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Internet Platform for Knowledge-based Customer Needs Management and Collaboration among SMEs in Construction Industry

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Better systems for managing construction

European small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the construction sector have started to install new online software systems that will help them manage clients, products and services. Developments in this area will also contribute to the creation of a knowledge platform for stakeholders.

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Large construction companies are increasingly outsourcing their work to SMEs in order to increase profitability and flexibility. The EU-funded project KNOW-Construct devised a new Web-based platform to upgrade the sector. The platform involves a Customer Needs Management (CNM) system to assist product and consultancy services, as well as a Knowledge Communities Support (KCS) system to support a common knowledge base. KCS is a content management system (CMS) that facilitates knowledge retrieval, featuring a user forum and a Web-log system as well. It allows users to manage the system from their workplace or construction site and edit the files of the web application, giving much needed flexibility in customer management. To build an effective prototype, the project team drew on the expertise of stakeholders when considering customer needs, construction products, security issues and best practices in the sector. Overall, KNOW-Construct provided guidelines for system installation and assisted end users such as industry association groups and SMEs to use it. It also introduced to them system basics such as central index key (CIK) representation and knowledge community creation. Through the KNOW-Construct system, employees are expected to improve procedures for SMEs, render them more competitive and give a boost to the construction sector.

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