of consultants as de- scribed by Leipold et al. [52] in a study of the World Bank's online platform for the selection of consultants. There is also BIM technology for visualization, coordination, analysis and supply chain integration and project management software application packages. In fact, web/ internet-based DTs and tools generally play important role in each of the six procurement activities as they help to integrate work processes, ensure effective exchange of information and forge collaboration among project participants as explained by Campbell-Kelly and Garcia-Swartz [53] in their paper on the history of internet. Specically, in e-Tendering, web-based technologies and tools have been found to be very useful in facilitating the exchange of project information and data between

18

E.O. Ibem, S. Laryea / Automation in Construction 46 (2014) 1121

Table 5 Evolution of digital technologies used in construction procurement.

 

19601970

1971 1980

19811990

1991 2000

2001 and beyond

Elements of

Technologies and tools Technologies and tools

Technologies and tools Technologies and tools

Technologies and tools

construction

procurement

Establishment of what is to be procured

Main frame computers; fax; land line phones; CAD systems; photo printing

 

Mini computers 2D-CAD; xed cell phone wired LAN; Excel spreadsheet for quantity take-off

Personal computers 3D-CAD; CATO, Word processing machines; lap-tops

 

e-mail; marketplaces;

Tablet computers; BIM; BIM QT; Web 2.0 tools; smartphone WPMSAPs; broadband mobile network,

Internet;

3D-CAD

Establishment of procurement strategy Soliciting for tender offers

Mainframe computers;

Word Processing Software Application Packages (WPSP)

Desktop publishing

Internet, WWW

ERP

 

Fax, landline phone

Online services

CD-ROM Computer- based fax machines; digital compact disc; multi-media W PSAP

 

e-mail; Project Portals; wide band mobile networks

Web 2.0; WEPMAP; cloud computing (CC) technology

Evaluation of tenders

W PSAP

WPMSAPs Cloud Computing Video Conferencing Web.2.0 technology (e.g. social media)

Award of contract

Computer-based fax machines; digital cam- eras; scanners Computer-based fax machines; online shop- ping platforms

e-mail, Internet

Administration of contract to ensure compliance with requirements

Value added network supported EDI, fax, telephone

Fax narrow band mobile network

Extranet, Internet supported EDI WWW; e-marketplaces; online payment; wide band mobile networks

BIM; LADAR WEPMAP; Internet- based GIS FRID, GPS; BT, EFT, credit cards; MT; Wi-Fi; VC; broadband mobile network

client's team of professional consultants and bidders [54,13]. This nd- ing indicates that there is yet no single system or application that can be used in the execution of all the functions in the construction procure- ment lifecycle; and that the existing DTs tend to facilitate real-time communication and collaboration across construction supply chains rather than promote individual performance of construction procure- ment tasks. In the use of DTs and tools to facilitate real-time communication, co- ordination, collaboration and exchange of project information and data among the participants in construction procurement activities, several studies, including [21,5558,13] report that procurers have expressed concerns over the interoperability or incompatibility of the different systems and software packages. Ibrahim [19] described this as a peren- nial challenge that has generated enormous debates and discussion in the literature. From Table 4 it is evident that in the procurement of con- struction works, goods and services, a wide range of systems, software packages and applications from different vendors are used. Sharing data and information, real-time communication, coordination, coopera- tion and collaboration among project teams using these heterogeneous systems and applications can be difcult due to the lack of interopera- bility of the systems as Shen et al. [59] explained. Interoperability is a multi-dimensional concept which can be viewed from four perspectives, i.e. technical (hardware/software components, systems and applications), syntactic (data formats), semantic (denition of content of data to be exchanged), and organisational (organisational culture and human) aspects (see explained by Rezaei et al. [60] in a re- view on e-business interoperability frameworks). Grilo and Jardim- Goncalves [61] noted that technical interoperability is of great concern in construction projects. According to Gu and London [57], this may be be- cause the technical interoperability problem does not allow for effective and successful exchange of project information and data among partici- pants without compromising the integrity of such data. Rezaei et al. [60] identied technical interoperability issues as relating to the incompatibil- ity of hard/software components, systems, and platforms that enable machine-to-machine communication as well as standards, communica- tion protocols and the infrastructure required for the processing, ex- change, storage, presentation and communication of data through computers. Several studies, including [6265,61] have identied the lack of common language and standards for the exchange of data and

