Digital Dry Shack Blog

From the Bid Room: Estimating emergency handled

I had an urgent support call last week from one of our Montana contractors who use Timberline Estimating. Here's the scenario: It's Bid Day,  getting down to the last hour before the bid is due. The system kicked them out of the estimate, and when they try to reopen the  file, they get an error  the message:  "Estimate is open on another computer or marked as Read Only. Yikes! The good news is that this is easy to fix.  Here's how: Make sure EVERYONE is out of Timberline, (both Accounting and Estimating). This is important if you want the payroll checks to be correct next Friday! On the file where the estimate file resides, (usually the Server), open Services, and stop both the Pervasive Services. Then restart both. This 5-minute procedure will clear the "Read Only" flag and allow the file to be reopned. With this simple procedure, Steve & his team were  back up and running in just a few minutes, to close the bid successfully. The bid market is tough enough out there without computer problems! Let us know if you have a question, and we'll answer it for you and post it here.

Upcoming Training P6 in Honolulu: January 10-11, 2011

Our next P6 Training opportunity available for open enrollment is scheduled for January 10-11 in sunny Honolulu, Hawaii. Please register soon if you're interested in attending, to guarantee the class will happen. Cost for the two days training is $1,295, with a $100 Early Bird registration discount if registration is received by December 31st. Discounts are also available for 3 or more attendees. Please contact us via email at, or Mark Stenstrom, our sponsoring Oracle | Primavera Certified Business Partner:

P6 Training

Our latest initiative has been developing comprehensive training for Oracle | Primavera Project Manager, (known throughout the industry as "P6"). We've focused specifically on using P6 to develop project schedules to the particularly rigorous specifications of the Army Corps of Engineers and NAVFAC. Please contact us if your firm is interested in government work, and learning the skills required to get your schedule and accompanying Pay Requests approved with minimal headaches.

BIM and the Estimator

I’ve been asked by one of my industry software provider friends to write a piece on the current state of Building Information Modeling (BIM), as it relates to estimating in the here and now. The  topic has become increasingly relevant as the software driving the standard is evolving quickly. (Or is it the demand that’s drving the software, fueling the growth? No matter.) BIM is fully useful now. In fact, the oil and gas industry has been modeling its projects for thirty years, not starting construction until the model is complete, and all potential design conflicts resolved. In the building sector, BIM is largely confined to the design-build arena. Why Design-Build? Because you need to own the drawings to have sufficient access to the CAD objects, or be on a truly team-oriented project that shares its resources openly among all project players. Not found on the conventional (read archaic) low-bid project! To the uninitiated, the BIM standard (also known as Virtual Design & Construction, or VDC) requires”intelligent” design objects, rather than mere lines on the digital plan page. These objects contain rich data including material dimensions, quantities, and types, to name just a few attributes that sets modeled objects apart from conventional 2-D [...]

2017-01-14T08:23:34+00:00 By |Consulting, Digital Dry Shack Blog|

A good time to invest in the future.

With the hot summer weather and long daylight hours here in the Pacific Northwest, the livin’ is easy. For those with overhead under control, it’s a good time to enjoy some outdoor activities and vacation time with family and friends. Between the slumping economy and the enticing lure of summer, we took some time off in July. Just before heading back East for a 4th of July break,  I attended the AACE conference in Seattle, whose membership is mostly engineering-industrial firms. Business in those sectors is down from last year, but stronger than what we’re seeing in commercial segments. Those firms were guardedly optimistic; plus they’re getting a discount on their projects due to depressed material and subcontractor pricing. Not unexpectedly, there’s still plenty of bad news: ENR’s construction revenue data (updated through second quarter) show the commercial market still declining, especially in retail and office construction. While health care and education revenue is less dismal, it’s still following the same downward trend. For the first time this year however, there’s a small seed of optimism sprouting in the dirt. Power and fuel-industry construction rose last quarter, compared with 2008. And a surprising (shocking?) 11% uptick in housing starts last [...]

