The Central European Directorate (CED) of the Colas Group initiative to implement Benchmark Estimating Software across its operations has achieved a significant milestone as possibly the first business of its kind to utilise estimating software in Hungary.
“In Hungary it is very common to use Excel. I have never heard of another public company in Hungary using this type of software,” said Zoltán Bánfy, Tender Director for Colas Hungária Big Projects Agency.
Colas Hungária is part of the major French civil engineering firm Colas Group and comprises three subsidiaries and one agency. Colas Hungária Big Projects Agency (BPA) is involved in large road, expressway and bridge construction, Colas Út – road construction (from small daily business to medium size and even big size projects in consortium with Colas Hungária Big Projects Agency or even alone), Colas Alterra – public utilities and civil engineering projects and Colas Északkő – quarries.
New Approach Sets Pace for the Future
Colas Hungária BPA has ninety employees in total. Their four estimators have recently started using Benchmark Estimating Software and are already realising significant advantages over their previously used, Excel system.
“We really appreciate the helpful, flexible approach from the Benchmark team when training us and we are looking forward to the entire group using the software, with the long-term plan for a complete changeover from Excel,” Zoltán said.
Colas Hungária BPA is using Benchmark Estimating Software on both large 15 million euros and smaller 1 to 5 million euros projects. They are finding the functionalities extremely useful. “Although we have not been using the software for very long, we can see that it will improve our daily work because we can use Routines for our estimating,” Zoltán said.
“By using the Routines feature, the intelligence of the estimator is built into the Routine itself. An estimator then answers questions relating to the specific project and then runs the Routine which automatically creates the bid. The estimator can then review the Items and Resources created by the Routine to see that the bid is accurate for the project. Not only are there huge savings in time, but the transparency of the Benchmark software ensures that both the estimators and management have confidence in the estimates produced.”
Zoltán explained that when generating estimates for tenders, the company always has to prove that the price they have calculated handles all the risk and opportunities presented. That was one of the areas they are using Benchmark Estimating Software most effectively.
“We like the structure of the program, especially at the project levels. All the levels are very useful, it’s good to have a quick overview and it’s easy to manage things.”
While Zoltán and his Colas Hungária BPA team are concentrating on gaining experience and skills with Benchmark Estimating Software, he can see that the software will make estimating much quicker in the future.
Detailed, Versatile, Traceable
As part of the Colas Central European Directorate (CED) requirement, subsidiary Colas Út Zrt purchased their Benchmark Estimating Software licences in 2014 and Tender Engineer, Gergely Molnár, describes the software succinctly as detailed, versatile and traceable.
Colas Út is in the top three Hungarian road construction companies, with two hundred and eighty employees, eight operating asphalt mixing plants, an emulsion plant and an impressive portfolio of projects including bypass roads, conventional junctions, roundabouts, parking lots, pavement constructions and road widening for both government and private clients.
Gergely explained that prior to implementing Benchmark Estimating Software, their eleven estimators used MS Excel and had all used different methods. The company wanted them all to use the same method in the same form, which the use of the software is achieving.
“In the beginning we used Benchmark Estimating Software to calculate the bigger projects only. We calculated the smaller projects with the traditional method, but now the complete changeover is in progress,” Gergely said.
Colas Út use Benchmark Estimating Software to calculate all types of roads construction, road reconstruction, pavement renovation (from streets to expressways) in addition to many projects in the urban environment.
“There are two key users, who are continuously updating the Resource and Item Library. We have created many Items in the Item Library, and our estimators use these Items consistently,” Gergely said.
He explained that they also edit the Library Items when they bring them into a project, because their Resources vary, depending on the project.
Colas Út also finds that the Production Rate feature is a very important part of their work, enabling them to slow Production Rates if it is a difficult site. They also utilise the Item Variables feature so that an Item can be brought from the Item Library into a project, and then the Variables are updated to reflect the design and so ensure the estimate is appropriate for the works.
They also noted that the Auto Allocate feature is of particular use to them because there are a lot of similar items in their different projects which can then automatically be populated from the Item Library.
“There are a lot of functions which we do not apply as yet, but that is in our plans for the next stage – to learn all the functions we are not already using,” Gergely said.
As with other companies in the Colas Group, Colas Út is appreciating that the main advantage of Benchmark Estimating Software is having all their estimators using the same system and the managers can follow the whole process in real time.
The Central European Directorate (CED) of the Colas Group selected Benchmark Estimating Software to implement across their operations as it most closely suited their needs. Benchmark Estimating Software is providing full training and support, across a range of languages and borders and proving that Benchmark Estimating Software can bring significant benefits.
Colas is a member of the Bouygues group of companies.
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