Cost Engineers Rejoice – You Can Keep Using Excel for Cost Management
One thing has never changed in my 20+ years in project controls: cost engineers want to manage cost in Excel. It doesn’t matter to them how many fancy enterprise cost management systems there are on the market. Excel is like that special blanket from childhood – it is familiar, dependable, and nothing else can replace it. We get it, which is why we have designed the Construction Viz Cost Report app to integrate deeply with Excel for cost management.
I can understand why, if you are a cost engineer, you prefer to stick with Excel. Your spreadsheet is yours and yours alone. It has your very own custom columns to check formulas, worksheets for data dumps, macros for updates and reporting, comments on variances, and so on. Most importantly, you can use it to generate a cost report the way you want. And so, at the end of the month, you’ll take all that data from your Excel file and re-enter it into that enterprise cost management system your organization mandates to satisfy the corporate reporting requirement. You’ll do this even though it is a time-consuming process and riddled with the potential for clerical errors.
With Construction Viz, we set about creating a better solution that lets cost engineers stick with what they know while ensuring that managers have the dashboards and reports they need.
Designing the Ideal Cost Management Workflow with Construction Viz
When we started designing the cost management application for Construction Viz, we knew we needed to meet cost engineers where they prefer to work, and this is in Excel.
At the same time, we also needed a way for management to have real-time visibility to cost data across all projects, meaning that critical data could not stay locked away in Excel until someone re-entered it in a shared system.
So, we set about designing a solution that allows cost engineers to work in Excel while automating the flow of data to the Construction Viz portal for viewing and reporting.
Construction Viz Cost Report App and Excel
Based on the above, we created the Construction Viz Cost Report app. With our new app, the workflow is:
- A cost engineer saves their Excel cost report into a SharePoint document library where they can continue making regular updates.
- The Cost Report app, using the magic of a Power Automate workflow, then automatically grabs the critical data from the Excel file and makes the cost information available via an updated SharePoint list for all stakeholders to see.
- Next, we designed the Cost Report app to talk to the SharePoint List to provide analysis across projects and programs in a web-based and easy-to-use UI.
- Finally, the Cost Report app leverages Power BI to access the SharePoint List data, enabling robust dashboard views and reporting as needed.
The Construction Viz Cost Report app gives each team member what they want. Cost engineers get to keep working in Excel with their familiar spreadsheet tools. Management gets real-time access to cost data for reporting.
Advantages of the Construction Viz Cost Report App
The Construction Viz Cost Report app provides the following advantages over a traditional enterprise cost management system:
- Excel as the foundation. Cost engineers can keep using their own Excel cost report as the data source.
- Automated workflow. The workflow launches with a click and runs automatically.
- Support for multiple spreadsheets. The app can pull data from multiple spreadsheets.
- Efficiency and accuracy. No more redundant and error-prone manual data entry into two systems.
- Real-time reporting and dashboards. The Cost Report app provides management with up-to-date cost information for easy analysis and reporting across projects and programs.
- SharePoint & Microsoft 365 under the hood. Because Microsoft SharePoint and Microsoft 365 power the Cost Report and other Construction Viz apps we offer, your organizations can be confident that you are using best-in-class technologies built on industry-leading enterprise software platforms.
Read more about the robust capabilities of our Cost Report app.