"Excel just wasn’t designed to do some of the heavy lifting that companies need to do in finance.” So says Paul Hammerman, a business applications analyst at Forrester Research Inc. Despite that generally accepted fact, spreadsheets continue to be widely used as the default tool of choice for managing the finances of construction projects large and small. Most individuals that find themselves in this situation however, would enthusiastically agree that the use of spreadsheets for this level of complexity requires a ridiculous amount of meaningless effort for very little return. Far too much effort is put into getting the data into the spreadsheet – and all the formulas straightened out – that little time is actually spent analyzing that data.
Time-phasing the project budget is as core to project controls on construction projects as pasta is to Italian food. Or hockey is to a Canadian winter. Time-phasing is so central to project controls, that in 4castplus there are five different time-phasing plans that can be setup on a single project. Actually, there are 10 – but in this article we’re mostly going to talk about one really important one.
One of the most important functions of project controls and cost engineering, is the ability to accurately forecast remaining costs-to-complete on a construction project. With the new Resource Forecasting tools in 4castplus, project controls professionals can now achieve ultimate accuracy and take full control of how projects are forecasted.
How do you figure out percent complete on a project? How is it you go about objectively assigning a reasonable and accurate measurement of how far along you are on an item of work? How many times have you asked, “Hey, where did that number come from?”
Most any manager, VP or director who has to oversee the work of his or her team of project managers has a big worry about this very thing. They know the temptation that exists for a project manager to leverage a little creative license with the numbers to make the project look a little rosier than it is in reality. Customers on the receiving side of a progress draw are equally aware of the tendency to big-up the progress numbers in order to fatten the invoice.
Successfully managing construction projects is highly dependent on the quality of the data that’s captured about those projects. Whether you’re using the data to manage costs, bill your clients, pay your subcontractors, determine progress – or all that and more – the quality of that data is crucial to the success of the project. Current, Accurate and Complete – these are the key cornerstones of quality information. What’s more, getting quality data right from the start – i.e. from when it’s first entered into the system – saves organizations tremendous time, money and effort in executing on projects. Not only that, it reduces the chances and effects of any potential claims, disputes, safety issues and delays. Mistakes and omissions bleed energy and money from your organization. The result is not just costly, it’s often embarrassing – and you are particularly vulnerable if you have any manual “double-entry” of data from system to system.
Project controls professionals can spend endless hours discussing, debating and tweaking the required codes for their project and for good reason; there are so many layers to consider in designing the ‘right’ cost coding system.
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Predicting the future is what we’re all about. But when do you use ETC versus FTC – and what’s the difference?
Many EV professionals would argue that Planned Value is one of the most important metrics in earned value analysis. It provides the critical benchmark from which numerous other metrics are being compared.To give you an idea of what PV is, consider the example where you have a $1 million project that is scheduled to take 10 months to complete. An important aspect of project controls is to be able to plan out how that $1m will be spent over the 10 months. It obviously won’t be spent in one single lump. Neither will it be spent in an even, perfectly distributed rate over the 10 months.
The project spend will follow an uneven pattern – loosely following the schedule of activities and purchases that occur over the project’s duration. Planning the budget over the project’s timeline is called Time-Phased Budgeting. Planned Value is the value of scheduled project spend at a point in time of a project's duration.
Planned value is also referred to as Budgeted Cost of Work Scheduled (BCWS).