Master Data


The chart of accounts, a material master or the estimating library are master data that are required to run the solution successfully. They enforce standardisation, improve quality and speed up core processes.
Collecting actual project information against these structures allows comparison over projects and is the basis for analytics. Therefore the right master data is as important for the solution as software, configuration or user training.

Initial Data Build-up

ConCost has vast experience building up master data. In an integrated environment this is a complex task. Estimating cost codes finally need to be mapped against chart of accounts and scheduling resources (because of the integration). So there are many side effects you have to consider.

Most of our clients had existing master data that were in a bad shape. Structures were inadequate, items duplicated and lacking centralised databases often multiple versions existed. In all our projects we therefore built  master data from scratch but added the valuable data from the legacy systems.

There are also libraries on the market. However, they are built to be compatible with most solutions and therefore don't support the capabilities of a specific software. They also aren't including localisation factors for all countries. So you have to factor prices as well as productivities. Therefore we typically refer to these libraries when we define the basic structures or import data partially, e.g. repeated material. We offer access to these common estimating libraries.

  • RSMeans (US),
  • BCIS (UK),
  • Richardson (US, for process industry),
  • POMI (MIddle East).

Basic Structures

When defining your basic structures you should refer to industry standards like the ones mentioned above. They are matured over years and it is likely that users know them already. If you have to price BoQs issued by your clients then you should adopt their structure.

For estimating cost codes there is also a common standard for the highest levels of hierarchy.

  • Labour
    • Direct labour
    • Indirect (staff)
  • Material
    • Job material
    • Re-usable material
    • Consumables
  • Plant/Equipment
  • Sub-contract
  • Indirects

If your clients' requirements allow, then you should also standardise the higher levels of the WBS similar to this EPC sample.

  • Project
    • Direct work
      • Engineering (EPC contractors only)
      • Procurement (certain EPC contracts only)
      • Construction
    • Indirects
      • Deployment, site preparation
      • Site staff
      • Site office
      • Accomodation
      • Running cost
      • Financial charges
      • Risk, escalation
      • etc.

There are many other master data that need to be built, from simple one like defining a catalogue of units of measure to more complex ones like assemblies. It is laborious work but if there is a dedicated team working under guidance then you have everything you need within a few weeks.

Maintaining Master Data

Maintaining the master data is as important as the initial build-up. You should

  • Organise who is allowed to add to the master data
  • Allow work to be spent on cleansing master data regularily
  • Never add items to master data which are specific to a single project (or delete them after close-out)
  • Utilise the knowledge gained in every project to adjust rates and norms in the master

The Final Goal

Ideally the master data is a knowledge base of your enterprise. This requires that at the close-out of any project the actual data collected needs to by analysed. And if it turns out that performances were different than estimated (and not caused by project specific circumstances) you ave to adjust your master data.

If you include this important step then your master data become the knowledge base. Each project adds valuable data how your company performs and it turns into a self-learning organisation.

You can see some samples below that we helped building for our clients. Or have a look at our blog about building master data from where you can also download our tips for estimating.