Ability to Manage Estimate Globally
Contractors can benefit from estimating software that allows them the ability to update estimate information quickly and easily as well as the ability to save and share the electronic estimate for collaboration with everyone on the job. It also makes it easier for other people in the office to manage the estimate info if necessary.
Ease of Use
No matter the size of your construction company or the frequency of estimates, estimating software should be intuitive and easy to remember so a contractor does not have to relearn the software every time a new estimate is needed, Gillum says.
An estimating software solution must be able to adapt to the way a business operates, not requiring the contractor to change his or her business to adapt to the software, Kennedy adds.
Integration with Other Management Systems
Integration allows the estimating software to communicate and share information with other software solutions. Although integration often requires separate software or extra steps to transfer data between systems, many times it's worth it.
Typical integration systems include:
- Job costing – contractors can export an estimate directly into accounting systems to help create job budgets
- Scheduling – export estimates to help create a rough or detailed project schedule
- Digital Takeoff – many plans are now available in electronic formats, and contractors can use these digital takeoff tools to download digital plans, figure out material quantities and import those quantities into the estimating software tool
- Building Information Modeling (BIM) – many manufacturers agree this is the next big integration for estimating software. BIM integration allows a contractor to import directly from a 3D model into the estimating software.
One additional consideration Kennedy suggests is whether the estimating software will be cloud-based or installed on a PC. Will your program require an Internet connection and be manageable on different devices or will all the data be kept on one device?
Construction Estimating Software Product Roundup
Here is a sampling of estimating software available to the construction contractor. Check out more available software solutions on the ForConstructionPros.com Equipment Network in the Estimating & Bidding category.
Estimate Master from Coon Creek Software
TakeOff Plus from Contractors Software Group
CoreCon V7 from Corecon Technologies, Inc.
BID2WIN 2012 from Bid2Win Software
Estimation 9.3 Construction Estimating Software from Maxwell Systems
HeavyBid from Heavy Construction System Specialists, Inc. (HCSS)
PlanSwift 8.6 from PlanSwift
Sage Estimating from Sage North America