The Advantages of Integrated Construction Estimating Software
April 13, 2021
On its own, estimating software can bring much needed efficiency to the bidding process, known to be a rather hectic period with lots of moving parts to keep track of. But connect it to other software — and even to computer programs you already have — and suddenly you’ve expanded its value and possibilities. If you’re getting ready to purchase a construction estimating software solution, you’ll want to look at some of the advantages you stand to gain from integrating with them.
Integrate with what you already have and use
You might be thinking, “Our team already uses off-the-shelf computer programs that we’re familiar with. Do I really have to give them up in favor of other software?” Not at all. Many companies just like yours have been using Microsoft Excel® and Project® programs plus Primavera P6® for years — and are understandably reluctant to change. And you’ve no doubt invested a lot of time and effort into using these programs to assemble bids, estimates, reports and inventory lists.
That’s why some construction estimating software companies developed their products to integrate with established computer programs so you can still rely on existing databases and historical project data you’ve spent time carefully creating. After all, why reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to?
This can work especially well if your projects are primarily small-scale and straightforward, with fewer variables and a simpler workflow to track over a shorter period of time. Plus, you may not want to invest in software with features that aren’t relevant to the projects you work on.
As your company grows, or if you work exclusively on more substantial or involved capital or commercial projects, you’re likely to find that using spreadsheets is actually more limiting than helpful. That’s when linking with more robust software programs makes the most sense.
Integrate with other software programs
Takeoffs. Accounting. Project management. Each has its specialized software that streamlines its respective tasks. But that doesn’t mean each has to be used as a disconnected, siloed solution. If they’re compatible (and likely they are), why not get them all talking to each other? Many construction estimating software options are designed to link with other more advanced tools to give you a unified approach to sharing the same information that different back office functions of a construction project rely on.
The benefit of this approach can be realized at the very beginning of a project. When putting together estimates, there’s not a lot of wiggle room for mistakes. Starting with a solid takeoff is a must. That’s because achieving precision at this point sets the stage for accuracy throughout the process. Without it, any entry or calculation errors will cascade into skewed budgets and schedules that may not be discovered until the project has begun. That’s a situation no construction company wants to find themselves in and then have to explain to the project owner.
Connecting with takeoff software helps head off that conversation and avoid the scramble to find and correct the error. How so? Well, we all know that rekeying information adds a layer of risk to any process. But by automatically incorporating and updating data from carefully prepared takeoffs, there’s no need to retype the same data into another program. Plus, edits and updates made in the takeoff software are immediately synced in the estimating software. The result is more accurate and more quickly prepared estimates, giving you the added bonus of more confidence that your project can be built within the established budget and schedule.
Furthermore, when you share this data with your linked accounting and project management software, managing the financials and the project itself amps up efficiencies. This can dramatically improve workflow among the different teams referencing the same data. The repetitive manual data entry no one likes doing? It’s now an automated process. And forget having to hunt for details buried in spreadsheets; the search feature found in many software programs can help you quickly locate what you need, when you need it. All that time and effort can instead be allocated to more productive work that moves the project along.
Integrated construction estimating software can give you a competitive advantage
In addition to the gained efficiencies, using integrated tools can give you a competitive advantage. Tech adoption is still relatively sluggish throughout the industry. So your ability to assemble, calculate and submit timely, accurate estimates will also enable you to make immediate adjustments as scope changes or as new details become known. What’s more, it can go a long way toward ensuring a level of cost certainty to the project owner.
Ready for a competitive advantage of your own? InEight Estimate is a powerful construction estimating software solution to consider. Schedule a demo and we’ll show you not only how it integrates with Microsoft products, other vendors’ software solutions, and InEight’s own software suite, but also how it streamlines your estimating process, whether you’re creating preliminary or detailed estimates, or migrating from one to the other as changes are made.