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The Modern Estimator

June 12, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 195

Cost estimating has been described by the Association for the Advance of Cost Engineering as the predictive process used to quantify, cost, and price the resources required by the scope of an investment option, activity, or project. The function of cost estimating has really changed and its contributors have also gone a transformation. The role of the cost estimator has dynamically evolved in recent years. Not too long ago estimators were relegated to the backroom flipping through volumes of ink-smudged drawings with colored pencils, rulers, and notepads. Things have changed.

The contemporary approach and value of the modern estimator is drastically different than of his predecessors. Today the estimator sets the tone for outgoing communications and project financial data throughout the life cycle of projects. With the scopes of work being inherently more complex and the needs of owners being so disparate in this economy, it now takes a well-rounded highly trained business person to function in the role of cost estimator.

The modern estimator is at the frontlines of decision-making for any facility management firm, real estate developer, and construction company. It can be said that the modern estimator sets the tone to craft a compelling reason to pursue a project, define project risks, evaluate change management, measure resource planning, characterize schedule, or conduct value engineering.

Evolving Estimator's Role The journey into the estimator's role has been as multifarious as the multitude of possible career stops he encounters along the way. The complex nature of the construction industry in our current economic period demands customization and flexibility in employee knowledge. The advent of mandatory and quantified sustainable design has changed the estimator's role.

The onus is now being assigned to the contractor to better understand the needs of the Owner. The first line off access to the concepts being offered by the Owner resides with the new modern estimator. This new modern estimator is part finance guru, part construction hand, part information systems programmer, and part architect and engineer.

With the evolvement of project delivery methods to a more collaborative process such as with Integrated Project Delivery and Design-Build, the modern estimator is now providing greater clarity in the construction and design process from day one. Preplanning, bankability, or design decisions of the project may hinge on the outcome of the cost analysis at each progression.

The Estimating Process The modern estimator's role is much more demanding. It can be said that the advent of new software and technologies like Tocoman iLink, Meanscostworks, PlanSwift and OST has made the process of cost estimating more congruent and simpler. Nothing could be further from the truth. The primary method for ensuring estimating success involves the standardization and optimization of the process itself. A widely established framework for the Estimating process:

1. Establishes unambiguous responsibilities for preparation, review and approval of cost estimates

2. Establishes and maintains a official written statement of estimating processes, activities and functions

3. Integrates with other organizational systems

4. Provides for training of all employees involved in the estimate development

5. Establishes strategy governing the estimating methods and rationale to be utilized

6. Provides standardized formats for proposals and supporting records

7. Provides for apposite subcontract cost/price analysis

8. Ensures timely submission of data, uniformity of approach, detection of errors and prevention of duplicate costs

9. Establishes procedures for updating cost or pricing data during the proposal evaluation and negotiation process

The modern estimator must integrate the various technologies, best practices, and stochastic data into a winning formula. This target formula is constantly evolving and moving. The key cog in any construction firm resides with its modern estimator. Let's give these guys a break and maybe move him to a corner office...

Michael Vargas is the founder and principal consultant of Atlas Project Support. Mr. Vargas has more than 10 years of construction and energy accounting and utilization experience, and is a Certified Business Energy Professional through the AEE, a California Association Building Energy Consultant Certified Energy Plans Examiner, LEED Green Associate and GBCI Advisory Panel Member. Michael has recently become a partner in a new software development firm TitanSoft, LLC. Mr. Vargas also holds a BSBA from SDSU, MBA, MPM, Financial Analysis Certificate from Keller Graduate School. In addition to his consulting business, Michael is a Professor in the Business School at Saint Leo University a Catholic University. For more information contact Michael at or via the web at

Source: EzineArticles
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