top of page

SharpeSoft Estimator Fast Trax 2/7: Easy Steps for Creating Bid Items

Updated: Jul 12, 2023

Scroll down for 3 helpful videos!

Understanding the Bid Items Window

Go to: Job menu > Bid Items

The Bid Items window is divided into left and right panels. In the left panel you will click on the level of bid item you want to work with, and in the right panel you will execute the action. All editing – that is deletions, additions, and modifications – is done in the right panel.

The left panel displays all of your bid items in a tree format, starting with your top-level bid items and then listing all accompanying sub items beneath. When you click on an item in this panel the view on the right side of the window changes.

  • When you click on the Item number or Description at the top of the left panel, all of the top-level bid items are displayed in the right panel. This is called the Bid Items view (shown above).

  • When you click on a top-level bid item in the left panel, all of its sub items are displayed in the right panel. This called the Sub Items view.

  • When you click on an individual sub item in the left panel, the item detail panel opens on the right, where you will add all of the individual labor, materials, equipment, and costs that go into that item. This called the Detail view.

Grouping Bid Items

If you want to place your bid items into groups, click on the Description at the top of the navigation tree in the left side of the window, and then go to the Actions menu and click Insert Group/Alternate. The Insert Bid-Item Group/Alternate (New) window will open.

From there, you can select from your list of company default bid item groups by clicking the search button in the Code field. Otherwise, enter a new Code and Description and click OK.

Alternate group

Check this box if you are creating an alternate item group (with adds or deducts).

Continue adding groups (either by selecting from your default list or by creating unique groups) until you have added all that you need.

When you are finished, the new groups you entered will be listed in both the left and right panels of the window highlighted in blue. All items not belonging to a group (called 'base items') are listed at the top.

To reorder your groups, click on a group in the right panel that you want to move (all items listed under the group will move with it). Now, click one of the directional arrows directly beneath the right panel and move that group up or down as needed. (Note that these arrows are enabled only when you have clicked on a group header line in the right panel.)

Groups will always be displayed under base items. You cannot move groups to the top of the window when any ungrouped items exist. By the same token, alternate groups will always be displayed under regular bid item groups.

  • If you want your base items to be in a group (to show a subtotal of those items, for example), create a group called ‘Base Items’ and place that group at the top of your group list. You can also drag-and-drop any existing base items into any of your groups.

Entering Top-Level Bid Items

You will enter bid items by building a 'tree' format consisting of top-level bid items, sub-items, and detail (which contain your costs). First, you will enter your top-level bid items.

Bid items can be inserted as base items (those not assigned to a group) or as part of a group.

If you are not using groups or are entering base items (those items that do not belong to a group), simply click the insert button directly below the right panel. A new line will open in that panel.

If you are using groups, right click on the group in right panel under which you want to add a bid item and click insert. A new line will open in the right panel under the group you selected:

In the line that opens, enter the Description, Quantity, and UM (unit measure) in the columns of the right panel, using your tab key to move forward. After the UM column, press enter.

Actual Cost & Bid Prices columns

The costs and prices in these columns are derived from the Detail level. You cannot enter costs or prices directly into these columns. You must first enter costs at the Detail level and once entered there, the system will “roll up” the Actual Costs and Bid Prices and display them in these columns.

W/C Code column

This column will default to the code previously selected in the Job Default Workers’ Comp window. However, you can change the code to whatever is needed for the bid item by clicking in the column then clicking Search/select in the toolbar. From the select window that opens, double click on the code you want. Press Enter to save your selection.

Continue entering your top-level bid items in this manner. Once you have entered all of your top-level items, the Bid Items window will look similar to the screenshot below. Base items will be placed at the top, with grouped items beneath. All items will be highlighted in blue indicating that no cost details have been entered and therefore, no item costs have been generated. This highlighting makes it easy to see which bid items still need to be completed.

Entering Sub Items

Unlike top-level bid items, sub items cannot be grouped. The sub items panel also has an item tree at the top that displays the parent bid item and its sub-items that precede the level you are currently working on.

To enter a sub item, open the tree in the left panel to display all top-level items. Click on the item under which you want to add sub-items. The Item Options window will open. Select Sub-Level. The right panel will now be blank. Right click in that panel and click insert in the context menu. Enter the Item code, Description, Quantity, and UM and then press enter. As you enter sub-items, the system will place them in alphanumeric order based on the item codes you enter.

