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SharpeSoft Estimator Fast Trax 5/7: Easy Steps for Creating Material Comparisons

Updated: Jul 12, 2023

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Estimator uses Material Comparison Packages to compare vendor quotes on material prices so that you can decide which vendors to include in the job bid.

You will use the Material Package Wizard to create a package, select the materials that will go into it, and define the vendors who will participate in the quote request and comparison.

Using the Material Comparison Detail window, you will email the quote request to the selected vendors and then automatically load their responses directly into the package as they are returned. You can then make a side-by-side comparison of each vendor’s prices and quantities to decide which vendor to include in your bid.

Before You Start

Before you can email quote requests and receive email quotes from your selected vendors, the following must be completed. (If you will be manually sending RFQs and entering vendor prices, you can skip this step.)

  • The SharpeSoft Quote Processing Email Server must be installed and configured. For information on setting up and configuring the email server, press F1 to open the on-screen Help. See the Fast Trax document for setting up SharpeSoft Email Quote System. Or, open Estimator Help and follow the topic for Installing the Email Server.

  • The Email Configuration window must be configured in system Defaults. For information on configuring your email, press F1 to open the on-screen Help. Navigate to the Defaults menu topic header. Click the node icon to open the topic book, and then click Email Configuration.

  • The RFQs (requests for quotes) tab must be configured in system Defaults. For information on configuring RFQs, go to Defaults menu > Preferences. Press F1 on your keyboard. In the Help topic that opens, click the RFQs tab in the User and System Preferences screen shot. The RFQsHelp topic will open.

  • Email addresses for your vendors must be entered in the Vendor Detail window. For information on entering vendor email addresses, go to Tables menu > Vendors and press F1 on your keyboard. In the Help topic that opens, scroll down to Related Topics and click Vendor Detail.

Create a Comparison Package

Go to: Job menu > Material Comparison

In the Material Comparison Packages window, click Insert to open the Material Package Wizard.

In the package Wizard, enter a Code and Description for the new package, and then click Next.

Insert the Package Materials

Two windows will simultaneously open on your screen. The first is the wizard’s Insert Materials window, and then the Insert Materials Options window.

In the Insert Materials Options window, indicate the selection method to be used when choosing bid items for the package. You can automatically select all material items according to their group or sub group, or you can manually select each individual material in each bid item.

It is fastest to select items according to their group or sub-group. In this way, all materials in the bid that belong to the selected group or sub-group will be listed in your package detail. This is the preferred method and the method we will be using here.

Select either Material group or Material sub-group and click OK.

After selecting the method (group or sub-group), in the next selection window, select the actual groups or sub-groups to be included. Hold the Ctrl key down and click on each applicable group or sub-group to mark it.

Once all of your groups or sub-groups are marked, click Select, or press Enter.

The wizard’s Insert Materials window will now display all job materials that belong to your selected groups or sub-groups.

In the window, click the node icon next to the top-level bid items to open the tree and reveal the detail items that belong to your selections. If needed, you can edit the window using the insert, change, and delete buttons. Once you have included all applicable materials, click Next. The Select Vendor window will open.

Select Your Vendors

Now you will choose the vendors to whom you want to send a quote request.

To select your vendors, click on a vendor then press your space bar. This highlights and marks the vendor for selection. Repeat this until you have finished marking all of the vendors you want. When ready, press Enter or click Select. You will be returned to the package wizard with the vendors you selected will be listed in the window.

Click Finish and the system will immediately list your new comparison package in the Material Comparison window and then move you to the Package Detail window, where you can email your will quote requests to your vendors and then load their quotes as they are received.

Review the Material Package Detail window

When the detail window opens, all the items you entered in the wizard will be displayed in the middle 'table' section.

The top of the window will display the 'parent' items (bid item and sub item) for the highlighted item in the table. When you click on a different item, the panel will display that item's parent information.

Each of the vendors you selected for the package have a column with his or her individual vendor codes identifying them at the top. Note that these columns are displayed in both the middle and lower panels of the package detail window.

As you enter or load vendor prices into the grid, the low price for each item will be highlighted in red. Each vendor column extends down into the Price Panel where the lowest total package price is also highlighted in red.

Email Quote Requests to your Vendors

You can email a request for a quote to just one vendor, or to all of them at the same time. If you want to send a request to just one, click in that vendor’s column. This enables the Email request for quote to selected vendor only toolbar button. Click this button and the request will be sent to the selected vendor.

To send a quote request to all of the vendors at once, click the next toolbar button, Email request for quote to all vendors .

Once you confirm your request, the request for quote email will be sent immediately to the vendor(s) you selected.

