Principles, Process and Practice of Professional Number Juggling: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Principles, Process and Practice of Professional Number Juggling

1st Edition

By Alan R. Jones


242 pages

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Hardback: 9781138063969
pub: 2018-09-10

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Principles, Process and Practice of Professional Number Juggling (Volume 1 of the Working Guides to Estimating & Forecasting series) sets the scene of TRACEability and good estimate practicethat is followed in the other volumes in this series of five working guides. It clarifiesthe difference between an Estimating Process, Procedure, Approach, Method andTechnique. It expands on these definitions of Approach (Top-down, Bottom-up and

‘Ethereal’) and Method (Analogy, Parametric and ‘Trusted Source’) and discusses how these form the basis of all other means of establishing an estimate.

This volume also underlines the importance of ‘data normalisation’ in any estimating procedure, and demonstrates that the Estimating by Analogy Method, in essence, is a simple extension of Data Normalisation. The author looks at simple measures of assessing the maturity or health of an estimate, and offers a means of assessing a spreadsheet for any inherent risks or errors that may be introduced by failing to follow good practice in spreadsheet design and build.

This book provides a taster of the more numerical techniques covered in the remainder of the series by considering how an estimator can potentially exploit Benford’s Law (traditionally used in Fraud Detection) to identify systematic bias from third party contributors. It will be a valuable resource for estimators, engineers, accountants, project risk specialists as well as students of cost engineering.


"In the Working Guides to Estimating and Forecasting Alan has managed to capture the full spectrum of relevant topics with simple explanations, practical examples and academic rigor, while injecting humour into the narrative." Dale Shermon, Chairman, Society of Cost Analysis and Forecasting (SCAF).

"If estimating has always baffled you, this innovative well illustrated and user friendly book will prove a revelation to its mysteries. To confidently forecast, minimise risk and reduce uncertainty we need full disclosure into the science and art of estimating. Thankfully, and at long last the "Working Guides to Estimating & Forecasting" are exactly that, full of practical examples giving clarity, understanding and validity to the techniques. These are comprehensive step by step guides in understanding the principles of estimating using experientially based models to analyse the most appropriate, repeatable, transparent and credible outcomes. Each of the five volumes affords a valuable tool for both corporate reference and an outstanding practical resource for the teaching and training of this elusive and complex subject. I wish I had access to such a thorough reference when I started in this discipline over 15 years ago, I am looking forward to adding this to my library and using it with my team." - Tracey L Clavell, Head of Estimating & Pricing, BAE Systems Australia

"At last, a comprehensive compendium on these engineering math subjects, essential to both the new and established "cost engineer"! As expected the subjects are presented with the author’s usual wit and humour on complex and daunting "mathematically challenging" subjects. As a professional trainer within the MOD Cost Engineering community trying to embed this into my students, I will be recommending this series of books as essential bedtime reading." - Steve Baker, Senior Cost Engineer, DE&S MOD

"Alan has been a highly regarded member of the Cost Estimating and forecasting profession for several years. He is well known for an ability to reduce difficult topics and cost estimating methods down to something that is easily digested. As a master of this communication he would most often be found providing training across the cost estimating and forecasting tools and at all levels of expertise. With this 5-volume set, Working Guides to Estimating and Forecasting, Alan has brought his normal verbal training method into a written form. Within their covers Alan steers away from the usual dry academic script into establishing an almost 1:1 relationship with the reader. For my money a recommendable read for all levels of the Cost Estimating and forecasting profession and those who simply want to understand what is in the ‘blackbox’ just a bit more." - Prof Robert Mills, Margin Engineering, Birmingham City University. MACOSTE, SCAF, ICEAA.

"Finally, a book to fill the gap in cost estimating and forecasting! Although other publications exist in this field, they tend to be light on detail whilst also failing to cover many of the essential aspects of estimating and forecasting. Jones covers all this and more from both a theoretical and practical point of view, regularly drawing on his considerable experience in the defence industry to provide many practical examples to support his comments. Heavily illustrated throughout, and often presented in a humorous fashion, this is a must read for those who want to understand the importance of cost estimating within the broader field of project management." - Dr Paul Blackwell, Lecturer in Management of Projects, The University of Manchester, UK.

