Quantities by Location Are the Key to Costing, Planning, and Controlling Construction Projects


A couple of weeks ago, I was fortunate to be able to present the Vico 5D workflow to the members of the AACEI (the International Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering).  The audience was made up of heavy hitters – of course, I can’t mention them, but I’ll give generous hints on a couple of them: one international GC has my surname and one international Owner uses a cute mouse with big ears as part of their branding.


Someone at the meeting, not from the above-mentioned companies, but from a global power manufacturing and installation company called out the fact that I was English and in England we use Quantity Surveyors to count work performed on site and that was not deemed to be required in the US. 


Quantity Surveyors in the UK are either Professional Quantity Surveyors (PQS) or Contractor’s Quantity Surveyors (QS). The PQS works for the client and ensures he pays as little money as possible for as much work as possible and the QS obviously does the reverse for the GC.

Agreeing on value of work performed and cost of extras always being a bone of contention.


It was a strange comment and obviously the point had been missed so I thought I would air my thoughts….


The difference really boils down to Quantities per Location.  When we develop a healthy set of location breakdown structures and location systems for individual trades, we know the exact quantities per location.  Then, when we apply the subs’ productivity rates (achieved during a pull scheduling session or garnered from their bid packages), we can easily calculate the task durations per location for our schedule.


Then using Vico Production Controller we track actual performance per location. This tells us exactly what the production rates are and we can see very visually the delta between planned versus actual. It also forecasts the effect if the production rate remains constant. That doesn’t mean someone has to run around site with tape measure constantly. It can be as simple as, is the work for this trade in location X complete and if so, check the box.


As you can imagine, this kept the discussion lively.  I then introduced flowline theory – one of the basic tenets of our scheduling solutions; namely, that subcontractors can work at optimum productivity rates with optimum safety and craftsmanship if their locations are free of unnecessary materials and other crews.  Furthermore, when subcontractors understand that their work will not be interrupted with stops and starts on the jobsite, they can utilize the correct resources, manpower, and equipment.


Dare I say that we reached the consensus that we would rather get a best price from a sub by making their life easier?  We would rather negotiate their bids based on visualizing the locations and agreeing exactly what their quantities and scope will be.  Then it becomes our responsibility to organize their work locations, avoid starts and stops, and avoid conflicts/congestion with other trades.


We all agreed as a group that simply accepting a lump sum bid and then fighting with claims is not a good workflow.


So what I thought was going to be a discussion of the power of model-based estimating actually turned into a discussion on location-based scheduling!  I quietly removed my Estimator’s chapeau and quickly put on my Planner’s cap…


Let me show you what I basically shared with the audience…



Vico Office Scheduling Solutions are designed to address both sides on the planning equation: not only do we allow you to create an optimized location-based schedule, but we also allow you to manage it on the jobsite.  By allowing the Superintendent to walk the jobsite and record percent of work complete by location, we are recording the actual productivity rates which we can turn around and compare to the planned productivity rates.


In my estimation (pun intended), Vico Office actually eliminates the need for the traditional Quantity Surveying role and the PQS/QS job description changes to suit the new process. Maybe their title will eventually change too as their duties evolve?!


If projects can be costed, planned, and executed in a more effective visual way giving better value to an owner, who is the owner more likely to use to build his or her next project?


What do you think?  How aggressively do you use quantities by location to plan and estimate your projects?  Post your comments below.

Tags: AACEI, model-based estimating, International Association for the Advancement of C, quantity surveyors, quantities by location, location-based scheduling, production controller, flowline theory, production control