information among the different software packages and information sys- tems as the major cause of technical interoperability challenge. Conse- quently, in a case study of interoperability in collaborative networks, Chituc et al. [63] observed that solutions to interoperability problem have been approached from two angles: application integration (e.g. the technology solution: message, process, transport and interface); and in- formation integration (e.g. the linguistic, social and philosophical solution, comprising data, context, ontology and interpreter). Specically in the context of this research, the issue of interoperabil- ity in the use of digital technologies in the procurement of construction projects can be addressed in at least four different ways as identied in the literature (see summary in Table 6). Firstly, from Table 6 it seems evident that one of the ways in which technical interoperability can be addressed in the use of DTs in con- struction procurement is the use of web services to integrate technolo- gies, systems or applications. Web services provide a primary means for system component interaction and application integration within the enterprise and with external project partners and suppliers [34]. For ex- ample, on the Service Oriented Architecture for BIM (SOA4BIM) frame- work, communication technologies/networks have been integrated with BIM, web-supported project management software applications and construction e-marketplaces [61,64]. Notably, through this frame- work, project participants can exchange construction drawings; tender information and documents. It has also facilitated the buying and selling of construction materials and services over the internet. In a study on tendering process implementation for business-to-business integration in a web environment, NG et al. [70] explained that web-based services provide viable solution to interoperability challenge because they use standardized extensible markup languages (XML) that are not restrict- ed to any particular operating system or programming language and can easily integrate different environment. Chan et al. [62] also revealed in a case study on e-Tendering with web services in Hong Kong that the use of common languages such as XML provides standard method that facilitates easier exchange of business messages, communication of data and conducting of trading activities over the internet by organisa- tions using different systems and applications. Similarly, in a study on the use of integrated e-Bidding framework for construction by Michigan Department of Transportation, USA, Lenin [64] identied two types of construction specic XML. These are bcXML developed by the Europe

E.O. Ibem, S. Laryea / Automation in Construction 46 (2014) 1121

19

Table 6 Challenges associated with the use of digital technologies in construction procurement.

Challenges

Attempts made at resolving the challenges

References

Security and con dentiality of project information and data

Use of digital certi cates

[38,55,56,58,66,67]

Data and system encryption

Use of Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) to protect data during transmission

Secure Electronic Transactions (SET) and cookies

 

The use of Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (HTTP) to exchange data that are not encrypted

Password and Electronic signature

Firewalls, proxy servers, virtual private networking

Interoperability or

Use of Web services with distributed object technologies e.g. the common object request broker architecture (CORBA), COM/DCM, markup languages e.g. Extensible Markup Languages (XML); standard generalized mark- up language (SGML); service-oriented architecture for BIM (SOA4BIM);

[19,38,55 57,61,62,64 66,68,69]

incompatibility

between software

packages and

Adoption of Foundation Class (IFC) standard (IFC 2x3) by architects to exchange conceptual and detail design information with project team; CIMSteel standard (CIS/2) by structural engineers to exchange design, analysis and detailing information about steel frames; STEP (Standard for the Exchange of Product Model Data) in several aspects of engineering and construction, including the representation of 3D models; and Construction Industry Trading Electronically (CITE) to facilitate e-Procurement in construction

