Vendor: Switchback Interactive, Inc.
Hosting options: Only a web-hosted version is available
Basic accounts with 1 user and 2 active estimates are free. A single account costs $10 per month, while a company account with unlimited users costs $35 per month. If you sign up on an annual basis, you get 2 months for free.
Currency: You can now change the currency in the Company Settings area as of February 26, 2016.
Basic Features: Creating Estimates
Simplestimate allows you to create financial estimates online for your projects.
As you can see in the screenshot, you first create the project sections and then add tasks to them. Finally, assign resources to the tasks. It is necessary to estimate the time it will take to complete each resource. You can choose how many estimates points you want to use in the estimate. In the screenshot, I have used low and high. However, you can use one or both low/most likely/high.
Once you have entered the details, the estimates for your sections or tasks will appear. Each resource has a cost. Simplestimate calculates the cost per resource and presents that information to you.
The pie chart showing how the total project cost is divided between each section is very appealing to me. This would be a great tool for project stakeholders to see where the majority of the money is going.
Paid plans include templates that allow you to create estimates for projects that your company has done time and again. This will save time and prevent you from having to start over for every client.
Managing Expectations with Ranges
This is a great feature of the tool. One of the biggest problems with managing stakeholders’ expectations is that they believe that if you tell them that it will cost PS1,050.85, then it will really cost that much.
Real life, hello! It won’t.
This is why it’s so important to be able to present data in a range from optimistic to conservative estimates. While you can do this without Simplestimate by providing range data and +/- confidence levels to the tool, I believe it makes it more official. It is possible to be believed more if someone else calculated your estimate.
Simplestimate allows you to calculate low, average, and high estimates based on the data you provide.
You will need to include a lot of project tasks, resources, and other details to make your estimates detailed. It’s almost like creating an entire mini-project plan. This is redundant effort. You’d like to schedule your project and track the performance against it outside this tool. Simplestimate does not offer any tracking options, so once you have created your estimate, you will need to manage your time as well as your costs.
It is possible to avoid this by only including the most important milestones or project phases in your estimate. This would work especially well if you are only trying to make clear figures for clients.
If you want to increase your margin by adding a markup to your actual costs, then you can do that. Markup can only be applied to all tasks.
It is not intuitive to include software, licences, and equipment hire costs in your project. When you are asked to select a role, it is to enter a resource to complete the task. In one estimate I prepared, I put ‘Van Hire’. While it is possible, you need to think outside of the box. Add the cost price into the hourly rate, then say the high/most probable/low estimates. This takes about an hour. It works, but it feels awkward.
It is easy to use because there aren’t many options. It only does what it is supposed to do.