Time Travel and Cost Estimating: Why Project Managers Wish They Had a DeLorean 

Estimated read time 3 min read

Get ready, infrastructure enthusiasts, for a thought experiment as practical as a trip in a DeLorean! Consider the advantages: What if we had the ultimate tool, a time machine, for cost estimating in infrastructure projects? Our jobs (and maybe our sanity) could be significantly easier.

Cost estimating… imagine the possibilities:

  • Future-Proofing Budgets: Hop forward a few years, see the actual market prices of materials and labour, and come back with rock-solid cost estimates. No more relying on predictions and educated guesses – we’d have witnessed the future (and avoided any nasty budgetary surprises)!
  • Avoiding Delays… From the Past!: Zap back to prevent that unforeseen historical artefact discovery from wreaking havoc on your schedule (and budget). Think of it as a preventative measure for project delays – nip them in the bud before they sprout!
  • Learning from the Costly Past: Look at past infrastructure projects to see what went wrong (and correct) budget-wise, and use that knowledge to inform the present. We could be cost-estimating ninjas, wielding the wisdom of past budgetary battles!
cost estimating

Of course, time travel in cost estimating isn’t all sunshine and spreadsheets. There are some potential pitfalls:

  • The Paradoxical Price Shift: Changing the past to secure lower material costs could have unintended consequences, creating a future where those materials are even more expensive. Yikes, talk about a budgetary butterfly effect!
  • The Ethical Estimator’s Dilemma: Knowing too much about the future could lead to ethical difficulties. Should we use our knowledge to manipulate markets or maintain a timeline that might have unforeseen social consequences?

A time machine might be pure fiction (for now!), but the quest for accurate cost estimates is authentic. 

Here’s what we can do in the present to master the art of cost estimating:

  • Data-Driven Decisions: Historical data, market trends, and industry benchmarks are our time machines in disguise. When used wisely, they can help us make informed predictions.
  • Scenario Planning: Considering different project scenarios (best case, worst case, etc.) allows for flexible and adaptable budgets. Think of it as planning for multiple timelines, even without a DeLorean.
  • Open Communication: Keeping stakeholders informed about potential cost fluctuations and the reasoning behind our estimates is crucial. Transparency builds trust and ensures everyone is on the same financial journey (even if the road has a few unexpected twists and turns).
cost estimating

While a time machine might be a fantasy, by embracing these strategies, we can ensure our cost estimates are as accurate and future-proof as possible!

What do you think? Would a time machine be the ultimate cost estimator’s tool? 

We’re all in this together, navigating the often unpredictable world of infrastructure budgets. Share your thoughts and any tips you might have in the comments. Your insights are valuable!

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