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CostX® Consultant Series: Assisting with Early-Stage Estimating

For our latest blog post, EMEA Lead Consultant Matthew Donnison looks at the challenge of conceptual estimating, and how the process can be improved with the right software solution.

Clients have a habit of putting you on the spot when it comes to conceptual costs for projects. You might be out at a lunch discussing their pipeline of projects or you may be working full-time on other projects with tight deadlines – whatever the case, you need to be confident that you can deliver fast but accurate cost advice when called upon.

CostX® Benchmark is the latest cloud-based product from Exactal, enabling users to centralise their historic cost database and make it accessible anywhere, anytime on any device! Not only does CostX® Benchmark allow you to benchmark your existing estimates against previous cost data, but it also allows you to create conceptual cost estimates much quicker than was once possible.

The Previous Scenario

Take for example, a scenario where one of my key residential customers contacts me and urgently needs an estimate of the cost to build a new 24,500m2 apartment block in central London – traditionally this would’ve been a labour-intensive process of trawling through previous tender returns and final accounts to find projects that were of a similar size, type and location.

Once that work was done, I would then have to take my previous data and re-index the costs to a comparable point in time. All-in-all, the process could take anywhere from several hours to several days, with a lot of stress incurred along the way!

The Current Scenario

If my firm invested in CostX® Benchmark instead, I could simply create a new project in the system by entering some key data (e.g. size, location, date etc). I would then filter my historic database based on the (user-configurable) attributes to find similar schemes:

In the below example I have three comparable recent projects to use, so I select them all and CostX® Benchmark automatically runs the index process to uplift the costs to the same timeframe (7 April in my case) and shows me the conceptual estimate of £38,866,245 for my new 24,500m2 project, based upon the average rates of the selected projects.

However, it’s important to make sure that we’re comparing like-for-like, so I can look into the project details for my previous data and find that there were some abnormal costs included within them – I can then easily exclude any individual rates or entire sections from my estimate by simply clicking on them. Here you can see the cost is revised automatically to £36,487,106, at the bottom of the Benchmark Cost column, after unnecessary costs are excluded.

I can then run various reports relating to the estimate within CostX® Benchmark itself, or as in this case I can quickly import the information into my CostX® database and run one of my existing corporate template reports:




I can also make use of the product’s integration potential, with tools like PowerBI, Datapine and Tableau able to be connected to create useful outputs for clients.

CostX® Benchmark has many other capabilities beside this simple example, so get in touch with your local Sales office to find out more!