Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Project engineering: an xkcd primer

Stickfigure cartoon:

Or, you could just do what I used to do:

1) Submit an estimate based on a fixed percentage of construction cost.

2) When you get blowback from that, break down every single conceivable bloody task into exact time quantities, and total them up in Excel. Multiply this by the labour charge-out rates. This will most likely give you the exact same fee as (1) above, which is why we've been using fixed percentage estimates for 50 years.

3) when you get blowback from that, ask the PM what he wants your estimate to be ffs.

4) Take the PM's answer from (3) to the regional manager, and get told that no, we're not in the business of doing work for free, we're in the business of making money for our shareholders, and that's why around here we submit estimates based on a fixed percentage of construction cost, and what was your original estimate anyway, well that's a bit light, I'd add 20% to that if it was me.

5) Submit the original fixed percentage estimate to your PM and tell him he should discuss his concerns with the regional manager.

This is sometimes followed months after by

6) Look on the network drive for the project bid, find out we didn't win the job, and then see that the asshole PM cut your fee by 25%, which was smaller than the rounding error for the environmental department's bloated, insanely high fee.

Which then entails

7) Next time the PM asks you for an estimate, say "You don't have any professional respect for my estimates anyway, just make something up. If I go over budget I'll just start charging to environmental."

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