It all starts with the electrical estimate

In Electrical Estimating Articles by David Parden

The electrical estimate is the foundation of all electrical jobs. The job’s success can be won or lost during this process. In order to effectively bid work you need to have a consistent process or methodology. The process should always be scalable and consideration should be given to how the project will be built and managed once contracts have been signed.

My first week on the job as an electrical estimator trainee the company I worked for was in the process of bidding a K-12 school. I’ll never forget that week. We worked from seven in the morning until after midnight all week. The project manager training me to estimate was overwhelmed with work in progress and the phone rang for him constantly. I did what I could in the way of counts and running block with the phone. There were stacks of papers everywhere and it was chaotic to say the least. In the end we got the job and I got to have my first experience in wondering what we missed to get the job.

Two thirds of the way through the project we began to get a sense that something was not right with the job. The company general superintendent assured us that things were ok until things were not ok. It is worth noting that this was the largest project the company had ever taken on. In the end the project did not make money and the owner was not happy. The project exposed something more serious though.

On smaller jobs the field hands could work hard if the job got behind and through will and tenacity bring the job in. The key was a good foreman but on this larger project the foreman seldom wore his tools and was at the mercy of the workforce he had been given. The project was simply too large for him to truly know where he was at on the job without some science. To compound the problem the project manager who at the time was really just a glorified purchasing agent didn’t have a clue either. The thing we had going for us was a committed owner. He wanted to do things the right way!

He hired a project manager consultant and he set us on a path to developing a process that worked well for us. We had weekly project meeting with the key players and we had useful data. We knew where the job stood from labor and material to the schedule. We were able to be proactive instead of reactive thus maximizing the profitability of the jobs.

If you want your company to succeed you need to have a proven system for managing your jobs. DBP Electrical consulting can help your company develop a process for estimating and managing jobs.