Technology seems to be simultaneously disrupting and driving change in today’s preconstruction industry. Not only do all contractors — from landscapers to roofers — need to find and justify their tech budgets, but they must also research, test, and implement new tools to stay ahead of the curve.

In other words, adopting tech is never a one-and-done process, according to JBKnowledge and its 2019 Technology in Preconstruction Report. This report takes a closer look at just how contractors are using new technology to find leads, perform takeoffs and estimates, and submit bids.


Survey Offers Preconstruction Insights

Distilled from the 2018 ConTech Report by JBKnowledge, the Preconstruction Report captures insights from nearly 3,000 construction pros. These findings reflect opinions from both subcontractors (42.5 percent) and general contractors (36.7 percent) with nearly a third (28.3 percent) working in an estimating or preconstruction management role.

Many participating in the survey had common job titles like estimator, preconstruction manager, and bid coordinator, but there are digital-focused job titles gaining in popularity like chief innovation officer, chief data officer, and BIM-VDC coordinator.

The main takeaway? Preconstruction workflows and tools come in all types and flavors—from highly-customizable estimating tools to standalone spreadsheets and custom questionnaires. Key findings include:

  • Most contractors use custom forms that can be built-out and integrated with bid management, accounting, and ERP solutions to qualify and select subcontractors.
  • Just 38.7 percent of those surveyed are using dedicated takeoff software as opposed to spreadsheets.
  • 63.2 percent of the thousands of contractors surveyed report still using spreadsheets in their estimating process.
  • No single estimating tool was found to be used by more than 18 percent of those surveyed.
  • Nearly 50 percent report using DropBox with most relying on separate document management solutions, which they integrate into their company-wide workflows.
  • Many contractors use an ad-hoc combination of all of the above for their bid management processes.

Judging from these findings, it would appear many in construction are still relying on a mish-mosh of emails, spreadsheets, and document management tools. But those who take the leap to dedicated and integrated tech tools find that a searchable database with reporting capabilities can greatly improve their estimating and bid management processes.

Using Tech to Beat Your Competitors

Everyone can probably agree that all trades in the construction industry will eventually be touched by cloud software, mobile apps, and innovative hardware. Though challenging, construction pros will need to level the playing field by adopting customizable, integrated tools. As spreadsheets and file cabinets are phased out, those who don’t educate current staff or create new roles to support data optimization could be left behind in a big way, the report found.

With the right technology, contractors can simplify how they secure reliable subcontractors, takeoff, estimate, and organize their bids, and ultimately—execute on project plans. For example, general contractors are finding it more efficient and productive to connect their data via a platform that can both send invitations to bid (ITBs) and handle prequalification of subcontractors.

In addition, while spreadsheets are still popular with estimators, manual input of data can be cumbersome and error-prone. More than anything, contractors who rely on one-way integrations that push or pull data will too often lean on spreadsheets.

One thing is clear: general contractors are starting to realize the power of organizing and analyzing subcontractors’ bid and communication data to better predict future project partners. Not to mention, contractors are realizing the power of estimating tools to find costly project issues early in their workflow.

Ready to learn how contractors are using tech tools to realize major gains in speed, accuracy, efficiency and profits? Check out On Center’s free Contractor’s Suite White Paper for step-by-step advice to boost your productivity now. W&C