Thirty years ago, spreadsheets were revolutionary cutting-edge software that changed the way businesses manage their finances. They effectively did away with hand-written ledgers, and eliminated the need to perform all of those tedious cost calculations. Their versatility made them popular with construction contractors who made Excel their primary tool for costing out job bids.
That began to change with the emergence of comprehensive cost-estimating software systems specifically designed for construction. These programs not only produced more accurate cost breakdowns, they also offered the scalability needed to match company growth, and ultimately made it faster and easier to produce winning job bids.
Nevertheless, to their disadvantage many contractors today still cling to their “tried and true” spreadsheets. What’s wrong with spreadsheets, you ask? Well, mostly they are inherently inefficient, slow, and prone to disastrous and expensive formula and data entry errors. In addition, they can’t grow with your company as you take on jobs of increasing size, scope and complexity, nor do they mesh with the professional standards and practices required by most of today’s agencies and developers. They cannot integrate with modern accounting, takeoff, and project management software systems and they make it difficult to analyze historical job data to fine tune future bids or evaluate company performance. Ultimately, all of that redundant data entry and fussing with formulas just makes it harder to get bids done quickly and puts you at risk for costly errors.
If you are still playing the game with spreadsheets but are thinking about leveling up, here are six reasons why you should make it sooner than later.
One of the main reasons to use any type of business software is to improve efficiency. If you are a heavy construction contractor, there is no better way to streamline your operation than by using comprehensive cost-estimating software. It standardizes the estimating process, creating consistency across all projects. It facilitates collaboration between your estimating team and other departments. It allows multiple estimators to work on the same job - even the same bid item- at the same time. Program wizards and other tools allow you to easily and quickly set up jobs; perform vendor price comparisons; and copy and paste bid item detail from one job into another. You can automatically spread overhead and indirect costs to other bid items and automatically calculate markups. All this (and more) adds up to huge time savings that make estimating easier and faster.
The civil construction market is hotter and more competitive than ever. Contractors who want to stay in the game need to account for every cost right down to the smallest detail. Cost estimating software allows you to account for labor, material, equipment, subcontractor and other costs far more accurately than is possible using spreadsheets. The ability to break down bid items into smaller phases -or sub-items - gives you the ability to zero in on virtually every element in a job that generates a cost. Using cost-estimating software will reduce the incidences of both over-estimating and under-estimating jobs. It greatly increases your odds of being the winning bidder and ensures that every job you do is profitable.
Since the heavy construction market is so competitive, it is imperative that contractors project a sense of professionalism. Most cost estimating software systems are aligned with the latest construction industry standards and practices so that your work meets the professional benchmarks required by public agencies and high profile owners.
Another advantage estimating software has over spreadsheets is the ability to integrate with your accounting, takeoff, and project management software systems. This helps to streamline your workflow between departments and agencies, reduces duplicated work, and ensures data consistency throughout the life of a project. In addition, they can provide seamless integration with state DOTs, so that contractors can electronically import project and bid information, automatically configure bids to match required formatting, and then export the finished bid with just one click.
Since cost-estimating software is scalable, both small and large businesses can use it to equal benefit, and the programs expand with your company as you take on jobs that are increasingly bigger in size, scope and complexity.
Cost-estimating software puts a wealth of historical job data at your fingertips. You can analyze for cost cutting measures and improved project timelines. You can compare under- or over-estimated jobs to make any necessary corrections on future bids. Integrated, customizable reports allow you to parse data in hundreds of different ways to help you pinpoint efficiencies in estimation and compare company performance over multiple years.
Cast off your old, tired spreadsheets!
To carve out your place in today’s highly volatile and technologically-driven civil construction market, you need to invest in tools that will keep you competitive over the long haul. Spreadsheets may have adequately served you in the past, but they are no match for a comprehensive cost-estimating system. It’s time to cast off your old, tired spreadsheets and level up. You will not only produce more accurate and profitable bids; you will do it faster and more efficiently than ever before. Let us show you how by scheduling a free online demonstration of SharpeSoft Estimator.