Principles of the M-Power Wizard

Principles of Estimating

For most companies, quoting is the process of estimating which materials are required for a job, along with the quantities and costs of each material

The estimator will then list the operations required  to process these materials and the time required to complete each operation. This time will then be priced at an appropriate rate.

The total quote is often the value of the materials + the value of the time required + a markup

The Template

Templates are the core element of M-Power that allows the cost of materials and operations to be easily calculated.

A template is a list of the materials required to complete a job along with the list of operations necessary to turn those materials into something of value.

It is best to think of a template in terms of a basic workflow. For example the process of digitally printing a decal might involve


Digital Media
Digital Laminate
Digital Ink


Digital Printing
Trimming to Size

For each of these material types, there might be a number of different materials that could be appropriately used depending on the requirements of the job at hand.

Likewise for each operation in the list, there might be different settings that are appropriate for the job. 

This means that the actual template used might look like this


Digital Media            -->  3M7725 Vinyl
Digital Laminate       -->   Gloss overlaminate
Digital Ink                -->  Solvent @ 80% coverage 


Artwork                     -->  Artwork Supplied
Digital Printing           --> 16 Pass
Laminating                -->  Machine Lamination
Trimming to Size       -->  Mimaki
Packing                    -->  In 100's in bags
Dispatching               --> 3KG Australia Post

Elements of the Wizard

Preparing a wizard is a process of listing options for each material and operation that a user can choose from. The wizard presents the estimator with options from the list and when an option is selected, the calculations associated with that option are applied to generate the quote price

Preparing a wizard is quite simple

  • Prepare a basic template for the type of product
  • Decide which specific items can be selected for each material type
  • Decide which options a user can select for each Operation
  • Decide which layout elements the wizard can automatically update the template with

Preparing a Basic Template

The templates are most easily created within settings / templates. The template is no different than any other template used for a job, except that we take care to specify Material Types (Media, Laminates etc) rather than the specific items that might be used in a job

Within M-Power we call these Material Types "Placeholders" because they will be replaced with the exact material once the wizard is run

Deciding Specific Material Items

For each placeholder we need to decide which specific material items are user can select from. For instance for a decal - there might be preferred materials depending on the finish and expected life of the decal. These material items are simple added from the main item list.

We take care to provide a laypersons description for these materials so that an untrained user can select appropriate based on the job at hand

This also gives the added advantage that a preferred material can be swopped within the wizard without changing the options that are user can select from. For instance an Avery media may be substituted for 3M media while the user still see the description "7 Year Cast Vinyl"

It always makes sense to add a placeholder material which can used to signify that a material type is not required for a given template - for instance "Laminate Not Required" would be an example of a option that could be selected by a user.

Deciding Options For Operations

For each operation in a sequence of operations in a template we can add options. For instance digital printing can be carried out as 8, 16 or 32 pass depending on the quality required. Artwork may be: Not Required, Supplied by client, be simple, medium or hard

It is often easier to think in terms of the extreme values that an operation might experiences - ie what is the 'hardest" and Easiest, Not so Hard, Not so easy" Using this simple approach means that a layperson can choose between 5 options

Deciding Layout Elements

If we refer to our example of a digitally printed decal, it is clear that decals can vary in size from job to job so it makes sense to request this information from the user so that the wizard can update the appropriate parts of the template.

We do this in the layout section - we can select elements from the layout, materials and operations sections of the template

Almost any part of a template that you would update manually in a template can be updated using the wizard.

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