Requirements of the Large Scale Engineering Industry in a
"Virtual Enterprise" Environment - Findings from eLSEwise
Corresponding Author: Hassan, Tarek M.
Author(s): Hassan, T.M., McCaffer, R., and Thorpe, T.
Organisation(s): The European Construction Institute (ECI), Loughborough University (UK)
The European Large Scale Engineering (LSE) industry operates in a global market. In recent years it has seen profound change reflecting on the emerging political, social, economic and technological developments. Increasing competitive pressure globally, clients' demand for lower costs and better quality, coupled with new developments in information and communication technologies and deregulation and privatisation of utilities, have all come together to force players in the LSE sector to review their traditional ways of doing business. This is in line with the industry's commitment to improve its competitiveness, productivity and client satisfaction. Lack of understanding of clients' and contractors' requirements hinders achieving such goals especially with the increasing trends of executing large scale engineering projects within Europe in a “virtual enterprise” environment. 

Different parties to the construction process need to understand and fulfil client’s business and information requirements throughout the product life cycle from inception to operation, maintenance and decommissioning. However, it is also important that clients understand requirements and views of the contractors who undertake their projects. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) vendors and developers also need to understand clients' and contractors' requirements of ICT systems and to align their products to them. This paper investigates and identifies clients' and contractors' business and ICT views and requirements within the large scale engineering construction industry through studies undertaken within the eLSEwise (European Large Scale Engineering Wide Integration Support Effort) Esprit project (ESPRIT project 20876 partly funded by the EC).eLSEwise is a user reference project which aimed at identifying industry business and ICT requirements, proposed a road map of future exploitation of ICT solutions to serve business needs and provided a vision to future changes in project delivery processes that would lead to improved competitiveness for the European LSE industry within global competition. eLSEwise also aimed to reduce the fragmented nature of the current European LSE industry to improve competitiveness through integration of information and processes and enable it to collaborate more effectively in an increasing global market. The eLSEwise consortium is comprised of fourteen partners from eight different countries across Europe representing LSE clients, contractors, consultants and research bodies. The pilot study of eLSEwise has terminated in June 1998 after an estimated effort of 15 manyears. 

This paper reports on the findings of two studies undertaken by the European Construction Institute (ECI) within eLSEwise to investigate the LSE industry requirements, and identifies gaps in the relationships of clients and contractors with other parties of the supply chain and in ICT provision. The methodology used was a combination of focused workshops supplemented by questionnaires issued to a wider spectrum of LSE clients and contractors across Europe. The paper also outlines the vision developed by eLSEwise for future execution of LSE projects in a "virtual enterprise" environment. The results of eLSEwise should be beneficial to LSE clients, practitioners and ICT vendors and developers.