Building a project on time and within budget requires accurate estimating, efficient scheduling, and timely cost control. Coordinate these tasks in a single project management information system and you'll improve your profitability. The key to successful coordination is defining work items or project segments that are used for all three management functions. A work item is a task that's commonly repeated in all the jobs you do. It's a specific activity such as erecting wall forms or placing concrete in a wall.

Each contractor should define a set of work items that meets his needs. Work items tie together estimating, scheduling, and cost control functions. To show how this process works, an example is given. One work item is followed through the estimating, scheduling, and cost control process.