Cost Planner

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Overview

True Model-Based Estimating

Vico Office’s Cost Planner module is the first, and most robust, tool to come to market for preparing model-based estimates.  By using the design inputs that come from Document Controller and quantities managed through Takeoff Manager, the Cost Planner functionality in Vico Office provides for a truly integrated estimate.  Design quantities are mapped directly to assemblies and components which can be created on-the-fly or using historical templates.

Once estimates are created within the Cost Planner, project designs are linked to the estimate in a way that allows estimators to quickly see what elements have been linked to the estimate and conversely which elements have not been linked to the estimate.   Version control is built into the system to allow users to save as many iterations as they wish, which allows for full control when comparing estimate versions.  Quickly see what changed from one estimate to the next, or run a report to see what has changed across the past ten estimates!  Estimates created in the pursuit phase can now be carried through all the way to the buyout phase using Vico Office’s integrated estimating capabilities.

Included in cost planner are all of the traditional estimating tools and functions, including:  waste, consumption, add-on, mark-up, variances, min/max values, parent-total analysis and more.

 

How it Works

Cost Planner introduces an innovative n-tiered 3D spreadsheet; a unique graphic scheme which emphasizes the hierarchical structure of the cost estimate. Every line item can be further refined with additional components, providing unprecedented flexibility, and enabling you to gradually develop your cost plan from a basic abstract level to a highly-detailed cost estimate.  Every line item in the cost estimate is fed by the detailed quantity list, or can be made to reference other quantity values within the estimating spreadsheet.

The Cost Planner concept and unique structure allow you to build a ‘living cost estimate,' which is key to helping you make information-driven decisions that keep the budget on track.  Cost Planner gives estimators the Excel look and feel they're familiar with, while simultaneously presenting the BIM model in the same view for dynamically linking and visualizing the quantities that drive the estimate.  A click on any Cost Plan line item or Takeoff Manager line item will quickly show the relationship that quantities have to a given cost item.

Level of Detail is built directly into the system by virtue of the ‘activate/deactivate’ buttons that are a part of all cost assemblies.  Detailed information can exist inside of the estimate template that is used, but it is always up the estimator to choose at which depth they’d like to peer into and availed toward the cost estimate.  High-level design can be paired with high-level estimating lines items, while detailed designs can quickly be met with detailed assemblies being activated inside a single cost plan.

Assembly and Component Management

Vico Office’s Cost Planner uses the concept of ‘Assemblies and Components’ to quickly leverage historical and/or built-up information when preparing a cost plan.  Assemblies and Components can be referenced in from a separate view within the system, one-by-one or in large groups.  Additionally, assemblies and components can be built-up or managed within Excel and brought into the system at any point when necessary.

The concept of historical Assemblies and Components allows estimators to quickly hit the ground running.  Projects can be started using the standard warehouse that ships with the product, or company specific databases can be created from scratch; in any case, all databases are fully customizable to fit the company needs’.  In addition to supporting a company standard database for all Assemblies and Components, the system will also allow users access to any previously completed project for the purpose of quickly cut/pasting any item that may not be part of the standard database.

Assemblies and Components themselves form a nested structure of relationships that link associated elements (as well as labor, equipment and material) with parent level work groups.  As an example:  A single assembly for ‘concrete deck’ can bring with it all of the associated work for laying out, forming, pouring, finishing and stripping – each component activity could be fed by a single quantity type, or more likely, can be fed by several of the different construction-caliber quantities as needed. 

 

Visual Feedback

Cost Planner was designed as a tool for visually conveying costs.  The visual display of costs can serve both the estimator and/or owners and other end users who may not have full familiarity with how to visualize pricing.

The dynamic views within Vico Office make it such that any cost item which is clicked on will instantly light yellow inside the model and inside the Takeoff manager.  The provides an immediate visual link for seeing exactly which elements priced within a given assembly/component, as well as which Takeoff Item is being used to drive the quantity.  Conversely, selecting a given Takeoff Item or model element will allow the estimator to quickly see where those elements may fall into their cost plan.

Performing QA inside of an estimate is easy with Vico Office’s visual linking system.  A mass selection of the Cost Plan immediately shows which Takeoff Items from the project have been linked to the estimate.  Any items that are not linked to the project estimate are available for quick analysis to find out why.   When paired with Document Controller, a change analysis can be done to see what has been revised inside the design model within the exact same view of the estimate; a single screen UI can provide all the information an estimator needs to know about how a design has been revised and what impact that may have on the project cost.

