The Real Obstacles Requires lots of resources and information –The scope and breadth of issues is very large –Methodology is complex, requires a lot of training and effort to master –A lot of fundamental data must be gathered and managed before the first estimate can be built These are the big issues for CES users
Parametric Estimation is More Varied than Detail Estimation The models for estimating an item price are the same regardless of the item Cost-based –Determine crew, productivity, materials consumption, overhead, margin –Plug in current costs and derive unit price Bid-based –Calculate weighted average prices or fit to standard formula via regression –Apply results to predict new item bid prices
Parametric Estimation Models Vary for Different Job Types Steps needed 1.Develop conceptual model 2.Define the model as a “template” for new jobs of that type 3.Define how bid items are related to cost drivers 4.Statistically analyze historical prices 5.Enter model parameters and calculate Only the last two steps apply to detailed estimation with CES or Estimator
The Real CES Challenges New CES users start with a blank screen for the parametric model templates Can’t develop estimates until all those preliminary definitions are done It’s hard to see how to specify the abstract model so it can be used for real jobs And there is always other, more urgent, work to be done
The Fundamental Dilemma CES is extremely flexible –Any parametric model that can be reduced to formulas of any kind can be defined in it But the first steps are extremely steep –And it’s hard to understand these steps without experience using other models The necessary flexibility and power in the system lead to barriers to entry
Simplify, simplify. Parametric estimation is very complex and difficult in general So forget the general problem for now –All of CES will still be there to handle it when we come back! Pick one type of problem, and create an “express lane” for it in CES –Make a shortcut to parametric estimation
The Shortcut(s) Choose specific types of estimates to support –Asphalt resurfacing, perhaps another Pick one estimation model per type –That is, determine what parameters will be considered, and how estimates will be derived from them Provide reasonable defaults for everything –So estimators can provide minimal data and get adequate results, or more data for better results –Use defaults to simplify installation, too
Example: Resurfacing Minimal parameters –Length, lanes, lane width, depth Optional parameters –Location, urban/rural, maintenance of traffic, mobilization, milling, drainage, earthwork Underlying data for calculations –Acquire cost data, and classify and analyze historical data
Shortcut Work Flow (for the user) User enters required parameters –An estimate total is provided User modifies defaulted parameters –The estimate is adjusted automatically User wants to change basic estimation model –Must leave the shortcut and continue work in full CES instead
Shortcut Work (for the agency) Install shortcut, accept default data –Get reasonable estimates, but not based on anything specific to your agency Classify basic historical data –Define a few item groups and conversions –Run analysis models to feed CES Develop your own models –Acquire cost driver data specific to your issues –Again, must leave shortcut for full CES at some point
Challenges for a Shortcut We don’t want to add it to today’s CES client –That’s already big enough –Trying to make something simple by adding to a complex product isn’t likely to succeed We don’t want to create a new application –Those are expensive to build and maintain –It might be the first of many specialized applications, which would be hard to manage What options are left?
Enter Web Trnsport An initiative to replace use of the Trnsport Windows clients for some functions –More ambitious than Trnsport Intranet –Not just a supplement to client-server Web functions are inherently very loosely coupled –So specialized functions can be developed independently of others –Within a single manageable framework
Web Trnsport is not a New Application Only the blue pieces are new
Strategic Direction to Web Lots of reasons for Web Trnsport –(I’ll gladly harangue anyone who’ll listen) –Part of strategic plan for several years So Info Tech proposed a project to create needed infrastructure –And the TTF said “what’s in it for the users?” –Every project should provide direct user value Project redirected to start Web Trnsport to solve important user problems –Starting with parametric estimation shortcuts
Project Goals Provide a useful function almost all licensees will want to deploy –Parametric estimation shortcuts Be easy for licensees to implement quickly –We don’t want to deliver “shelfware” Ready for people to use almost immediately –Without a lot of configuration, data management, or end-user training Create architectural foundation for Web Trnsport while delivering immediate value
Project in a Nutshell Performing this fiscal year –Late start due to redirection of goals Using “agile” methodologies –Replaces traditional lifecycle (with several review and approval stages) with constant communications –Product builds weekly or more frequently, available instantly to TRT Delivery Q3 2004
Issues Flexibility versus simplicity tradeoffs –Where do we draw the line? Integration with agency data –Can we make matching items to cost groups as simple as the rest? Authorized users –Same as for similar CES screens, or a broader group? –Allow “guest” estimators? Planners could create rough estimates, save in CES for estimators to develop more fully later.
What Can You Do? Communicate with the TRT –“Agile” methodologies mean more functional decisions happen during the project Discuss what you want –Chat about it on the TEA mailing list Get your system managers ready! –A successful project will result in something quick to install and deploy
Shortcut to Parametric Estimation via Web Trnsport Charles Engelke Info Tech, Inc.