Product Specialist Series

My Favourite CostX® Feature: Show Source

Each month we will ask a Product Specialist at Exactal what their favourite feature of CostX® is, and how it can be used. This month, we are speaking to Ashley Corona from our Austin office.

“Trackability and Auditing is one of the most important fundamentals in Estimating.”

During my time as an estimator, I learned the importance that Estimating plays in the success of a project. Accurate and precise estimates are the most important foundation with which projects can be successfully built. When the Estimator or Quantity Surveyor hands the project over to the next person downstream, they must ensure that their work is very clear and unambiguous. It must be so carefully documented that anyone at any point of the project must be able to pick up and follow the estimator’s logic for how quantities and rates were determined. Previously I was using 3 different programs to pull together an estimate. I had to manually transcribe data from one program into another, and then into another. This was a very tedious and labor intensive process. I also had no trackability between my takeoff, rates, and total costs for each trade. When I started using CostX®, the Show Source feature quickly became my favorite one. This function is a very powerful auditing tool which allows all players in the project team to track and audit every part of the estimate, at any stage.

Show Source
CostX® is a fully integrated take-off and estimating solution. One of the biggest benefits of having the take-off and the estimate within one program is the ability to create live-links between the dimensions and the workbook. My favorite CostX® feature is the Show Source function because it allows anyone reviewing the estimate to track the source of any given quantity or rate. With a live-linked cell selected, Show Source switches to Dimension View and displays the referenced dimension group and drawing.

Here is an example of all the ways Show Source offers trackability throughout the life of the project:
Firstly, let’s start off with a standard spreadsheet. If I was reviewing my estimate and wanted to interrogate my EIFS quantity and rates, I can do so by using the Show Source Function.

CostX Show Source

Interrogating the Quantity
When I select the quantity [3,140 sf] for 2” EIFS and click Show Source, CostX® automatically switches to the Dimension View and brings me to the part of the building where I measured the EIFS and highlights the current sheet and Dimension Group.

CostX Dimension View with EIFS quantities

From the Dimension View, I can see the information about where my quantity came from. The drawings in my Drawings Window will expand and bold the names of the sheets which contain EFIS quantities.

In this example, the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd floor plans are bolded because EFIS takeoff was done on all three levels of the building. The EFIS dimenison group was also expanded from its respective folder and highlighted along with the [3,140 SF] quantity. This quanitity matches the quantity in the workbook (because of the live-links!). Upon review, if more EFIS is found in the plan, I can measure the quantities and the running total will be automatically updated in real-time within the workbook.

For further trackability, one could click into the Dimensions Tab and view more granular detail about the dimensions. Additional details include:

  • Dimension Type (Wall Area in this case)
  • Estimator’s name who measured the dimension
  • Individual quantities
  • Zones (if this was a multi-zone project)
  • Individual wall heights

CostX Dimension Tab

This is a fantastic level of trackability that would not be available to the user if they were to use different programs for take-off, pricing, and building the estimate. This eliminates the opportunity for manual entry errors to arise when transcribing data from one program to another.

Interrogating the Rate
In the same fashion that I traced the source of the quantity, I can choose Show Source for a rate if it is linked as a rate in my Rate Database. I would do so by selecting the cell in the Rate column within my workbook and choosing Show Source.

Select the cell in Rate column

That will prompt a Rate Properties window to open which shows the source of the rate, and all additional properties. Once I’ve traced the source of this rate, I can change the description, rate group, unit of measure, and even update the rate itself.

CostX Rate Properties window

So, if upon review I wanted to update the rate for the 2” EIFS, I could do so by clicking on the green Rate sheet and that will open the Labor, Material, Subcontractor Equipment Breakdown and make the change. A Date and Time Stamp will be left behind in the “Date Modified” section at the bottom of this window. The figure will then be updated here and everywhere else in the estimate where this rate was used.

I hope I have given you ideas on how you can help all players in the project team utilize Show Source to its full potential to track costs and quantities throughout the life of the project to minimize material waste, maximize profits and result in a project that is within budget!

CostX Rate sheet

I hope I have given you ideas on how you can help all players in the project team utilize Show Source to its full potential to track costs and quantities throughout the life of the project to minimize material waste, maximize profits and result in a project that is within budget!