Automating Routine Tasks with Construction Estimating Software
November 16, 2021
The estimating phase, often marked by rapidly evolving information and re-gathering of details, sets the stage for managing all the costs and schedules of the actual build. It can also be filled with many pain points along the way like inefficiencies and inaccuracies that can result in a lack of project cost certainty — and nullify an otherwise profitable project.
These are some of the primary reasons driving many construction companies to migrate from traditional estimating methods to construction estimating software that automates many of the more time- and effort-intensive routine tasks. In fact, 54% of respondents in InEight’s Global Capital Project Outlook survey said they use either a purpose-built or integrated solution for estimating. And all signs point to that percentage rising as more companies seek out ways to improve productivity by automating anything that’s manual and tedious. That’s especially the case for substantial capital projects that often rely on task-heavy bottom-up estimating. Let’s look at how automating processes can be a game changer.
Streamline the estimating workflow
We know all too well that estimation periods often face tight windows for submission, with seemingly endless details and work being squeezed into a limited timeline. That means the workflow has to function like a well-oiled machine. More than that, the data that goes into the estimate should have a high degree of accuracy and certainty. After all, on-time submissions are nothing without data integrity.
In the mad dash to meet these deadlines, though, the potential for errors goes up when manually inputting information into computer spreadsheet programs and then later adjusting that data on each relevant sheet as project details emerge or change. And these programs come with the added risk of inaccuracies resulting from empty data fields or broken formulas. These tasks, the ones performed over and over again, seem to require more attention and effort, and siphon time away from more productive work. Despite these limitations, construction companies have long relied upon these spreadsheet programs to produce estimates.
However, construction estimating software has changed the playing field. It optimizes the entire process by automating these more time-consuming activities and therefore dramatically alleviating that time-on-task crunch for the estimating team.
Automate data and calculation updates with construction estimating software
It’s not just effort-intensive tasks that benefit from automation; the data itself does, too. Think of the information collected and entered during the estimating stage: client budgets, scope requirements, wage rates, material costs and so on. With traditional online estimating methods, these variables and their associated calculations may be spread across several individual spreadsheets for different labor disciplines, work packages or jobsite areas, for example. Setting up the cells and formulas to tally up the right values from each of these spreadsheets can require painstaking time if not working from a standard template and creates a situation ripe for mistakes, which may become further amplified with any mass-scale project.
This is one area where construction estimating software sets itself apart. As these variables are imported, the software automates the associated calculations for quantities, costs, measurements, schedules and so forth, yielding a more error-free estimate. This saves an inordinate amount of time that would’ve been spent punching numbers and eliminates the human error factor.
Also consider that during the estimating stage, there are often scope changes, material cost and wage rate fluctuations, weather events or sudden economic shifts that can affect the validity of the numbers being gathered. The software ensures affected variables can be adjusted in real time and automatically updated elsewhere throughout the estimate. No duplicated work or wasted time that takes away from the estimating efforts.
Smooth creation of cost item assemblies
Individually costing out every nail and steel beam results in unnecessary repetitive data entry. It’s a known tedious, effort-intensive process. Construction estimating software stores their individual costs in a database for easier retrieval, quantifying and calculating. Where this can have perhaps the biggest impact is in estimating the multiple cost item assemblies for the set material quantities and costs that make up a segment of construction work. Not only that, whenever a material’s cost is changed in the database, it automatically updates that component’s price everywhere else throughout the assemblies.
Generate estimate and bid documentation with construction estimating software
The kind of documentation required for each bid is fairly predictable and straightforward. Why waste effort creating each one from scratch? A robust construction estimating software solution can automate this process in a couple of similar ways.
First, by uploading pre-built templates for common documents — such as cover letters, estimate reports and bid packages. Each estimate can be automatically populated with data that shares similar components from prior projects. There may be the option to customize these templates according to company brand standards or by project type, for example.
Second, by pulling up previously created materials from archived projects that already incorporate historical or third-party industry data that you can then adjust to reflect current, local values. Either way, this standardization means there’s no need to recreate the same documents each time.
Adopt a solid construction estimating software option of your own
Construction companies that have adopted project-built or integrated estimating software are realizing substantial time savings and improved accuracy. Not only that, costs are all but certain, so they have a higher degree of confidence that their projects can be built for the budgeted amount.
Looking to join the growing list of construction companies realizing the value of automated estimating tasks? Many have turned to InEight Estimate as their construction estimating software of choice, leveraging all its capabilities as well as your own data to deliver more refined estimates in a fraction of the time and effort.