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

A Comparison of Construction Cost Estimating Software Tools 2015

A Comparison of Construction Cost Estimating Tools

    1. Spreadsheets – Microsoft Excel®
    2. Electronic Cost Books and Calculators – RSMeans CostWorks RSMeans Online
    3. Cost Estimating/Project Management Software – 4Clicks Project Estimator
    4. Cloud Cost Estimating – Ceasel

Accurate, timely, and transparent cost estimating is critical to the success of any renovation, repair, sustainability, or new construction project. While most construction cost estimators continue to rely primarily upon hardcopy documents and electronic spreadsheets, such as Microsoft Excel, many are beginning to leverage electronic cost books and associated calculator software tools. Both of these approaches have merit and are well suited for certain types of users.

Growing numbers of cost estimators, however, need to work with multiple projects and multiple estimates simultaneously, securely share information on active projects, gain access to localized cost information, and easily locate and reuse historical data. These Owners, Contractors, and AEs are moving to advanced cost estimating and management systems. They are discovering that significantly higher productivity can be gained – as much as 50 percent or more. Furthermore, the collaborative aspects of these sophisticated software systems are aligned with integrated project delivery methods and construction sector movement toward Building Information Modeling (BIM). Cloud computing, a further advancement enabling even higher levels of collaboration and simplified deployment, are also now becoming available.

This paper addresses each of these primary approaches to construction cost estimating and discusses their application. For clarity, products are referenced within each category as follows:

      • Spreadsheets – Microsoft Excel
      • Electronic Cost Books and Calculators – RSMeans CostWorks
      • Cost Estimating and Project Management Software – e4Clicks Project Estimator
      • Cloud Cost Estimating – Ceasel

The image below portrays a graphical representation of the increase in accuracy, collaboration, productivity, and project completeness for various cost estimating methods.

productivity2

Construction estimating involves the estimating of material, labor, equipment, overhead, and contingencies. Spreadsheets, most commonly Microsoft Excel, are used by more estimators for this purpose than any other tool. Spreadsheets have significantly improved cost estimation capabilities and accuracy since the 1980s. Relatively easy to master, spreadsheets provide a means to create and report a construction cost estimate. Cost construction models can also be built within spreadsheets. Productivity improvements result from the ability of Excel to easily handle more of the mundane calculations required.

One problem with spreadsheets, however, is their inherent vulnerability to errors due to data entry, a problem that only increases along with the complexity of an estimate. As the formulae within the spreadsheets become more numerous and complex, errors became exponentially more frequent and costly. [2]

Spreadsheets also do not account for dynamic cost information and associated uncertainties or historical information – all of which have proven to be important variables for many construction projects.

Lastly, and in part due to the issues noted above, collaboration using spreadsheets is problematic, as are transparency and accurate monitoring and reporting. Having multiple people working on the same spreadsheet is not efficient or even workable for larger projects. Thus estimates tend to be created and stored in different locations, making information difficult to accurately retrieve and changes extremely costly to execute. As a result, old data errors are perpetuated, copied over and over again.

Electronic Cost Books and Calculators

As it became apparent that more localized and historical data would be critical to improving the accuracy of construction cost estimates and cost models, organizations instituted a formal process for collecting and storing this information. Individual Owners, Contractors, AEs, and other third parties began to collect this information. RSMeans Cost Data has become North America’s standard for commercial construction cost data including materials, equipment, and labor line items, productivity factors, and assembly and square foot cost information. Localized cost indexes, referred to as the City Cost Index (CCI), are also available.

Based upon the size and type of construction project, estimators soon found that they could improve their productivity and accuracy even further by using standardized reference cost information in combination with spreadsheets. Such reference cost information included RSMeans Cost Data or other reference cost sources, along with cost data architectures such as Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) MasterFormat and UniFormat. However, manually entering in tens, hundreds, or even thousands of cost line items from hardcopy cost books remained tedious and prone to data input errors and errors of omission.

Integration of electronic cost book information directly with a cost calculator was the next logical step. An example of this approach is RSMeans CostWorks product. CostWorks can best be described as an electronic version of RSMeans Cost Books where line items can easily be copied and pasted into spreadsheets. CostWorks also incorporates some limited cost calculation tools moving it even closer to the needs of construction cost estimators. Many inherent data input errors associated with spreadsheets appeared to be mitigated. Other issues remained largely unsolved including: collaboration, data reuse, document management, integration and maintenance of alternative cost data sources, reporting, and the integration of robust construction delivery workflows. To provide easier Internet access to RSMeans Cost Books, RSMeans Online is now being offered in addition to the CostWorks CD-ROM. RSMeans Online enables simplified deployment and a somewhat updated user interface.

Collaborative Cost Estimating Software Solutions

Spreadsheets have proven valuable for single, static estimates of a certain project size, as well as for a media to gather and transfer data sets. Similarly, the integration of electronic cost books with spreadsheets and electronic cost calculators (such as CostWorks/RSMeans Online) are equally valuable for individuals performing a small number of relatively straight forward construction, repair, or renovation estimates (three to five per year).