Fix column

If the quantity of the sub item you are entering should remain fixed (that is it should not change if you modify the parent bid item quantity later), click on that sub-item, then go to the Actions menu and click Toggle Fixed Quantity Status. A fix button will appear in the Fix column indicating that the quantity for that sub-item is now fixed. To remove the button, just click the Actions menu selection again while the sub-item line is highlighted.

Actual Costs & Bid Prices column

Again, these costs and prices are derived from the detail level. You cannot enter costs or prices directly into these columns. You must first enter costs at the detail level.

W/C column

The default workers’ compensation code in this column can be changed by clicking Search/select in the toolbar. From the selection window that opens, double click on the code you want.

Entering Detail

The Detail level is the lowest item level in Bid Items window. It contains the cost details that ultimately define your bid items. To enter your first detail item under a sub item, go to the navigation panel on the left and click on the sub item that you want to work with. The Item Options window will open again. Select Detail.

Resource Toolbar

You can enter detail by clicking insert beneath the right panel and then pressing the F4 key to search for your individual detail items. However, the fastest way to enter detail items is by using the Resource Toolbar.

The toolbar contains nine selections that are linked to the cost database windows in the Tables menu (Materials, Labor, Equipment, Crews, Assemblies, Subcontractors, Other Resources, Outside Trucking, and Joint Venture) along with a window reset button. When you click one of cost database buttons, the navigation panel on the left side changes to a selection window from which you can chose the detail items you need. In the toolbar, the first button on the left is used to restore the navigation tree after you have selected a Detail item from a cost database

When you use the Resource Toolbar, you do not click the insert button. Instead, the system will open a new line in the detail panel automatically.

Click on a resource button and a selection panel opens on the left side of the window. Click on the node icon next to an item group to see its individual records. Locate the item you want, then drag and drop it into the Detail panel on the right. If you want to select more than one item, click on the item, then press the space bar (this highlights the item). Mark all the items you want in this way, then click on a marked item and drag the items you have marked into the Detail panel. When finished, click the reset button (first button on the left) to reset the left panel back to the bid item navigation view.

Once you have selected and entered your items using the Resource Toolbar, you will need to update each item’s quantity (click in the Quantity column and change the value) to fit the job you are working on.

If you have entered labor and/or equipment into the Detail, you will also enter a value in the Production Rate field in the Production Panel.

Production Panel

You have many options for entering production rates into the Production Panel. You can enter production per day, production per man/crew hour, and man/crew hours per unit, total number of days, or total number of man/crew hours. In most cases, when entering your job detail, you already know the expected production a crew can generate in a given period.

As an example, you might have a concrete crew that is capable of laying out 600 SF per day for sidewalk paving. Enter that amount in the panel’s Production Rate field, and then enter your materials, laborers, and equipment in the Detail table. Based on the rate, the system will automatically enter the number of days needed for this crew to complete the total quantity and will generate a bid price based on the production amount, overall quantity, average work day length and the hourly crew cost.

Once you have entered all your detail items and have updated the quantity and production values, click on the reset button in the Resource Toolbar. The select panel will close and the navigation tree will be restored in the left panel. Click on another sub item under which you want to enter detail and repeat the above procedure until all bid items have detail entered and none of them is highlighted in blue. If blue highlighting still exists, it means you are missing detail costs for that item.

Additional Information

Bid items can also be entered by copying them from the Item Masters table or copying items from previously completed jobs.

For instructions on entering items in this way, press F1 to open the on-screen Help. Navigate to the Job menu > Bid Items > Entering Detail topic. At the top is an 'In This Topic' box. Click on the selection, ‘Using Item Masters.”


Getting started with SharpeSoft is a breeze. Whether you are looking to create a new job or add one, SharpeSoft has got your back. We have the tools and expertise necessary to help you make it happen without breaking a sweat.

You can continue on to other helpful Fast Trax articles below. To learn more about this particular subject, consult your system Help manual, or just give us a call and we’ll be glad to walk you through it.

Previous Article: Creating & Activating Jobs


bottom of page