Full Project – Online decision support system for construction firm

Full Project – Online decision support system for construction firm

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1.1   Background of the Study  

Decision Support Systems (DSS) are computer-based  systems that assist business and organizational in complex decision-making environment. According to Marakas (Xiao, 2008), DSS manage and process input of unstructured or semi-structured problems in order to support rather than replace decision-making process. The final selection in decision-making is under human authority. DSS act as supporting tools in assisting users by giving suggestions especially when fragmented information and complex problem involved. Planning for construction project involving millions ringgit is a challenging and complex task faced by multiple parties such as clients, consultants and contractors. The successful execution of a construction project is heavily impacted by making the right decision at the right time.


The construction project life cycle involves three stages namely as pre-construction, construction and post-construction (Yang & LuJing, 2010). Tendering processes is in the first stage (Sigitas, Mitkus & Eva, 2007). Tendering processes in construction industry are fragmented and different with the other domain of tendering practices (Kakalauskas, 2010). Managing tender procedures is often very complex and uncertain, involving coordination of many tasks and individuals. Different individuals have different priorities and objectives. It increases the need for efficient decisions from clients, consultants (acting on behalf of clients) or contractors. For example, contractor is required to make decision to determine either to participate in the tender or not and selection of the most qualified contractor to run the project by clients.

Conventionally, decision makers tend to make decision based on a blend of their intuition, subjective judgment which based on past experience and emotion. This kind of practice does not guarantee consistent decision and lead to be bias. In complex environment, undetermined and insufficient external information as input during making decision could trigger to unfair, incomplete and poorly constructed result (Maqbool & Hong, 2006). Meanwhile, despite the existing of diverse Web-based tools for supporting online tendering, current approaches do not include with decision support tools. The adoption of ICT in tendering processes does not help in making fair and structured decision.


Tendering which can be described as the initiating phase in construction domain is a mechanism implemented by the authority or contract owner such as government or private sector in making an offer to the prospective contractors for the purpose of undertaking and managing construction project, including providing goods, services and consultancies necessary to accomplish the project objectives. Basically, the offer is done either in public or directly, depending on the tendering procedures. Tendering procedures are divided into open tender, restricted tender and negotiation tender. Even though tendering procedures vary in terms of how the tender is being awarded, the scopes and functionalities of the procedures do not differ widely and composed of several different and complex tendering processes related to the management of procurement including tender specification preparation, tender advertisement, tender aggregation, tender evaluation, tender awarding and contract monitoring (Jian & Zhang 2011; Toa,2008). Each of the tendering processes involves a great variety of decisions to consider among numerous stakeholders. For instance, client who is the owner of construction projects need to make reliable decision in the selection of the most eligible contractor by considering multiple and conflicting criteria such as bidding price, financial standing, management capability, technical ability, reputation, health and security (Jian & Zhang, 2011; Toa,2008). Meanwhile, contractors also have to consider decision either to bid or not to bid in a particular tendering processes for their business sustainability (Xiao, 2008; Zhilang, 2004). Effective and reliable decisions from the stakeholders are vital to ensure high level of equitability and transparency in the performance of tendering processes in order to yield satisfactory outcomes especially when the decisions are made based on large amount of information and knowledge. However, due to the various uncertainties and unique requirements of every construction tender, and competitive nature of a tender with its limited time, budgets and resources constraints, making right decision in the tendering phases is a complex task for both clients and contractors. Human-dependent decisions that rely on subjective considerations such as intuition, experience, guesswork and risk attitudes often tends to be biased (Caldas, 2009). In nowadays, technology plays an important role to overcome the drawbacks of traditional decision-making process in tender management. For that reason, decision support systems have been studied and have shown significant beneficial impact on the performance of tender management.


Development of decision support systems in construction tender management researches accelerated during early 2000 and seems to have continued its rapid growth. Although numerous researches on decision support methods for supporting various decisions in tendering processes have been carried out to date, a comprehensive review that gives an overview about to what extent decision support systems have been applied to support various issues in tender management is still lacking.


1.2     Statement of Problems

Every conventional system are designed to work with 100% human interrupt. Due to this, construction are made with more errors. The following are the problems of the existing system

  1. Lack of Costs management. As a result of the issues outlined above, the builders’ initial quotes are little more than educated guesses. There also isn’t a reason for them to commit huge amounts of time during a tender to accurately assess things, leading almost inevitably to cost over-runs later in the project.
  2. Scarcity of Building materials are not carefully managed. The tendering builders make a set of assumptions about building materials when quoting, and these often aren’t the highest spec. Once building starts, it can be quite difficult to change materials, impacting on both quality and environmental impact.
  3. High Cost purchase quality. It goes without saying that picking the cheapest builder hardly biases the project towards quality.
  4. Changes are hard. With a fixed price quote, it’s inherently hard to change things. And every change encourages the builder to inflate the cost of the variation.
  5. Speed discourages thinking. While modern building practices are very efficient, having a pile of trades on-site means decisions get made in a hurry, leaving little time for tuning and refining the design.




1.3     Aim and Objectives

The aim of the research is to propose a framework for supporting distributed decision making. The proposed framework assists DMs in the formulation, evaluation and appraisal stages (Holtzman 1989) of the decision analysis process in civil engineering industry. This can be achieve with the following objectives:

  1. To develop a framework of generic decision support for complex and unstructured processes by studying a real-world tendering activity in the Civil Engineering construction industry.
  2. To use the concept of Decisioning for Decision Support in Process (D2P) (Oquendo et al. 2000), an architecture for modelling and coordinating decision-making activities, in implementing the tendering processes in order to provide a basis for subsequent generalisation of the approach.
  3. To demonstrate the applicability of the approach using a real-world scenario by developing an efficient Web-based management system for the tendering process. The system supports tendering, consolidates and analyses tender information from government, semi-government and the private central tender repository of Nigeria.

1.4     Significance of the Study

The project work plays a unique role in the area of decision making in civil engineering industry. Since, the construction firm require a machine to help to make a blue print and get an evaluated best construction practice and this is going to be of great importance to construction industry.




1.5     Scope of the Study

This project work covers the activities carried out in civil engineering construction industry such as; general building, building construction, refurbishment, building renovation, architectural plans etc. decision making, decision support system, machines (system) to produce blue print, construction practices etc.

1.6     Limitation of the Study

The system will not incorporate in its development all the functions of a nutrition analysis system but will focus only on the aforementioned functionalities. Other limiting factor include time, inevitability of human error and bias as some information were obtained via interpersonal interaction and research, making some inconsistent with existing realities or out rightly incorrect.

1.7     Definition of Terms

Construction: is the activity of putting together different elements, using a detailed design and plan, to create a structure for a certain location

System: is a collection of elements or components that are organized for a common purpose.

Firm: is a commercial enterprise, a company that buys and sells products and/or services to consumers with the aim of making a profit.

Decision: Decision-making involves the selection of a course of action from among two or more possible alternatives in order to arrive at a solution for a given problem.

Decision making:  Decision making process is continuous and indispensable component of managing any organization or business activities.

Decision support system: is a computerized program used to support determinations, judgments, and courses of action in an organization or a business.

Construction firm: A type of business, company, enterprise or similar organization created and operating to construct a wide variety of buildings, developments, housing, path, pavement, roads, motorway and other types of construction projects.

Tendering: is the process by which bids are invited from interested contractors to carry out specific packages of construction work.


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Full Project – Online decision support system for construction firm