However, both spreadsheets and electronic cost calculators do not meet the need for collaboration, transparency, document management, and maximized productivity. They also do not provide a capacity to adhere to and report upon specific construction delivery methods and/or contracts such as Job Order Contracting (JOC), Integrated Project Delivery (IPD), Simplified Acquisition of Base Engineering Requirements (SABER), and Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ). Collaborative cost estimating and project management solutions also support today’s need for Adaptive Project Delivery (APD)ä. APD enables Owners, Contactors, and AEs to modify and constantly improve upon construction project delivery processes to meet their individual and changing requirements.

Integrated cost estimating, project management, contract management, and document management software systems have become very popular over the past decade and are exemplified by e4Clicks Project Estimator.  e4Clicks Project Estimator incorporates this type of cohesive management in a single application.

e4Clicks Project Estimator allows users to create estimates and manage multiple types of projects and contract methods: JOC, SABER, IPD, Single Award Task Order Contracting (SATOC), Multiple Award Task Order Contract (MATOC), Multiple Award Construction Contract (MACC), Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ), Performance Oriented Construction Activities (POCA), and Basic Ordering Agreement (BOA). Users can select from enhanced RSMeans electronic cost data, including an exclusive 400,000 line item database with full descriptions and modifiers as well as graphics, diagrams, and specifications, and/or custom/internal cost information or other standard/custom unit price cost books.

Visual estimating and quantity take-off (QTO) are also core components of this type of advanced software. eTakeoffä, included within e4Clicks Project Estimator, stands head and shoulders above other visual estimating solutions, enabling estimators to quickly and precisely visualize requirements and trace electronic drawings to determine quantities for line items within estimates. Drawings can be shared in various formats include Adobe Systems Portable Document Format (PDF). The eTakeoff/4Clicks integration enables users to quickly transfer to e4Clicks Project Estimator.

Visual estimating allows the user to:

      • Estimate and pre-bid processes without paper plans.
      • Create measurements by tracing upon electronic drawings.
      • View plans with powerful zooming and scrolling capabilities.
      • Display measurements in an infinite variety of colors and patterns to identify the type of construction and the materials used.
      • Total measurements from multiple plan sheets.

Cloud Cost Estimating

Cloud computing enables the next level of collaboration and real-time work with virtually unlimited processing power and storage. Cloud computing applications, such as 4Clicks’ Ceasel, connect people, information, and processes – anytime, anywhere.

Ceasel allows the user to do more with fewer resources, while also improving cost estimating and project delivery outcomes.  This is made possible by Ceasel’s ability to enable higher levels of service, economies of scale through shared but secure resources, rapid and flexible deployment, standardization, and the ability for cost estimators, project managers, and procurement professionals to connect and share previously incompatible information.

With Ceasel, the user logs in through a web browser and can immediately build estimates with the best representation of RSMeans Cost Data available, custom data, or a combination of both. Cloud computing technology stores data permanently, keeping a detailed history of changes so work is never lost. Unlike spreadsheets, Ceasel and similar products provide the flexibility for teams to work simultaneously with large databases from any location around the world.

From a deployment perspective, cost estimating software solutions and true cloud cost estimating solutions address the creation of custom parameters, multiple “knowledge bases,” and easily support client-server network or stand-alone system environments.

These powerful tools yield superior productivity, accuracy, transparency, collaboration, and information reuse. They are best suited for anyone using RSMeans Cost Data and/or custom cost data for renovation, repair, and sustainability projects, as well as estimators managing tens to hundreds of projects per year. The chart below shows the capabilities deployed by each estimating tool.

Evolution Graphic V2

Conclusion

Over the past forty years, there have been many initiatives to improve cost estimating to facilitate the delivery of construction projects on time and on budget. Owners, Contractors, and AEs now have multiple methods to select from based upon their needs.

 

Spreadsheets were a major improvement in the 1980s, followed by formal processes for collecting and harnessing historical information to more accurately project and control costs. Over the past decade, a powerful new capability has been added, collaborative cost estimating and project management software. Within the past two to three years, cloud computing offers yet another advancement in terms of ease of deployment, scalability, and real-time collaboration.

Over the past forty years, there have been many initiatives to improve cost estimating to facilitate the delivery of construction projects on time and on budget. Owners, Contractors, and AEs now have multiple methods to select from based upon their needs.

Spreadsheets were a major improvement in the 1980s, followed by formal processes for collecting and harnessing historical information to more accurately project and control costs. Over the past decade, a powerful new capability has been added, collaborative cost estimating and project management software. Within the past two to three years, cloud computing offers yet another advancement in terms of ease of deployment, scalability, and real-time collaboration.

 

 

 

[1] Christofferson, Jay. “Estimating with Microsoft Excel”, Brigham Young University. Nickols, Robert Duane. “Construction Estimating Using Excel” Lexington Technical Institute, University of Kentucky.

2 Caulkins, Jonathan P., et al. “Do Spreadsheet Errors Lead to Bad Decisions” Carnegie Mellon University.

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.

Image

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

Cloud Construction Cost Estimating Software

Please Join Us at Booth #2328.

