Colas Poland Takes Control of Estimating Challenges
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Colas Poland is part of the major French civil engineering firm Colas group. As a result of the Colas Group initiative to implement Benchmark Estimating Software across its Central Europe operations, Colas Poland (Colas Polska Sp. z o.o.) is realising significant benefits with bids.
The focus of Colas Poland is mainly roads ranging from smaller local road projects to both highways and expressways. The business has a turnover of eighty million euros per year.
The company has been utilising Benchmark Estimating Software for two years, and currently there are seven estimators using the system.
Tools To Verify, Change and Gain Control
Prior to implementing Benchmark Estimating Software, Colas Poland was using Excel for estimating. This was causing problems, especially on big projects.
“It’s easy to lose control with Excel, especially with the analysis of data” said Michał Szcześniak, Head of Tender and Procurement for Colas Poland.
Michał elaborated that once they import the client’s bill of quantities into a Benchmark project, they have all the tools to make any changes in regards to personnel or equipment to be used in the bid, as well as to easily correct and change items if required.
Flexibility for Global Suitability
Colas Poland has created a library of Items which is the foundation of the company’s knowledge. Items from the library are then used in a bid, and amended according to project-specific requirements and changing site conditions.
Thanks to Benchmark’s unique features, Colas Poland has dramatically improved their estimating process:
- The Import Items from Bill of Quantities feature has allowed Colas Poland to improve the speed and accuracy of their estimating as the whole bill of quantities is automatically imported.
- Estimators then use the Allocate feature to price items in their estimates with the system matching a suitable Item in the Item library with any item in the bill. “We also often have the challenge of different Item naming conventions for different clients, which means different ways of labelling Items. Using the Allocate feature you can nominate the percentage match you require; the item description does not need to exactly match the name of the item from the library.”
- “We can even automate the process using the Auto Allocate feature, with options to Auto Allocate by code, description, or both,” Michał said. “This functionality enables us to bid the whole project automatically, saving huge amounts of time.”
- The team then makes adjustment to suit the site conditions with the use of the Production Rates If the ground conditions are bad, for example, the estimator can reduce the production rate, which will increase the hours of all the equipment and labour in the earthworks crew.
- Where design specifications vary, the Variables feature assists. The item in the library can be based on a particular design parameter, and the value is nominated as a Variable. When this item is used in a project, and the project has a different design parameter, then the estimator changes the Variable and the system automatically adjusts the estimate accordingly.
Overcoming Convention and Language Issues
Michal recognises that each country in Eastern Europe has its own IT requirements. For example, the way a number is displayed – decimal separation of numbers by point or instead using a comma. The team at Benchmark made adjustments to the software to reflect this need.
With regard to country specific requirements, Michal explained the method to begin by training the key people only:
“We learned that it was better to run the workshops and training sessions for key users only, allowing them one month time to gain knowledge of the software. These power users would then pass the knowledge on to other team members.”
A surprising benefit of the process is that even though Benchmark Estimating Software is available in many languages, including Polish, the estimators at Colas Poland have found that they can improve their English language skills through using the Polish as well as the English language pack simultaneously.
Realising the Possibilities
Before implementing Benchmark, Michał believes that they did not have adequate control over estimates, especially with medium and large road projects. “It was easy to make errors as we always had to generate reports manually,” Michał said.
“Instead, using Benchmark provides lots of possibilities to check and control costs. We can be certain that there are no mistakes, the pricing is correct and we have not missed any Items. In summary, we can adequately verify our estimates prior to issue.”
Colas Poland has had three main goals estimating across the company. The first goal is to become more efficient on smaller projects so as to reduce costs, as well as being able to bid more projects. The second is to utilise the Routines feature so as to bid larger projects, including road projects and wind farms, more consistently. The third goal is that, when a project is won, the estimate information is transmitted better to the operational department to enable them to create their budget for the works.
“We are now on the path to use the unique features of Benchmark Estimating Software to achieve these goals,” Michał said.
Colas is a member of the Bouygues group of companies.
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Read more about Colas Poland on their web site.