In the construction industry, today's subcontractors are busier than ever. While many contractors are struggling to stay lean and efficient, others are leveraging technology to streamline processes, improve performance and decrease construction cost in the office and on the job site. The construction industry has been one of the last of the major industries to adopt digitization and has held onto paper plans for far too long. But that is all changing now, and construction companies are arming their employees with dual screen monitors, tablets, smartphones and the latest construction estimating software, project management systems, updated cost databases and even digital time tracking applications to distance themselves from paper-based processes of the past.In this blog we’ll talk about the benefits of using a modern bid management, onscreen takeoff and estimating software that improves collaboration, speed, and accuracy. All for a price that is less than you would expect and with simple implementations. You’ll be equipped to eliminate those problematic Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, outdated on-premise estimating software and clunky plotters and paper plans.Experience essential benefits to move your business ahead:
Let's face it, with the power of computing and mobile apps today, nobody wants to waste valuable time during the preconstruction process by manually importing and exporting data between their bid management, takeoff and estimating systems. The power of the cloud has made it possible to integrate these three areas into a single product. You’ll appreciate seamless transitions as you build out projects, avoiding duplicate data entry and manually moving data between disparate systems. You no longer must print out a set of paper plans and pull out a set of highlighters to perform your onscreen takeoff and then manually move your takeoff quantities to a disparate estimating software to determine costs and your sales price. Simply upload a set of plans, count and measure items using pre-built database of parts, assemblies and tasks, and get your detailed cost estimate and customer-facing quote – all without moving data between systems.
Real Time Team Collaboration
As a modern subcontractor, collaboration is important whether you're a small business owner wearing many hats or a large construction firm with a loaded construction management team. You need the ability to collaborate with coworkers, general contractors and other project stakeholders to determine project costs, and the cloud allows instant collaboration. Because your project data is securely stored in the cloud, the data is always available from any internet-connected device. Many SaaS providers have built on this strength by allowing users to share digital plans and project data with coworkers, general contractors, or customers without emailing excel files back and forth. Imagine performing an onscreen takeoff and inviting your coworker to double check your counts while your suppliers are putting together material cost for you. This allows you to win more construction projects with less resources and streamline your estimating process.
Powerful, Highly Available Computing Power
Another valued aspect of cloud application is the sheer power provided to users in the form of computing hardware and high availability. SaaS providers leverage an almost unlimited number of powerful web and database servers that are installed in redundant data centers around the world. This equips users with a large amount of computing resources that traditional server based estimating software cannot provide. Powerful features like symbol recognition, auto-count, and onscreen takeoffs, as well as tools to easily and accurately calculate labor costs, material costs, overall project costs, and profit margin allowing you to produce estimates faster than using server-based products. When a heavy query is executed, the cloud automatically reallocates hardware resources to the task to make it happen much faster. The best part is that SaaS applications generally maintain a 99.99% uptime of applications that equates to just 5.26 minutes of downtime per year or a mere 26.30 seconds per month, which is far less time that you can expect if you use server-based estimating software. The focus of construction professionals must remain trying to win more projects, not waste time and money on building a highly redundant data center to host estimating tools.
Access Anywhere, Anytime, Any Device
Today’s construction professionals can no longer afford to suffer limited access to estimating software – a common problem when they aren’t in the office. General Contractors and customers have information available at their fingertips and they expect the same of the construction contractors they work with regularly. The cloud gives user-friendly access to construction takeoff data, cost estimates, change orders, and labor and material cost historical databases 24 hours a day and 7 days a week from any internet connected device, be it a Mac, PC, or tablet device. Imagine walking a job site and taking pictures of the construction project and updating notes and plotting them on the digital plan; you’ll then have them when estimating the project later that day wherever you are. Plus, your foreman can snap a quick picture of a plan conflict that will require a change order. Documentation and communication can be dramatically improved!
You’re a contractor and shouldn't have to deploy servers, build databases, and spend weeks pulling your operational teams into a conference room to learn how to use a clunky, over-complicated takeoff and estimating system just to produce accurate estimates. Not to mention, the recurring monthly fees you pay your managed service provider (assuming you do not have dedicated IT staff) to perform routine updates and maintenance to keep your takeoff software and estimating system up-to-date and usable. Don’t forget you’ll have spent on the HVAC systems needed to keep the servers cool. You also must consider technology adoption within the company. Employees who have been using one system for many years and are busy chasing down projects will have a harder time adopting overly complex estimating solutions that take a long time to learn. An important advantage of cloud-based digital takeoff and estimating systems is that they are already deployed and only require that user’s login and easily upload some plans to begin estimating a project. In many cases, you can try the product out before you purchase and can make sure it’s a good fit for your team.
Lower Total Cost of Ownership
With the explosive growth in cloud computing and SaaS based applications, providers can offer incredibly low cost, service-based solutions. Applications are being built to scale on cloud infrastructure, which has leveled the playing field for small and medium sized contractors who can now have solutions to effectively compete with larger contractors because they can now afford the same level of bidding software, project management and estimating programs. The rise of cloud applications has made traditional software almost impractical in other industries and now the construction industry is reaping these benefits, too. Just look at the number of contractors walking into construction project weekly meetings armed with iPads that have popular project management software likeProcore installed and being able to quickly review the latest drawings and cost estimates, swiftly annotate changes and assign tasks to team members, and keep their team on the same page – all without the high cost of traditional software solutions.
Times are changing and technology is advancing and that means big benefits in the construction industry. Gain access to world-class construction estimating software and digital takeoff and bid management software for a fraction of the cost of traditional server-based estimating software with a lot fewer headaches. Gone are the days of relying on paper plans, excel spreadsheets and clunky old Windows clients that look like they were built 40 years ago and never updated again. If you would like to test drive Esticom’s cloud-based, integrated bid management, digital takeoff and estimating software, you can sign up for a 14-day trialhere.
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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