15 years of 4cost: A retrospective and a look into the future
How it all began
The success story of 4cost began with a chance encounter at a party. There Herbert Spix, an expert in parametric, met the programmer Thomas Przybilla in the early 90s. Mr Spix told him about his idea to establish a parametric model that would make resilient cost estimates possible in early project phases with only a few inputs. However, this project would involve some tricky requirements. Spurred on by the challenge, Mr Przybilla, with the support of Mr Spix, programmed a first successful and unique solution within a short time. It was met with enthusiasm by Mr Spix, as such an application opened up numerous new possibilities. This marked the beginning of a successful and positive cooperation that has lasted until today.
The Advanced Cost Estimating System
The parametric approaches to cost estimation are based on models developed in the USA in the 1950s. The aerospace industry in particular drove the development of the original models and shaped them significantly.
Mr Spix and Mr Przybilla saw previously untapped potential in parametric that needed to be exploited. Their vision was to revolutionise cost calculation through a completely new use of parametric. So, they developed their own parametric cost model that is universally applicable to all industries and technologies. In particular, software cost estimation and life cycle simulation take a globally unique approach. With this in mind, they gave their solution the name "Advanced Cost Estimating System" - "aces" for short.
It took almost three years until a marketable software was available. This made "aces" the first parametric model in the world that could run on a PC. Users were quickly found from all branches of industry and the public sector. The triumphant advance of "aces" was heralded.
The fusion of two worlds
In 2001, Mr Spix met the sales expert Joachim Schöffer. At that time, Mr Schöffer was selling software solutions for the creation of classic bottom-up calculations. Both quickly realised that a combination of the proven bottom-up method with the innovative parametric method would offer clients enormous added value in the creation of cost calculations. This ambitious plan finally led to the founding of 4cost GmbH in 2008 as a developer and provider of an integrated costing standard that is unique in the world to date.
Cost clarity creates profit
International industrial groups such as Liebherr, MAN and Rheinmetall soon recognised the immense advantages offered by the software solutions from 4cost and implemented the costing software in their companies. The clients were particularly convinced by the speed with which complex cost structures can be penetrated at an early stage and mapped transparently. "Our solutions uncover cost potentials in the phases where the leverage for cost optimisation is greatest," sums up Joachim Schöffer, managing partner of 4cost GmbH. "The success stories of the last few years show that we make an important contribution to securing the profitability of our clients and increasing it in the long term."
15 years of satisfied clients
In close cooperation with the clients, the 4cost tools have since been continuously developed, expanded and adapted to the growing requirements of the industry. "Being close to our clients and understanding their needs is what sets us apart," says Herbert Spix, partner and head of value engineering at 4cost. "If a special function is required by the client, we implement it in our software in a short time. Everything is unbureaucratic and direct," adds Thomas Przybilla, partner and head of software development. Thus, 4cost now offers the right costing software for every user and every task. The product portfolio is complemented by product training, cost workshops and value engineering.
15 years of innovation
Along with its client base, 4cost has also grown steadily and now has 18 employees in addition to the three partners. Throughout this time, the company has retained its flexibility and free spirit. "At 4cost we cultivate an open and familiar culture. Everyone in the team is encouraged to break new ground on a regular basis and to think outside the box. This is the only way we can keep the innovative spirit of our company going and keep our finger on the pulse," says Joachim Schöffer.
The latest milestone: Since 2022, all classic desktop applications from 4cost have also been offered as Software as a Service (SaaS) in a Web Edition. Here, clients can access and use all tools conveniently via the browser. Without prior installation, with automatic updates and regardless of the operating system.
A look into the future
"We still have a lot of plans for the coming years," says Joachim Schöffer. "The next big thing is just around the corner." To provide clients with maximum cost transparency in the area of sustainability as well, 4cost has developed numerous new functions that will find their way into our software solutions in the course of 2023. From now on, sustainability aspects such as CO2 footprint, logistics, packaging, disposal and energy use in production can be analysed as part of the cost estimation.
In its current costing software, 4cost already relies on the use of artificial intelligence. In the coming years, however, this area will receive an even stronger focus. For example, AI is expected to drive the following goals in future versions:
- Facilitation and acceleration of price and cost calculation
- Increasing the degree of automation
- Optimisation of validation and plausibility checks within the framework of costing
We say thank you to you all
On behalf of the shareholders and our entire staff, 4cost would like to thank all clients and partners for the numerous successful projects over the past 15 years. In the future, we will continue to develop the global costing standard, bring innovative technologies forward and promote sustainable business in the industry.