Glen’s Soapbox – Best Practice Estimating
Want to avoid the pitfalls talked about in Do You Make These Mistakes In Your Estimate? Follow these 3 rules to ensure you follow best practice no matter what you estimate.
Best Practice Rule #1 – Break it down
The most important thing to do when starting an estimate is to get back to basics. Your schedule items need to be broken down into components that you are confident pricing.
These components will be made up of resources. In an estimate, a resource is a cost unit you can’t break down any smaller. Resources are fundamental building blocks for determining the estimated cost of the components of the items in your project.
By confidently pricing those components, you can start to build them back up again. You’ll keep building until you have the finished product. Remember, the sum of confidently estimated components equals a confidently priced item.
Best Practice Rule #2 – Leave time to validate
Whichever way you work out your estimates, validate your assumptions using a different method.
We all know estimating can be intensely time-pressured, so the room for error is vast, particularly when data is copied and pasted without cross-checking (refer back to the article on Mistakes on how to avoid this).
So leaving yourself enough time to work back through your numbers a different way to validate them is crucial. It’s a basic rule, but one that is often skipped once an estimator gains a little confidence.
Best Practice Rule #3 – Get someone else to review
No matter how good you are, no matter how well you check your own work, getting someone else to review you estimate is critical.
If your company doesn’t have a Head Estimator whose responsibility it is to review others’ work, then ask another estimator or even a project manager to run their eyes over your calculations.
And if you use the best estimating software on the market, it is easy to show your workings to a reviewer.
Estimators who use best practice are expert estimators.
Break it down, leave time to validate, and get another set of eyes to review. These are the three fundamental rules for best practice estimating, and they will go a long way towards making you an expert estimator!
Glen Townsley is the founder of Pronamics, and has spent over 30 years building estimating software after a successful career as a civil estimator and project manager.