Finding new software for your construction business can be overwhelming. If you’re in the market for the right estimating software, you are looking for the fastest, more accurate tools to help you calculate labor and materials.
No matter your construction trade, there are lots of options. Just as you would ask a lot of questions before purchasing your next company truck or backhoe, the same principle applies to adding new takeoff and estimating software.
For starters, you always want to double-check technical features and requirements when evaluating and selecting new tools. When you do your research and homework, you can ensure that you will not run into speed bumps and issues when you deploy the new software.
5 Technical Questions to Ask
Here are five critical questions to consider when listing your requirements for takeoff and estimating software:
- What are the system requirements and dependencies? This means whether software is web-, server-, or desktop-based or cloud. You should also look at the number of users allowed and whether you can export/input and share data and whether the software has accounting integration.
- What are the software functions and capabilities? Consider whether it offers overlay for recognizing changes and addendums or if you can share and send plans. You may need the ability to pre-populate bid sheets and annotate.
- What kind of technical support does the system offer? You should weigh whether you want U.S.-based or offshore support and 24-hour, business-day support. Also, if online or phone line is acceptable.
- Does the software company provide subject matter experts? Knowing the provider has construction expertise may mean the company is more attuned to your business needs.
- How are product updates and maintenance handled? Some companies will automatically update your software or require you to opt-in. You must determine whether you prefer scheduled maintenance or a less disruptive method for updates.
Once the decision to purchase new software is made, it’s important to have a plan in place to ensure that your implementation of new digital tools goes smoothly.
Next Steps for Adding Software
Most importantly, you never want to purchase new digital takeoff and estimating tools that end up being under-utilized because of a failure of training or how the tools were deployed.
For takeoff software, most implementations are quick and easy—just install, train, and go.
However, for estimating software, you’ll need to carve out a bit more time as it will typically require some customization based on database integration.
Here are five best practices to keep in mind when implementing new software:
- Go back and communicate your plans to all the stakeholders who will be impacted. This could include estimators, project managers, owners, GMs, field supervisors, accounting, and IT.
- Make sure to create a checklist with a timeline. This would include a go-live date and any additional steps for install, customization, data migration and/or integration, and training.
- Test the new software to verify it is working. Make sure everything is working properly by specifying the first project to be completed using the new software.
- Allow enough time for training based on the recommendation of your software provider. Be sure to set hours aside for staff and remember that training will take time. You should have realistic expectations.
- Connect and integrate with your accounting department. This allows you to communicate to further simplify your process. You can also build and customize cost databases for accuracy.
Taking the Next Step
Now that you’ve modernized your estimating department with new software, don’t forget to conduct post-installation reviews at regular intervals. This is a great way to justify your investment and ROI to management. Even better, you can gather feedback on a quarterly and yearly basis to ensure the tool is meeting the needs of your construction business.
Not sure if you need digital tools? Find out by taking a quick quiz. Download On Center’s eBook, Estimators Guide to Assessing and Picking the Right Software, to gauge if your construction business is ready for estimating software.