At QSM we offer Estimation Process Consulting Services and the SLIM-Estimate tool. In my 16 years at QSM, I have probably spoken with hundreds of project managers about the pain that they have in the estimation area. Many tell me that they want to finish implementing their process before they bring in a tool.
One of the things that I have learned over the years is that it can be extremely beneficial to bring in the tool while the process is being developed. A successful estimation process implementation is about getting the right project data in the right place for consistent collaboration and results. Implement both the process and the tool at the same time and you can save a ton of money in rework costs down the road.
A good estimation tool provides a roadmap and a communication vehicle for a successful estimation process. The tool collects the core metrics that the process requires. It also streamlines the results to give the user exactly what they need to know: risk, size, duration, effort, reliability, and productivity.
Some will spend years writing and implementing their process. Why not get the estimation tool in place sooner to make things easier?