Over the years I’ve heard stories of top-notch estimators whose knowledge and strong bid-hit ratios went with them when they left a company. For those left behind, finding and training another estimator took time—something many contractors don’t have when they’re trying to keep a pipeline full.
One way many contractors prepare for this type of situation is to standardize their estimating processes. This allows them to capture estimating best practices and more easily share them with existing and new estimators. In fact, according to construction estimating software research and reviews company Software Advice, process standardization is one of the top benefits of deploying construction estimating software say respondents to a 2013 Software Advice survey.
Along with standardization, making sure your estimating system is easy to use will minimize the learning curve for new employees and get them up to speed quicker. Here are a few things to consider when evaluating your current or a new system.
- What does the user interface look like? A lot of estimators use every-day spreadsheets for their estimates and are comfortable with that format. How does the software’s interface compare to that experience? Will it be a big leap for them to use a new estimating tool?
- Does your system work the way an estimator does? A good estimating system shouldn’t force estimators to do things out of the norm; it should accomodate their personal estimating style while also supporting standardization.
- How quickly can a first bid be created? When a new estimator comes on board, how soon can they produce an estimate that reflects your company’s estimating methodology? How easy is it to access items, up-to-date costs, formulas, productivity, and conversion factors to put together a reliable estimate?
Of course, if you want to change your estimating software, these questions will also apply to assure your current estimators get up to speed quickly on the new system. Estimators don’t have time to mess around with software that doesn’t make sense. Giving them easy-to-use tools that capture their collective knowledge can raise the overall level of estimating in your company and reduce your risk when you need to hire a new estimator.
About the Author
Deb Carpenter-Beck is a writer and marketer with more than 25 years of experience in the construction and real estate industries. She often writes about technology and best practices and is passionate about helping contractors and real estate professionals achieve their business goals. You can follow her on Twitter @DebCBConstruct.