Why Owners Should Care About Construction Estimating Software
April 14, 2021
Every owner wants to be assured of two things when commissioning a project: that it will be finished by the established completion date, and that it can be built within their budget. When that project is a substantial one involving more complexity, more funds and more months or years to build, there are more risks because the stakes are so high. As a result, owners want to see hard numbers showing where their money is going, if projected milestones are being met and if risk factors are being accounted for.
But why should owners care about what kind of construction estimating software is found in a contractor’s tech toolbox? For one thing, the right software can create early-stage, top-down estimates that can easily transition into more detailed estimates once contractors and engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) are involved. Then, owners can leverage details provided to them by contractors and EPC to become much more proactive about understanding project risks, and to validate assumptions. Their projects also stand to benefit in additional ways they might not have expected.
- Developing more estimate certainty. There’s not a whole lot that can be guaranteed in construction, and that includes estimates. So while “estimate certainty” might sound like an oxymoron, the end goal is to be as accurate as possible, with the risk of manual data entry and calculation mistakes being low. This is where estimating software shines, dramatically reducing the likelihood of the kind of mistakes you often encounter when using common spreadsheet programs. When presented with the level of detail construction estimating software provides, project owners can get a more realistic view of what it could actually cost to build their project. In the end, they also get a higher level of assurance and confidence that the project will meet the established budget and be completed on time.
- Fostering of transparency. When you’re paying a significant amount of money for something, you want to know where your money is going and what it covers. That also applies in construction. It all starts during the estimate process. Having a clear view of the details provides owners vital insights into all that will go into building their project. The same thing applies when addressing changes that are made during the planning stage of a project. Owners may want to make a few adjustments as they see the drawings and models take form — without realizing just how much even a moderate tweak here and a small change there can add up to in unintended, and costly scope creep. Creating cost analyses (projections) with construction estimating software can provide some awareness of the effect those owner-requested changes may have on the budget and completion timeline. Inputting the modifications into the software provides an instant update to the estimate, showing owners the real financial impact and what it will take to track changes to the estimate as it passes through various stage gates.
- Establishing and strengthening trust. Increased transparency goes a long way toward building trust between the owner and contractor. But how does construction estimating software actually help do this? The speed and accuracy with which contractors can create and revise estimates allows them to be more responsive to owner requests for information, changes or clarification. It essentially becomes a supporting tool for ongoing dialogue, which helps avoid miscommunication and misinformation — two things you don’t want in large-scale projects. That translates into less second-guessing where certain dollar values came from, and more assuredness in the contractor’s ability to deliver.
- Making smarter, more timely decisions based on reliable data. That sense of trust also extends to the data. When owners have confidence in the numbers — in terms of accuracy and timeliness — planning and making project decisions becomes firmly rooted in confidence as well. Which is why the best decisions are the ones that are data-driven; and the larger the project, the more imperative this becomes. As prices fluctuate, or project information becomes known or clarified, or something impacts the completion of the project, the software can reconfigure those estimates automatically — making real-time decisions based on real-time data possible. What’s more, the software can present the data in user-friendly reports so owners can better interpret what the numbers are showing; and that can translate into timelier, better informed decisions. Another added benefit? Owners tend to build the same types of assets (data centers, industrial facilities, etc.) over and over, yet may have little reliable historic data to create budgets from. By curating organizational data sets, they can be used as benchmarks for future projects – and better decisions on those projects.
- Proactively planning for unknowns. It’s bound to happen; those unexpected events that throw things off schedule and way off budget. Reacting in the moment when time and tensions are at their limit could result in decisions that aren’t well thought out. Estimating software accounts for the unknowns by becoming a risk-management tool that forecasts the potential cost impact for what-if scenarios that could hinder the project. Think weather, flooding, fire, supply chain disruptions, etc. Owners, in collaboration with contractors, can use the resulting estimates for each scenario to plot a turnkey strategic plan of action that keeps the project moving along.
As a comprehensive construction estimating software solution, InEight Estimate does all this and more. It builds reliability into calculating project costs and answers many of the challenges owners and contractors alike often experience during the estimating process. Want to learn how? We’re happy to walk you through a demo so you can see its capabilities and the layers of project insight you can gain from them.