Vendor Quick Check and Changing a Vendor Record

You can quickly bring up a vendor's record to check their phone number or update an email address by double-clicking in the header of a vendor column. This opens the Edit Vendor window, which includes all the vendor’s current information.

Load Returned Quotes

When a completed quote is emailed back to you, the Quote button above the vendor column is enabled. To open the email, click on the button. The vendor quote window will open displaying the name of the package and the vendor who is submitting the quote at the top of the window.

Notice in the vendor quote window that there is a memo icon in the Email Date column. The system allows vendors to add memos to their return quotes. To read a memo, double click on the icon.

If a vendor decides to include quotes on additional materials (ones other than those included in your original request), a materials icon will also appear in the Email Date column. Double click on this icon and the Mailed New Material window will open, displaying the added materials and their costs. These materials will NOT be added to the package. Any additional materials must be manually added.

To load this vendor's quote amounts into their column, highlight the email date and then click Load Quote at the bottom of the window. Note that this button is simply loading the vendor's quote into his column (NOT into the job).

When the quote is loaded, a check will be placed in the Version column in the returned quote window. If this vendor emails updated quotes later and you decide to load one of the updates, the check will move next to the version you loaded. Version numbers are also updated.

Conflicts in the Return Vendor Information

When a vendor returns his/her quote and there is a conflict between the email vendor information and the vendor information currently entered in the Vendor table > Vendors > Vendor Detail window, the Resolve Vendor Office Conflicts window will open. The conflicting information will be highlighted in the window. You will be given the option to leave your current Vendor table information as is or you can change one or all of the conflicting data.

After Your Quotes are loaded into the Vendor Columns

As bid amounts are loaded into the vendor columns, individual cells containing the lowest prices are highlighted in red. This highlighting lets you quickly identify the lowest bid item prices. The Price Panel at the bottom of the window highlights the lowest overall total.

  • Changing a cost in this window does not change the bid item cost until you actually load a specific package. However, changing quantities in this window will immediately change the quantity in the original bid item window.

Enter Vendor Cuts or Adds

To enter a vendor cut or add, click the Cut or Add buttons that appear in the price panel at the bottom of the window to select an increase or a decrease in the vendor bid amount. Next, click the Percent or the Dollar button, depending on whether you are applying the cut/add as a percentage or as a dollar amount. Last, click in the Cuts/Adds row directly beneath the vendor's column header and enter either a dollar amount or percent (depending on which you selected), then press enter.

To review each vendor's list of cuts and adds, go to the Price Panel and double click in the Cuts/Adds row directly beneath the vendor’s column header. This opens the Cut/Adds for... window which displays that vendor's cuts and adds history. The amount shown beneath each vendor column header is the sum total of all transactions listed in their 'Cuts/Adds for...' window.


If you wanted to cut a vendor’s total bid by 10%, you would go to the Price Panel, click the Cut button, and then click on the Dollar/Percent button until the Percent sign displays. Now, click in the Cuts/Adds row just beneath the vendor's column header. Type in '10' and press Enter. The total price is now decreased by 10%.

Spread Method: The system will spread this type of decrease by subtracting 10% from the total of each item in the bid.

Assume you needed to increase another vendor’s total bid by $1500. The vendor has bid on 15 separate items. In the Price Panel, click the Add button, and then click on the Dollar/Percent button until the dollar sign displays. Now, click in the Cuts/Adds row just beneath the vendor's column header. Type in '1500' and press Enter. The total price is now increased by $1500.

Spread Method: The system will spread this type of increase by dividing the total dollar amount ($1500) by the vendor’s total number of items (15) and add the resulting dollar amount ($100) to each bid item.

Select a Vendor and Load the Package into the Job

Although the low vendor price for each material item will initially be automatically selected and highlighted in red, you can override the automatic price selection by clicking your preferred price and clicking Actions menu > Select Cell as Low. Once you have finished selecting the vendor and price combinations that you want to actually use in your bid, click Actions menu > Load Package as Selected. This will load the selected vendor prices into your bid.

Quick Load Method

If you want to use just one vendor for the entire material package, a vendor's pricing can be selected and loaded into the job by clicking the Load button at the top of the vendor column you want to use. Once you click on the vendor's Load button, a message will appear briefly informing you the package is being loaded.

  • When you use the Load button to select and load a vendor, the vendor's prices are loaded into the job, however they are not updated in the Materials table unless you have selected Options menu > Update Material Prices. If you want the material updated every time you load a package, make sure this Options menu selection is checked.

If you want to know more about each window in the Material Comparison Package, simply press F1 while in one of the windows to access the on-screen Help.


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 Item Masters


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