Having a reliable, accurate and current cost database is a must requirement for having an accurate project cost estimate which is the basis for setting the project budget, preparing the project feasibility study, securing needed project funding and assessing procured commitment contracts. Unlike the detailed cost database used by contractors, for project owners, the cost database needs to be based on parametric estimating and enable adopting progress elaboration as the project’s scope gets developed during the design stages. For a project owner, the lowest level of detail of the cost database will be the bill of quantity level which will be used to procure contracts. Therefore, it is highly recommended that the cost database is structured around a progressive breakdown structure like the UniFormat™ or International Construction Measurement Standards (ICMS) numbering systems.
Project Management Information Systems (PMIS) like PMWeb allows building the needed cost databases for project owners. It is recommended to have separate cost database set for each type of project that the project owner builds. For example, there could be a cost database set for buildings, infrastructure, petrochemicals among other type of projects. Each project type will have groups for the cost database level of details. For example, for the buildings cost database, there will be four groups that will be aligned with the UniFormat™ four level of details. Those will be Major Group Elements, Group Elements, Individual Elements and Bill of Quantity Items.
Each level will include the cost database items that belong to that group. For example, level 1 group will include cost items for “A Substructure”. “B Shell”, “C Interiors” among others whereas level 2 group will include cost items for “A10 Foundation”, “A20 Basement Construction”, “A20 Basement Construction”, “B10 Shell” among others. Further, level 3 group will include cost items for “A1010 Standard Foundations”, “A1020 Special Foundations”, “A1030 Slab-On-Grade”. “A2010 Basement Excavation” among others. The last level, level 4 group, which is the level used in bill of quantities will include cost items for “A101001 Wall Foundations”, “A101002 Column Foundations & Pile Caps”, “A101003 Dewatering”, “A102001 Pile Foundations”, “A102002 Caissons”, “A102003 Underpinning” among others.
For each cost item regardless to which level group it belongs to, the minimum information that needs to be captured include the cost item unit rate, unit of measure, project template it belongs to (that is, Building, Infrastructure, Petrochemical, etc.) and the cost breakdown structure (of cost account) that is associated with the cost database item. The specification tab will be also used to add additional user defined fields that are not available by default in PMWeb.
Similar to all PMWeb modules, the attachment tab will be used to attach all documents that could be relevant to the cost item. Those could be product catalogues, drawings, official quotes, equipment catalogue, specification sections among others. For those attached items that need to be displayed on the cost item header, the option of “display” needs to be selected. It is highly recommended to have all those attached documents be uploaded and stored into PMWeb document management repository under their relevant folder.
For level 4 group cost database items which will be the cost items that will be included in the bill of quantity, PMWeb provides details of previous actual unit price rates for similar cost items that were part of awarded commitments across the organization’s complete projects’ portfolio. For those previous cost items to be captured by PMWeb, it is important that the commitment lines are created from the cost database by simply dragging and dropping those cost items. This will ensure that the cost item description used in the commitment is the same as per the cost database. PMWeb will highlight the lowest price green, median price in yellow and highest Price in red.
The cost database items will be the basis for creating the project cost estimates again by dragging the relevant cost database items to the cost estimate template. The project cost estimate could include cost database items from the different groups depending on the level of detail that for the project’s scope of work. For example, the at the 30% design development stage, the “A Substructure” and “B Shell” categories could be detailed at level 4, Bill of Quantity Level where as “C Interiors” could be details at level 2, Group Elements. It should be noted that during the project’s design development stages, there will be new estimates that will be created at each design stage taking into consideration the current project’s scope of work level of details. The project cost estimate will be the basis for creating the cost estimates for the bid packages to be procured, comparing received bids and creating the project budget.
PMWeb cost database can be imported into PMWeb by using the import command. The command will detail the fields that can be imported into PMWeb cost database using MS Excel. PMWeb allows mapping the field names used in the MS Excel file into the cost database item fields used by PMWeb. This will expedite creating the cost database using the organization’s past knowledge in delivering similar projects.