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How Estimating Software Informs the Construction Industry



Intro


As time marches forward ever-onward into the future, certain adaptations to industries eventually become not only practical solutions, but oftentimes are the only way to stay competitive. No industry is this more apparent than in construction. Gone are the days of staying up late at the kitchen table, calculating bids with pen and paper. While it’s important to remember one’s roots, there comes a time when moving forward is the correct choice.


Estimating software is still a burgeoning sector, where it will continue to develop and follow its own market trends. However, there are still a few key observable innovations that we will discuss here in this blog. 


Table of Contents

  1. The All-in-One

  2. Expanding into the Cloud

  3. Utilizing Artificial Intelligence 

  4. Supplier Connections 


The All-in-One

As any veteran estimator knows, estimating is only one part of an intricate process to arrive at the final bid. Gathering sets of materials into takeoff lists, appraising and comparing various vendors of said materials, and generating final payouts for labor are only a few extra components construction companies need to keep in mind before and after preparing to make a bid. 


One way that construction software companies can take advantage of this implicit need is by expanding their core products into these other areas. Many of the most popular estimating software solutions possess in-house “arms” that address client needs such as takeoff and payroll, and those that don’t still integrate closely with standalone products .


A curious example, perhaps, is that of STACK Construction Technologies. STACK, which began life marketing itself as purely a preconstruction and takeoff solution. Through internal software development and several key acquisitions, STACK transformed itself into a multipurpose program suite. 


While there are some problems with the all-in-one approach–namely much higher costs, and usually the inability to operate outside of the integrated programs–there are also clear benefits, such as internal efficiency and data retention. 


Expanding into the Cloud


Cloud services have proven to be a crucial component of the estimating process since construction software developers began building products with it in mind. 


In an industry where changes can happen on a dime: such as inclement weather pushing a job back, or a truck of materials failing to show up on time, it’s never been so important to remain flexible. Cloud computing allows for information to be updated in real time without the need to download and reupload anything. Multiple users can take the helm of a job at once as well, whether they’re both in the field or collaborating with the home office. 


Increased collaboration improves every other area of the estimating process. Automated calculation processes and additional eyes on the project mean that estimates will be produced more quickly as well as more accurately.


Moreover, keeping track of costs for the duration of the bidding process is vital in order to avoid letting anything slip through the cracks. Accurately identify costs and never lose them once they’ve been input into the system. Cloud systems also offer different competitive packages based on what’s appropriate for the size of a company, keeping users flexible and never paying for more than they need.


The results show. Over the last two years, SharpeSoft alone has seen a staggering 600% increase in cloud usage rates!


Utilizing Artificial Intelligence 


Artificial intelligence has made great strides in the construction industry in recent years. What once was a technology-averse industry has slowly but surely embraced modern innovations meant to bolster multiple different sectors of the economy. 


While the image of robot overlords certainly isn’t in our future, what the construction industry can expect are ways to remove certain tedious tasks from the equation when producing a bid. Keeping track of such discrete items like nuts and bolts can quickly get out of hand, but AI advancements–such as PataBid’s Quantify app–hope to cut down on a task that can quickly spiral out of control for the average estimator. 


Another benefit of AI that will only continue to develop into the future is in hazard detection. Several products are already on the market that use AI in combination with live video feeds in order to both detect and predict potential dangerous situations in the workplace. 


Supplier Connections 


There’s one constant in the realm of construction, and that’s the need to interact with and build relationships with supplyhouses. Jobs can hardly be done without the proper materials, and finding the right supplier with the right price can be difficult. 


One solution is to allow the suppliers to bid on a project the moment it goes live. The Dibbs app offers the idea of a bidding marketplace shared by both estimators and suppliers to create a streamlined framework for material acquisition. 


Conclusion


Estimating software has much it has to say on the topic of the construction industry as a whole. 2024 continues to demonstrate a further tendency towards increased software usage in construction, a pattern that is only expected to go up. 




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