The Complexities of Estimating a Project

Estimating a construction project is a complicated and time-consuming task.
Often a Bill of Quantity (BOQ) consists of hundreds if not thousands of rows, each one representing a crucial aspect of the project.
Estimating each row is daunting, all these rows accumulate to weeks of hard work.
There are a few issues that can affect such a task and make it even more difficult. 

  • Numerous versions of the BOQ– when working on estimating a project it is inevitable to have numerous versions of spreadsheets, sending them back and forth to colleagues or seniors in the company.  Managing the versions and understanding where each person has given their input or edited the data, validating that no one has overwritten anyone else, it’s hard to keep up and the risk for a mistake is huge. 

  • Change of personnel– the construction industry is unique when it comes to the quality of personnel. Most of the industry is made of engineers with years of experience making them professionals, estimating to them is a piece of cake. These people often hold in their mind priceless knowledge that is rarely saved on a personal computer on a local file but is usually not shared  with anyone anywhere. This knowledge is often lost with the change of personnel that occurs too often then not. Ultimately the information that could be of use to reduce mistakes, save time and money and work more efficiently gets lost within the company and isn’t managed systematically.

  • Monitoring price changes– managing such vast amounts of data with spreadsheets and tables is prone to mistakes and the effort of going over so much information is just not realistic. Viewing of prices received from a contractor last year compared to this year can be crucial for decision making or analysing the dramatic changes in prices of cement or steel over time can indicate a need for a drastic revision of building methods etc.

  • Risk management– working for weeks on end to estimate a project can be tiresome, after completing the mission, going over it all to check for mistakes can be a daunting task. Making sure that all the cost elements throughout the project have the same cost and that no mistake has been made where an element is estimated in one row differently from another.

  • Documentation– construction projects include huge amounts of documents, including sketches, official plans, layouts, measurements, contracts etc. Managing all of this can be difficult, the objection is to create a big enough virtual space that on the one hand is safe and easy to access and on the other hand doesn’t enable deleting files or changing internal  hierarchy. 

All in all, estimating a project is complex, the way construction companies work today hasn’t evolved enough and most are still using outdated software and estimating with inefficient methods. The risks are high, competition outside is hard, preserving good employees is a challenge and the only way to keep up is to innovate, maximize capabilities, change the way things are done, and make sure all employees are onboard understanding how crucial it is to change old habits. 

Once companies comprehend that staying with old methods of work, while others are evolving, is actually going backward, the potential for change will be great.  



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