 

Formula Editor

Vico Office’s Cost Planner relies on the concept of a ‘formula editor’ to establish the connection between project quantities and cost.  The formula editor is available inside of the Cost Planner ‘source quantity’ cell and provides direct access to the Takeoff Items;  Takeoff Items can be mapped to cost components on the basis of element type, quantity type and even location – choose only the element, quantities and locations that you want to drive your estimating line item!

Within the Formula Editor, estimators will also find powerful numeric functionality that is similar to traditional Excel controls for manipulating the model-based quantities.  Commands such as: sum, average, min/max, if, and, true, etc. can all be applied to model-based quantities to provide the same level of flexibility and control that comes from traditional spreadsheet estimation.

Users who get to know the system well may even find themselves skipping the formula editor in favor of the drag-and-drop functionality that mimics the formula editor control.  Have a quantity in the Takeoff Manager that you’d like to see applied in the Cost Planner?  Simply drag-and-drop any value from the Takeoff Manager directly onto your cost plan to establish the dynamic relationship between project quantities and project cost!

Sorting, Filtering and Tagging

As with most big datasets, construction estimates often find themselves begging for advanced controls to sift through the information; Vico Office’s Cost Planner includes all the controls necessary to slice and dice the biggest data sets with ease! 

Sorting and grouping can be done with ease using controls in the estimate header that are similar to other spreadsheet estimating workflows.  A built-in filtering mechanism immediately shows users a list of values/descriptions that are included within a given column and a single click can filter the estimate accordingly.  The same filter control can be used to create custom queries on the fly, which is great for finding that “needle in the hay stack” of even the largest estimating dataset.

Tagging is also used throughout the Cost Planner.  Tags can be created at any level of the cost plan and are used to input any type of desired user meta data to a cost item.  The tag values can be used inside the program UI to sort/group according to the functionality mentioned above, or it can be used in conjunction with reports to create any level of custom outputs.  Have a Uniformat Cost Plan that you want printed in CSI codes?  No problem, use tags to print however you’d like.

Features
Product Features: 
  • N-tiered spreadsheet allows for maximum flexibility to create desired estimate structure
  • Hierarchical estimate shows roll-up cost of Assemblies/Components
    on-the-fly
  • Project quantities and costs are dynamically linked via the Formula Editor
  • Activate/deactivate commands to control Level of Detail
  • Version control for supporting evolutionary estimate concepts
  • Visual linkage to project design and quantities on-the-fly
  • Fully customizable reporting capabilities
What's New
What's New: 

Trimble Vico Office R6.5 is now available

June 2017

With this release we’ve made some enhancements to benefit design/cost/time workflows:

  • Design workflows: have been improved via the introduction of rebar takeoff support for Tekla models.  Users can now publish their detailed concrete models into Vico Office and get full quantity analysis and change management capabilities on rebar models.  Additionally, users will be pleased to experience even more 3D performance enhancements to help support the increasingly larger models that come with support of such high volume elements.

    Further improvements to support the design workflow include the support of BCF integration for communicating constructability issues outside of the Vico Office application.
     

  • Cost workflows: have been improved by adding a few new features, including conditional formatting of data and the ability to bring parent hierarchies from a reference estimate.
    Both changes will make working in cost planner for long durations easier, as hierarchy adjustments will automate estimate creation and conditional formatting has the ability to draw user’s attention to specific data within the estimate.
     

  • Time planning workflows: have been improved with some nice new features, including the ability to create tasks without cost components and a significant increase in the amount of production control data to web services for an increased ability to do analytics tracking around install performance data.
    Model-based schedules are now easier and quicker to create, with the production control information available to anyone who has a web connection.

 


Vico Office 6.0

December 2016

Vico Office release 6.0 is now available to help you harness the power of models for estimating and scheduling.

The latest release of Vico Office is all about the user.  We listened carefully about how to improve the workflow and made several enhancements to simplify and improve the quantity extraction process. Users now have more access to information, as well as control over how that data is managed. We put users first and designed a workflow that makes it faster and easier to get project quantities.

Vico Office is leaner - the installer has been optimized and is nearly half the size as before.

Vico Office release 6.0 includes an overhaul of Takeoff Manager module. Users will find many new features that give them the flexibility to cultivate their project content and quantities in any way that suites their workflow.  This includes:

  • Element import selection

  • Access to all BIM parameters, including ‘user-defined’ fields

  • Support for CAD quantities

  • Templated imports and content grouping

  • Brand-new: Takeoff Items Builder

  • Selective quantification

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