DOD / Federal Government Construction Sector: Save Time and Money … Create Better RSMeans Cost Estimates… Centralize and Reuse Information

Many, if not most, public sector Owners, Contractors, and AEs use RSMeans Cost Data for cost estimating and associated project management.   Unfortunately, many/most of these same organizations don’t accomplish these critical tasks efficiently, or accurately.

Here are few tips for Owners, Contractors, Subcontractors, AEs, Procurement/Contracting, Oversight Groups, or anyone relying upon RSMeans Cost Data for construction cost estimating for numerous renovation, repair, construction projects:

1.  Use the best representation of RSMeans Cost Data available.  Not all electronic representations of RSMeans cost data are the same.

Use the Best Representation of RSMeans Cost Data Available
Use the Best Representation of RSMeans Cost Data Available

2. Continuously improve your understanding of RSMeans Cost Data and how to best apply it to construction cost estimating for either budgetary or project purposes.  Attend training from experts who have not only used RSMeans Cost Data for decades, but who understand construction and project management from both an Owner and Contractor perspective.

Professional Training by Estimators for Estimators
Professional Training by Estimators for Estimators

3. Focus upon collaborative construction delivery methods that provide benefits for ALL parties involved… Owners, Contractors, Subs, AEs, Building Users, Oversight Groups, and the Community.

Collaborative vs. Traditional Construction Delivery Methods
Collaborative vs. Traditional Construction Delivery Methods

4. Leverage technology that embeds “best practices” and supports LEAN principles.  Use technology to reduce implementation costs, share/re-use information, drive consistency and transparency, and monitor performance.  Technology is a tool, an enabler…  it shouldn’t limit your capabilities.

Evolution Graphic V2 White

Improving Cost Estimating and Project Delivery in the Public Sector – Today.

It’s all about the data, processes, metrics, and supporting technologies.

Cost Data:  What value is your construction cost data to you?  Are you able to easily and rapidly copy/paste, update, share, and reuse your cost estimates?

The answer for most cost estimators, contractors, and owner is “No”.  The result is poor productivity, rampant waste, excessive numbers of change orders, and even legal disputes.   Leveraging a standard cost database, such as RSMeans, is critical from multiple perspective.  First is the common format and data architecture, meaning Masterformat2012.  Now, image RSMeans with line items spelled out consistently in plain English, as well as individual line item modifiers which expand available RSMeans cost line items from approximatley 70,000 to well over 400,000.  Also imagine all this within a true cost estimating tool that included Contract, Project, and Document management… all withing a collaborative environment.

Technology:  First, and foremost, while we all use spreadsheets daily, they are NOT for collaborative cost estimating and sharing information with Owners, Contractors, AEs, etc.   I challenge who exclusively uses spreadsheets for doing a significant amount of R.S. Means line item estimating anytime.  Appropriate cost estimating tools can and do make the process more efficient and less costly to all parties.   Visual estimating/QTO, line item cost estimating, powerful search tools, integrated contract/project/document management and the ability to host RSMeans and custom cost data… all are available within a single software program, such as e4Clicks Project Estimator.

Time for you to provide more detailed cost estimates more productively?

4Clicks Training – Best RSMeans Line Item Estimating Solution Available

4Clicks provides advanced solutions for the construction industry with powerful tools to connect people, information and processes – anytime, anywhere.

We are a team of dedicated, passionate driven individuals who come to work every day with the privilege of working for you!  Many of my team members have walked in your shoes working in the industry as cost estimators, project managers, and engineers.  We’ve been in fallout in September, we’ve searched for the perfect line item, we’ve been a single estimator with 60 projects to estimate or part of a team that worked together to process millions of dollars of delivery orders. Now we watch, we listen and we take your suggestions and feedback to develop real world solutions that meet your changing needs. It’s what sets us apart and makes the difference in how we deliver our products, training, and services that you can only experience with 4Clicks Solutions.  Thanks for hearing a little bit about our story, but the truth is, we are more excited to hear about yours!

Improve your Job Order Contracting Program – JOC, SABER, IDIQ …

We can significantly reduce the time it takes you to complete RSMeans line item estimates, improve accuracy, and provide you with a single program allowing your entire team to collaboratively manage multiple contracts.

We can help your team estimate not only faster, but more accurately.

