A Project Managers Best Friend Within the Firm Bid Environment
With a history of serving as a Director of Proposals & Estimating and Director of Project Management within the industries of construction, manufacturing of store display fixtures, and manufacturing of large tradeshow exhibit booths, I have extensive experience with hard bid / firm estimate environments. In this setting, the person who develops the estimate is the project manager’s best friend and source of information.
I’ll get on my soapbox here for a second. “Many smaller companies have no true understanding of the value of their estimators.” Because he or she has to create an estimate that represents all of the costs in a turn-key contract, the estimator must understand all specifications, materials, vendors, subcontractors, shippers, and every other element that creates a finished and shipped product.
The estimator meets with the designer and has to see the project scope through her eyes. All vague concepts must be erased. You would be surprised how many designers hang banners, canopies, and even ceilings with no type of support. Knowing objects can’t suspend in space, the estimator often suggest various methods and materials to best provide an acceptable look the designer accepts.
Because all turn-key estimates act as the contract price, the estimator also writes all qualifications associated with each project. Whether it’s lighting, furniture, carpeting, video equipment, veneers, etc., the professional estimator researches all pricing associated with your project. She knows the best vendors and subcontractors.
Note:I’ll address the Cost of Vendors in a later blog.
As a project manager, utilize the knowledge of your estimators. They have researched the best quality and pricing of materials companies, vendors, sub-contractors, and other elements. Don’t be trapped by always seeking the lowest price because they know the lowest price isn’t necessarily the best resource for the actual lowest costs.
If you work for a company that produces firm bid estimates, you will most certainly have many questions concerning the complete scope of work to be completed and your estimator will have a full list and description. Also, as you create pricing for change orders, glean from his experience and knowledge. Take him or her out to lunch and show them you appreciate their hard work and knowledge. They truly are one of your best friends in negotiating through you projects ability to produce a successful product within or under budget.