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Excel or Spreadsheets Vs Construction Estimating Software

As an experienced construction estimator, the decision to move away from the ‘old school’ use of spreadsheets to bespoke software is one you have probably asked yourself many times over. In this article, we will discuss the 4 most compelling arguments to take the leap into the future.

1. Am I Right? 
Getting it right first time not only saves time but can be the defining factor in winning the job. Winning the job with the right numbers is also critical in making a profit, which is, let’s face it, the reason for wanting to win the job in the first place.

Construction estimating software was designed and developed for estimators and standardises and streamlines the estimating process ensuring accurate estimates for simple through to complex mega projects. This all but removes the margin for human error.  As the software was designed for the construction industry, it tends to be easy to use and inclusive of analysis and reporting, allowing you to review or summarise by any level, including by cost type, labor or materials or even by project phase or location. This enables you to submit bids with efficiency, speed and confidence.  Business intelligence at this level is becoming increasingly more critical in project management at all stages.

The major downfall with spreadsheets relates to the need to modify the formulas being used and these can be deliberately or accidentally changed.

2. Too Big for your Boots
Over time, most businesses reach a point where spreadsheets are no longer able to cope with the scale and complexity of the task. With a team of estimators, standard process and procedures are likely to be far more beneficial than individual flare. When we move into more complex projects, the sheer processing power of construction estimating software becomes more apparent and visible in dealing with complicated calculations and functionality. The cost in time and efficiency taken by setting up the spreadsheets and error checking compared with utilizing the bespoke software is incomparable and, as already mentioned, the software will also show further efficiency as won’t require manual inputting of any of the data to other functions that are integrated.
       
3. No Man is an Island
Unless you are of course a self-employed one man band where you can argue the other way, most construction estimating professionals will be part of a wider team whose work is pivotal in the bigger picture of bidding and project cost management. On a small-scale project, it may be less obvious to identify the shortfalls in using spreadsheets, they are commonly available, relatively simple to use after all. The pitfalls start to emerge as business booms and integration becomes important.
  • Your spreadsheets are not designed to populate other core systems (accounting or scheduling for example).
  • Construction calculations are only getting more complicated as projects, sub-contractors and variations emerge.
  • Does your spreadsheet have limitless sharing functionality when you are working as part of a larger team?
Bespoke user designed spreadsheets across multiple users are full of individuality. That is the positive spin on pointing out that they are non-standard, something that will create issues in a growing business. The ability to transfer the right data into scheduling, costing and project management systems becomes an issue where it is either too sparse or even too detailed which can result in over complicated or, at its worst, wrong calculations being carried out. Construction estimating software is specifically designed to work with other functions of the business. This removes the need to carry out manual calculations or data entry at ‘the back end’ and will automatically transfer the right data into areas such as costing.

4. Who’s Got Your Back
As with all areas of business and industry, having the right team behind you is key. Your software provider will have a team of eminently qualified developers and construction industry professionals supporting your product and, as it is designed specifically for the construction industry, will be able to offer any help or assistance at any stage. Not to mention providing updates and enhancements to keep pace with developments in the construction industry as a whole, keeping you fully up to date. This same team will also be able to assist you in the embedding of your new software with dedicated training and customer service to alleviate the potential hurdle of exporting your old data onto the new platform.

The Train is Leaving The Station
Times aren’t just changing, they already have. Young innovative companies have a tendency to embrace new technologies and get the maximum benefit from the enhanced efficiency and growth they support. Fail to adapt and evolve at your peril. The romantic notion of being ‘old fashioned’ or ‘traditional’ carries little weight in the competitive and financially driven construction market and winning bids and making a profit are of the utmost importance for a business to survive.

Speak to professional who understand how this software can impact your business and take their guidance on what will work best for you. Invest in your progress and development and set yourself apart from the old school and embrace the future. It’s going to happen with or without you so you might as well stay on board for the ride.

Find out "How to choose the best construction estimating software"