What is Construction Estimating Software?
Let's clear up what estimating software is and how the construction industry's use of the technology builds the Preconstruction Data Lifecycle.
Imagine what humans felt like when they discovered their power to harness fire; when they sharpened spears. When they first made paper, the discovery of penicillin…of electricity, refrigeration, the first microprocessor…the list goes on and on. Since the dawn of humankind, we’ve constantly found ways to become more efficient especially when it comes to our survival. We have come quite a long way from having to chase woolly mammoths for food, shelter, clothing, and tools, but in a way, we’re still fighting for survival—just in a different way.
Table of Contents
What is Construction Estimating?
What is Preconstruction?
What is the Preconstruction Data Lifecycle?
What Role do Estimators Play in the Preconstruction Data Lifecycle?
What is Construction Estimating Software?
Features of a Fully Integrated Cost History Construction Estimating Software
What You Need to Know About Beck Technology DESTINI Estimator
To stay relevant as a business and in your job, you must learn and embrace new software and other workplace technologies. Warehouse robots, construction site drones, and robust project management computer programs have all helped increased productivity and efficiency, as well as eliminate errors. There’s no denying the multiple advantages that technological advancement provides the world.
With the rapid pace that technology evolves now, scientific, and technological breakthroughs might not seem as astonishing as it has in the past, yet, every new discovery and innovation makes an impact. Though there are industries reluctant to change—the construction industry being one of them—no industry is immune to the crippling consequences a business faces when slower to adopt new technologies.
Fortunately, there are companies, like Beck Technology, that recognizes how the lives of preconstruction and construction professionals, contractors, and owners are vastly improving by incorporating new technology in the office and out in the field. Building on the innovative and rebellious spirits of great designers and builders that came before us, we continuously ask, "what can we do to make preconstruction and construction estimating better?"
Instead of thinking of the ominous philosophy of ‘adapt or die,’ consider the plethora of new construction technologies as an opportunity for exponential growth for your business.
What is Construction Estimating?
Construction estimating is the process in which contractors or estimators approximate the price a building or structure will cost to build. Estimating usually falls under the preconstruction phase of the construction process and involves a wide variety of tasks to complete. Preconstruction estimators are not just number crunchers. They are savvy problem solvers, critical thinkers, and knowledgeable in all areas of the construction process from concept to completion.
Find out how to explain what construction estimating is here.
What is Preconstruction?
Preconstruction isn’t as simply defined as the processes in place before the construction of a building begins. There are many facets of preconstruction. Without it, no projects could be completed. Preconstruction is the foundation of the construction process, consisting of the design, engineering, costs, scope, schedule, labor, strategy, and estimating the price of the project.
For construction cost estimators to do an accurate job, they must have the ability to store and recall data. Historically, more senior preconstruction professionals were the human vault of estimating data because of their experience. However, the construction industry is fast growing and can’t rely on a person to be the sole purveyor of all data needed to complete estimates and win work. Technology has to step in and assist preconstruction teams with a concise infrastructure to give each team member the ability to access data. We call this the preconstruction data lifecycle.
The Preconstruction Data Lifecycle
The preconstruction data lifecycle is the progression of data throughout the life of a project from beginning to end. Being able to track key data points throughout the preconstruction process allows estimators to understand how the data generated at the beginning of a project impacts the execution of the project, leading to better business decisions in future project pursuits and more accurate estimates that win jobs.
Construction estimators traditionally juggle multiple programs to complete an estimate—Excel for inputting numbers, OST for 2D takeoff, and Bluebeam Revu for PDF markups. Switching between so many tools results in a high probability of error and data loss, and is inefficient, inaccurate, and wastes valuable time.
The challenges preconstruction estimating teams face when having to work in multiple platforms means there is a lack of historical data and standardization, silos of information, questionable accuracy of available data, unknown owner expectations, and outdated and unsupported methods and tools which frustratingly drain resources and time.
Why are Estimators Important in the Construction Process?
Put yourself in the seat of a project owner with a $50 million building that needs to open to the public in 18 months. The design team has presented a great-looking and functional idea. Ground is broken, the site is cleared, concrete is poured, elevators have been ordered, the building gets framed, wiring is getting installed, windows are going in, tile is being laid, and then you discover you have hit your budget. Your new building is 60% complete but the money is gone. Yet the deadline to open is still approaching.
Estimators are a critical part of the construction process because they not only price out the project but they help project owners as well as design teams review where costs should be spent. Preconstruction professionals also help schedule out the project so materials and crews arrive at the right time which can help reduce costs and keep the flow of a project moving.
Not all heroes wear capes so picking out an estimator from the construction pack may be difficult. They are the individuals who see cost trends, forecast where unit pricing will be in six months, and have subs on speed dial when the going gets tough. They help mitigate the construction company’s profit margins and aim to keep project owners happy by always having an eye on the project budget.
What is Construction Estimating Software?
The main purpose of construction estimating software is to create an estimate that will win a project.
Construction estimating or preconstruction software is a computer program that stores and relays data and information related to the process of construction estimating costs. From simple spreadsheets to fully unified estimating technology, preconstruction software is designed to help make construction estimators’ lives easier and their work more accurate. The more robust and feature-rich the software is, the more accurate and efficient your preconstruction workflows will be.
Planning and the use of construction estimating software can help mitigate risk for contractors and owners, increase the efficiency of the building process, lead to higher quality work, and establish trust between contractor and owner.