"Alan Jones provides a useful guidebook and navigation aid for those entering the field of estimating as well as an overview for more experienced practitioners. His humorous asides supplement a thorough explanation of techniques to liven up and illuminate an area which has little attention in the literature, yet is the basis of robust project planning and successful delivery. Alan’s talent for explaining the complicated science and art of estimating in practical terms is testament to his knowledge of the subject and to his experience in teaching and training." - Therese Lawlor-Wright, Principal Lecturer in Project Management at the University of Cumbria

"Alan Jones has created an in depth guide to estimating and forecasting that I have not seen historically. Anyone wishing to improve their awareness in this field should read this and learn from the best." Richard Robinson, Technical Principal for Estimating, Mott MacDonald

"The book series of ‘Working Guides to Estimating and Forecasting’ is an essential read for students, academics and practitioners who interested in developing a good understanding of cost estimating and forecasting from real-life perspectives". Professor Essam Shehab, Professor of Digital Manufacturing and Head of Cost Engineering, Cranfield University, UK.

"In creating the Working Guides to Estimating and Forecasting, Alan has captured the core approaches and techniques required to deliver robust and reliable estimates in a single series. Some of the concepts can be challenging, however, Alan has delivered them to the reader in a very accessible way that supports lifelong learning. Whether you are an apprentice, academic or a seasoned professional, these working guides will enhance your ability to understand the alternative approaches to generating a well-executed, defensible estimate, increasing your ability to support competitive advantage in your organisation." - Professor Andrew Langridge, Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Professor in Whole Life Cost Engineering and Cost Data Management, University of Bath, UK.

"Alan Jones’s "Working Guides to Estimating and Forecasting" provides an excellent guide for all levels of cost estimators from the new to the highly experienced. Not only does he cover the underpinning good practice for the field, his books will take you on a journey from cost estimating basics through to how estimating should be used in manufacturing the future – reflecting on a whole life cycle approach. He has written a must-read book for anyone starting cost estimating as well as for those who have been doing estimates for years. Read this book and learn from one of the best." - Linda Newnes, Professor of Cost Engineering, University of Bath, UK.