  • Create Estimates in Minutes vs. Hours and Hours vs. Days:  Easily reuse and Share Estimates with our Estimate Clipboard (copy, paste, and update estimates and line items within a collaborative platform).
  • Exclusive 400,000+ RSMeans Line Item Database: Full Descriptions, Modifiers, References, and Images
  • Manage Multiple Contracts and Projects in One Application: JOC, SABER, IDIQ, MATOC, Etc.
  • Export to DOD Forms:  AF66, AF3000, AF3052, AF3064-3065, Army 4025, DOD Form 1354, FORSCOM Form 59-R, and more
  • Support for Multiple Price Guides: Integrate Any Pricing Book/Database (GSA, IDIQ’s, VA), Even Custom Data
  • Project Specifications: Automatically Link Estimates to Specifications
  • Document Management:  Stop Reinventing the Wheel with Every Estimate.  Store all of your Active and Inactive Estimates within a Single Program.  Use your Previous Estimate as a Template for your Next.
  • Approved for Government Network Installation:  Army and Air Force
  • Visual Cost Estimating:  Electronic Quantity Takeoff (QTO), Trace and Measure Digital Drawings
  • Truly Extraordinary Training Classes: Led by Former DOD Estimators and Project Managers with Decades of Experience Estimating with RSMeans.
  • Reuse an Old Estimate: Copy and Paste Old Estimates to a Project, Update the Estimate to the Newest RSMeans Data, and Remove Quantities, Notes and Calculations, All in Seconds

4Clicks Solutions, LLC is a certified veteran-owned small business that develops and markets the leading DOD construction cost estimating and project management software product.  e4Clicks Project Estimator is used by over 85% of United States Air Force Bases, a rapidly growing number of Army, USACE Districts, and other Facility Owners.  We also support thousands of Contractors, Subcontractors, AEs, and Consultants.

We have great packages starting at $895.00 for e4Clicks Basic Project Estimator with the RSMeans Building Construction Cost Database, while many of our clients upgrade to e4Clicks Professional Project Estimator, eTakeoff Professional, and the 2014 RSMeans Facilities for $2,430.00.

Job Order Contracting Process Diagram
Job Order Contracting Process Diagram

Improving Construction Productivity – Collaboration and Lessons Learned

Improving Construction Productivity – Collaboration and Lessons Learned

Everyone knows that productivity in the AECOO sector (Architecture, Engineering, Construction, Operation, Owner) is uniquely poor.  Everyone also knows why.  Stakeholders don’t play together well.  We prefer to sue each other, write up change orders, and hoard information vs. collaborate from day one throughout the life-cycle of a project and/or built structure.

So why don’t we change?  Also an easy answer.   The “culture” of our sector is embedded our minds and it will take a major event to enable change.

The good news is that the “major event” is upon us… its the convergence of cloud computing / social media and driving economic and environmental market factors.  The bad news is that many of us will not be able to make the transformation to our new work day.

What will our new work day look like?

1. Collaborative construction delivery methods.  Current examples being Job Order Contracting – JOC, Integrated Project Delivery – IPD, and Public Private Partnerships – PPP.

2. Robust Ontology – This is a fancy name for a common glossary of terms, definitions, and data architectures.  Current examples being RSMeans Cost Data, UNIFORMAT, MASTERFORMAT, OMNICLASS, IFC, COBie, …

3. Life-cycle management and approach vs. our current “first-cost mentality”.  There are simply too many resources (environment, economic, and opportunity costs) involved with the build environment to allow for the continuance of focus upon first costs and/or a “churn and burn” mentality.

4. Shared risk-reward.

Surveys clearly show (an example below), that Owner and Contractor satisfaction improve when collaboration is prevalent and focus is upon value.


How do you measure success?

• Quality
• Safety
• On-Time Completion
• Scheduling and Performance of Subs
• Warranty Service
• Responsiveness of Support
• Innovation and Value Engineering
• Responsiveness to Client Needs
• Preventing and Solving Problems
• Contractors Management Effectiveness
• Dispute Resolution
• Level of Trust
• Communication

Collaboration, Job Order Contracting, and Efficiently Dealing with the Numerous Repair, Renovation, and Sustainability Projects

Smaller renovation, repair, and sustainability projects represent significant challenges to many Owners, Contractors, and AEs.  These projects need to be completed quickly, yet also require knowledge of local conditions and specialized needs.   While design-build (DB) has achieved a degree of success for larger projects vs. traditional design-bid-build (DBB), DB requires a three to six month procurement process. Thus, while DB, and its even more collaborative counterpart integrated project delivery (IPD)  make sense for larger capital projects, smaller projects typically need to be more responsive.

