Construction Informatics Digital Library http://itc.scix.net/ paper w78-2002-3.content
The Impact of Electronic Document Management on Construction Information Management
Swedish School of Economics and Business Administration
This paper deals with the introduction of electronic document management (EDM) technology in the construction industry, and our current research knowledge about this topic. EDM has the potential to enhance the information management in construction projects considerably, without radical changes to current practice.
Over the past fifteen years this topic has been overshadowed by building product modelling in the construction IT research world, but at present EDM is quickly being introduced in practice, in particular in bigger projects. Often this is done in the form of third party ASP services available over the World Wide Web.
In the paper a typology of research questions and methods is presented, which can be used to position the individual research efforts which are surveyed in the paper.
Questions dealt with include: What features should EMD systems have? How much are they used? Are there benefits from use and how should these be measured?
What are the barriers to wide-spread adoption? Which technical questions need to be solved? Is there scope for standardisation? How will the market for such systems evolve?
Document management, extranet, internet, project web
The task of managing all the information needed to design and construct any major facility is a real challenge, and many believe that more efficient information management is a primary mechanism for the construction industry to increase its productivity [Egan 1998]. In the construction IT research literature there are two streams which propose different solutions to the problem of project information management. A solution which builds incrementally on the current documentation practice in the industry, is to enhance this practice through the wide-spread adoption of electronic document management (EDM) systems, applied within companies and in particular across all the participants in projects. Relatively little research has been done related to the technical and implementation aspects of
EDM systems in construction. More has been written concerning building product modelling technology and standards implementing this [for a good overview cf. Eastman 1999]. In a recent survey made by
Betts and Amor  the relative frequencies of research themes were studied in the proceedings of the annual conferences of the CIB Working commission W78 (Information Technology in Construction) over the period 1992-2000. The analysis covered altogether some 500 papers. The graphs presented show that there were about 2-3 times as many papers dealing with product modelling, including the STEP and IFC standardisation efforts, as dealing with document management.
The purpose of this paper is to make some observations on our current research knowledge about the introduction of EDM systems in the construction industry. Typical questions addressed in this paper are;
What features should such systems have? How much are they used? Are there benefits from use and how should these be measured? What are the barriers to wide-spread adoption? Which technical questions need to be solved? Is there scope for standardisation? How will the market for such systems evolve? The paper may not provide clear answers to some of these questions, but aims at least to articulate them clearly and thus to help in the definition of an agenda of research needs for the near future.
Central concepts of electronic document management
In common language the word document usually means an information carrier (usually on paper) containing written