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How the TakeOff Process is Changing

by Chris Lee | February 9th, 2017

The construction industry is changing. We're using new tools to help provide amazing precision to job site layout and earthmoving. Drones are being used to provide better building modeling options. Virtual reality is providing a whole new facet to safety training. Bluetooth-linked tool batteries help deter job site theft. Plans are available digitally across a wide range of devices, from desktops to the phone in your pocket. These changes are rapidly impacting how the construction process takes place and how business is done in the industry. But how are these changes impacting the take off process? Here's a look at how things have been, the impact of digital life and what we can expect in the future.

How the Construction TakeOff Process is Changing

The Old Way to Perform Take Offs

For centuries, building plans and take offs have taken place on paper. Using an assortment of tools, the contractor would count how many outlets, switches, breaker boxes and feet of conduit and cable were needed to finish the job. Hours could be spent going over plans and discovering exactly what the project would entail, using colored ink or pencils to mark up the plans as you go, tallying up a final count on a worksheet. As time has gone on, our methods have improved. We have markers and spreadsheets in place of ink, pencils and worksheets. Though this has somewhat improved the accuracy and speed of a take off, it still takes a significant amount of time. Beyond the time, what about the cost of the plans? To purchase a copy or print out a hard copy of a digital plan is an expensive proposition. How can you improve on the process? Perhaps instead of simply employing new tools on the same process, it's time for the entire process to change. The prevalence of mobile devices, a sharp rise in connectivity over the past few years and the demand for higher efficiency in business processes will have a strong impact on how our world does business, from hiring a new journeyman for your crew to paying supplier invoices from your phone. Is your business flexible enough to meet these challenges?

The Impact of Digitization

But if this approach worked, why should you change how you're doing business? One word: Efficiency. Today's construction business needs to remain flexible to adaptation in a rapidly changing world. A report by the US Department of Commerce's International Trade Administration estimated that between 2014 and 2020, the construction industry will grow by 70%. We're halfway through that time period. Are you ready to take advantage of those changes? Prefabricated and repeated assemblies are becoming much more common as we attempt to house and employ seven billion people. Improved energy efficiency requires cloud modeling of building systems and creative thinking from modern design professionals. Sensors help improve a building's overall efficiency, but require significantly more connectivity and networking than ever before. Is your business positioned to grow into these new requirements, giving you exceptional opportunity for overall growth? Today's entrepreneurs are changing their focus from covering the widest possible range of market options to only the ones that are the most productive for that company. Does your business make the most money while you're sitting in the office or when you're in the field, laying down cable? To keep up with your competitors, you'll need new tools so that you can fine tune your business' focus to the areas that make the best profits for your business.

The Take Off of the Future

Now imagine a future take off. You have a digital plan you've loaded into your estimation software. You can stop and start the process from the convenience of your mobile device without losing your place in the process. That means you can sneak in a few more assemblies while waiting at the doctor's office or check the specifications between dinner and desert without having to drag out large paper plans and all the necessary paraphernalia that is associated with the process. Waiting out a rain storm at the job site? Haul out your tablet and mark up a little more of the plans as you sit instead of having to return to the office and lay everything out. Need to finish just a few more assemblies but need to get to your daughter's basketball game? No problem. Digitization not only makes the process more streamlined, it makes it much more portable as well. Sound too good to be true? This technology is a great time-saver, completely changing the way we do take offs. But don't wait years for this technology, because it's already here. Digital take off tools can dramatically change how your company operates, allowing you to remain flexible to different possibilities in the electrical contracting industry while giving you the dynamic tools you need to focus your efforts through analytics. Imagine working on a take off for an upcoming project. A client calls to approve the work that has been proposed, so you take a moment to send their company an invoice through QuickBooks Online. Once you finish the take off and enter the estimate figures, you can export a PDF copy of the proposal and email to the client. All this from the convenience of your mobile device. Digitization is vastly changing how take offs are performed while tying those processes in to the rest of the bidding and accounting process. Tomorrow's take offs will be tied in with a range of automation and digitization features aimed at allowing you to focus on what matters and make the best possible use of your time. This can include options such as Esticom's capabilities to tie in with electronic estimates, QuickBooks interoperability and on-the-fly adaptations to changes in the job, allowing you to live your best life now. Have you taken the time to sign up for a free trial of our comprehensive estimation software? The future is now. It's time to get started.
Chris Lee
Chris Lee has an extensive background in preconstruction management as a former specialty contractor and business owner. As the Chief Estimator at Esticom, he’s helped thousands of specialty contractors digitize their preconstruction process to increase revenue and profitability while decreasing unnecessary overhead.

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