Construction estimating software is empowering estimators in the industry like never before. In the past, the only options were simple spreadsheets. They were either used as a sole solution or as part of a clunky workflow that involved cutting and pasting vital estimating data in and out of spreadsheets alongside myriad other tools for pricing, reporting, analysis, presentation and tendering.
Today you can conduct these tasks faster, more easily and in more joined-up ways with construction estimating solutions. Increasingly, contractors are turning to hosted solutions that enable estimators to work when and where they need to by hosting data online and unlocking the opportunity to share data.
With the growing competitive nature of the construction industry, it’s vital that estimators work faster and more flexibly than ever before. As well as fast pricing, the need for rapid, accurate and automated measurement and take-off is raising. Construction estimating software can help empower estimators to create accurate, fast, and more competitive bids.
However, with so many options available, it can be overwhelming to choose the right construction estimating software for your needs. Read the six questions you should be asking when choosing the right estimating software below.
Q1 Generic or designed for estimators?
Generic tools such as spreadsheets were not designed for estimating. While they handle figures and calculations well, they do not include the specific features and automated tools that most estimators need every day. On the other hand, a custom-developed estimating solution from a provider who understands the business of construction and the needs of the job will provide an array of tools that can ease and enable a range of estimating tasks from take-off and measurement to BoQ production, bid summaries, analytics, and tender preparation.
Q2 Hosted or on-premise?
On-premise estimating solutions bring you professional suites of tools designed around estimator needs and our own Causeway Estimating solution is one of these. Things to consider:
- On-premise solutions can take longer to implement, involving significant support from and liaison with scarce IT resources. The IT team may need customisations to ensure such solutions fit seamlessly into the rest of the business software environment, which providers are glad to do but which can slow things down.
- Estimating on a hosted platform can boost collaboration while remote working as the software can be accessed from anywhere at any time. It also reduced internal IT resources as we are responsible for all updates to the system.
Q3 Standalone or joint working?
An estimator can often happily work alone with a simple software solution for basic tasks. But even solo workers can benefit from better ways to report and present estimating data. Small teams of estimators can gain from closer and more collaborative working to share project workloads and lean on each other’s expert insights. As teams grow and need to work collaboratively with or report to estimators or managers in other geographies or divisions, the need to share data rapidly grows with them.
- Choosing estimating tools that reside on standalone machines (or even flash drives) acts as a physical barrier to working together because estimators must gather around the screen. These can also bring some risks too – as estimating projects are created, researched, and built on a laptop or individual PC, they are extremely vulnerable to loss due to lack of backup or file corruption.
- Choosing on-premise solutions don’t always provide users with the flexible access they need, so they can work easily at home, in an emergency, or out on-site via their laptop or tablet, as long as they are connected to the Internet.
Q4 Wider workflow needs?
Don’t consider estimating in isolation but also how it interfaces with the wider business and with the supply chain. Estimating data plays a significant role in the process of bid development, including as a foundation for gaining the right supplier bids. Fully integrated software such as Causeway Estimating are developed to be part of a joined-up bid development process and works seamlessly with eTendering solutions for that purpose. The business also has broader enterprise needs to consider, so explore whether your options will play well with other platforms that may be in use across the business for accounting and other functions.
The working experience and effectiveness of individual estimators and bid management teams across the whole business could be transformed by choosing fully functional cost estimating software that is available in a hosted environment and designed for cost data-sharing and collaborative estimating.
Q5 How painful will it be to change?
Many estimators have invested significant time and effort in developing their Excel and spreadsheet skills. Many will also have created complex, interlinked, multi-tabbed works of spreadsheet art that enable them to work quickly and effectively alone, but are a barrier to collaboration. Whichever solution you choose, you must take colleagues with you, and may encounter resistance to change. Involve colleagues in scoping out the essential features you need. Share with them the target benefits of big changes such as a transition to a hosted solution. They may not be persuaded by features alone, so put the messages into a wider context of business and team.
Q6 What licensing model will suit you best?
Traditional software licensing was often inflexible, forcing you to allocate large numbers of users or seats. Hosted solutions can bring new opportunities with many ‘software as a service’ models springing up to serve construction businesses. However, the nature of estimating and the huge value of historic cost data does not lend itself to a ‘pay as you go’ model. Explore longer-term options that still bring you the flexibility of a hosted platform but also allow you to gain the value of your data. For example, Causeway Estimating is available as a hosted solution meaning that you can define the number of concurrent licences you need, and then purchase named user licences that extend access to your estimating data to those in the organisation who need visibility into the data in order to analyse it for informed business decisions.
Don’t make expensive mistakes by choosing without thought – but don’t fear to make a change. Choosing wisely will help you unlock your data, work more efficiently, bid better, and build an even more successful business.
Make smart decisions about your construction estimating software
Considering the adoption of new software can be overwhelming, not to mention the actual evaluation process itself. However, it’s important to choose the right construction estimating software that will meet your needs.
When you choose Causeway Estimating, you gain access to a wealth of knowledge and expertise that has been refined over three decades. Our commitment to excellence and customer satisfaction is unmatched. Whether you are a seasoned estimator or just starting your career, our tools and resources will empower you to deliver accurate, reliable, and efficient estimates that drive success for your projects.
Ready to find out how we can support your business?
Book a discovery call with one of our construction estimating experts today.