4Clicks is proud to be exhibiting CEASEL.

Cloud Construction Cost Estimating featuring the best representation of RSMeans Cost Data.

Connect People, Information, and Processes – Anytime, Anywhere.

Imagine logging in to your web browser and
immediately building estimates with the
BEST representation of RSMeans Cost Data
available!

Also, get your FREE ALL-ACCESS PASS courtesy of 4Clicks and NFMT. But register fast, quantities are limited. Click to Download.

My BIM is Your BIM – Owners, Contractors, AEs, Building Users, Oversight Groups, Business Product Manufacturers, Community ….

BIM is the life-cycle management of the built environment supported by digital technology.   It is first and foremost the process of developing and leveraging actionable information (standardized, accurate, transparent) to efficiently manage the total cost of ownership and functional requirements of a built asset (building, infrastructure, etc.).

BIM is NOT rocket science, it is not 3D pretty pictures, it is not all about technology.  BIM first and foremost about early and ongoing collaboration, continuous improvement, and robust life-cycle management process supported with integrated technology and standardized information.

Collaboration construction delivery methods such as Integrated Project Delivery for major new construction, and Job Order Contracting for renovation, repair, sustainability, and minor new construction are important, if not requisite, components of BIM.  Equally important from an Owners perspective is the integration of multiple competencies, business processes, and technologies such as capital planning and management (CPMS) for capital reinvestment strategy, computerized maintenance management (CMMS) for “movable” asset inventory and routine/preventative maintenance, computer aided facility management (CAFM) for space mangement, building automation (BAS) for security/energy, and geographical information (GIS) for rapid locationing.  Forget “integrated workplace management systems” (IWMS), they are attempts at BIM by single vendors.  As one might expect, no single company can be expected to be competent across all knowledge domains and practices.  Through the use of standardized informatoin exchanges, “best in class” technologies will finally be easily integrated as “plug-ins” to a users cloud-based technology platform.

The day is here….   you can wake up or go back to bed…your choice.

Key additional items/areas to consider:

COBie – Construction Operations Building Information Exchange – Organisation and structuring of information. This is information that is essential not only to the design and construction of a built asset, but also its operation and maintenance. Currently focused upon delivering FM information at handover, but rapidly expanding.

OMNICLASS – A standardized information classification system for the built environment.  An integration and expansion of UNIFORMAT, MASTERFORMAT, etc.to incorporate all buildings spaces, equipment, processes, technologies, etc.

Standard Cost Data – Most notable example is RSMeans.   Well researched cost data (material, equipment, labor) and associate construction / facility management sq. ft., assembly, and unit cost information and associated task listings.  Critical for use to “benchmark” and/or “confirm” local processes/projects.  Also standardized using Masterformat.

Job Order Contracting – Collaborative construction delivery method using a standardized unit price book (UPB) based upon RSMeans and/or customized cost information.  Cost are best update annually or quarterly.  Process has been embedded within software to enable cost effective and consistent deployment.  Reducing procurement costs, mitigates change orders, and virtually eliminates legal disputes.

Integrated Project Delivery – Similar to JOC, however best suited for major new construction only.

 

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via http://www.4Clicks.com – 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

 

Proactive Facility Maintenance and Budgeting – RSMeans Facilities Maintenance and Repair

The FMR  (RSMeans Facilities, Maintenance, and Repair Cost Book) is primarily for owners and facility managers who must be proactive in planning their budgets for building maintenance.  More than 1,600 maintenance and repair assemblies covering many facility components, along with costs for general maintenance such as lawn mowing, shrub and tree care, general cleaning, and window washing.  Over 500 preventive maintenance assemblies, listing tasks and frequencies and the number of labor hours to perform each item. Costs are broken down, making it easy to compare using in-house staff to hiring an outside company to perform the tasks.

Three distinct sections of information are included:

  • Maintenance and Repair
  • Preventative Maintenance
  • General Maintenance

The RSMeans Facilities Maintenance and Repair Cost Data is now available electronically within e4Clicks Project Estimator.   Create, estimate, procure, and implement maintenance and repair project within a collaborative environment.  Our goal is to provide you with enough information to plan your maintenance work and budget for the life of the building.  www.4Clicks.com

 

Proactive Facility Maintenance and Budgeting – RSMeans Facility Maintenance and Repair

RSMeans FMR Cost Data is primarily for owners and facility managers who must be proactive in planning their budgets for building maintenance. More than 1,600 maintenance and repair assemblies covering many facility components, along with costs for general maintenance such as lawn mowing, shrub and tree care, general cleaning, and window washing. Over 500 preventive maintenance assemblies, listing tasks and frequencies and the number of labor hours to perform each item. Costs are broken down, making it easy to compare using in-house staff to hiring an outside company to perform the tasks.

Three distinct sections of information are included:
Maintenance and Repair
Preventative Maintenance
General Maintenance

RSMeans FMR cost data is available within our e4Clicks Project Estimator technology for line item cost estimating and project creation, procurement, and execution. Our goal is to provide Owners and Facility Managers with enough information to plan your maintenance work and budget for the life of the building. http://www.4Clicks.,com