Nzangi Muimi

The Use of Web Applications in Construction in Kenya

A web application (web app) is a software or a program that runs through a web browser. It is created to allow a user to perform certain functions without having to download and install a standalone application on their device, but only using a standard web browser over a network.

How a Web Application Works

A web application has three main components. These are as follows:

  1. Front end (User Interface) – This is the visual part that the web app user sees rendered on the screen by their browsers. It contains buttons, boxes, links etc that allow the user to give commands to the web app when they want to execute a task.
  2. Programming Interface – It is the controller that links the front end and the back end. It pulls, modifies and provides data to the user from the server.
  3. Back end (Server) – This is the model that is used to manage data. It could simply be a database where user information is stored. This data when queried by the user through the user interface, is picked by the programming interface from the database, packaged and sent to the front end for display.

When a user interacts with the user interface to perform a task (such as edit, view or delete data), the following process is initiated:

  1. A request is created by the user to the web server over the internet through the web application’s user interface.
  2. The web server sends this request to the web application server.
  3. The web application server executes the requested task and then generates the results of the required data.
  4. The web application server then sends those results back to the web server.
  5. The web server carries the requested information to the client’s device, and it is displayed to the user through the front end (user interface of the application).

Web Applications in Construction

Web applications are used by many businesses to aid in the automation of work processes, communication, sale and purchase of goods online, and connecting with customers, among other uses.

We had seen earlier that they don’t require a business to download and install a standalone application. This cuts down the costs of using them as the browsers they run on may not be as resource intensive as desktop applications (less storage on the local drive), and access is anytime anywhere via the browser with an internet connection.

Construction, like other businesses, also makes use of web applications to run various aspects of the business.

Looking at the construction industry broadly, we can identify various uses of web applications in the day-to-day running of contracting and consultancy businesses, professional organizations and government authorities.

These include uses in communication, online document repositories, regulatory approvals, member management sites, payment collections and receipting, job applications management, e-commerce, and bid management, among other popular uses of web applications in the construction industry.

These are discussed as follows:

1. Communication

Web applications play a key role in the communication and sharing of information in construction. This is through supporting functions such as emailing, chat features, digital meetings and video conferencing.

Most of the web applications that fall in this category are also used in other industries for communication. These include applications like the Gmail web app for emailing, and the Zoom video meeting web app, among others.

Construction businesses and professionals make use of these to send information to their clients or hold virtual meetings without having to travel to physical locations for the same.

2. Online Document Repositories and Web-based Construction Project Management

Web applications also support construction teams by serving as repositories for organising and storing project information. The project manager can create a project portal in web-based software such as Autodesk Construction Cloud, add team members, create folder structures and give the team members access to various information levels depending on their role in the project.

This supports a practice known as web-based construction project management.

Project tasks and any issues that need to be resolved are created and the relevant team members are tagged to prompt them to offer the required resolution.

The project information and all communication therein are accessible anytime, anywhere, via the browser by just logging in, provided the user has an active internet connection.

The screenshot below shows the view of Autodesk Construction Cloud when a project team member is logged in on the web:

A screenshot of the Autodesk Construction Cloud: Document Management Web App. Source:

3. Approval Applications, Permitting and Development Control

Government authorities are also making use of web applications to streamline the process of applying for approvals, permits and the entire development control process.

The traditional process involved a developer submitting hardcopy drawings to the planning authorities for review and consideration for approvals. With the deployment of web apps, developers’ representatives create user accounts and upload the drawings on the site for review. They can then track the progress of their project approval request from one stage to another, and read and act on the comments shared.

This can be seen in county governments such as Nairobi City County, Kiambu County and Kajiado County.

Nairobi City County Planning Approval Login Page. Source:

The National Construction Authority (NCA) is also using a similar application to manage construction regulatory information, register and train contractors and review for approval contractors’ applications for registration and renewal of their annual practising licenses.

4. Membership Management by Professional Bodies and Societies

Similar to Customer Relationship Management (CRM) web applications, professional bodies and societies such as the Architectural Association of Kenya (AAK), the Board of Registration of Architects and Quantity Surveyors (BORAQS) Kenya and the Institute of Quantity Surveyors of Kenya (IQSK) use web apps to manage member information, allow for payment of annual subscription fees and receipting, online registration applications and membership approvals, enrolling to CPD events, and viewing and downloading member-only publications.

AAK Membership Management Site Dashboard. Source: (reproduced with permission from the quoted member)

Also, construction companies can use web-based CRM software to maintain databases of suppliers of construction materials, various price lists and product catalogues obtained from them and key contact information for use when they want to buy materials from them for their construction projects.

5. E-commerce

Also, construction businesses have taken advantage of the ability of web apps to support the listing of products online in a shop, management of orders and product payments to launch e-commerce stores.

This is a common use of web applications as part of a larger website to take advantage of website visitors and offer products for purchase. The automation of order placing, processing, fulfilment and shipping management, while allowing the customers to track the progress is a key feature that is driving those decisions.

For example, CTM Kenya is a company that sells construction materials, building fittings and fixtures and sanitary appliances, among other products. They have used web applications to develop an online store for their products, to allow customers to place and pay for orders online and track the order processing and delivery of their items.

A screenshot of CTM Kenya online store product listing page. Source:

6. Job Applications and Processing

Job application and processing can also be done through web applications. Although most companies in the construction industry don’t have custom job board applications, they make use of third-party web-based software accessible online.

Big, multinational companies have completed in-house job board web applications for posting job advertisements and descriptions, receiving applications, and processing to give feedback to the applicants.

7. Bid Management

Web applications are also used for bid management in construction. This is where bids are required to be submitted online, with some web apps allowing for bid comparisons on their system and others only allowing for document download for further evaluation.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) web applications such as the IFMIS (IFMIS) are popular in Kenya among construction businesses bidding for government projects. With this system, the government authorities, when procuring goods or services, avail themselves of the information on the web portal, allowing prospective bidders to register on the system and submit all their bidding information through that portal.

Further, internationally, we have web apps such as Autodesk Construction Cloud, SmartBid, Bidhive, and BuilderTrend, among others, for bid management in construction.


Web applications have helped revolutionise businesses in the construction industry by offering flexible ways of supporting communication, project management, bid management, customer relationship management, job boards and e-commerce functions.

The ease of access through the browser anywhere anytime and the fact that they are less costly compared to standalone desktop applications makes them more suitable for use by small and medium-sized businesses which comprise the largest percentage in the construction industry.

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