What Is Construction Estimating Software?
May 10, 2021
As our industry continues its evolution to digitally-based processes, estimating has been evolving as well. Construction companies wanting to bypass the past challenges associated with traditional manual estimating methods are instead adopting construction estimating software.
Many of the major pain points experienced by estimators – inaccuracies, frustrations, uncertainties and a lack of profitability – have been greatly reduced by digitization. Instead, they are finding benefit-rich functionalities that can also help your business better manage all the details and costs associated with the estimating process.
What can you do with construction estimating software?
Efficiency of cost, time and effort is a goal of any construction project. This is also true for the estimating process itself as a virtual “constructing” of the project before the physical work begins. And yet it has always been a time-consuming, difficult process. This becomes magnified within large, complex builds where risks are high, budgets are firm, and costs and progress are under heavy scrutiny to ensure nothing puts the project at risk of going behind schedule or over budget.
Estimating software optimizes the whole process right from the beginning — performing time-saving takeoff calculations, drawing from your own or industry databases. This data includes real-world job costing, plus tracking past and current project data such as materials, labor costs, resource allocation and more. Some solutions also allow you to integrate other software to expand your project efficiencies even further.
Standardize your estimating process
Recreating all the documentation that each bid requires can eat up time you could be devoting elsewhere. This is where templates found in construction estimating software — for common documents such as bid packages, estimate reports and cover letters — can save you precious time while ensuring you don’t overlook anything. It can even store details and files from your past projects you can pull from, so you don’t have to waste time replicating the same materials over and over again with each estimate.
Bringing uniformity to the process goes beyond forms and templates, though. It also applies to the data that informs your bids. Do you have benchmarks from past projects? Make them work for you on future bids by leveraging those real-life numbers from recent builds with similar details. If you don’t have a solid historical database, you can incorporate rate libraries instead. Estimating software will allow you to modify the numbers so you can localize wage rates, materials costs and taxes.
Together, templates and databases enhance consistency in format and information to make your process more predictive and streamlined.
Gain cost certainty
Proliferating data, evolving details and constant changes are all part of the hectic estimating phase. It can make pinning down cost certainty for a project that hasn’t started yet sound rather pie in the sky. Where cost uncertainty has often resulted from the traditional paper-based and computer spreadsheet estimating methods, construction estimating software adds a level of precision and control.
How? With its ability to do real-time calculations, there’s no longer any risk of broken equations in computer spreadsheets or human math errors. When data is modified in one place, it’s immediately reflected where necessary throughout the estimate, so you can breathe a sigh of relief knowing you don’t have to repeatedly re-enter that same data. Plus, when integrated with the details from your takeoff, your estimates can be automatically figured so there’s less chance of early mistakes snowballing into bigger ones that could jeopardize securing project funding.
The ability of estimating software to manage the tiniest of details gives project managers, contractors and owners alike a more realistic picture of what it will truly cost to complete a project and provides a level of transparency that fosters confidence in those numbers.
Adjust variables in real-time
We all know data, conditions and even scope can change over the course of the estimating process, let alone during construction. For example, weather, market conditions and supply chain issues all can affect materials pricing. The going wage rate in your area may have changed since your last project or may be different than what’s listed in the rate library you’re using. And what was once a project idea is now taking shape, so that top-down estimate you created is migrating to a bottom-up estimate as details become known. Construction estimating software gives you the ability to adjust variables anytime, which are then automatically updated elsewhere in your estimate. And even as you revise details in your forecasts, the software will immediately recalculate the impact what-if scenarios – including scope changes – can have on overall costs before they become part of the final estimate.
Make data-driven decisions
While this is important for any size build, it becomes even more critical when your projects involve millions of dollars, hundreds of craftspeople, thousands of pieces of equipment and countless materials. When you remove the guesswork from the estimates and replace it with real data, decisions about hiring, scheduling, changes and risks become more proactive and purposeful. Plus, dashboard and reporting capabilities not only enable data to be interpreted and considered in a more timely and informed way but have the added benefit of strengthening the decision-making collaboration between contractors and owners.
See what construction estimating software can do for your business
Developed for construction professionals by construction professionals, InEight Estimate is an all-encompassing software solution that answers many of the common estimating challenges you may have. It consolidates and simplifies the entire process, delivering much-needed confidence in your numbers as you prepare more competitive bids. Schedule a demo with InEight to learn more.