In the public sector (also now expanding to the private sector) the concept of Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) procurement addresses the need for these numerous smaller projects.   Under the IDIQ contract type, work is delivered under multiple task orders, and the specific project needs are undefined at contract acquisition.   To be transparent, productive, and cost efficient however,  IDIQ’s require robust and structured implementation supported by technology.   Certain skills sets are required  of the Owners, Contractors, and AEs.   Failure in addressing these issues with respect to IDIQ implementation simply results in a faster procurement mechanism WITHOUT any of the associated additional benefit, “checks and balances”, and transparency that should be associated with IDIQs.

MACCs and MATOCs – The most common and straightforward of IDIQs are Multiple Award Construction Contracts (MACCs) and Multiple Award Task Order Contracts (MATOCs).  The advantage of these contract mechanisms is  a smaller pool of pre-selected, qualified contractors that compete for individual task orders.   Additional benefits include a streamlined selection/procurement process, and a group of constrictors with local knowledge of buildings and site conditions.

JOCs and SABERs- Job Order Contracting (JOC), also referred to a SABER in the United States Air Force, is another form of IDIQ.   It is also referred to as “IPD-lite.”    Job Order Contracting is another long-term (3-5 year) contract wherein projects are estimated by Owners and Contractors/AE using a Unit Price Book (UPB), for example the RSMeans Facility Cost Book.  Contractors bid using the UPB and  applying a coefficient the overall derived unit line cost estimate.

Job Order Contracting shortens the design and procurement timelines through a process well suited for smaller projects.  The business process is illustrated below, as well as associated time savings.

JOC Process

JOC and SABER are performed-based construction delivery methods.   Additional work is awarded to Contractors based upon successful project completion.

While JOC is not appropriate for all projects, is has been proven over the past few decades to be an extremely effective tool.  JOC task orders are typically under $1 million, but total contract volume over the 3-5 year contact term can exceed $300 million.

Here’s a list of important considerations when starting up and managing a successful  JOC program.

1.  Internal estimates created by the Owner and/or Owners Representative

2. Joint Owner/Contractor site visits, and collaborative project scope development.

3. A well-established unit line time price book based upon national standards, and including as specialized local and/or owner-specific requirements.

4. Mutual trust and respect among contract participants, and some form of shared risk-reward.

5. Technology/software that embeds the JOC process to assure low cost and consistent deployment as well as ongoing project monitoring and updating.  The largest number of JOC projects is executed by the Air Force, where the contracts go under the moniker SABER, or Simplified Acquisition of Base Engineering Requirements. The Air Force and other federal owners are leveraging JOC  by using advanced software technologies such as project Estimator by 4Clicks Solutions and JOCWorks by RSMeans to embed JOC processes, including independent cost estimating, automatic technical evaluations, auto-population of government-mandated paperwork, and collaborative processes.

As the federal government faces fiscal constraints,  the retirement of 50% of its acquisition personnel in the next seven years, and the need to address an aging portfolio of buildings and infrastructure, the use of IDIQ/JOC/SABER/MACC/MATOC contracts will significantly increase.   Private sector organizations, and quasi-public agencies in healthcare, transportation, and other markets sector are also beginning to participate in the efficient, collaborative construction delivery methods.

JOC Timeline - 4Clicks Solutions LLC


Big Data, BIM, Cloud Computing, and Efficient Life-cycle Management of the Built Environment

In 2010 the amount of data collected since the dawn of humanity all the way up until 2003 was equivalent to the volume produced every two days in the new age of information. 

– Eric Schmidt, Chairman of Google

“Big data” — the ability to acquire, process and sort vast quantities of information for timely decision support is critical to the efficient life-cycle management of the built environment.  To be certain, big data is NOT just a buzzword, but a term for rich information streaming in from multiple competencies which, leveraged appropriately, can be used collaboratively to drive better outcomes with respect to an organization’s core mission as a member of a larger community.

Big Data - BIM

Leveraging BIG DATA to achieve efficient life-cycle management of the built environment is not a trivial task, nor  is it “rocket science”.   It does however require the integration of robust business process, especially collaborative construction delivery methods, technology, and a standardized ontology.

Building Information Management, BIM is defined as the life-cycle management of the built environment supported by digital technology (NBIMS – NIBS).  Yet far too much emphasis to date has been upon the 3D visualization component of BIM vs. collaborative construction delivery methods, a standardized and robust ontology, and the use of open cloud computing technologies.   These are far more important than 3D visualization when it comes down to improving how we improve total cost of ownership with respect to the built environment from both economic and environmental perspectives.   The world is not flat, so why are out business processes within the AECOO (Architecture, Engineering, Construction, Operations, Owner) linear and static?

Life-cycle management is on ongoing, dynamic process… actually the integration multiple ongoing/dynamic processes, with each having its own, yet inter-related “cycle” of planning, procuring, constructing, operating, and reusing.

