This tutorial runs you through the generation of an estimate using Epic's Estimating plug-in. If you wish to create an estimate outside of Epic in an application such as Microsoft Excel you will need a custom import process supplied by a custom plug-in. This is referred to as an external estimate and is not covered in this tutorial.
This tutorial covers:
The initial stage is for an internal estimate record to be created. This is done via the Project Management plug-in and may not even be carried out by estimators at all. This process is detailed in creating a new estimate. During this process an estimator is nominated for the estimate. If you are not this estimator Epic will allow you to edit the estimate but will first query this.
You can then open the estimate record. Switch to the Estimating plug-in and open the estimate editor for the record. The editor will open showing two tabs. The first displays details about the estimate as a whole; the second displays the estimate tasks. This tutorial assumes you are starting with a brand new estimate record hence the second tab is currently empty. Dependent on your estimate preferences, there may be a third tab. This is to do with task types and is explained later.
Standard Epic behaviour is to open the editor read-only. You will need to switch to the read-write editor. Note that if you are the assigned estimator for the estimate you can configure Epic to automatically open your estimates read-write via your estimate preferences. Bear in mind that once an estimate has been imported, it cannot be edited by anyone.
You generate an estimate by adding tasks and assigning costs to these tasks. There are three tiers:
This hierarchical approach maximises flexibility by allowing you to separate what the customer sees from what the yard sees, and to allow any number of line items to be used in calculating a tasks' values.
Customer tasks will eventually form the estimate presented to the customer. If this estimate is accepted and the project reaches the contract stage, customer tasks, and optionally yard tasks, will be imported to the project from the estimate. This creates project customer tasks and, optionally, project yard tasks.
Note for the rest of this tutorial 'task' refers to a task within the estimate rather than a project task.
Adding and Removing Tasks
We shall now start adding tasks. Switch to the second tab ('All Tasks by Code') - this will be blank as this is a new estimate. There should be a single button visible at the top of the editor (if you can only see a button then you have not yet switched to the read-write editor).
Click the button. This creates a new customer task with a single child yard task which has a single child line item. Each has a default description but all other values are zero or blank. The yard task and line item are automatically created due to a default estimate preference. This automatic creation of 'children' can be switched off.
The new customer task is highlighted and more buttons are now visible. If you hover the mouse over each button a short tooltip tells you what each button does:
If you now select the yard task be clicking on its row, the buttons will change. They have similar functions but at the yard task level. Similarly if you select the line item, the buttons offer similar actions at the line item level.
Now experiment with adding and removing tasks at each level. Note in particular that if you delete the only child of a customer or yard task, this will cause the parent task to be deleted as well. Aim to finish where you started - with a single customer task containing a single yard task containing a single line item. Once you are comfortable adding and removing tasks we can move onto editing tasks.
Different information can be recorded against each type of task. Normally this is done by typing into the appropriate row and column of the estimate though there are exceptions. Here we will deal with the columns that are displayed by default when an estimate is created. (If you wish to use different columns or use them for different purposes see customising columns). The following table lists this columns, whether they editable for each type of task, and how to edit them:
|Column||Editable*||Purpose / Edit|
|Expand||CY||Not an editable field - clicking shows/hides child tasks and items|
|Include||CYL||Whether or not to include the line's total in the estimate's total price.|
|Customer Code||C||The customer's code for the customer task.|
|Code||CYL||The yard's code for the task. By default this is automatic hence not editable. This can be changed via your user preferences. If so, type in the column - note that whilst codes can be assigned to line items but these will never be seen beyond the estimate.|
|Description||CYL||This can be edited by typing in the column. However this only allows a single line of text. if you want to add a multi-line description you can also type in the box below the main estimate table. As with codes, line items can be edited but their descriptions are not seen beyond the estimate.|
