Building Industry Game

Supported by the Construction Industry and Construction Management Departments Throughout the World

Building Industry Game (BIG) is a computer simulation of a realistic business environment where participants play the role of contractors, competing in a market with variable demand for construction work. Players are required to set up a complete business strategy including the following tasks:

BIG is primarily a construction company strategic management game. As additional functionality is added, the companies will also deal with simulating detailed processes internal to a firm, and with the specific management of a particular project in terms of its planning, scheduling, and supervision.

Each company acts as a construction firm within a competitive environment that has a fluctuating demand for construction jobs. Firms that perform above average will be invited to negotiate various work. The game may be played for as many periods as time permits, each period representing two months of real time. There can be any number of participating companies in addition to the internally simulated "unknown contractors."

Five different types of jobs are potentially available for bidding.

Each period the simulation generates a list of jobs available for bidding and creates an Estimated Time and Cost Report for each job. Using the this information, each company must decide which jobs to bid on, the bid price, and which of the five methods to use for each of the activities.

Each job will have up to nine activities. These activities are:

  1. Excavation
  2. Foundation
  3. Basement
  4. Framing
  5. Closure
  6. Roof
  7. Siding
  8. Finishing
  9. Mechanical and Electrical

Every activity has five different construction methods that vary in time and cost. The fifth method is generally the use of a subcontractor. All five methods of activity #9 (Mechanical and Electrical) are generally subcontracted. The Estimated Time and Cost Report gives labor and material costs and the amount of time required for every activity using each of the five methods.

Work scheduling is very important in the selection of the methods so projects can be completed by the contractual deadlines, and the costs reduced as much as possible. Each bid price submitted should cover all the firm's direct and indirect job expenses, its main office overhead costs, and the desired profit.

At the end of every period the simulation will determine which company is awarded each available project. The lowest bid will not necessarily win since the computer takes into account several other factors:

Companies must monitor and forecast their financial situation as the game progresses, while completing progress billings on their jobs and considering the potential needs for loans. In any period, participants have the option to ask for information on weather forecasts, material prices, labor and material availability, and market projections. These requests for consulting services have a cost and are charged against the firm's financial account. Using the information obtained from these reports, companies can determine the best strategy to proceed for each individual job.

At the end of each period, teams receive a progress report for the previous two months of time, giving a statement of the firm's work progress on each of its jobs during that period. It shows the amount of work completed as well as the expenses incurred for each activity in every one of the company's projects. The amount of work completed during a period depends not only on the methods selected for the various activities, but also on uncertainty factors during that time such as the weather conditions, labor availability, and the fluctuating cost of materials.

An end-of-period financial report is also provided to the participants showing the expenses incurred during that period. It lists amounts spent on direct construction services, bidding costs, delay fines, taxes incurred, and interest on borrowed money. It also shows payments to the contractor by the owner according to the payment requests, and gives total cash-on-hand at the end of the period. Each firm may at any time apply for a loan to improve its financial situation. Loans granted are amortized over one year of time.

Changes in company ratios are also logged along with changes to the company's appraisal metrics:

At the end of a period, the firms examine their Progress Reports and decide on the effectiveness of the methods chosen for the various work activities. If they wish, they may change them and specify different methods for the following periods. The choice of methods allows companies to utilize slower but cheaper methods if they fear budget overruns, or faster but more expensive methods if meeting contractual deadlines is the main concern. In addition, overtime may be used to speed up certain activities, greatly increasing the labor costs. Firms must be concerned with the amount of liquidated damages on each project, as they do vary from job to job.

At the conclusion of the simulation, the program provides each participating company with a closing financial report, forecasting the expected results of any on-going projects, or their financial position at that point in time. It also shows the firm's final total equity. Teams should consider maximization of profit as one of their main objectives, and their final net worth is one of the primary criteria used to evaluate each firm's performance. In addition, evaluations of both a company's financial ratios and their appraisal metrics can be used to determine a team's success in meeting the simulation's objectives.