systems

Conjunction use of BIM and Web 2.0 Technologies

The use of Groupware system

eConstruct project and aecXML developed by the International Alliance for Interoperability (IAI). That study indicates that the use of XML in the description of construction projects data and information (e.g. bill of quantities, tender forms, speci cations, conditions of contracts) and the exchange of such information via the internet contribute in elimi- nating barriers associated with the use of DTs to conduct electronic tendering. Secondly, in addition to the use of XML documents, the adoption of industry-speci c interoperability standards such as IFC, STEP and CIMSteel standard (CIS/2) in the exchange of project information and data is another approach engaged in dealing with technical interopera- bility issue. According to Rezaei et al. [60], industry-specic standards enable the electronic exchange of business documents (e.g. bids, orders, invoices, shipment notes, quotations) between rms in a specic indus- try, their suppliers, customers, and business partners using different systems and software applications. Lenin [64] speci cally noted that IFC for example, provides interoperability among different systems and software used by all construction project participants. This is because it has the capabilities of keeping all necessary information including, product details, schedule, costing, and tender documents; and allows sharing of such information among different platforms and systems over the internet. It was perhaps on this premise that Porwal and Hewage [71] , in a study on building information modeling partnering framework for public construction projects in the Canadian construction industry concluded that international standards (e.g. Foundation Class (IFC2x3), buildingSMART; CIMSteel standard (CIS/2)) have been developed to address the problem of technical inter- operability in the use of DTs in the construction sector. Thirdly, the adoption of BIM and Web 2.0 technology has also been identi ed as another way of achieving interoperability among DTs used to support the execution of construction procurement activities. Web 2.0 technologies are collaborative Internet tools that deliver soft- ware as a service that is continually updated through new user content [72,34]. Several studies have shown that BIM-GIS [73], BIM-Sensor net- works [34], BIM-RFID [74], digital collaboration technologies integration [19] and interoperability between services provided by clouds [61] can be achieved through Web 2.0 technology. Consequently, the conjunc- tion use of BIM and Web 2.0 technologies have been identi ed as a foundation for real-time integration of digital technologies used in construction procurement activities [19]. Lastly, there is also the use of Groupware system to integrate hard- ware/software applications. According to Wang and Dunston [75] Group- ware is a computer-based augmented reality (AR) technology that supports groups of people engaged in a common task and provides an interface for sharing information. In fact, Groupware system assists a team of individuals in communicating, collaborating, and in coordinating

their activities [75] and also allow groups of users to perform coordi- nated processes that lead to the solution of problems or execution of tasks [76] . Acar et al. [7] in their study in Turkey found that the use of Groupware helped in managing and tracking various stages of project lifecycle; and allowed project participants collaborating on speci c tasks in the exchange of ideas , data and synchronization of their works. Despite the advances so far made in addressing the issue of technical interoperability as discussed in this review (see also [77] ), Grilo and Jardim-Goncalves [61] observed that technical interoperability issues have persisted across cloud and e-market environments as there are little or no interactions between AEC agents (e.g. architects, clients, contractors, builders, material merchants) in different cloud and e-market platforms. This is because presently, most cloud and e-marketplace vendors are not allowing interoperability between AEC agents in disparate clouds and e-marketplaces. In addition to the issues of interoperability is the security and con- dentially of project information and data exchange among the different systems. This concern may have been heightened by the ndings of studies [13,56,78], indicating that people have fear in the exchange of information and data via web-based applications or that systems are not safe and may result to loss of condentiality of data and information. However, evidence in research literature (see Table 6) suggests that the development of different security systems and features such as digital certicate, data and system encryption technologies, digital signature and others may have put an end to the concern over data protection and condentiality. Secondly, as regards how the DTs and tools published in the litera- ture relate to the six basic procurement activities outlined in ISO 10845, data in Table 3 reveals that of the six construction procurement activities, administration of contract to ensure compliance with require- ments of contracts has the highest number of DTs and tools available to conduct the tasks and functions associated with this stage of construc- tion procurement process. This is followed by soliciting tender offers, and establishing what is to be procured. Mapping the number of technologies and tools with the different tasks in each of these activities identi ed in ISO 10845 [14] , it is evident that the administration of contract to ensure compliance with requirements of contracts, which involves tasks and functions related to monitoring, enforcement, coor- dination, integration, purchase and handling of materials, equipment, labour and several others has thirteen different DTs and tools to support the execution of these activities. Similarly, tendering, which also involves several other activities and functions is next to contract ad- ministration in terms of the number of DTs and tools required at this stage of construction procurement process. Based on evidence from this study, it can be inferred that there is a relationship between the

