Monday, March 07, 2016

UniPhi 12 - S-Curve Phasing Algorithm Based Off Benchmark Past Projects

Among the problems faced by cost managers when attempting to produce a reliable cash flow is the disparate nature of the information they rely on (estimation tools, excel spreadsheets, emails, document versions, etc.). Once a cash flow is created, it requires further analysis to ensure data accuracy and validity, all of which takes yet more time. Up until recently UniPhi allowed an estimate to be phased in a linear manner over a period of time, or manually to fit the Gantt. While working closely with a number of our clients we realised that there was no recent software system that allows for automated 'S' curve phasing.  An 'S' curve is the shape a cash flow typically takes when profiled on an XY diagram due to the fact that projects generally start slow, get busy in the middle, and tail off during practical completion.

At UniPhi we are always looking at ways to improve our product, and thus differentiate ourselves from other software applications in the marketplace. With the goal of improving cash flow phasing in mind, we took a step back and analysed the available data that was stored in UniPhi. The core design structure of UniPhi means that data entered once is available in many places. One example of this data that is stored within UniPhi is the progressive sequence of payments made against a contract. This information tells us the actual dates that payments were made, and their individual values. This means that our clients build up 'S' curve profiles on actual projects as time goes by.

Our development team realised they could use this "Actual" phasing to create an automated benchmark algorithm. The most impressive thing about the new benchmark feature and its underlying algorithm is that your UniPhi users are automatically generating the benchmark data via the contract admin function that they've been using for years.

We completed a preliminary implementation of the "S" curve functionality to one of our clients, and found that when compared with their old process of manual calculations, UniPhi's cash flow phasing and associated "S" curve were produced to great satisfaction, and accuracy. Not to mention being much faster than the old method. Through this process of collaboration and review, we discovered that there were additional levels of nuance that were observed and could also be leveraged. Therefore we added a productivity column. The purpose of the productivity column is to factor in periods of low productivity, e.g. Christmas, New Year, and public holidays. The concept of factoring in these periods of lower productivity is powerful, but our design makes the configuration very simple to configure and update.
Adding your organisations productivity calculation is simple

I recently demonstrated the ability to phase costs using benchmark actual data to a client, and his initial response was that because each project type is subtly different, the benchmark data would also be subtly different (e.g. building a high school would be different to building a hospital). The good news is that UniPhi also allows you to select the distinct set of data you need, according to your own criteria. UniPhi has always empowered our clients to perform  administration and configuration tasks through flexible design interfaces, and this capability is extended to allow you to create your own project custom fields. If for example you have previously used UniPhi to manage several constructions projects of varying size, UniPhi allows you to create a project field and specify the "number of floors" that were built for the project. Then, when you are tasked with managing another smaller sized single floor project, you can selectively filter your benchmark data so that only smaller sized 1 to 2 floors projects were displayed. No other system has this level of functionality.

With this new benchmark cost phasing, your own data becomes your most valuable asset. By simply referencing the progress payments which have been made in your previously completed projects, you can get a reliable forecast of costs for your current project.

As UniPhi also features integrated contract and document management modules, our clients have an end to end solution for managing projects. Estimates can be produced in UniPhi, or imported from a third party product, costs can be phased according to your organisations own specific benchmark data, and then once awarded the costs can be managed with accuracy ad transparency. Because your project has relied on benchmark data, you will have confidence that the phasing is correct. In fact you can take it to the bank!

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