Construction cost software allows you to move seamlessly from a conceptual estimate to an accurate estimate ready for the project owner’s eyes. Storing data in one centralized database allows the entire precon team—no matter where they are located—to quickly recall any final cost of a past project and perform a deeper analysis to better understand actual project costs, clearly leading to more accurate estimates.
Estimators who use preconstruction software can mine data, pick up on cost trends, and analyze information quicker than estimators who don’t, ensuring their companies make the best project decisions now and in the future.
Features of Construction Estimating Software
If you are thinking “yeah, this sounds good but I use Excel for my estimates” then pay close attention. Construction projects are extremely complex because of so many moving parts and people. True preconstruction software is designed to handle those complexities and give estimators the tools to analyze the data quickly.
The best construction estimating software will feature:
- Cost history
- Is scalable to your business
- Include quantity takeoff
- Integrate with other essential precon and construction software
- Capture and house data in one centralized location
- Help standardize the preconstruction process
- Provide implementation and support teams
- Eliminate the need for multiple tools
- Custom reporting
- Compare an unlimited number of estimates
- Merge multiple estimates
- Customizable estimate comparisons
- Live interactive dashboards
- Unlimited number of classifications assigned to cost items
- Unlimited amount of data such as planning, location, and images can be associated with cost items
- Unlimited WBS, sorting, filtering
- Customizable fees and indirect
- Quick and flexible cost escalation & de-escalation
- Fast import of cost data
- Innovative estimate specific assemblies
How Preconstruction Estimating Software Increases the Efficiency of Your Preconstruction Team
- More time to pursue new projects to increase profit
- Enhanced communication and collaboration with owners, able to display changes to the estimate in real-time, helping to circumvent issues and problems
- Shared resources allow teams to come up with creative solutions to problems
- Being able to analyze every imaginable variable means the preconstruction professional will be better equipped to make decisions on today’s projects as well as on future projects
- Estimating data is at your fingertips and can be quickly sliced, diced, and reported
Traditionally, the construction industry operates in insolation to others—a problem we like to call a silo. When your company and/or industry work in silos, information is not shared between each person involved in the project. Just like grain silos, data is housed in separate silos with no connections between them, making it extremely difficult to collaborate and communicate across teams, offices, and channels and no one can see the full scope of the project’s process. It can result in a high margin of error with the potential to lose the bid.
The solution to this serious issue was the introduction of a robust and fully unified construction estimating platform such as Beck Technology’s DESTINI Estimator which stores multiple elements of the estimating workflow in one centralized and standardized database, eliminating mistakes and making the entire construction estimating process faster and more accurate. This standardization streamlines workflows and creates cohesive estimates building trust between owners and contractors.
More Time to Pursue New Projects to Increase Profit
Integrated estimating software automates many of the manual processes estimators had to perform in multiple platforms previously, giving them more time to problem solve and find innovative solutions to a project’s problems. A company that implements integrated software means estimators can expedite communication between teams and owners. These time-saving benefits allow estimators and precon teams to seek additional projects they would have not had time for otherwise. In turn, pursuing new projects means more profit.
Enhanced Communication and Collaboration with Owners
For projects to be successful, the preconstruction team needs to communicate clearly with owners, not only to receive important information about the project but to also update the owner on the estimate’s progress. Integrated preconstruction software allows estimators and contractors to share information with not only each other but also with owners in real-time. This improved communication ensures information is accurate and up to date.
When there is a central source of truth that everyone in the project team can access, estimates are more consistent, accurate, and less time is wasted tracking down correct data. This helps build trust with project owners and saves time for the estimators. This open communication builds trust between owners and contractors which helps contractors win bids and repeat business.
Shared Resources Allows Teams to Come up With Creative Solutions to Problems
Preconstruction software with a strong cost history database, estimate templates, and transparent data sourcing allows not only estimators, but also contractors and architects access to the same databases, models, and information—any changes made to the model automatically change in the estimate. This means that if anyone involved in the process spots a problem, it can be solved as soon as it arises, causing fewer problems later in the build process.
Being Able to Analyze Every Imaginable Variable
One centralized data hub allows everyone on the team access to cost history and the ability to deep dive into past analytics of each estimate. With this knowledge, preconstruction teams are more equipped at making smarter decisions on current and future projects. These highly accurate estimates are the key to winning bids.
What You Need To Know About DESTINI Estimator
Purpose-built for the construction industry by construction experts, Beck Technology’s suite of preconstruction software is designed specifically to revolutionize the industry. Those who don’t implement construction software often make decisions early on in the build process without much information and input from major stakeholders. These poor decisions lead to project delays, budget overspend, and poor quality construction. Beck Technology’s DESTINI Estimator preconstruction estimating software bridges the gap and helps all teams involved, including stakeholders, be fully aligned throughout the life of a project.
DESTINI Estimator replaces Excel, Sage, WinEST, MC2, CostOS, CostX, ProEst, and many more estimating tools. It integrates seamlessly with Procore and Autodesk. DESTINI Estimator is a cloud-hosted preconstruction software giving users access to cost history and integrates with Power BI to dive even deeper into data analysis. Michael Boren, Chief Technology Officer at Beck Technology says, “This is the first estimating platform of this magnitude the AEC industry. Many of the estimating software on the market are burdensome and weighted down with functionality that the industry either does not use or does not need. DESTINI Estimator was created to be agile for our evolving industry.“