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Estimator vs. Planner

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Morph T
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hi all

For your respective market, do u get enough time between RFP and bidding (unite price contract) for making a detailed plan, with multiple scenario to see the best optimization between costs vs. duration.

I am asking that because it is a common practice here to separate the process of estimating a project for bidding and the process of planning, should they work together!!! As the estimator knows all the costs (direct, indirect overhead) and the production rate to establish project duration, actually he knows every thing related to the project? So who actually do the plan?

Please educate me & and guide me.

Regards
morph

Ps : I am not an estimator.

Replies

James Griffiths
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Clive,

Don’t forget to include the company philosophy on use the use of programmes.

1. Long time, little work - detailed [] programme and estimate.

2. Short time, lots of work - not so detailed programme [] or estimate

James.
Andrew Flowerdew
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Clive,

Agree with your comments, I guess the real bottom line though is that it usually comes down to the time available to get the tender in and how much work the tender department has got on - often the result then reflects what work the company is keen to win and thatwork it is not!

1. Long time, little work - detailed programme and estimate

2. Short time, lots of work - not so detailed programme or estimate.

Clive Randall
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Annoon
Good to see you back in yet another guise
Anoon Iimos
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i believe that there should have been no differences between an estimator & a planner. They are suppose to be one!
Shahzad Munawar
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No doubt, Estimater and Planner should be considered one as both are integral part in execution of works especially in tendering, procurement and then in certification of monthly invoices
Morph T
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Hi all
Clive thanks for your “teacher’s approach”

“The art is to find the most economic solution to the problem.” I love that word it is actually an art not a rocket science as there is no a single mathematical solution to this problem,

In the case of federal agencies, most of the bids are evaluated depending on time and costs; of course u must first pass the technical liability to be accepted. So how can u resolve this problem? The shortest possible duration of the programme with the respect of space and time constraints and activities chronology, with lowest possible costs, and a comfortable mark-up for profit.

Imho it is easier to optimise a bid if u have the duration of the programme as an input not an output, especially if it is a long period

Regards
Morph
Clive Randall
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Andrew and James
An interesting points raised.
Each Company has its own methods and way of going about the task.
Many require the planner to put together the Preliminaries from the perspective of plant and staff allthough often the Estimator will add the final values.
There is an art to identifying the big ticket items and focussing on getting them right and to me that involves a joint effort on the part of the estimator and planner. As an example if you are going to achieve a 4 day cycle for a multi storey building it is a good idea that the estimator knows this and sufficient materials and labour are priced into the estimate.
I initially ignore the clients requirements as to the tender programme and build a programme on what is likely to be required by the site team. If having achieved this it does not marry with the clients requirements I will first ask the question why. As you say Andrew if the Client only wants to be shown 50 activities hammocking up the programme is not such a difficult task. In broad terms I have no interest in programming for trhe installation of every door but I will identify when orders are required to be placed and when the first and last door are likely to be installed, all be it this may be a generic activity such as 1st and 2nd fix joinery. If at all possible I will identify a floor by floor programme when I want power on when I want lifts operational. Where a nominated subcontractor is involved particuarly with design input I will programme in detail what is expected of him.
I often find that contracts will require a detailed programme to be submitted within say 4 weeks of award. This task I feel can only be acomplished if a good level of detail including methods, material requirements and plant has been defined at tender stage. For myself if I am to advise on the feasability of a tender duration at the tender settlemnt meeting I am likely to have fully satisfied myself that the duration is achievable. If it isnt and no method can be found to comply with the contract period the closure meeting must decide whether to seek a longer period or to add LDs. This is not an easy decision but setteling the money and ignoring the time is not conducive to good tendering practice. As a scenario lets consider a bill with maybe a 1000 items which goes into extreme detail (mayube too much) should not the programme be simiarly detailed?
So in conclusion the tender programme I feel is for the contractor, the tender submitted programme is for the client such that the contractor may explain his principle plan. If greater or lesser detail is required at the tender submission stage the contractor should manipulate his programme to provide it. This does not mean he fudges reality but maintains his logic.
Just a thought
Clive
Morph T
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Hi all

Thanks for the clarifications, but I have to say I was really astonished that you face the same problem, specially when u do a bid and as the specifications are not well defined like materiel availability ( water, gravel etc..) and worst u have not even enough time to visit the site of project. As a result sometimes we made such a sadly bid!

But I imagine even if u are not involved in the bid process (as a planer), eventually if u gain the contract, u have to access the assumptions made in the bid estimation, like costs duration etc.. so u can prepare the project budget accordingly.

Please can you explain more? And can you show us how the work is shared between the different divisions? In my case we have the technical department manager who supervise three divisions

Estimation division: they prepares bid, contracts with the client, invoices
Planning division : planning the projects ( duration and budget )
Control division : ( where I work) preparing contract for specialized subcontractors, monitoring the project ( planned vs. actual percent completion) and a lot of claims, letters

As u can see the planning division is the easiest one, only he prepares budget for all projects and mainly 1 revision every year


Thanks

Ps: James I am sill home (600 km from work), we work 6x2 i.e.; six weeks work for two weeks holiday.
Andrew Flowerdew
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James,

You said it in your first sentence:-

"The level of detail included in the tender programme is normally based on the requirements of the client"

ie, it’s to win the job, not build it. I totally agree that it would be nice, and the aim should be, to get it right at the earliest possible stage - however some clients know alot about the construction process, some know very little. Depending on your client or their consultants, they MAY have detailed requirements and a good knowledge, but this is not always the case.

