No estimate shoube be converted to a bid without checking it. Importance of this cannot be overstated. It has a direct impact to your business’s top and bottom lines. Developing a checklist and an overall process for checking is crucial to maintain close to 100% accuracy. Ideally, the estimator who worked on the estimate should not be the one checking ti. But…
What if I am alone?
Then I suggest taking at least 15 minute break after you finish your estimate. Clear your mind and look at your estimate with fresh eyes. It is almost as good as someone else checking your estimate.
The Checklist – First Draft
Below are some standard things that should always be on your checklist. These important and basic element of estimating. These should not only be on the checklist but also be part of the estimating process.
Check the Drawing Scale on each page
Write down a scope of work if you haven’t done already and make sure the estimate covers it
Make sure you have the complete and latest set of drawings and addendums……..
Another task is to make a list of possible errors. Get all your estimators and make a list of the common errors that are made. If your estimator doesn’t make errors and think about common errors that a new trainee estimator is likely to make. This list will become your checklist.
Check – “Common Error no. 1”
Check – “Common Error no. 2” ………
The items on the list can be very specific. For example checking if the height of the wall has been correctly applied to the software condition for calculating wall area. Or it can be general like scan the entire set of drawings once to check if anything was missed. It doesn’t matter what it is, just that it should help eliminate errors.
The Process – Explaining and Refining the checklist
The ideal scenario is to develop two documents. One is the one page brief checklist which is a simple list of tasks. The other will contain a brief description or elaboration of the each task on the checklist. This is for training new estimators and making sure they understand some of the nuance on how to exactly follow the checklist.
Of course no matter how detailed the explanation document, new estimators will still need mentorship from an experienced estimator and rechecking of their work until they start checking each job without any errors.
Also, even if the checklist is finalized any new type of estimating errors which do not fit in the checklist need to be considered for addition to list. This completes the feedback loop and makes sure that the checklist stays relevant. By the same logic if an item is redundant and is just increasing the length of the checking process without any improvement in accuracy it should be considered for removal.