The construction industry is highly fragmented compared with other manufacturing industries. The degree of this fragmentation is unparalleled in any other sector with significant impact on productivity and performance. Many research studies have developed and proposed a number of integrated process models. Unfortunately, they are unable to formalise how communication and information exchange within the construction process can be achieved, without duplication or lost in quality. A move away from the traditional sequential process to reciprocal interdependency processes no doubt place heavy demand on communication and information flow. This problem is widely acknowledged and many of the proposed IT solutions are less practicable to be attractive to practitioners in the industry. Any IT-dependent solution must start with optimisation and better uses of the readily available IT- hard- and software. This paper describes a collaborative research study being undertaken between the University of Teesside and an international contracting organisation based in the UK. The goal of the research is to develop a methodology and a system that will ease and improve communication and exchange of data and information between the construction project team. The paper reports on an IT-based tool for site document management as a first phase of the project. It provides an automated integrated environment for communication, retrieval, storage and distribution of project documents between the construction project team. The structure and development of the system are described with reports of its implementation and performance on the site. © 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
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