Six months after publishing the success story of a large government organisation who approached us with their specific requirements for an estimating system, we follow-up to see how the software is working for them. Benchmark Estimating Software introduced an estimating model for the client to address their initial challenge with the aim of increasing productivity and the accuracy of their estimates.
Due to communication restrictions we regret that we cannot reveal the client’s identity or individual names.
The challenge – more estimates, less estimators, and projects over large areas
A large government infrastructure provider was faced with an increase in the number of maintenance projects of over forty percent, and at the same time a reduction in the number of estimating staff.
The challenge was further complicated as the organisation does work across diverse geographical areas, and costs would vary dramatically between regions.
The suggested solution – a parametric model
The Benchmark team suggested the use of a parametric model built within Benchmark Estimating Software. This would enable estimates to be produced in less than ten percent of the time of what was being taken with normal estimating methods. Additionally, as estimating intelligence was built into the model, users would not need to be skilled estimators: project managers could run the model and produce the estimates.
To address the requirement for estimating across many different areas, the Corporate version of Benchmark was used, allowing varying Resource costs to be used in the different regions.
What was produced – the Concept Estimating Model
The model has as its front end an input form. The form is interactive, so that as questions are answered, the answers themselves dictate what additional questions are asked.
Within Benchmark a Routine was created incorporating the knowledge of senior estimating personnel. This had as inputs questions corresponding to those in the input form. The answers provided in the input form, as well as values calculated based on the answers, can be automatically imported. The Routine can then be run, and its output is a Bill of Quantities for the project.
The Bill of Quantities is then estimated using some of Benchmark’s unique features. The senior estimator explained that Benchmark’s Auto-Allocate features plays an important role in the success of the model.
“Auto-Allocate enables us to automatically and very quickly populate similar items in different projects from the Item Library.”
The Inactive Item feature is very useful.
“It is easier to exclude some unnecessary Items, compared to trying to add what is missing. Making Items inactive in the software, compared to deleting them, has been useful and shows that a conscious decision has been made to exclude Items and it is not an oversight that something is not included.”
Using a Regionalised database, only Items that relate to the specific conditions applying in the area where the project is to be built are used. Users only see the data that is relevant to them. It allows them to base their estimates on project locations and project-specific requirements, including the procurement strategy for that particular area.
The Project Comparator feature has been extremely useful for them in comparing options for a project.
“Project Managers can use the Project Comparator to review and compare estimates. This allows them to save time comparing revisions of estimates, as well as to undertake what-if analysis,” the senior estimator said.
Easy to Learn, Simple to Operate
The organisation benefited from the ease of use of Benchmark Estimating Software, its suitability for all types of users and the fact that users does not require any formal estimating skills or software training.
There was an additional benefit in that, through using the model, users who are not formally trained in the use of Benchmark have become familiar with the Benchmark Estimating Software. Revisions to projects are being made in the software itself, without needing to run the model again.
Another key requirement was that estimates can be produced by project managers.
“I think that the main benefit is that we are introducing our project managers to estimating. It was something that they would get someone else to do or do themselves poorly.”
Budgets that are adequate to build the works through consensus
“In the past, if a client had funding, sometimes our project managers would just nominate that funding amount as the estimate. This definitely did not reflect ‘best practice’. We now produce our own estimate, and then we compare with the estimate from our external client. We have a discussion, and then we develop the estimate and re-tweak it. We then come to an agreed consensus and an agreed estimate,” the senior estimator said.
Negotiating from a Point of Knowledge
Benchmark Estimating Software has greatly enhanced the negotiation process for the organisation by providing team members with detailed estimates. They are equipped with greater knowledge when negotiating with their providers, enabling them to discuss resources, subcontract prices and production rates.
They have found that the resulting knowledge sharing has facilitated continued development across the organisation. This could lead to a reduction in the need for negotiations in the future, and therefore more efficiency in project delivery.
Conclusion – A great Result!
“The use of a parametric model in Benchmark Estimating Software has definitely met our initial expectations,” the senior estimator said.
“To meet the issue of less estimating staff, the intention was to enable project managers to carry out estimating and that has definitely been achieved. With the speed of production of estimates we have been able to keep up with the need for over two hundred estimates in a year. The quality of the estimates has improved as they are targeted to the conditions in the region in which the project is to be built. Additionally, the transparency of the result In Benchmark has led to better results in negotiations with our clients.”
With these impressive reviews and reports, the consensus is that the project has been a resounding success.
For more information about parametric estimating, click here.
This case study is an excellent example of how Benchmark Estimating Software can deliver significant benefits for large organisations, with multiple locations and very specific requirements.
We invite you to contact us today to discuss the options for your business.
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