Using Big Data for life-cycle facility management is NOT just about technology.  In point of fact, technology, process, people, and ontology must be viewed as inseparable and ever changing.  Considering “ripple effect” of every decision is central to life-cycle management, thus “what-if” decision support systems are equally important.

The new “rules of engagement” require a more “holistic” perspective of all stakeholders.

Thus BIM far more “about” the creation, sharing, and use of Big Data than it is 3D visualization and pretty pictures.

So, how do we  get from “A”, where we are now, to “B”, a more collaborative, transparent, and productive approach to managing the built environment?

1. Focus on process – the construction delivery method drives success/failure more than any other single component.   Collaborative construction methods such as Integrated Project Delivery – IPD, and Job Order Contracting – JOC, also referred to as IPD-lite, are examples of proven, transparent, and performance based approaches.

2. Robust Ontology – the use of standardized terms, definitions, and data architectures are critical to enabling transparency, collaboration, and reducing waste.   For example the use of standardized cost databases, such as RSMeans, and associated Uniformat/Masterformat…and eventual OMNICLASS frameworks as the foundation for development is one of several key considerations.

3. Leverage Technology – technology is a enabler, and not an a solution.  Technology can, however, cause disruptive change to fundamental business processes.    It is critical to adopt technology that is in concert with core strategies and dismiss those that are in conflict.  For example, open cloud computing platforms that promote collaboration, scalability, information permanence and reuse are enablers, while dated monolithic software programs and even traditional relational databases should be seriously evaluated.

via – Premier cost estimating and efficient project delivery software solutions for JOC, SABER, IDIQ, MATOC, SATOC, MACC, POCA, BOA, BOS … featuring an exclusively enhanced 400,000 line item RSMeans Cost Database, visual estimating/automatic quantity take off ( QTO),  and collaborative contract/project/document management, all in one application.   Our technology is currently serving over 85% of United States Air Force bases and rapidly growing numbers of other DOD and non-DOD (United States Army Corps of Engineers,  Army, GSA, Homeland Security, VA..) federal departments/agencies, as well as state/county/local governments, colleges/universities, healthcare,  and airports/transportation.  RSMeans Strategic Partner

Job Order Contracting – JOC – An Ideal Project Delivery Method

Job Order Contracting as a Project Delivery Method

The design and construction phases of a project consist of a sequential series of interrelated processes that are influenced by time, cost and quality. The choice of project delivery method can directly affect the overall time line and cost of a project—and has the potential to influence the working relationships among project participants, thereby affecting the quality of their performance.

An owner chooses the project delivery method that is most advantageous to a particular project. The selected method is a contracting “tool” that will be used to administer the project’s construction phase and, with some methods, the design phase.

Until recently, most project delivery methods fostered only process-oriented and, in a sense, distant relationships among project participants. These traditional methods involve selection and award of professional design services (to develop comprehensive, complete design documents), followed by a separate process for construction services to accomplish and deliver the project to the owner. These are commonly referred to as design-bid-build type methods and are still in use today.

Currently, owners have several options other than traditional design-bid-build methods. These delivery method alternatives promote interaction among the owner, the design phase participants and the construction phase participants. These approaches have gained popularity in the construction industry, primarily because they can accelerate preconstruction time lines, but they offer other attributes as well. Job order contracting (JOC), which also is referred to as delivery order contracting or DOC, is one such method.

JOC is well-matched to meet many of the project delivery needs of today’s facility owners—particularly owners involved in public education; municipalities; local, state, or federal agencies; and the military, as well as other entities with facility project needs, both public and private.

JOB is an ideal project delivery method for minor construction, renovation, rehabilitation and maintenance projects. The quality of work performed is usually equal to or greater than any other project delivery method currently in use. Project costs are usually equal to or less than other methods, and the criteria used for pricing are typically firm, objective and consistent.

JOC’s pricing structure provides consistently accurate and predictable project cost estimating, and the method can be used for construction work as well as for facilities maintenance or specific trade groups. In addition to these attributes, JOC contractors are service-oriented to the owner.

JOC is a perfect match for owners who have the need to complete multiple small- to medium-size repair and renovation projects easily and quickly. Once a JOC contract is in place, the owner simply identifies each project with a brief description and notes the desired or required dates and times for performing the work. The JOC contractor is notified by the owner, who requests a design (if necessary), a detailed scope of work and a price proposal for the project. This process is commonly referred to in JOC as a Request for a Job Order (JOC) Proposal.

