Estimating Software Programs Give Contractors the Tools to Compete

The technology explosion has changed the construction industry fundamentally and irrevocably. No single task impacts contractors today more than estimating yet the number one reason construction companies lose money results directly from untimely and inaccurate estimates.
While we at Construction Digital still talk with veteran company principals who reflect wistfully about the days of paper, a slower pace of conducting business, and getting by on guile and the seat of their pants, none are na?�ve enough to ignore the need to embrace technology at every level if they are to remain successful.
Speed, efficiency, cost management and guaranteed ROI is the name of the game – especially in a recessionary economy where more companies are competing for fewer jobs – and that starts with the abundant availability of bid estimating software that offers industry-specific solutions with advanced integration capabilities and ease of use. Many of the top general contracting firms now have secure online bid rooms that allow subcontractors to download and review specs before submitting their bid on jobs.
Here are some of the top products available to contractors today. Though not inexpensive, once implemented they generally pay for themselves in short order.
ProEstA� was developed by Construction Management Software, which has been developing software for construction companies since 1976. ProEstA� is in use by more than 6,500 firms and produces quick, accurate and competitive bids. Built on Microsoft SQL technology, ProEstA�can be integrated with most leading accounting programs, implemented across trades and features industry-specific templates and localized, updated databases.
ProEstA� also comes with pre-built databases for general, electrical and mechanical contractors and can be customized to fit the requirements of niche businesses. ProEstA�also runs RS Means, required for companies working with government agencies. RS Means databases are complete with city indexes that are used to accurately calculate costs for specific cities or regions.
Bid4Build is a recognized industry leader and winner of numerous awards. User friendly and designed for general and subcontractors of all sizes and specialties, Bid4Build relies on an extensive database that generates bids, creates cost estimates and reports quickly and accurately across a broad range of projects.
The program’s Estimate Advisor Wizard walks users through a five-step process for building an estimate. Perhaps Bid4Build’s most attractive feature is the fact its extensive item cost database can be customized by adding, deleting or changing both line entries and line item costs.
Sage estimating tools have long ranked among the industry’s most respected and reliable. Sage Timberline Office construction software provides tools such as multiple take-off options, specific pricing databases and integration with accounting systems that build profitability into each job. The databases are easily modified to fit company-specific requirements. Timberline Office also provides the capability of integrating with RS Means for working with government agencies.
On Center Software was founded in 1988 by a group of construction professionals. Since then the company has been driven in its development of fast and accurate takeoff and bidding software. The company’s premier program, On-Screen Takeoff ProfessionalA�, is reputedly capable of cutting takeoff time in half because of the speed with which it allows the user to count objects, measure straight and curved lengths, and calculate area and volume. That efficiency in turn theoretically translates into the opportunity to bid on more jobs and enhance the bottom line.
PlanSwift boldly touts itself as “the No. 1 construction takeoff and estimating software” on its website. Applicable to both the commercial and residential sectors, this relatively inexpensive point-and-click program has a small learning curve and is easy to use.
Clear Estimates works from a database crafted by RemodelMAX and can be customized to fit the needs of any trade. The program quickly determines project cost and produces a variety of reports and proposals. The program maintains customer and project databases, processes change order, integrates with QuickBooks Pro and updates price information via an automated price updating service.
Among sector-specific programs, BID2WIN is designed to manage the estimating and bidding processes for heavy/highway contractors. Driven by a Microsoft SQL Server database, it can sustain more than 1,000 simultaneous users without diminished performance.
Favored among electrical contractors, McCormick Systems, Inc. was founded by an electrical contractor and has been developing award-winning estimating software for all facets of the industry — residential, commercial, industrial, institutional, and single story to multi-story – for nearly 30 years. With five different estimating systems, McCormick can provide the right solution for companies of any size, ranging from the one-man shop to the global powerhouse.

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