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Which is Most Effective – Estimating Software or Spreadsheets?

10/10/2013 at 12:35 pm by

At the end of May, I announced on this blog that Software Advice was collecting responses for our 2013 report on the effectiveness of construction estimating software. First, I want to thank everyone that participated. I greatly appreciate your help with this research.

After hearing from construction professionals from a variety of trades and industries, we’ve compiled our findings into our 2013 report. This year, we focused on analysis purely on companies that use software to estimate project costs. We asked participants to classify the software they use as one of the following categories:

  • Specialized: Estimating software designed specifically for construction projects.
  • Spreadsheets: Microsoft Excel or a comparable spreadsheet program.
  • Homegrown: Custom software developed by the company or a third-party consultant.

Here’s the percent of survey participants that use each type of software:

Distribution of software users

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since the sample size of homegrown users was so small, we compared the effectiveness of construction estimating software against spreadsheets for cost estimating. Here are a few of our key findings:

Construction estimating software users are (still) more satisfied with their system than spreadsheet users.

In our 2012 report, we found that participants who estimated projects with spreadsheets were evenly split as to whether their system met their requirements. In contrast, the majority of construction estimating software users felt the system met their requirements. This year, construction estimating software users once again reported higher ratings for how well their system met their requirements.

Ability of system to meet requirements

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The fact that construction estimating software users report less frequent challenges with their system may be one reason they assigned higher ratings for the ability of their system to meet requirements.

Construction estimating software users report faster bid creation as top benefit. We also asked construction estimating users about the top benefits of their system. We presented survey participants with a list of common benefits and asked them to rate each on a scale from “Very well” to “Very poorly.”

Ability of system to meet requirements

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Estimating software users reported that they are most satisfied with their system’s ability to quickly create bids with 79 percent reporting their system delivered this benefit either very well or somewhat well. At the same time, 86 percent reported that their system standardized process very well or somewhat well. This seems to be an important advantage of construction estimating software given that a majority (52 percent) of all participants, including spreadsheet users, reported that standardizing processes was very often or somewhat often a challenge when creating bids.

These are just a few of our findings on the effectiveness of construction estimating systems. If you’re interested in reading more about how spreadsheet users and construction estimating software users stack up on metrics such as average bid-to-win ratios, days to turnaround a bid and the most difficult costs to estimate, check out our full report at the Construction Estimating Software UserView | 2013. If you’d like any details on the report, please don’t hesitate to email me.

About the Author

Derek Singleton is a Construction Analyst at Software Advice where he manages content related to the construction industry technologies, topics and trends. His work has appeared in a variety of tech publications such as Sandhill, SYS-CON and ZDNet. You can contact him at derek@softwareadvice.com

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