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D4COST Software

Leveraging Software to Faster Bids, More Profit

By implementing software to automate the construction takeoff and estimating processes, contractors are realizing a significant return on their technology investment. With seamless solutions, construction companies can save valuable time and improve accuracy, as estimators can bid more jobs quicker with a competitive edge and profit margin. Also, the software helps contractors to submitting future bids that best fit the type of work using insight gained from historical data analysis of each bid, how the company performed the work, the costs posted, the profit ultimately realized on the job, and more.

Eliminating Headaches
An automated solution, using digital plans, allows estimators to never touch a piece of paper and seamlessly roll the measurements and quantities calculated in the takeoff process right into developing the estimate. With the takeoff data pulled directly into the estimating process, duplicate data entry is eliminated, errors are prevented, and time is saved.

Additional productivity and accuracy benefits will also result with an automated solution that provides built-in tools for easily managing historical pricing data, costing jobs properly, generating proposals, manipulating proposal pricing on-the-fly on bid day, and producing reports.

Analyzing Estimates
Contractors using manual methods are spending hours or days taking off items by hand and then when it comes time to determine what the job will cost, they are only able to guesstimate the numbers. This can cause mistakes throughout the estimate and make it extremely challenging to identify and fix them. Requiring so much time to complete an estimate also translates into less time available for considering “what-if” scenarios and negotiating contracts effectively.

Automating the process enables contractors to reduce the time needed to complete estimates, which means a reduction in overhead expenses; as well as allows them to get more bids out the door. The more bids submitted, the higher the chance more jobs will be won. Estimators will have more time to thoroughly analyze their estimates as well, finding new ways to generate more profit on their jobs.

Bidding Accurately
Overbidding and underbidding projects can both present problems. If a bid comes in too high, there is a likely chance the work will not be won. If a job is bid too low, the work may come in, but most likely, the job will cost the firm money. Therefore, the importance of accurate takeoffs and estimates is evident.

Matt Elfreich, estimator and project manager at Klenck Company based in Indiana, commented on his previous manual takeoff and estimating methods, “If one formula was off, it could make a huge difference; especially on bid day, when you’re running around like your head is cut off. One wrong number could significantly impact a job.”

By using an automated takeoff and estimating solution that handles the measurements and calculations, as well as stores real-time pricing information on cost items including materials, equipment, and labor in one central location will help produce more accurate estimates that win more jobs, and result in more profitable projects.

Klenck Company now uses Maxwell Systems ProContractorMX as its software solution. ProContractorMX is designed to empower contractors by significantly improving their takeoff, estimating, and proposal management processes.

Elfreich explains how ProContractorMX has reduced the time to develop an estimate from about four hours to just one hour: “We simply do the takeoff, plug in the numbers, do some manipulations based on the specific job, and it calculates the numbers for us. It is by far the nicest part of the estimating software.”

Tracking and Using Data
It is almost inevitable that disagreements arise on construction projects, whether with the project owner or with the other contractors on the job. Any paper-based method of taking off and estimating jobs makes it extremely difficult to support the details in the original bid, and if the data is available, it often takes significant time to locate it in the mounds of information used to develop the bid.

Today’s advanced takeoff and estimating software solutions provide audit trail capabilities that make it easy to reference when a dispute arises. They also provide the financial department and project managers the necessary information to execute jobs as originally planned.

Before implementing estimating software, Florida Paving & Trucking struggled with paper-heavy processes, which impacted time and accuracy, as well as lacked the data needed to understand how to produce profitable bids. Now using Maxwell Systems ProContractorMX software, Florida Paving has a seamless process that eliminates the time and errors associated with re-entering information, often needed if using manual methods or disparate systems.

Tony Martinez, estimator at Florida Paving, explains: “ProContractorMX is a good source of data for us to determine where we made mistakes and how we can do things better. Using the solution, we can gather data, such as what types of jobs give us the biggest profit margin and what are filler projects for our crews, and determine whether we have the cash flow we need. ProContractorMX is a real time-saver and helps us run our business more strategically.”

Decisions and Insight
Looking back at past estimates that were done on paper or in spreadsheets can make it very challenging to determine whether a project was profitable or where money was lost.

A seamless takeoff and estimating solution manages data in one central location that’s easily accessible, so projects can be carefully tracked as they progress, enabling project managers to make timely decisions based on the original estimate. After a project is complete, the historical data can be analyzed to determine where profit was made (or not made), and new estimates can be generated based on past experience. Furthermore, this valuable data can help a construction firm determine what type of jobs they do best and whether they are spending time on bidding the right jobs.

According to Florida Paving’s Martinez, “In the past, we would get out bids on jobs and not know how to win the work or what was a smart bid. We didn’t have the data needed to understand how to be profitable. It was all on paper that we were shuffling back and forth. Now, with ProContractorMX, we are able to look more carefully at the scope of work required and develop more competitive bids. We can easily go back and look at the data and feel comfortable with making decisions on how to proceed.”

Reaching Full Profit Potential
In a competitive construction landscape, contractors can’t afford to let money slip through the cracks. ProContractorMX enables contractors to bid jobs quickly and accurately to help them reach their fullest profit potential.

The full breadth of the solution goes beyond takeoff and estimating to also offer project management and accounting to deliver to contractors the industry’s only true all-in-one construction management software solution that handles the entire project lifecycle from end to end.

By empowering construction teams to communicate faster and react smarter, contractors will be better positioned to succeed and grow than if they stick with the antiquated methods of yesteryear.

About the Author
Mike Gillum is Director of Product Management; Estimating at Maxwell Systems, a leading provider of construction management software solutions. He can be reached at mgillum@maxwellsystems.com.


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