Life of an Estimator: Complexity Under-Estimated
The construction industry is known to be a versatile industry with insane proportions of work-related stress. This is true even for professionals working behind the desk, such as Estimators. Their share is at par with that of the professionals working on-site, although only inside the limitations of their cubicles. Estimators can be as hard-bitten as on-field professionals. Their duties as estimator transform the easy-going professional into a cynic through years of performing one of the toughest jobs in construction. Let us see what makes it such a tedious arrangement for the job-
The most exhausting part of the job is the high probabilities of losing the bids. In the present-day situation, the construction industry is a challenging place with nearly every work witnessing a cut-throat competition. An estimator encounters two major anxieties time & again: to be able to counterbalance all incurring costs (of bidding a job) & winning the job.
In an either-or situation, estimators contemplate two profound questions depending on where the course of bidding a job eventually ends up.
• If a bid is won, what were the actual deal-breaking factors?
• If a bid is lost, why wasn’t it won? What was left out?
This continual iteration is the reason why estimators can be some of the most case-hardened professionals of their industry.
More factors that contribute to the ever-stressful jobs of estimators are –
• competition in the market
• tight deadlines
• the ratio of the vastness of project scope to that of the accuracy in performance
• the processing for the pricing part of the job (service works, change orders) which can be relatively flexible but for the estimators, it is not so
On bid days, the bids are due at a specific time & place, in a specific format; If the requirements are not met, weeks of tiresome work is out the window. The situation is like a battle-arena for the estimators when all the factors mentioned above spring into action at once.
An important factor to consider which mostly goes unnoticed is the quality of the estimators’ work as viewed by their peers. A tradesman can install a light fixture incorrectly; on realizing the mistake, it can be fixed, and the proof of the mistake is untraceable, whereas when an estimator miscalculates the count of these light fixtures, the printed proof of the estimates is always available. Grueling work review by bosses, co-workers, and other involved parties makes estimating very intimidating & stressful.
Estimators naturally assume an owner-like approach on the projects they work on. If they don’t, they would probably not contribute to winning many projects. For them, the responsibility is not only a professional one but also somewhat a social one, as they work on the projects to make it the winning entry, to be built, & be profitable, and to eventually ensure that they have satisfied clients They also strive to provide priority services to existing clients while developing and fine-tuning the relations with their trade-partners, subcontractors to help their businesses evolve cohesively.
Estimators are required to use their intellect, interpretation & visualization skills, math skills & most importantly patience & resilience. In an industry where if you are good you score 1 in 4 jobs, or in today’s market 1 in 6 or 8 jobs; the food for thought is, then why would anyone be an estimator? The strike rate is anything but satisfactory. No construction company can withstand the waves of competition without good estimators. They take a bashing day in & day out and hold their grounds. With a quotidian pressure of the job, estimators are those infrequently appreciated professionals who deserve a shout-out for their continuous efforts.