Table of Contents

Contents, Foreword, 1 Introduction and Objectives, 1.1 Why write this book? Who might find it useful? Why Five Volumes? 1.1.1 Why write this series? Who might find it useful? 1.1.2 Why Five Volumes? 1.2 Features you'll find in this book and others in this series, 1.2.1 Chapter Context, 1.2.2 The Lighter Side (humour), 1.2.3 Quotations, 1.2.4 Definitions, 1.2.5 Discussions and Explanations with a Mathematical Slant for Formula-philes, 1.2.6 Discussions and Explanations without a Mathematical Slant for Formula-phobes, 1.2.7 Caveat Augur, 1.2.8 Worked Examples, 1.2.9 Useful Microsoft Excel Functions and Facilities, 1.2.10 References to Authoritative Sources, 1.2.11 Chapter Reviews, 1.3 Overview of Chapters in this Volume, 1.4 Elsewhere in the 'Working Guide to Estimating & Forecasting' Series, 1.4.1 Volume I: Principles, Process and Practice of Professional Number Juggling, 1.4.2 Volume II: Probability, Statistics and other Frightening Stuff, 1.4.3 Volume III: Best Fit Lines & Curves, and some Mathe-Magical Transformations, 1.4.4 Volume IV: Learning, Unlearning and Re-Learning Curves, 1.4.5 Volume V: Risk, Opportunity, Uncertainty and Other Random Models, 1.5 Final Thoughts and Musings on this Volume and Series, References, 2 Methods, Approaches, Techniques and Related Terms, 2.1 What is the Difference between a Method, Approach and Technique? 2.2 Estimating Process, 2.3 Estimating Approaches, 2.3.1 Top-down Approach, 2.3.2 Bottom-up Approach, 2.3.3 Ethereal Approach, 2.4 Estimating Methods, 2.4.1 Analogical Method, 2.4.2 Parametric Method, 2.4.3 'Trusted Source' Method, 2.4.4 Methods that are arguably not Methods (in their own right), 2.5 Estimating Techniques, 2.6 Estimating Procedures, 2.7 Combining Approaches and Methods, 2.7.1 Choice of Estimating Approach for a Chosen Estimating Element, 2.7.2 Choice of Estimating Method for a Chosen Estimating Approach, 2.7.3 Choice of Estimating Technique for a Chosen Estimating Method, 2.8 Chapter Review, References, 3 Estimate TRACEability and Health Checks, 3.1 Basis of Estimate, TRACEability and Estimate Maturity, 3.1.1 Building Bridges Between Two Estimates, 3.2 Estimate and Schedule Maturity Assessments, 3.2.1 Estimate Maturity Assessment (EMA), 3.2.2 Schedule Maturity Assessment (SMA), 3.2.3 Cost and Schedule Integration Maturity Assessment (CASIMA), 3.3 Good Practice Spreadsheet Modelling (GPSM), 3.3.1 Level of Documentation (T, M), 3.3.2 No Hidden Worksheets, Columns or Rows (T, M), 3.3.3 Colour Coded Cells and Worksheet Tabs (U, S), 3.3.4 Locked Calculation Cells and Protected Worksheets and Workbooks (S), 3.3.5 No Hard-Coded Constants unless Axiomatic (M), 3.3.6 Left to Right and Top to Bottom Readability Flow (U), 3.3.7 Avoid Data Generated by Macros … unless there is a genuine benefit (S, T), 3.3.8 Avoid Array Formulae (T, U, M), 3.3.9 Avoid Dynamic Links to External Data (S), 3.3.10 Use Named Ranges for Frequently Used Table Arrays (M, U), 3.3.11 Use Full Syntax within Excel (M), 3.3.12 Break Complex Calculations into Smaller Simpler Steps (T, M), 3.3.13 Column and Row Alignment Across Worksheets (T), 3.3.14 Unambiguous Units of Measure (U), 3.3.15 Input Data Validation (U), 3.3.16 Independent Model Verification and Validation (S), 3.4 Inherent Risk in Spreadsheets (IRiS) , 3.5 Chapter Review, References, 4 Primary & Secondary Drivers; Accuracy & Precision, 4.1 Thank Goodness for Juran and Pareto, 4.1.1 What's the Drive behind the Drivers? 4.2 Primary Drivers, 4.2.1 Internal and External Drivers, 4.3 Secondary Drivers, 4.4 Practical Issues with Drivers, 4.4.1 Sub-Classification of Primary Drivers, 4.4.2 Avoid Pseudo-Drivers, 4.4.3 Things are rarely Black or White, 4.5 Accuracy and Precision of Primary and Secondary Drivers, 4.5.1 Accuracy, Precision and Drivers - A Pareto Perspective, 4.5.2 Cone of Uncertainty, 4.6 3-Point Estimates as a Measure of Relative Accuracy and Uncertainty, 4.7 Precision as an Expression of Appropriate or Inappropriate Exactness, 4.8 Chapter Review, References, 5 Factors, Rates, Ratios, and Estimating by Analogy, 5.1 Estimating Metrics, 5.1.1 Where to use them, 5.1.2 The Views of Others, 5.1.3 Underlying Linear Relationship, 5.2 Rates, 5.3 Factors, 5.4 Ratios, 5.5 Dealing with Multiple Rates, Factors (and Ratios), 5.5.1 Anomalous Analogies, 5.5.2 Analogies with an Additive Model, 5.5.3 Analogies with a Multiplicative Model, 5.6 Sensitivity Analysis on Factors, Rates and Ratios, 5.6.1 Choosing a Sensitivity Range Quantitatively, 5.6.2 Choosing a Sensitivity Range around a Measure of Central Tendency, 5.6.3 The Triangulation Option, 5.6.4 Choosing a Sensitivity Range around a High-end or Low-end Metric, 5.6.5 Choosing a Sensitivity Range when all else fails, 5.7 Chapter Review, References, 6 Data Normalisation - Levelling the Playing Field, 6.1 Classification of Data Sources - Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Data, 6.1.1 Primary Data, 6.1.2 Secondary Data, 6.1.3 Tertiary Data, 6.1.4 Quarantined Data, 6.2 Types of Normalisation Methods and Techniques, 6.3 Normalisation can be a Multi-Dimensional Problem, 6.3.1 Error Related, 6.3.2 Volume, Quantity or Throughput Related - Economies of Scale, 6.3.3 Scale Conversion - Fixed and Variable Factors, 6.3.4 Date or Time Related, 6.3.5 Life Cycle Related, 6.3.6 Key Groupings - Role Related, 6.3.7 Scope Related (Subjective), 6.3.8 Complexity - Judgement Related (Subjective), 6.4 The Estimator as a Time Traveller, 6.4.1 Use of Time-based Indices Now and Then, 6.4.2 Time-based Weighted Indices, 6.4.3 Time-based Chain-Linked Weighted Indices, 6.4.4 The Doubling Rule for Escalation, 6.4.5 Composite Index: Is that not just a Weighted Index by another Name? 6.4.6 Using the Appropriate Appropriation Approach, 6.4.7 Use of Time as an Indicator of Other Changes, 6.5 Discounted Cash Flow - Normalising Investment Opportunities, 6.5.1 Discounted Cash Flow - A Form of Time Travel for Accountants, 6.5.2 Net Present Value (NPV), 6.5.3 Internal Rate of Return (IRR), 6.5.4 Payback Period, 6.5.5 Strengths and Weakness of Different DCF Techniques, 6.6 Special Types of Formulaic Normalisation Techniques, 6.7 Layering of Normalisation for differences in Analogies, 6.8 Chapter Review, References, 7 Pseudo-Quantitative Qualitative Estimating Techniques, 7.1 Delphi Technique, 7.2 Driver Cross-Impact Analysis, 7.3 A Brief Word or Two About Solution Optimisation, 7.4 Chapter Review, References, 8 Benford's Law as a Potential Measure of Cost Bias , 8.1 Scale Invariance of Benford's Law, 8.2 Potential Use of Benford's Law in Estimating, 8.3 Chapter Review, References, Glossary of Estimating Terms, Index

