An Integrated Control System for SMEs in the Construction Industry

E Pellicer, T.M. Pellicer, J. Catalá

Abstract


Most construction companies are small
and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)
that manage project-based and businessfocused
act ivi t ies s imul taneous ly.
Commercial software packages are not
fully developed to offer a unique solution
that tackles both. To fill this gap, this paper
describes an integrated management
system specifically developed for SMEs
in the construction industry, whether
contractors or consulting engineering
and architectural firms. Both, project
and business functions are addressed
and handled by the system as a whole.
Particular attention is given to the
procurement process because it is
essential for the strategic planning of
these companies, which must naturally
engage new contracts to remain in
business. The system is based on a client/
server architecture that is arranged in
three tiers: presentation (user interfaces
and forms), application (queries), and
data (relational tables). The system uses
MS AccessTM as a database management
system. Users are categorized according
to their functions within the hierarchy
of the company, and therefore several
different interfaces are designed for each
personnel category. The system works in
real-time, so every employee with a preestablished
right of access can obtain
information instantaneously. This is crucial
for making immediate decisions when
problems arise, allowing prompt actions
from every manager in the hierarchy and
resulting in noteworthy time savings. This
computer-based application has been
successfully implemented by four Spanish
SMEs in the construction industry. The
suitability and advantages of the system
implementation are highlighted in this
paper with specific data regarding its
current operation.

Key words: Business management, construction companies, relational databases;
Information Technology (IT), project management.


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