How to Improve Your Preconstruction Process—Balfour Beatty Case Study

In addition to being a construction at-risk management and design-build firm, consistently in the ENR’s top-ranked global general contractor list, Balfour Beatty is passionate about innovative technologies to improve safety, speed, and accuracy in its projects. Always customer-focused, they use the latest tools to stay on budget and schedule, making sure owners' and stakeholders' needs are met. The Balfour Beatty team embraces revolutionary ways to enhance the experience for owners, is as efficient and accurate as possible during the life of a project, and focuses on value engineering.

The Challenge

However, with multiple offices across the United States—six different ones in California alone—Balfour Beatty’s preconstruction team faced challenges with standardization and continuity. Before making the transition to Beck Technology’s DESTINI Estimator, the precon teams were using 11 different tools.

With a culture of collaboration already well-established within the company, they quickly realized that they needed to standardize their preconstruction process and find a single source of truth for building estimates and performing takeoff. Why? Because they understood it would benefit them both internally and externally. Teams would be able to work together more smoothly, and clients could receive updates much more quickly than in their traditional process.

The Solution

Landon McQuestion, Director of Preconstruction and Estimating at Balfour Beatty says they decided to make the switch due to three primary reasons:

1. Continuity in product presentation
2. Utilize historical cost data
3. Help junior estimators

The Results

Continuity in Product Presentation

Balfour Beatty has many clients, like school systems, that have multiple projects. Their estimating teams all had a different way of producing estimates and none of them looked the same. Landon says, “Our product looked and felt different.” With so many estimates having different line items, this was confusing to owners.

DESTINI Estimator construction estimating software streamlines Balfour Beatty's efforts and helped them establish standard operating procedures (SOPs) so that all estimates look the same. The standardized database means no one is adding or removing line items.

Further, with DESTINI Estimator’s Team Estimating feature—everyone on the precon team can work in the same estimate at the same time.

The major benefit of this, Landon says, is “The more standardized your estimates are, the more valuable and useful that information is.”

Utilize Historical Cost Data

DESTINI Estimator automatically collects and stores all your data. Landon says, “If every estimate has the same line items in it, we can drill our historical cost down to actual items. Balfour Beatty is now able to look at multiple estimates to see the actual cost of each line item.

Used in conjunction with DESTINI Estimator’s integration with Microsoft Power BI, the information is presented to owners in a way that is easily understood much quicker than having to shift through and explain multiple spreadsheets.

Estimators and owners can work collaboratively to make the best decisions for the project, while also staying on budget.

Team Estimating and Efficiency

One of the biggest problems at Balfour Beatty’s California offices was the inconsistency in how estimates were built. Landon says, “Our junior estimators who were doing takeoff and ‘grunt work’ had to learn each senior estimators’ way—meaning they had to know 6 or 7 different ways of estimating.”

Implementing one software makes the process cleaner. Estimating at Balfour Beatty is now taught only one way—the best way.

There are several benefits to choosing new software. Each general contractor—big or small—has a different story to tell but for Balfour Beatty, making the switch to DESTINI Estimator allows them to train junior estimators quicker, increase trust with their clients, produce better and more accurate estimates, and save time during the preconstruction process which allows them to focus on higher-value activities like value engineering and data analysis.