About the Author

Alan R. Jones is Principal Consultant at Estimata Limited, an estimating consultancy service. He is a Certified Cost Estimator/Analyst (US) and Certified Cost Engineer (CCE) (UK). Prior to setting up his own business, he has enjoyed a 40-year career in the UK aerospace and defence industry as an estimator, culminating in the role of Chief

Estimator at BAE Systems. Alan is a Fellow of the Association of Cost Engineers and a Member of the International Cost Estimating and Analysis Association. Historically (some four decades ago), Alan was a graduate in Mathematics from Imperial College of Science and Technology in London, and was an MBA Prize-winner at the Henley Management College (… that was slightly more recent, being only two decades ago). Oh, how time flies when you are enjoying yourself.

About the Series

Working Guides to Estimating & Forecasting

As engineering and construction projects get bigger, more ambitious and increasingly complex, the ability of organizations to work with realistic estimates of cost, risk or schedule has become fundamental.

And working with estimates requires technical and mathematical skills from the estimator but it also requires an understanding of the processes, the constraints, and the context by those making investment and planning decisions. You can only forecast the future with confidence if you understand the limitations of your forecast.

The Working Guides to Estimating introduce, explain and illustrate the variety and breadth of numerical techniques and models that are commonly used to build estimates. Alan Jones defines the formulae that underpin many of the techniques; offers justification and explanations, for those whose job it is to interpret the estimates; advice on pitfalls and shortcomings and worked examples. These are often tabular in form to allow you to reproduce the examples in Microsoft Excel. Graphical or pictorial figures are also frequently used to draw attention to particular points as the author advocates that you should always draw a picture before and after analysing data.

The five volumes in the Series provide expert applied advice for estimators, engineers, accountants, project risk specialists as well as students of cost engineering, based on the author’s thirty-something years’ experience as an estimator, project planner and controller.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Project Management
TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Construction / Estimating


Download Resources

This complimentary eResource is provided to assist users of the Working Guides to Estimating and Forecasting series of books in recreating the tables and figures from the published books (printed or electronic). It is supplementary to, and is not intended to replace, the material in the published books. The files are available to download in their original colour format.

This material is copyrighted by the author and is provided solely as an aid to learning. Neither the author nor the publisher accepts any liability for its subsequent use or adaptation for any other purpose other than for which it was originally intended.

The figures and tables are provided in either interactive Microsoft Excel spreadsheet files, complete in general with the original calculation formulae, or as static images, where the reader may prefer to view those examples in full colour that were created in Microsoft PowerPoint. Any tables originally created in Microsoft Word have been converted and included in the Microsoft Excel files to reduce the number of download options for the users.

CAVEAT AUGUR: Whilst the author considers it to be good practice to lock calculation cells etc and to protect worksheets and workbooks, this has not been done here; the spreadsheets have been left unlocked and unprotected. Neither have the worksheet examples been independently Validated and Verified, as is also good practice.