Commitment to process

We’re fast-approaching the half-year point in the worst economy in nearly 80 years. Most of our clientele is doing better than the economy. We’ve had only one of our customers go out of business, not bad out of the roughly 50 companies we work with. (The one that didn’t make it was an anomaly- the president skipped the country, which really had nothing to do with the viability of the business.) I think the fact that we’re all still in business speaks well of companies who have recognized the importance of solid business procedures. All our clientele have invested in Timberline, US Cost, Win Estimator, Primavera, OnCenter, Dexter & Chaney, and in some cases more than one of the above. That commitment to process is one of the attributes that separates the good companies from the also-rans. Our commitment is expertise with those systems, to help our customers get maximum efficiency and productivity from that investment. We at Cassell Consulting are having a decent year. Our revenue is down 11%, not as good as we’d hoped, nor as bad as we’d feared. In January I stated that a good year in this economy would be between 90% to 110% of [...]

Exciting products and fresh directions

March finds the bid market slowing in many areas, but holding its own in a few areas. Job prices continue to plummet as marginal contracting firms fight for survival. However some of our clientele reports that it’s still possible to bid a job with some profit, and actually get awarded the job. Starting that project on time is often problematic however, as Owners and Developers report that bank funding remains inordinately tight. ENR’s forecast for 2009 shows continuing declines in nearly all sectors of industrial, commercial, & residential markets, with modest growth only in public works highway and infrastructure work in 2010.  Some rebound in health care, education, and agriculture is forecast for next year, but private development and residential construction is predicted to continue its decline. Therefore the companies with solid presence in public works, and negotiated markets are best-positioned for the current recession. Just as surely as spring breezes blow in a different direction from those in winter, the new season has brought significant changes at Cassell Consulting. After fifteen years as an Independent Timberline-certified Estimating consultant & trainer, we declined to renew. This is not to suggest that our support for our loyal Timberline clientele will diminish. [...]

Sage Timberline Estimating to adopt industry-standard Microsoft SQL.

Feb. is here, and we’re not sure whether we should be celebrating or lamenting its arrival. We’re seeing some upticks from our customers, but most indications are still headed in the wrong direction. Hard work and good controls are the hallmarks contributing to the limited successes of our clientele- nothing new. We attended the World of Concrete in Las Vegas. All in all the show appeared to me to be successful, with somewhere between 66%-80% of the anticipated 85,000 attendees. That’s not bad  by this economy’s standards, (although it clearly would have been viewed as a disaster in recent years past). Also at World of Concrete: when we spoke with Steve Watt, president of WinEstimator Inc. of Kent, WA he showed us Modelogix, its new conceptual modeling component.  In our opinion, it’s the best, easiest-to-use parametric estimating tool that we’ve seen.  Don’t own WinEst? No problem- as long as you can export your estimates to Excel, WinEst’s new tool can intelligently sort, query, and evaluate your entire historical estimate library, weighted for estimate date AND locale, in just minutes!! Finally, we can’t leave our WoC review without offering our congratulations to Adam Vaske, of  Seedorff Masonry of Strawberry Point, IA, [...]

Timberline Estimating Tip – using Estimating Explorer

This week’s tip concerns using Estimating Explorer, the bid management utility that is bundled with your Sage Timberline Estimating package. We recommend using Estimating Explorer for both creating & managing your Timberline Estimates. This accomplishes multiple goals: Consistency in the way estimates are created, and estimate data fields are filled in. (Pick lists are provided for numerous fields including Estimator.) You can utilize this consistency with Explorer’s built-in reports, to track each estimator’s productivity and performance. Explorer provides a convenient, fast way to view the contents of Timberline Estimate files, without opening them. Explorer also offers a quick way to copy, move, and delete estimate files. It’s just as safe, more intuitive, and quite a bit faster than using the File Tools wizard.

2014-11-05T17:03:44+00:00 By |Digital Dry Shack Blog, Timberline|