Esticom is now part of the Procore platform.  Learn more >
BLOG / General Construction

What Makes the Best Digitized Estimating Software?

by Chris Lee | September 29th, 2018

What Features Should You Look for in Fully Digitized Estimating Software?

Our world is changing, including the construction industry. Every day, more and more technology is becoming integrated into our daily lives. There's a small computer in virtually every pocket in the form of a smartphone that allows you to instantly connect with clients and track your projects. But when it comes to estimating, many companies are still in the dark ages, either using paper takeoff methods that are prone to mistakes or complex software that doesn't keep up with the requirements of the modern contractor. But if you're considering updating your estimating system, what kind of features do you need to get software that allows you to operate as efficiently as possible? Here's a quick look at some key features for fully digitized estimating software.

What Features Should You Look for in Fully Digitized Estimating Software?

Though you can look at any number of other features, there are a few specific features that will help you automate your workflow, make your processes more efficient and improve communications across your entire team. Here are a few that should be at the top of your list to keep your company as flexible and lean in overhead as possible.

Cloud-Based Flexibility

With today's pervasive data networks, the modern contractor can see significant gains by taking advantage of cloud-based software. Instead of being tied down to a single system, a cloud-based system allows you to log in wherever you are to access your files. This means you can access your estimating software whether you're in the office, at home for the day, across town waiting for an appointment or around the world visiting locations you've never seen before.

But don't assume that just because a company says it has cloud-based software that it's a good option - not all cloud-based software is the same! You'll want to look at software that allows you to save in other areas. Software that runs on a tablet allows you to invest in a $200 tablet for your new estimator and have it working right out of the box. It allows you to quickly verify a specification for a member of your work crew so that they can get back to work from the convenience of your smartphone. You can even assign tasks to different members of your crew on the work site that they can quickly access over their personal phone, reducing travel time across the job site and streamlining your project management.

Pricing Databases

What if you could avoid having to constantly chase down pricing for every item on every project? High-quality estimating software allows you to take advantage of automatically-updated pricing databases, which automatically inserts the price into your estimate as you add materials, significantly reducing both the time that's required for finding and calculating prices as well as the potential for error during the calculation process.


The concept of software-as-a-service was developed to get around a number of different IT hiccups that cause issues for many contractors. Updates always seem to happen at the most inconvenient time and always take longer than you want. Software costs a lot up front, and you're stuck with it if it doesn't work out. Software-as-a-Service gets around these problems by automating the update process, making it virtually effortless, while providing a subscription-based access that avoids those high up-front costs.

Multi-System Interoperability

Another aspect of digitization that is helping improve workflows across a company is the addition of multi-system interoperability. Good estimating software provides you with the ability to not only draft or import your plans, mark them up and estimate costs, it allows you to export that information to a Microsoft Office or Adobe Acrobat format, automate moving your cost data to QuickBooks or provide statistical data and analytics on your job performance.

Better Collaboration

When you need to talk to different parts of your business, quality estimating software helps make that happen. You should have the ability to leave notes on the plans, whether for other members of the estimating department or for the crew in the field making the final installation. Can you assign tasks to specific team members, whether to determine whether an odd specification meets code or have your best metalworker handle that particular detail for that project? Being able to collaborate easily whether in the office, on the job site or around the world is vital to keeping your business in motion.

Automated Marketing and Analytics Tools

What about marketing and analytics for your business? It can be really hard finding the time to take advantage of the tools available for this area of your business. If you don't stay on top of sending marketing messages to your business, you may have to spend significantly more time chasing prospective clients, but high-quality estimating software helps you avoid these issues by providing automated marketing emails to your clients, making referrals and repeat business much easier in the long run.

Analytics allow you to look at your job data in a comprehensive fashion without spending all your time examining the numbers. It helps you quickly figure out when a particular niche of the industry is more or less profitable, or which crews regularly come in above the cut in terms of budget and time. This allows you to focus your business into those projects that are the most profitable, making it much easier to keep things moving along.

By looking at the features available in the estimating software you're considering, you can better determine whether it has the features to keep your business operating efficiently. When you upgrade your estimating software to take advantage of these features, you can reduce your overhead, improve your profits and take advantage of all the opportunities the market has to offer. Are you ready to test out some of these features? Why not sign up for a free 14-day trial of high-quality takeoff software? Esticom helps you do what you do best – constructing a better future.

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.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.