Software is disrupting many industry sectors, and some people are foreseeing technological advancements to be a sign that the days of the quantity surveyor (QS) are numbered. But according to Larry Feinberg, executive director of the Association for South African Quantity Surveyors (ASAQS), nothing could be further from the truth.
Instead of side-lining humans, Feinberg points out that those who have embraced it have actually gone on to flourish.

“When it comes to quantity surveying, we are seeing a similar dynamic unfolding. All too often, quantity surveyors are seen simply as providers of Bills of Quantities and drafters of tender documents. In reality, they have a much broader role to play, especially in these days of mega-projects, strict regulation and unremitting cost pressure,” he explains.

“It is true that intelligent software can help to automate and improve some of the more routine elements, such as measurement and the collation of documents. But to see the role of the software in this light only, or even to see it to some extent replacing a quantity surveyor, is to miss the point entirely. Rather, the software should be seen as providing quantity surveyors with the space to provide the services that have come to define their real contribution to any project.”

This contribution, as Feinberg explains, includes the ability to determine the viability of a project from the outset, or to see the project holistically, in order to assist the owner to balance the architect’s vision with the realities of meeting cost targets that will ensure that planned returns are realised. It also continues throughout the entire lifecycle of the building.

“Think of the quantity surveyor’s role as one of creating a value proposition that extends from the design phase, through the construction phase and ultimately throughout the life of the building management phase. Software alone would be hard pressed to provide all these vital service solutions,” he states.

“In addition, quantity surveyors are able to take basic data and calculations produced by software as the basis for exercising judgement, not to bypass it. Software cannot take into consideration many of the long-term questions that are of increasing importance to those who fund large projects, and those who will use them. For example, what are the benefits of spending more during construction in order to reduce costs over the life of the project? How can certain needs such as air-conditioning be met in a way that it is environmentally responsible without compromising operational efficiency – or commercial viability?

“These, and similar questions, need the expert judgement of an experienced professional, not the wired-in certainties of a piece of software. By fulfilling this role, the quantity surveyor protects the interests of the client, end-users and the broader community at large.”

The Association of South African Quantity Surveyors
Tel: 011 315 4140
Website: www.asaqs.co.za