People who are not well conversant with the various complexities involved with engineering projects often make the mistake of neglecting or overruling the professional integrity of experienced engineers by casting aspersions or expressing doubts on the estimates prepared by professional engineers. Only incompetent engineers with no professional standing accept such an attack on their professional integrity and competence. Unfortunately, such lots are plenty now-a-days which actually causes degradation of engineers' work and role.
Cost estimates could be done mechanically by any one by or even using computers by multiplying unit costs with quantity involved and adding up the whole with further percentage additions on taxes, duties, contingencies, etc. However, such cost estimates lack the essence of experience of the engineer and hence, cannot be relied with assured confidence. It should be remembered that each and every engineering project is unique in some way and no two projects could be considered as equal. Every engineering project, even while looking similar on broader aspects are different when examined in detail.
Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contractors are often required to quote for engineering projects on a firmed up basis and their prices are often compared with the estimated costs for negotiations and price justifications. EPC contractors quoting prices much higher or lower than the estimated costs of the purchaser is quite common. This is because, the EPC contractors also do the cost estimations from their side based on their own assessment and assumptions. EPC conctractors bagging contracts after tough competition may lose money in the contract if they do not adopt proper micro planning in project management. Many EPC conctactors are forced to do unfair means for getting large engineering contracts when the prevalent market conditions are unprofessional.
Engineers are the key persons for ensuring success of any project. But when they are treated shabbily with least respect to their professional competence, shabby projects result.
It is an important lesson I learnt long back. If you treat your cook or the person who prepare food for you with utter disrespect, it might result in you eating something which you would not like even your enemies to have. The cook might not retaliate directly, but will do so indirectly at some opportunistic time! If that could happen with a low level worker class, the higher worker class could do even worse!
So project cost estimates are useful and beneficial when they are made by experienced professional engineers who have professional integrity and also when such estimates are sought from them giving due respect to their professionalism. In such a case, the project cost estimate would serve as a right pointer for proper decision making.
If the engineering estimates are made with total disregard to the above, the result is some estimate which most likely misleads and cause a project failure if proceeded with.
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