Efficient, Accurate Cost Estimating

June, 25-27, 2018

New Orleans, Louisiana

Day One
Tuesday June 26, 2018

Day Two
Wednesday June 27, 2018

Chair’s Opening Remarks

BREAKOUTS: Who Needs to Do What at Every Stage to Streamline the Planning Process?


This interactive session will begin by dividing participants into peer groups of Utilities, Engineering firms, and Contractors to discuss their frustrations and perspectives on how to better streamline the planning and estimating process.

  • What do you need from the other stakeholders to optimize your estimation process?
  • How do you think a more open culture can be fostered and maintained in the utility industry?

The second part of this session will then see all three groups drawn back together to feedback findings and brainstorm possible solutions to help each stakeholder estimate jobs faster and more efficiently.

CASE STUDY: Introducing New Software to Improve Data Sharing & Ease Estimating Practices

  • Jackie Becker Manager of Cost Engineering & Project Controls, Ameren


  • Understanding key indicators for the need to transition to a new software: How do you know you need an upgrade?
  • Highlighting advantages of introducing advanced software packages, and ways to build a business case to increase managerial buy-in
  • Assessing how to introduce, pilot and scale a new software package with minimal disruption

INTERACTIVE SESSION: Tackling Software Challenges & Optimizing Excel Systems


Estimation software is gradually being adopted by estimating departments, to help streamline procedural practices. However, there is yet to emerge a single platform that can fully serve electrical utilities, and so many companies still rely on Excel for all, or part, of their estimation processes.

This working session will provide insight into how data storage, sharing, and management in Excel can be optimized and integrated with other working systems to streamline project estimation from planning through to close out. This session will provide both a working example and practical activity to give you insight into how to make practical changes to your own systems.

Morning Refreshments

Building in Risk to Estimates

Part 1: Establishing a Formal Process for Risk Management & Developing Risk Registers

  • Trey Childers Director of Preconstruction, Sentry Electrical Group Inc.
  • Tim Franklin Lead Substation Estimator, Sentry Electrical Group Inc.


  • Outlining ways to encourage estimators to think about risk from day one and foster a risk aware culture within your department
  • Underlining how to develop a risk register with sufficient flexibility to adapt to varying project scope
  • Understanding the use of historical data to inform risk and drill down more accurate contingencies on items

Part 2: Using Risk Awareness to Strike the Balance Between Providing Adequate Contingencies & Submitting Competitive Bids

  • Trey Childers Director of Preconstruction, Sentry Electrical Group Inc.
  • Tim Franklin Lead Substation Estimator, Sentry Electrical Group Inc.


  • Identifying and quantifying risk to highlight areas of a project that will most likely require contingency
  • Aligning qualitative and quantitative risk analysis to assign realistic cost values to potential pitfalls
  • Benchmarking models to clearly present contingencies in an estimate and communicate risk management efforts to a client

Conceptual Estimating: How Can You Better Manage Risk When Dealing with Limited Time & Incomplete Scope?


  • Exploring ways to influence culture change and allow more time for contractors to prepare bids to increase quality and still align with construction timelines
  • Understanding how to improve time management and breaking down stages of a project into manageable chunks to ease rapid take off
  • Reviewing resources that can be used to assign logical costs to combat unknown project scope, and increase the likelihood of bid accuracy

Lunch break

Analyzing How to Better Build Subsurface & Environmental Risk into Estimates


  • Highlighting environmental factors that most commonly cause challenges on projects and assessing how to develop a consistent set of requirements for pre-planning stages of information needed for quality estimates
  • Reviewing tools and technologies available to help detect subsurface risk and increase understanding of project conditions
  • Exploring the potential to collect environmental information into a single industry source to help inform future estimates quickly and easily

PANEL: Understanding How to Better Approach & Manage Risk Across the Client & Contractor


  • Exploring the potential to share risk across the Utility and Contractor to lower contingencies, and how this may reflect in contractual agreements
  • Outlining clearer ways to present risk contingencies to the client and increase transparency of ways to mitigate risk
  • Understanding the expectations of utilities companies for building in risk to estimates, and how this can impact the approach to creating a bid

Forecasting the Future of the Electric Utility Market

PANEL: Analyzing Future Trends & Forecasts for the Electric Utility Industry

  • Jackie Becker Manager of Cost Engineering & Project Controls, Ameren
  • Kurt Traub VP Transmission & Distribution Line Engineering, Ampirical


  • Discussing the direction of the construction market for Utilities in the next 2-3 years, and the expected long-range distribution between substation and T&D projects
  • Exploring technologies that will change project design and scope, and potentially reduce the cost of construction
  • Reviewing developments across other markets to identify applicable lessons and potential future changes for the construction of electrical utility projects

Chair’s Closing Remarks