The 'quotation' process, an exact science or guess work?

"I guess it'll be about that much"...."It'll probably take about that long"...."Well, we could probably do it for about that much"....."We might be able to squeeze it in for that amount"...."I need you to ping me over a quick cost to do that"....."A rough estimate will be fine, get it to me as soon as you can."

If you've heard any of the above and/or they sound familiar, then be warned and be wary, or at least anticipate some issues, or at worst a potentially horrid legal dispute over the actual eventual cost of the assignment, product or service provided.

The importance of the quoting process (estimating etc) and then providing a 'proposal', really needs to be properly understood and I'm not just talking about the supplier, the one doing the estimating as such, but also by the customer as well, the one receiving the service, etc!

No pun intended but don't under-estimate how bad the outcome can get if this goes wrong, never mind how difficult the relationship can be after the fall out of it all getting in a mess because you needed to cut corners to save costs or expedite delivery and so on.
The basics - well, in our case, we put a lot of effort in trying to properly understand what's required of us and specifically what the customer needs the outcome to be. That sounds really obvious of course, but this first stage is completely key to getting the outline of what's needed by when and considering cost, if necessary, to try and 'scope out' what's being talked about before anything else happens.

When the 'scope' of the work has been clearly agreed, it's so important to give what's involved a proper look at....anticipate what's required and involved......start the process of adjusting how to best do the work in line with the expectations.....properly understanding how the 'assignment' can be achieved and what the delivery expectations are. This part is after all what the actual 'job' is's not going to go well if you are being asked to deliver an apple to the customer then provide them with a banana.

Now we know what it is we are trying to achieve and by when etc, it's now particularly important to consider what capability is required, the cost of labour that needs to be applied, if we need additional resources, what type they might be and so on. We also need to see what lead times are needed and how to deliver all of these things and any subsequent financial implications.

This is no longer guess work or a stab in the air with a wet finger; it requires some application and resource and particularly will need some time to even get it nearly right. Perhaps not quite a science as such, but certainly something that needs engagement to complete before some relatively accurate feedback can be given to the customer and expectations on both sides of the relationship can be established.

As we deal with relatively complex and often very involved technical projects, sometimes our attention to detail at this stage ensures that neither the customer or us start off on a 'journey' that is going to be far too expensive in relation to the eventual destination!