|Manhours||L||Number of manhours - type in a number. This can be a decimal of up to two decimal places.|
|Manhr. rate||L||The manhour rate - type in a number with up to two decimal places or select a rate from the dropdown list. By default this list is empty.|
|Manhour total||-||Not editable - the sum of the previous two column|
|Materials (qty)||L||Quantity of material - type in a number. This can be a decimal of up to two decimal places.|
|Mats. unit cost||L||The material cost per unit- type in a number with up to two decimal places or select a rate from the dropdown list. By default this list is empty.|
|Materials total||-||Not editable - the sum of the previous two columns.|
|Subcontract (units)||L||Units of material - type in a number. This can be a decimal of up to two decimal places.|
|Subc. unit cost||L||The subcontract cost per unit- type in a number with up to two decimal places or select a rate from the dropdown list. By default this list is empty.|
|Subc. total||-||Not editable - the sum of the previous two columns.|
|Tariff item units||L||Units of resource - type in a number. This can be a decimal of up to two decimal places.|
|Tariff item rate||L||The resource cost per unit- type in a number with up to two decimal places or select a rate from the dropdown list. By default this list is empty.|
|Tariff item total||-||Not editable - the sum of the previous two columns.|
|Total||-||Not editable - the total for the line - see total calculation.|
* : C(ustomer task), Y(ard Task), L(ine item)
The 'manhour' columns are self-explanatory but the difference between 'materials', 'subcontract' and 'tariff items' may not be. For convenience Epic divides bought-in costs into services (subcontract) and materials. The totals for each are separately recorded and then passed onto project tasks when the tasks are imported into the project.
Tariff items are for standardised expenses such as dock rents, electricity and fresh water charges etc. Tariff items are explicitly imported into project tasks as they are necessary for estimating and for invoice generation.
Now try experiment editing the existing customer task and its child yard task and line item. However do not add any further tasks yet as first we will first add some rates.
Rates are a means of applying standard unit costs across an entire estimate. Rates are stored on an estimate and are unique to that estimate. Furthermore there are different set of rates for each unit cost column (with default columns these are manhours rate, materials rate, subcontract rate and resource rate). An estimate starts with no rates recorded - which is why the dropdown list in these columns is empty.
To add rates you must first open an additional view. To do this ensure you are in the estimate plug-in and click the 'Plug-ins' menu option at the top. This displays all possible plug-ins and below this, additional windows that can be opened:
Click 'Rates' and the rates view opens on the right hand side of the screen. This is likely to be blanked until you select one of the cost columns. Then the view shows all rates for that type of cost.
Click the Manhours column. The rates view will display the heading 'Manhour Rates' and its buttons will be enabled. Click the 'add new rate' button and a window will open requesting the rate name and value. The rate name is what is displayed in the dropdown lists within the unit cost columns:
Call the rate 'standard' and it give it a non-zero value and click OK. The rate will now appear in the rate view and if you click on the manhour rate column and then open the dropdown list this rate will appear.
Experiment adding rates to manhours and other columns. You can also edit existing rates directly in the rates view. Changes immediately affect the estimate totals and the dropdown rate lists. Note that as rates are stored with the estimate, you must save the estimate for new rates to be remembered.
One significant difference between the demonstration and production versions of Epic is that in the demonstration version every new estimate starts with no rates. In production however all new estimates will start with 'global' rates set by an administrator. This are copied to the estimate so that they can then be altered (given permissions) on an estimate-per-estimate basis. This also means that if you review a past estimate, you will see the rates used during its creation rather than current global rates.
A common method of creating an estimate is is to base it on a past estimate. Epic supports this via four mechanisms:
Note that all copying between estimates and templates is carried out at the customer task level. These operations will only work if you have selected only customer tasks. Also note that when copying, you must select the customer task you want the copied tasks to be inserted after. You cannot copy to a blank part of the estimate, nor to a non-customer task.
A fifth mechanism is available in Epic, though this requires customisation - allowing it to read data in from external documents such as Microsoft Excel spreadsheets.
