Possible applications of handheld computers to quantity surveying
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The potential of handheld computer applications to add value to the quantity surveying activity at the construction jobsite has been examined in this research. Through an extensive literature review of information technology (IT) and its value in construction, and of the barriers and benefits of handheld computers in the construction industry, as well as through several investigations of construction technology adoption practices, a handheld computer implementation design process and an evaluation method were developed. The evaluation method was applied to a case study at a construction company that had recently implemented handheld computers in its quantity surveying activity. The results found that when implemented within the quantity surveying activity, handheld computers can add value at the construction task level (provided that suitable tasks are selected and a properly designed implementation strategy is followed). The quantity surveying case study further found that the ability of these devices to add value at the activity and project levels is constrained by the need for appropriate implementation. At the corporate level, implementing handheld computers for quantity surveying can add value provided that they are well-integrated into a company’s IT infrastructure, implemented across multiple activities (in addition to quantity surveying) and projects, and cost-justified as part of a company’s overall IT improvement strategy. The research also found that in addition to added value as time and cost savings, the intangible benefits of HHC’s in construction (such as improved information accuracy) are just as important. Handheld computer technology is expected to continue improving at its current high rate. The value of using handheld computers in construction will also likely increase as these devices become more suitable for construction tasks, and as new applications for them in construction emerge.