A successful implementation does not just happen but is designed to meet the needs of the contractor. Implementation is interwoven with training. The following steps are offered as recommendations in meeting those needs:
A consultant may be asked to attend a meeting with estimators and accountants to discuss what is expected from the estimating system and to develop a road map to meet those objectives. The first priority may be to determine:
• Content (what divisions or what work will be estimated)
• Organization (how will estimates be grouped and sorted)
• Labor Takeoff (what work may be self-performed)
• Material Takeoff (what materials may be purchased)
• Merged (how will estimates be linked to your job cost system)
• Is there an existing database to be merged, if so, what part?
• Who will coordinate and carry out implementation?
• Will the estimate be used to prepare scopes of work for trade contracts, a construction schedule, or purchase orders?
• How are estimates summarized and subtotaled?
Installation & Setup
Installing the estimating software and database is normally done by a consultant or someone trained.
Once the new system is installed it must be learned to become an effective tool. Like a new language, practice makes perfect. Those who try to skip this critical step often give up and make space for “shelved software”.
A new system is built to be flexible by containing many options. Some are never needed while others play an important part in customizing the system to fit the needs of the end-user. Trial estimates are used to discover the best way to use options and features. This is the time to estimate different types of projects, try and discover what works and where changes are needed.
This session is to determine how well the new database meets the objectives in the planning session. An evaluation may simply be making an estimate of a typical project then reviewing the outcome. We are looking for items or assemblies that need to be added, WBS costs that could assist in organizing estimates, and if the database matches the way you do business.
Other Issues of Consideration
• Is management committed to implement a new estimating system?
• Will profit and overhead be computed equally across the estimate?
• Which markup costs are rolled up or allocated into the estimate or job cost?
• How will cost items be organized and coded for job cost and accounting?
• Will material takeoff quantities and/or order quantities be rounded up?
• How will waste be added to material takeoff quantities?
• How is labor burden added to labor cost?
• Do labor rates vary by location or type of project?
• How will password protection be maintained?
• Who will maintain changes to the database?
Before the new system is used in the real world, it needs to be tested and proven to work as planned. Testing can be done in different ways. Some prefer to create fictitious projects others use real ones. In either case it is a matter of verifying the items selected are included in the test estimate, prices are correct, markups are adding the expected percentages..