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What is Construction Estimating Software (and Why You Should Use It)

By Brad Wilson April 20, 2021

Project estimating is tricky for contractors. Estimate too high and your bid won’t win, but go too low and you could jeopardize your profit margin for the project (even losing money). 

Accurate and competitive estimating takes time. Your team can take days or even a week to put together an estimate for a new project. 

That’s because most contractors rely on manual processes like paper and spreadsheets to make their calculations. And most of the time, it’s time wasted. Too often prospects pick another low bid or you find errors in your own.

There’s got to be a better way, right?

There is! Keep reading to learn how construction estimating software can help automate your bidding process and increase your profitability– no matter how big or small your business is. 

What Is Construction Estimating Software | SPARK Insights

What Is Construction Estimating Software? 

Construction estimating software helps contractors and builders to estimate costs for a specific project by automatically calculating the quantities and cost of materials, equipment, and labor. These estimates help speed up the process for generating proposals for new projects. 

Before construction estimating software, contractors and builders had to do all their estimations manually. Small projects could be calculated with paper and pencil or done on the spot. Large projects could take days to prepare in Excel spreadsheets with pivot tables and complex formulas. 

But, these manual processes are too slow or prone to errors. 83% of the bid creation process involves filling out forms, which takes up most of your time. 

So to streamline the whole process, construction estimating software:

  • Uses pre-built templates to create bids
  • Customize materials and labor lists to build estimates specific to your company
  • Automate customer data from CRM and other systems 
  • Project estimated costs and apply a percentage that will reach the margin you need from the project  
  • Generate professional proposals 
  • Integrate with resource planning workflows 

Automated software makes bidding easier, faster, and more accurate. You won’t waste time pulling together the same data over and over again. And you’ll be able to respond to more proposals faster. 

But construction estimating software can do more than just overcome the limitations of spreadsheets. Let’s take a look at some of the other benefits of construction estimating software.

Benefits of Construction Estimating Software

Construction Estimating Software Example | SPARK Insights

1. Time Saving

You have to constantly bid on new jobs to stay in business. And on top of the process being tedious and slow, you won’t even win most of the jobs you bid on. 

Anytime you automate a process with software you’re going to speed it up. You won’t be pulling the same data over and over again. You won’t manually calculate estimates. 

Automation puts time back in your day to focus on current projects or other important tasks, instead of filling out forms or making calculations by hand. 

Think about it like this. If you saved 10 hours a week from doing bidding, what else could you be doing that helps generate revenue? 

I’m sure you could come up with more than a few ideas. 

  1. 2. Accuracy

If you’re going to spend time on bidding, then you want them to be right. 

But a major problem with spreadsheets is that they’re faulty. Formulas can accidentally be modified or changed. You can fat finger a number or two. You might not have the latest costs estimates on hand.  

With estimating software, you can use pre-built templates and automatically pull in the right data. You won’t have to worry about wrong calculations. 

With accurate data, you’ll be confident in your bids and calculated margins. You can win more jobs, stay profitable, and grow. 

  1. 3. More than Just Estimating 

Beyond costs estimates, some solutions will also include other features such as building custom takeoffs, generating professional-looking proposals, or integrating with resource planning workflows. 

SPARK bolt logo SPARK Tip: Project management solutions like SPARK Select (image above) offer estimating as just one module part of an all-in-one platform. Along with estimating, the platform can help with automating scheduling, time and field data collection, reporting, and more. 

  1. 4. Share and Collaborate with Team

Do you have multiple or remote team members working on estimates? No problem! 

Construction estimating software allows team members to contribute and make adjustments remotely. This also helps with speed and accuracy of your bids. 

  1. 5. Integrate with Other Systems

Construction estimating software can often integrate with other systems that help you run your business like a CRM or accounting. 

For example, if you use QuickBooks, you have a valuable source of historical job information. That information lets you know how long it takes for you to complete certain tasks, the materials you need to do so, how much your markups are, etc. Using that information helps you to make accurate estimates. 

But copying this information over from QuickBooks to your estimating software (or spreadsheets) takes too much time and can introduce errors that throw off your estimates. 

When you integrate QuickBooks with your construction estimation software, you can speed up your process, generate more accurate estimates, and win more profitable jobs. 

Read more about how to integrate Quickbooks with your estimating software

Start Improving Your Operations with Estimating Software 

All in all, automated software makes bidding easier, faster, and more accurate. You won’t waste time pulling together the same data over and over again. 

And in the past, estimating and bidding software was only used by large enterprises since it was otherwise cost-prohibitive. 

Now, new cloud-based technology like SPARK Select has made solutions affordable and flexible for any size businesses to take advantage. Be more competitive by responding to more proposals faster and win more profitable jobs. 

Learn how else technology is changing the construction industry:

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