So far the figures you have entered relate to estimated costs for the yard. Now you use these costs to calculate a quoted price to the customer. The last column displays the total price for that line. For customer tasks it is the sum of all included child yard tasks. For yard tasks it is the sum of all included line items. However the total for line items involves a more complex calculation. Initially the line item total is the sum of all manhour, material, subcontract and resource totals. However this is only true because a new estimate has blank (i.e. zero) mark-ups. Mark-ups are an amount added to base costs to generate a price. A mark-up is a piece of text that has one of the following formats:
Mark-ups are applied for an entire estimate and are added via the 'Totals' section on the first 'Estimate' tab of the editor. Mark-ups can be individually set for each of the main cost types and then an additional markup can be applied to the whole line total. In the example below the estimate's costs consist of a single line item with 10 manhours with a rate of 10. The applied mark-ups increase the line item's (and hence estimate's) total as shown:
Note that this section offers an immediate way of checking overall estimate costs.
Now experiment with the estimate adding tasks and line items and applying costs, rates and mark-ups. Also try including and excluding tasks to see the effect on the estimate total.
Exporting the Estimate
Once you have a few costed tasks you have a basic estimate. The next step is to export the estimate to a file for printing or further editing. This is done by clicking the button at the top right of the 'Estimate' tab. Click this (if you have not saved the estimate you will be asked to do so first) and a wizard will open offering the export choices has available:
There may be different options available to you (if you have a customer plug-in) but each will offer you a file type and then guide you through the creation and saving of the file. Note that when you are offered save options, if you select 'save in repository' the document will automatically be recorded with estimate record.
This is the final stage in creating an estimate - until the customer agrees the contract and it is time to import the estimate's tasks to the parent project.
If you are comfortable with the content of this tutorial so far, you have mastered the heart of Epic's estimating functionality. All remaining topics in this tutorial are utilities to improve your productivity in this base functionality, or to add flexibility so that Epic better suits your style of estimating.
You may wish to collate certain types of cost across tasks. This can be done by assigning task types to individual yard tasks. A task type is simply a piece of text that categorises the task. Examples might be trade name, 'scaffolding', or even 'Subcontractor X'. For further detail each task type can also have any number of sub-types. Task types and subtypes are defined for all estimators via the Administration plug-in - see change dropdown lists.
Once you have assigned types to some or all yard tasks, you can then view tasks grouped by these categories in a third tab. You make this third tab visible via your estimate preferences.
Epic offers several preferences to allow you to tailor the GUI's behaviour. These can be accessed by opening your preferences and selecting 'Your Preferences / Estimating':
Please note that changes to these settings are not reflected in already open estimates. You will need close and re-open any estimates.
You may or may not have permissions to customise columns. This is set by an administrator in the estimate system settings:
Customisation means to change column headings, visibility and whether they relate to manhours, purchases, subcontracts or tariff items. This can be done on an estimate-by-estimate basis.
Drag'n'drop is a facility used by advanced users to quickly move/copy records. You click on the icons of one or more tasks and then, holding down the mouse key 'drag' these records to another location. In estimating you drag them to another customer task that you want them inserted after. The standard means to indicate a copy rather than a move is to hold down the CTRL key when you release the mouse button at the end of a drag'n'drop operation.
Drag'n'drop is initially switched off in Epic as some users prefer not to use it. Switching it on via your preferences allows you to move or copy tasks within an estimate or copy from one estimate to another. Note as a safety precaution you cannot move tasks from one estimate to another - if you try a warning message will be displayed.
Estimate emplates are a powerful feature of Epic that allow you to copy common sets of estimated tasks that you may wish to use again and again. For templates to work you must:
Epic initially comes with no templates. The idea is for you, personally or at department level, to create templates as you go along. Whenever you create a set of tasks that you feel you may use again, you drag one or more customer tasks across to the templates view. This will open a wizard to allow you to record details about the template:
Once you click 'Finish' this is added to the list of templates:
Whenever you wish to use this set of tasks again you can then drag'n'drop the template across onto the estimate and the tasks will be added (note the CTRL key has to be pressed).
You can have any number of estimate templates. They are organised by category (which you can filter on) and have a description. The description - and all the text within the templates' tasks - can alos be used to filter the displayed templates. Simply type the text you are looking for in the box at the top.
Templates can be imported and exported to files using the and buttons. If these are not available ensure that templates are allowed to be imported/export via the 'Systems Settings / Estimating / allow import export of templates' preference.