The owner, JOC contractor, and designer (if necessary) work closely during the site visit to identify site characteristics and decide on the most economically advantageous means and methods needed to perform the work. The design (if needed), along with a detailed scope of work including the project’s performance times, is then submitted by the JOC contractor to the owner for consideration. Once these submittals are mutually agreed on, the JOC contractor submits a detailed, lump-sum fixed price proposal based on the defined scope of work.

JOC Process

The combination of these submitted documents is referred to as the JOC contractor’s job order proposal. The owner reviews the price proposal for accuracy in accordance with the JOC contract provisions. When the JO proposal approval process is completed, the owner signs off on the proposal and the project can proceed as scheduled.

With JOC, numerous projects can be in progress concurrently under one contract, allowing the owner to complete a high volume of projects as the need arises (subject to the contractor’s capabilities). The method is a good candidate for projects that require phasing to accommodate operations and/or budget constraints, and is particularly well-matched for projects with critical performance times. Additionally, having a JOC contractor already mobilized at a facility or in the surrounding area can give owners the capability of almost immediate mobilization for emergency projects.

Adapted from Job Order Contracting: Expediting Construction Project Delivery, available through RSMeans,  via – Premier cost estimating and efficient project delivery software solutions for JOC, SABER, IDIQ, MATOC, SATOC, MACC, POCA, BOA, BOS … featuring an exclusively enhanced 400,000 line item RSMeans Cost Database, visual estimating/automatic quantity take off ( QTO),  and collaborative contract/project/document management, all in one application.   Our technology is currently serving over 85% of United States Air Force bases and rapidly growing numbers of other DOD and non-DOD (United States Army Corps of Engineers,  Army, GSA, Homeland Security, VA..) federal departments/agencies, as well as state/county/local governments, colleges/universities, healthcare,  and airports/transportation.  RSMeans Strategic Partner.


The Reasons BIM is Going Nowhere Fast

July 16th, 2012 – NIBS Report –  National Institute of Building Sciences Consultative Council  

Per the NIBS  Consultative Council there are four areas where our industry needs to focus highlights four  in order to improve buildings and infrastructure.

  1. Defining High-Performance and Common Metrics
  2. Codes and Standards Adoption and Enforcement
  3. Energy and Water Efficiency; and
  4. Sustainability.

The Consultative Council provides findings and recommendations to the President and Congress on issues impacting the built environment. A summary of the report, “Moving Forward: Findings and Recommendations from the Consultative Council,” is in the Institute’s 2011 Annual Report to the President of the United States.

  • The building community should work to define metrics for achieving high-performance buildings—including both qualitative and quantitative measures.
  • The National Institute of Standards and Technology, the U.S. Department of Energy, the Institute and others should encourage cities and smaller communities to adopt and enforce updated model codes.
  • Regulators and the building industry should support efforts by codes and standards developers and adopting jurisdictions to format criteria in ways that simplifies and enhances the ability to verify compliance.
  • Software developers, regulators and building professionals should support the development of building information modeling (BIM ) for use as an automated code-checking tool that can improve compliance and streamline the approval process.
  • The U.S. Government should develop incentives for state and local governments to require water metering of all buildings and to adopt and enforce comprehensive “green” building or plumbing codes.
  • The U.S. Government should provide a tax incentive for building owners who voluntarily get their buildings audited and that implement the recommendations to reduce energy and water use.
  • Policy makers and members of the building community are encouraged to use a common definition for sustainability.
  • The building community needs mechanisms (e.g., budgets, insurance and tax incentives) to help finance sustainable life-cycle performance for buildings and related infrastructure.

There is virtually nothing “new” in any of the above, nor any plan to gain traction in any particular area, let alone all.  Until our industry and our Nation realizes the importance of efficiently managing the life-cycle of the built environment and defines processes and deploys digital tools to support requisite changes, BIM doesn’t have a chance.


















via – Premier software for cost estimating and efficient project delivery – Job Order Contracting – JOC, SABER, IDIQ, MATOC, SATOC, MACC, POCA, BOA, etc.  Exclusive 400,000+ line item enhancement of RSMeans Cost Data, visual estimating including QTO and Pattern Search, Document/Project/Program Management.


Consultative Council members that contributed to the 2011 report include: ASTM International; American Institute of Architects; American Society of Civil Engineers; ASHRAE; Associated General Contractors of America; Building Owners and Managers Association, International; Construction Specifications Institute; ESCO Group; Extruded Polystyrene Foam Association; Glass Association of North America; Green Mechanical Council; HOK; Illuminating Engineering Society; International Association of Lighting Designers; International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials; International Code Council; Laborers’ International Union of North America; National Insulation Association; NORC at the University of Chicago, and United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry.