Original Post Date: Wednesday, September 25, 2013

After we spend time building up a point estimate, a cost estimator always has to do some additional work to break the estimate down into terms their estimate consumer will understand, or to perform different comparisons for various analyses.  Sometimes, you need to map the estimate into a Standard Work Breakdown Structure or Cost Element Structure.  Sometimes you want to compare to a bottom-up or grass-roots estimate.  Or, if you are planning budgets or manpower out into the future, you need details.  We have to speak a lot of languages in order to respond to all of these needs.

At PRICE Systems we are finding better ways to translate every day.  First, we have a fairly detailed reporting capability within the TruePlanning tool, including tabular results and charts.  And in 2012, we showed you the “Activity Mapper” which can be used to map the costs of the activities in your parametric estimate to a Cost Element Structure, and also maps your estimate into ACEIT.  You can customize the cost structure into any standard or a custom structure for your organization; it may be by division and departments within your organization.  But more importantly, with the first set of “companion applications”, came the advent of the COM API layer, which in theory could enable us to do almost anything with the complex data that TruePlanning Produces.

In support of the needs of ASTRIUM, our development team has built a new “Viewer/Mapper”, which will allow you to take a deeper dive into the estimate by breaking down each cost object by activity, and mapping from that level into a custom Work Breakdown Structure.  This tool is built specifically to compare your parametric model to a bottoms-up estimate, when you load in your specified WBS.

The coolest tool (I think) is the Pivot-Table Mapper which came from a collaboration of 2 of our top pros: John Swaren and Ed Merriman.  Using the COM API Interface, they were able to create a tool to pull down just about every facet of the TruePlanning Output, apply a pivot table, and create a form to divvy up the costs into multiple levels of rows and columns by almost any split: cost objects by year, and activity and phase?  You name it.  This is real hypercube mapping!

I think these three tools will address the detailed cost mapping needs of many of our users over the next year, as they become more mature. While we are still honing their capabilities… I ask you:  What data mapping needs have you tried to fulfill?  How do you break down your estimate?  And how can we help you to translate into the language of your estimate consumer?  Ideas are welcome!