C. Anantharaman, Project Management Expert, Mumbai.

Introduction

Demand for 'simpler' tools for engineering analysis, design, planning and control, is unceasing and ever growing. This is so mainly because of increasing complexities of tasks and decreasing durations to achieve them. Therefore, any tool or software that addresses both variety and time constraint becomes interesting. The subject software programs invite our interest for this reason.

The compiler of these two software had earlier introduced a novel concept by providing several small user-friendly on-line programs instead of one large integrated software ('Super Civil CD'). There, the compiler had mainly dealt with the engineering aspects of design and detailing.

The programs under discussion, i.e. 'QTY' and 'Super Rate Analysis,' which are subsequent to 'Super Civil CD,' take the next logical step. That is, towards implementation–planning and control.

Here too the same concept of providing compact tools for specific use, is extended. While 'Super Rate analysis' is just that, i.e. a rate-analysis program, 'QTY' is actually a tool for project management and not just a quantity estimation or survey tool.

A brief description of both is in order.

Super Rate Analysis

This is a ready-to-use tool that helps the civil engineer analyze (synthesize) rates for various items encountered in construction. An exhaustive menu of items right from preparatory works/ earthworks up to finishes/services and non-regulars (like horticulture and landscaping) is available for ready use. Due to the sheer number of rateanalysis- templates available in the menu

(1236 nos.), it is most likely that all of our requirements are met. The assumptions on productivities of resources are based on IS:7272 wherever applicable and the specifications on CPWD.

For user-specific non-regular items, one can use the 'edit' feature to modify coefficients to arrive at rates. This is an essential feature for a program such as this, since the labor or machinery productivities are specific to the environment in which the engineer functions. The accompanying references of prevailing rates are editable, which allows the user to maintain a contemporary record. Any contractor wishing to bid or any consulting engineer wishing to analyze a technical bid, should find this tool invaluable. A student will especially relish this, since all the elements that go into synthesizing a rate become evident.

QTY

The following features of this software need to be highlighted:
  • No graphic or drawing interface
  • Menu driven input
These features make the tool essentially different from the commonly available graphic interface- integrated programs. Projects being dynamic in nature, planning and updating are efforts that continue till project completion. So, though sequential planning may be desirable, concurrent planning becomes a necessity. The initial plan undergoes several changes during conduct of a project. Greater efforts are required to be put in by the project manager for the following changes in plan than for initial planning. This aspect of a project makes 'changing' even more important than 'generating.' It is here that a simpler menu-driven quantity input that is easily editable, becomes useful.

As mentioned earlier this software is much more than a quantity estimation/ survey tool. A project manager will find the following features particularly interesting:
  • Generation of cash-flow, cost overhead, and profit
  • Monthly resource requirements
  • Material consumption
  • Generation of project 'S' curve All of which will figure in a typical monthly report.
The compiler of these programs introduces them with the words, "discover the joy of civil engineering"! The subject programs are conceived in a way that allows the engineer involvedin planning and control, to enjoy the process, through sheer simplicity of use. In the final analysis, it is the joy of performance in work that we all seek.
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