The functionality of an excel workbook is indisputable.
For engineers and project planners working on complex pipeline project estimates, excel is especially appealing.
Providing virtually unlimited options for calculations to cover every possible aspect of the pipeline project, and none of the limitations of traditional project software, there’s no wonder excel workbooks provide the foundational calculations for some of the most astoundingly complex pipeline projects in history.
The unfettered ability to create and customize extensive calculations is one of the reasons generic estimating software solutions have a historically low adoption rate in the pipeline estimating field. Providing more limitations than helpful resources, there’s been no incentive to adopt a third party solution.
There are however, a few challenges that can occur with the traditional, workbook generated approach to pipeline project estimates.
The first is the efficiency of updating the estimate when one or more inputs, like time or distance is adjusted. Usually, this means a labour intensive manual process of updating each tab, row, calculation and column.
Unfortunately, over the course of a project estimate being developed, these iterations can be plentiful, and each time increase the odds of human error.
Another circumstance that makes the workbook approach less than ideal is when it comes time for knowledge transfer. Communicating the intricacies of a multi tab workbook to a team member new to the project can be resource intensive and may not follow the same logic or approach as the on-boarding team members.
Lastly, generating consistent results using this method can also be problematic. Ever solution oriented, the estimating team often iterates their formulas, improving as they go.
This produces a variation in cost and schedule estimates that can’t always be reproduced by other team members, or within a portfolio of multiple projects where measuring results against a baseline is a core business objective.
These issues with workbooks haven’t outweighed their continuing utility, and so far, the approach has been working.
Over the past 10 years, one project estimating professional has been building a master pipeline construction project estimating workbook, eventually taking the form of a completely custom built pipeline estimating and conceptual scheduling software.
Packed with features like automation of resource allocation, and a dual pronged approach to risk assessment, the final product is an undeniably impressive product that provides outstanding results for it’s users.
Mitigating the troublesome issues present with the workbook approach, yet allowing for the flexibility to import and export to and from excel, APEX (Advanced Pipeline Estimating and eXecution Software) has earned rave reviews from it’s user base over the last decade of widespread use.
APEX may just provide the combination of flexibility, robust calculations, pipeline specific & time saving functionality and repeatable reliable calculations to convert even the most dedicated excel spreadsheet aficionado.
Learn why more pipeline estimating professionals are adopting APEX than ever before.