Before the advent of personal computing, estimating was more of an art than a science. Contractors had no choice but to estimate by hand. That meant combining a good dose of experience with some lucky guessing and time consuming hand-drawn equations. A contractor was lucky if they could stick to their estimate. Successful contractors were contractors who had refined this art, but there was still no way to know what you were working with from the start.
Construction Estimating Software
With the advent of personal computers in the 1970s, the art of estimating took a step into the future. Computers could hold more data and manipulate more numbers much more quickly than a human contractor. This gave contractors the ability to input real world data about costs and schedules and create a more numbers-based estimate.
Even with the incredible advancement of computer technology, many contractors continue to prepare estimates based on some fuzzy numbers. It’s actually amazing how much estimating can go into an estimate. However, the introduction of construction estimation software has given contractors even more tools. They can now pin down estimates to real numbers, based on research and known variables.
Today it’s possible for a contractor to prepare detailed construction estimates based on information, not intuition. With the right contract estimating software, a contractor has all the necessary tools to itemize an estimate quickly and efficiently. This produces a professional product that serves the contractor, the foreman, and the customer.
Modern contract estimating software offers several advantages:
- Project Management
The main advantage of computers over humans is speed. There is no product a contractor uses that can save as much time as a good computerized estimating system. And since time is money, good construction estimation software can also save a contractor some serious cash. No longer is estimating a long, drawn out process involving endless number crunching. Letting the software do the work requires little more than inputting some variables to get a realistic estimate for any construction job.
As much as a computer can speed up the process of estimating, it can also increase accuracy. Compared to handwritten calculations, a computer can eliminate errors and produce a more accurate result.
However, the accuracy of computer based estimating software goes far beyond just computerizing calculations. The accuracy of an estimate is based on the accuracy of the information that stands behind it. That means keeping track of real life labor and materials costs. You also need to consider subcontractor expenses, equipment, and anything else that contributes to the cost of completing a job. To know your cost of materials you need to know what is on backorder, what is in storage, and what has been installed.
All of this information will be used by the owner and chief estimator to develop a realistic, fact-based estimate. With this information you can know the true cost of a job ahead of time and bid with a confident selling price.
There’s No Beating an Estimating Program
When it comes to using this kind of realistic projection to create a bid, there are a surprising number of holdouts. Many more experienced contractors think they can beat an estimating program with old-fashioned intuition. Too often this results in a serious labor crunch at the end of a job. You may be able to come up with an estimate number that wins jobs. But then you are leaving it to the bewildered job manager to figure out how to meet the labor schedule. In the end, it is not a very good system.
Other contractors claim to have numbers-based systems, but they require a convoluted and chaotic process. There may be whiteboards, sticky notes, sheets of paper all over. While this may produce a realistic estimate, it is hard to share with other team members. What you end up with is a realistic estimate that cannot also serve as a guide for the job.
On the other hand, contract estimating software can solve both of these problems by taking real data and producing an organized estimate. That estimate can serve not just as a marketing and bidding tool. It can also become a roadmap to planning and completing the job.
Estimating software can keep your estimates consistent. It stores real data from previous jobs. You can then use that data to price out new jobs, time after time. There is no guesswork. And after each job, you can compare the estimate to the final cost, further refining your future estimates.
Your estimate can serve as a roadmap to your job. Different team members can pull all kinds of useful information. The project manager can use the numbers that go into the estimate for procurement. They will know what labor, equipment, and subcontractors are needed for the job, and on what schedule. It can help keep a job on schedule while tracking progress. For the purchasing department, a detailed estimate can help determine what materials are necessary to complete a job.
Every aspect of project management can be aided by good construction estimating software. For the master and apprentice technicians, they can see how the estimator calculated specific installations. The accounting department can use the estimate to track job costs and prepare a schedule of values.
The software available also does a lot more than prepare a simple estimate. It can also streamline other processes. Besides serving as a roadmap, the software can actually help with project management. It can also make purchasing more efficient. Finally, the software may even make correspondence between all parties involved smoother, more efficient, and more professional.
One major selling point, besides just having the lowest bid, is professionalism. Many customers want to work with a contractor whom they feel comfortable trusting. Imagine the comparison between two contractors. One uses a manual pen and paper system to literally estimate job costs. They then produce a homemade estimate with minimal detail. The other uses professional construction estimating software. They are able to produce a detailed estimate with real numbers. The estimate is accurate, consistent, and looks good. Whom would you trust?
Professionalism is also more than a sales tool. Running your contracting business professionally means optimizing its performance. By eliminating a lot of messy paperwork, you can streamline your business. The modernization of your business will provide returns in the form of saved time and labor. It will also reduce the number of costly errors that come from miscalculations or just sloppy project management.
Needo was built to provide every contracting business, big or small, with the most modern tools. These enable and streamline estimating and invoicing, as well as daily tasks like scheduling. Too often, owners and construction managers hit a wall. They have built a great business, but are running out of precious time to complete all the daily tasks. Growing a business means adding to your workforce and customer base. But each new employee or customer means more menial tasks. Employees require all kinds of HR and accounting management, such as payments, benefits, and taxes. Customers require cost tracking, invoicing, and correspondence.
If you feel that you’ve maxed out with your business and simply don’t have the time resources to grow, Needo is there to help. Needo will streamline the daily tasks that take up so much of your time, allowing you the room to grow. All this can be done while maintaining excellent quality and service. So if you are ready to take your business to the next level, or just simplify your existing business, contact Needo today. We’re always ready to chat about what we can do for you to make your business thrive.