Global Design Practice: IT-based Collaboration In AEC-projects
Free (open access)
Information technology is radically and rapidly transforming the way the AEC industry operates. Large, globally operating firms are often out of necessity on the leading edge of implementing advanced IT-tools because their ability to prosper depends more and more on their ability to use technology to augment industry-wide effectiveness and innovation. To maximize the benefits that lie in company-wide highly integrated information and to foster internal collaboration, such companies often rely heavily on the use of IT supporting their practices. As global projects have become the main sources of revenue for many large AEC firms, geographically distributed project teams and human networks have become more and more common. A wide array of tools is available for IT-based collaboration. Global teams and networks face difficulties that are different from those of teams and networks that are not geographically distributed. These difficulties are usually caused by national, cultural, and organizational differences within the organizations and the multitude of markets they are serving as well as the peculiarities of virtual collaboration. This paper examines these phenomena using the Germany-based Hochtief Group, one of the world’s largest AEC companies, as an example. It presents a case study of global virtual teamwork in a recently completed large-scale project in Asia. It then moves on to describe Hochtief’s participation in a larger research effort initiated by Stanford University’s CIFE (Center for Integrated Facility Management) that examines virtual collaboration in the AEC industry. The results of both the case study and the joint research project are analyzed and presented. They suggest a number of important guidelines for global virtual teamwork in the AEC industry, including the suitability of particular IT-tools as well as the coordination of team members with different national, cultural, and organizational backgrounds over multiple time zones. Keywords: global teamwork, IT-based collaboration, design collaboration, global design practice, global construction practice, AEC project management.
global teamwork, IT-based collaboration, design collaboration, global design practice, global construction practice, AEC project management.