The tender team has to convince the client they know what they’re doing and this does not always correspond with giving alot of detail, but sometimes it may. I have worked on tenders where the client has specifically stated a maximum number of activities for a tender programme (50no activites for a £25million project believe it or not)and therefore there was no way it could at that stage become a detailed construction programme - although by rolling up activities into summaries it had more detail in it than shown.

Still hold to my contention that it’s the estimators job to come up with the correct competitive market value for the job, ie win the job, rather than get every dollar allocated against the right piece of plant, material etc. Time doesn’t usually permit a breakdown to the nth degree.

James Griffiths
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Andrew,

The level of detail included in the tender programme is normally based on the requirements of the client - and it seems that, sometimes, our clients want to read a "detailed handbook". This is in order to instill confidence that we have understood the scope etc.

Ok, it doesn’t have to go into extreme-levels of detail - but when negotiations start - ie. remove this, add that, try this in a different order, report it this way instead of that etc. etc., the tender programme has to be sufficiently detailed in order to accommodate the changes without adversely affecting the logic or requiring a total reformatting. Moreover, if you can get in as much detail as possible, from the outset, then you will acquire a far-better understanding of how the programme works and the uncover minimal horror-stories once the baseline has been agreed.

My contention is to get-it-right at the earliest possible stage. If you can do this at the initial tender stage, then your stance for negotiations will be significantly stronger. Place yourself in the client’s position and ask yourself whom are you going to favour: the one with the beautifully developed programme or the one whose programme looks like a pretty-picture? Yes, a more detailed programme may induce more questions - but the contractor, if he knows what he is doing, should have no problem with that. I always say: Let The Programme Be Your Servant and Your Authority.

James.
Andrew Flowerdew
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We never have enough time at tender but the role of an estimator is not to get every bit of money in exactly the right place, although very helpful if he/she does.

An estimators role is to come up with the market value of the project. In doing so he (or she) needs input from many sources, planners being one. They don’t need a detailed construction programme but an overview of the times involed, methods, etc, to build the project.

I know the frustration it causes when you start to build a job. You look at the tender breakdowns and the programme and keep finding things that don’t appear to be included in the tender, programmes that are of little help as to how you are going to actually build the project, etc, etc.

It took me a while to accept that the tender is a document to win the job, not a detailed handbook on how you’re going to build it.
Clive Randall
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In my experience tender planning to be undertaken correctly requires an interface at the working level between the planner and the estimator.
Take the following scenario:
I have to excavate 1million m3 of material. To undertake this task I must procure plant and equipment as the work will be undertaken by my direct labour. The estimator can work a raw excavation cost based on unlimited plant and equipment, then the interesting part starts. How long is the excavation period. The planner develops a best fit programme, one that meets the contract requirements. The estimator then plugs in a cost profile for each activity. From this information an approach can be developed as to which activities can be economically accelerated to allow more time for those that cannot. So back to the excavation we want to limit plant buying costs thus we want to reduce the number of machines and thus the programme period for this activity must be extended and in turn others accelerated. The art is to find the most economic solution to the problem. If the planner and estimator work alongside each other the solution will be more practical and economic.

As to your second point do tender teams have enough time to really investigate the what if scenarios I feel the answer is generally no

Kind regards
Clive
James Griffiths
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Hello Morph,

I hope you had a good week-end with your family, and are feeling happy to be back at work.

In answer to first your question: NO!!!

Last week, on Tuesday, I was asked to help construct the programe on a £5M tender. Strictly speaking, the programme was supposed to be delivered on the Friday. Three days to construct, optimise and amend the programme???? Yeah right.

I told them that it would take at least a week to even have the basic programme ready - and that assumed I had all the estimating data already available.

Initially, it was the bid leader who began constructing the programme - yet none of the estimating had been done. When she realised how much time it would take to construct the programme, she then asked me if I could do it for her (she is an Engineer with a little bit of very basic programming experience). This enables her to continue with the Estimating Sheets.

This is where our company has failed to learn, and still thinks that "programming" is a five-minute job, to be done as a "pretty-picture" just to satisfy the client’s RFP. Therefore, it gets given to whomever happens to be leading the bid - usually an Engineer. Then they suddenly find out that they can’t cope with the amount of data; concluding in a badly constructed programme.

Yep, it’s the same old story. They don’t involve the planner until it’s too late - or even at all.

You are correct in that a bid is a team effort between all concerned. I keep telling them to complete the estimate sheets and I’ll construct the programme. We’ll all get-together and then optimise the programme.

James
John Lawson
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Hi

In the industry I work in (Oil/Gas), the Tender planning falls into two groups:

a) One group have dedicated planners that work alongside the estimators/quantity surveyors/contracts engineers etc.. These guys usually have good access to the key players and all the current information, tender documents, contract, drawings, specifications etc. The most important thing they have is the full duration of the bid period to collect their ideas and put their stuff together and as result produce resonable plans.

When you do tenders this way you can build up routines, procedures etc that can be applied from one bid to another, saving a lot o time and energy. Mind things can be very hectic with several large bids/rebids/clarifications etc going through at the same time!!

b) The other group, the one James and I belong to, planners doing their normal job, then suddenly CD’s / pile of A3/A4 folders arive on your desk and you are expected to turn a professional programme out for some rediculouse date.

These plans are best described as "full filling the Tender requirements".

Most people do not relise the amount of time that is required to do a tender correctly, i.e. time spent just reading the mountain of literature that comes with the tender, the input of data, sorting the programme out, printing and binding etc etc.

In addition you have people that cann’t make their mind up and wait till the last minute and you have to make changes to the plan to suit their ideas!!!!.

Also the planner is expected to keep his normal work load up and running.

AS a planner that has often reviwed plans for the client these type are easy to spot and are treated accordingly.

Best way is the first way - dedicated planners working within the tender group.

Regards

John