In today’s competitive contracting environment, a growing number of contractors are looking to improve their chances of winning every bid by using technology to support their sales, estimating, and bidding process. These contractors realize that the traditional, time-consuming approach of manually estimating costs, calculating the components of the bid and pulling all the different information together into a proposal just don’t cut it anymore. Contractor estimation software helps companies produce time-efficient, accurate proposals, freeing them up to spend more valuable time developing new business.
1. Accuracy and Timeliness
Accuracy is everything in putting together cost estimates for a bid. This means having the most up-to-date knowledge about current costs for all the items in your take-off. Information in a manual file from a previous bid may already be out of date. With the right software, though, the information you need is just a couple clicks away. Job cost calculators can even configure the cost items into a bid according to formulas specific to particular industry sectors (such as electrical or lawn care). You can modify the factors to be consistent with the specs of your own design plan. Moreover, automation of cost calculations means you are less likely to lose the bid on account of manual calculation errors or incorrect data inputs.
2. Cost and Progress Tracking
The benefits of estimation software do not end with winning the bid. Today’s smart applications include sophisticated monitoring programs, allowing your project team to track costs and milestones. You have the ability to input new information – for example, changes in timing or cost overruns – and update the project terms accordingly. A good estimation software solution effectively becomes a contract management solution.
3. Collaborative and Real-Time Applications
Today’s leading programs are set up to be collaborative, allowing all key team members to share information off a common database. Many platforms are mobile-enhanced, meaning that team members in the field can access key information on-site and respond to new developments in real time.
4. A Rich Data History Archive
One problem many contractors experience is the difficulty in locating historical information about bids, estimates and other relevant proposal details to ensure that the current proposal is incorporating all the key issues with the most recent cost information. Extensive databases with lists of materials, equipment and related costs (including trends over time) can make a big improvement in the amount of time spent trying to pull different pieces of the puzzle together. This can have the added benefit of reducing overhead levels, which in turn can make the proposal more cost-effective.
5. Professional Look and Detailed Reporting
Clients are increasingly demanding, not just in their expectations for cost-competitive proposals but also in the professional qualities of the proposal. This starts with a crisp, clear presentation of the relevant data and proposed process flow. A good estimation software program has the capability to upload blueprints, process flowcharts, and other key visuals and enable editing in real time. The contract management applications produce ongoing reports at the appropriate level of detail throughout the lifecycle of the project.
What to Expect with Estimation Software
Contractors considering the move to estimation software may wonder what to expect in practical terms and may be wary of solutions that promise the world but fail to deliver meaningful improvements above the way it has always been done. Here are the four qualities you should expect from an estimation software solution:
- Easy to Use: The program should be intuitive, simple and able to work within your existing suite of business technology. Technical support should be readily available if needed.
- Efficient: You should see a marked improvement in your proposal process through centralized document storage, collaboration features, mobile accessibility and other time-saving features.
- Sales Lift: The efficiency gained should give you additional leverage to spend more time developing new business, while the enhanced professional look of your proposals can help set you apart from the competition.
- Price Transparency: You should be able to translate the total cost of an estimation software package into a cost-benefit analysis which expresses the value in clear profit terms.
You know what it takes to succeed as a contractor. The right technology can help you focus on the things that matter most while producing accurate, comprehensive and professional proposals.