With the internet and the increasing number of projects that are open to bid, contractors are looking for technology to help them expedite the estimating process. They need a standardized, accurate, formulaic method to estimate the costs involved in projects. They need to understand the local labor regulations, expenses and supply costs. They also need to deal with multiple projects at the same time and do not have the time or resources to create a brand new estimate from scratch. Fortunately, there are now several systems that can help contractors create estimates faster than ever. They have a few important elements in common.
Importantly, the estimating tools are automated so that inputting the key factors of the bid can help to populate the entire estimate. The software system is set up to make creating a bid as easy and painless as possible. That means most of the formats, outputs, and final numbers are automatically generated.
Of course, any single number can always be customized or altered. That is especially true for the final bid numbers. However, automation makes everything easier.
Unfortunately, the process of creating a bid involves many dense spreadsheets that take hours to fill and populate. For contractors completing this task manually, the burden can be immense. Automated estimating software does this all for you. It creates the spreadsheets and automatically fills them. It checks that they are accurate and line up correctly so that the aggregate totals are a sum of their components.
Additionally, the software cleans up all hidden cells and broken formulas. This makes the sheet look much cleaner and also eliminates the errors. This is a huge bonus for any contractor.
“What if” Pricing Adjustments
Many experienced contractors can make a mental model of a bid before it is even complete. They know where things will come from, the approximate labor costs etc. However, they may not know the cost if some exorbitant extra problem arises. That could be a long delay due to weather issues. It could be a spike in lumber prices or many other issues. New software allows for “what if” price adjustments that make these outlier scenarios much easier to incorporate. They can be presented to the client in case of some huge external event.
Often times, competitors will get leaked bids and reverse engineer them to make their own bids more attractive. At the very least, a client may take the bid and play around with the numbers in order to get an offer they think is more acceptable by cutting back on things they believe they don’t need.
However, new automated tools allow companies to completely lock the bid so that there is no manipulation. They maintain their data integrity and cannot be altered.
Integrate with Other Tools
Once the bid is done, that is not the end of the story. In fact, before the bid is even done, other tools can be integrated. Other key tools including purchasing, project management, and the job-cost accounting module can be completely integrated into the estimating platform. These other tools are used to populate to estimator automatically.
Additionally, once you are awarded the contract, you may feed the bid results into updated financial projections. Those keep the contractor on track and on budget. As the process continues, they can continually refer back to the original bid as they complete tasks and update data in the portals.
Overall, making bids for contractors has never been easier. There are a wide array of sophisticated automated tools to use. These make the job standardized and repeatable. Contractors can accurately bid on more projects and win more jobs using these software tools.