Training Junior Estimators with DESTINI Estimator
One of the greatest challenges facing the preconstruction world right now is the lack of adequate training for entry-level estimators—typically, those estimators who have just graduated from college or who have just made the switch from the field to the office.
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Training can range from a program that lasts maybe a week or two to absolutely nonexistent. You don’t have to take our word for it. Johnny Rhea, Vice President of Frank Dale Construction, shares that when he was beginning his preconstruction career, “You weren’t given a manual or anything, you had to learn everything on the job.” Not only is there a dearth of standardized training, but there is also a huge lack of informal training via mentorship, both at the junior and the senior level.
Why is this lack of training so bad, though? Is it really all that terrible? After all, millions of estimators have risen through the ranks by figuring it out on the job—and isn’t that part of what the broader construction industry is all about, anyway?
Yes, learning on the job is a part of any career in any industry. But there are several reasons why no standardized training can really hurt your junior estimators, your preconstruction teams, and even your estimates. First, critical information that estimators need to access can be totally inaccessible without training. If new estimators don’t know where to access certain knowledge—if that knowledge is siloed into one or two people on your team rather than in a document or database—they may end up making huge errors.
Second, no training is incredibly frustrating to most estimators beginning their career and might even cost you potential hires. When you’re recruiting for new talent, you have to show them why your team is worth joining. If you don’t have any kind of training program mapped out, you run the risk of being perceived as outdated, stagnant, and unhelpful. New hires want to see innovation and thoughtfulness.
Last but certainly not least, you won’t be able to cultivate senior estimators if you aren’t laying the foundation for your junior ones. While everyone across the industry is suffering the effects of the recent labor shortage, preconstruction has been particularly hard hit when it comes to senior talent. Many seasoned estimators are beginning to retire, and there are simply not enough entry- and mid-level estimators to take their places.
At this point, you’re likely wondering how DESTINI Estimator estimating software has anything to do with training your junior estimators so that they have the tools they need to develop into experienced senior estimators. That’s exactly what we’re here to answer. The three primary ways DESTINI Estimator helps you train junior estimators are:
- Team estimating that allows for real-time updates and feedback
- Offering up-to-date, cutting-edge solutions
- Assemblies that teach estimators what to look for
Real-Time Updates and Feedback
One of the biggest criticisms we’ve heard about training for junior estimators is that it’s often impossible to even set up a formalized program because everyone in the office estimates differently. Landon McQuestion, Director of Preconstruction and Estimating at Balfour Beatty, said in a conversation about estimating tools: "[Our processes] varied by region, which was one of the reasons we started looking for a new platform." Then, too, relevant data and techniques get lost because they’re siloed with just one or two people. Sometimes those people have left the company when new hires are ready for training, and other times they may just be incredibly difficult to get ahold of.
That’s where Team Estimating comes in. Not only does DESTINI Estimator ensure that everyone is on the same page and using the same “estimating language,” but it also provides precon teams with the ability to bring multiple users into a single estimate, creating the opportunity for real-time updates and feedback. Being able to receive instantaneous input on what they might be doing wrong (or right!) is key to creating a solid foundation for junior estimators.
Offering Up-to-Date, Cutting-Edge Solutions
The next huge training asset that DESTINI Estimator offers? It's not Excel! We're only partially joking—although many preconstruction teams still use tools like Excel or even MC2, these programs are usually clunky, outdated, and frequently don't have any kind of support keeping them up-to-date with your team's needs. It's only going to add another layer of difficulty to training junior estimators straight out of college if the tools they're working with can't handle the challenges and problems that they'll be facing.
Thankfully, DESTINI Estimator solves this problem and makes training much more feasible by providing adaptable estimating software that isn't stagnant, but grows along with you and your team. In addition to offering relevant solutions, DESTINI Estimator also provides dedicated support, so that you have yet another resource for the questions your junior estimators will be asking.
Assemblies That Teach Estimators What to Look For
Last but certainly not least, we can’t talk about training your junior people with DESTINI Estimator without talking about assemblies. Cost item assemblies offer a sequential approach to estimating and help streamline the overall estimate. Although assemblies don’t require a lot of detail, they do require that an estimator has a solid working knowledge of construction methods and materials.
Grant Stucker, Preconstruction Manager at Saunders Construction, says, “Being able to implement the estimator mindset into each assembly to prompt what you need to look for is very powerful and educational to our younger estimators.” Why? Junior estimators need as much hands-on practice as they can get before being unleashed onto bigger projects where a simple mistake could cost the owner—and your team—hundreds of thousands of dollars. Assemblies provide the opportunity for practice as well as cultivating an estimating mindset, helping junior talent ask themselves questions as they work through an estimate that they might not have asked otherwise.
Ready to Learn More?
If you’re wanting to create a more robust training system for your new hires so that they’ll turn into priceless senior talent, hit the button below to schedule a demo.