Pass the data baton
The Data Relay tool is used in the Direct and Overhead Cost Schedules to easily populate a project with historical information, giving users a starting point for estimating rather than manually copying and pasting information between projects. By importing data for Cost Schedule Items and Cost Estimates, a project can quickly and easily be based on existing information. Data Relay is an extremely powerful and simple to use tool for streamlining and optimisation.
To use the Data Relay tool, you need to have a project open, and another project on the same server to work with. This is referred to as the Source project and is where Data Relay will draw information from to populate your local project. This may be a template, or a previous project that contains similar information to your current project.
This feature can provide the most value when populating items that have been created in a new project such as after the client schedule has been pasted in from Excel. In any case, because (by default) we can’t modify finished items, the Data Relay will only work on unfinished items. So, if there are finished items, first, highlight those items, anywhere on the line is fine, and make sure your items are unfinished. You can use the shortcut CTRL 1 to unfinish items quickly. Then click on Data Relay in the ribbon menu. From the drop down, in the pop-up window, select the project you would like to use as the Source Project – that is the project you want to draw information from, then press ‘Analyse’. This will perform an analysis and compare the descriptions, unit, item numbers, and common User Defined Columns of items on the left-hand side with items on the right.
The left side of the screen is the LOCAL or open project. The SOURCE screen on the right shows data from the project you are copying from.
If we select ‘Excavation and backfill for pier’, the Data Relay is going to find the most likely corresponding item, which has the same description, such as here.
We can change how that works by clicking on the OPTIONS button, then determine which columns we want to use. By highlighting an item and clicking the chevron, we can move these items up and down to change their ranking priority. We can make Description the most important, and tell it that Unit doesn’t matter at all. Then re-analyse. The Data Relay recalculates what it thinks are the best matches and gives us the results, ranking top to bottom from highest ranking match down to the lowest match. In this example, these two projects are going to have matching items, so for anything that we click in here, there will be a corresponding item for each one.
The Data Relay will import everything that can be used in a cost schedule, or anything that will be brought in during a normal copy and paste operation. You’ll get the item cost estimate, potentially child items if you select them, global defines, and all the resources that you used.
What makes Data Relay unique is that it allows you to quickly and easily determine the correct match for the right item, based on a series of different algorithms that we’re using to compare.
Data Relay will improve your efficiency and workflow. The logical use of this tool is to create a template project that you have as a template database project with everything you need in it. From there, you can easily import the data you want for every new project.
The Data Relay tool is extremely powerful and simple to use. With helpful customisation features, it will streamline and optimise your estimating process and improve efficiency, especially for estimators using libraries for historical estimating. Happy days.
For further information see our Knowledge Base article.
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A lot of work goes into generating Tips & Tricks videos, but they are still part of our “More Done, More Fun” culture here at Pronamics.
It’s not just recording the odd video in a funny voice, or editing screen shots with old fashioned star wipes. Creating Tips & Tricks videos requires our training and marketing team to learn the features of Expert Estimation, which in terms strengthens our ability to support our clients.