20

E.O. Ibem, S. Laryea / Automation in Construction 46 (2014) 1121

number of DTs and tools published in the literature and identied in the survey and the diversity of tasks/functions in each of the six construc- tion procurement activities. Lastly, examination of the result on the evolution of DTs and tools used in the procurement of construction projects in the past six decades as presented in Table 5 , shows that the existing technologies have evolved from stand-alone creative tools such as CAD and computer sup- ported communication technologies (e.g.-mail) to web-based integrat- ed technologies and tools (e.g. cloud computing; project management applications). This really shows a progression from technologies and tools that enhance individual performance of construction procurement tasks to those that facilitate real time communication, collaboration and integration of construction procurement activities. On the one hand, this can be seen as a response to digital revolution that has permeated all aspect of human life. On the other hand, it can also be explained in the context of lack of effective communication and collaboration; and the need to forge closer integration of functions and activities among the multi-disciplinary and geographically dispersed participants in construction procurement.

8. Conclusion and recommendations

This paper examines and analyzes the different kinds of DTs and tools available to support the execution of the six basic construction procurement activities based on a survey of evidence-based literature. Three main conclusions are presented in relation to the research questions. Firstly, the result shows that a total of 36 different DTs and tools were identi ed most of which are web-based applications that procurers combine in the process of carrying out construction procure- ment activities; and that the interoperability of systems remains a chal- lenge in using these technologies in the procurement of construction projects. Based on this nding, it can be concluded that despite the progress made in developing and using BIM technology in construction procurement, there is yet no single system or application that can sup- port the execution of all the functions in the construction procurement lifecycle; and that the issue of interoperability of systems, particularly in cloud environments and e-market platforms remains a challenge in the use of DTs to execute construction procurement activities. Secondly, the DTs and tools identied in the survey were mapped with the six basic construction procurement activities identied in ISO 10845 [14] and the result shows that the highest number of technolo- gies and tools are available to support the administration of contracts to ensure that they comply with requirements, while the establishment of procurement strategy has the least number of technologies. Therefore, it can also be concluded that there is a relationship between the number of technologies identi ed in the survey and the tasks or functions in each of the six basic construction procurement activities. Lastly, it was also found out that the existing DTs and tools evolved from stand-alone tools and computer-supported communication technologies to web-based integrative and collaborative technologies. The conclusion that can be made from this is that the majority of existing DTs used in the execution of construction procurement activities tend to promote collaborative and integrative activities rather than enabling individual performance of construction procurement tasks. Based on ndings of the survey, the following suggestions are made. The rst is that the developers of digital technologies should give more attention to new applications that have capabilities to support the exe- cution of all the six basic construction procurement activities without procurers having to combine several technologies and tools or switch from one application to another. The second is that, much still need to be done in dealing with the problems of interoperability of systems, particularly between different cloud environments and construction e- market platforms. This relates to the development of platforms and standards for the exchange of data or migration of applications from one e-marketplace and cloud environment to another. Therefore, new

generation DTs should provide platforms for construction project participants to exchange information and data across e-marketplaces and cloud environments provided by different vendors. These could be in the form of cloud-marketplace systems that would enable interop- erability within each e-marketplace and cloud computing environment; as well as across different e-marketplaces and cloud environments.

Acknowledgements

This work is based on the research supported in part by the National Research Foundation of South Africa. The grantholder acknowledges that opinions, ndings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in any publication generated by the NRF supported research are that of the author(s) and that the NRF accepts no liability whatsoever in this regard. The comments from anonymous reviewers have helped in improv- ing this paper substantially so we would like to acknowledge the role of the reviewers in the development of this paper.

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