Efficient material management strategies for enhancing the performance of SMEs in the South African construction industry

Author's Name:

Athenkosi Sogaxa

Walter Sisulu University, South Africa

Eric Kwame Simpeh

Centre for Settlements Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana

In an effort to promote inclusive and sustainable industries to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 9, SMEs are confronted with inadequate project management practices and, as a result, struggle to effectively complete construction projects. This study examines the efficient material management strategies adopted by SME construction firms to achieve sustainable business performance. The study adopts a sequential explanatory mixed method design to achieve the aim of the research project. Self-administered questionnaires were distributed to purposively selected management personnel representing SME contractors listed in Grade 1-4 of the cidb Register of Contractors and based in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. Following that, semi-structured interviews with contractors who participated in the survey were conducted at random. To analyze the quantitative data, descriptive and inferential statistics were used, while content analysis was used to analyze the qualitative data. The findings from this study based on the mean ranking technique revealed that strict adherence to specifications for materials in delivering construction projects, effective utilisation of construction materials, and effective material inventory strategy were adjudged to be the most significant material management practices. The results from the qualitative study showed that SMEs adopted effective monitoring and controlling of material and effective material procurement strategies as the most efficient material management practices. Additionally, the taxonomy of efficient material management practices was achieved through the use of exploratory factor analysis. The underlying grouped strategies were “efficient material procurement and storage practices", "effective inventory of material”, "sustainable procurement system", and “adequate scheduling and utilisation of materials”. The study focused on SME contractors registered under cidb Grade 1-4 in South Africa. However, the results of this study may be valuable for SMEs in developing nations seeking a competitive advantage over other enterprises.