It’s no secret these are unprecedented times. And by the way, don’t you wish you had a dollar for every time you heard that word? Or how about “the new normal?”
But as a glass-half-full kind of guy, I must admit there have been some great opportunities that have come in the wake of COVID-19. It’s amazing how many individuals, companies, and organizations have adapted so quickly to working remotely. Indeed, it has forced many of us to face and overcome our technology demons! Not only did we overcome them, but many of us have also excelled.
Even so, I completely understand some of the finer frustrations. For most estimators and project managers, the give-and-take of daily life in the office has evolved into a new normal (there, I said it) of Zoom meetings and working remotely.
Where Did Your Dry-Erase Board Go?
Let’s talk about your beloved bidding board. Yes, that ever-present marker board, or yikes—chalkboard, that everyone in the office can see daily. Or maybe it is the weekly or daily printout on everyone’s desk. Or your company is more technologically advanced and already has a digital format that is shared with everyone. If you’re in this category—congratulations!
But what are you doing if your team is not in the office and you still rely on the physical bidding board? During these times, you may or may not be able to see the updated information regarding projects, bid dates and times, job walk notices, and anything else relevant to your board.
Let’s pause for a minute to take in the big, beautiful whiteboard, with those unparalleled lines added with electrical tape or something similar. Or perhaps someone with more artistic dedication drew them perfectly (or not)! Yes, I’ve seen many of these boards in my years in construction. No matter how well they start, there’s always that one person who uses the wrong type of marker or the wrong cleaner on the board, marring the board for life.
We quickly forget as we move on because there’s no time to do anything about it. Eventually, we buy another dry-erase board. Perhaps it’s bigger and better. Or one that is already formatted with beautiful straight lines and a nice new set of pens and erasers. But let’s be fair—they don’t all look like that nor do all of them end up marred and stained.
During my career, I’ve been to many offices where some boards were kept up quite nicely. Ah, that perfect penmanship and coordinated colors, along with a plethora of company acronyms! In these cases, there is usually a Hall Monitor who would reprimand anyone who dared to touch the board.
Discovering the Digital Bid Board
Is there a better way to manage bids? In my opinion, YES! But before I tell you more, let’s discuss those utilizing a digital format.
For some, digital does not necessarily mean it’s a whole lot better than the physical whiteboard. For example, it could simply be a Word document or an Excel file or some other proprietary program. It still requires individuals to monitor and police the content.
Also, it’s important to note how efficiently—or not—that information is accessible, presentable, and digestible by the end-users. There is still that need to maintain it all and keep it current with new information and updates.
Moving Out of Your Comfort Zone
So, let’s take a minute to consider the information on your current bidding board and why it is so important to keep it updated and readily available. There are a lot of moving parts here. First and foremost: How many projects are you currently bidding? That’s very important to know because when it comes to resources, we all know that every project is different. You may have 12 very small jobs and two very large projects on your bidding board.
You may also be in the middle of bidding all of these and another project comes along that is very desirable. What now? Well, something must give. Being able to visually see those projects can help you make those very important decisions regarding resources. Then there’s also the next part: When are those projects due? Do you have time to bid them all?
We haven’t even begun to talk about the other aspects of each of those projects. For example, is there a job walk? Are there addenda that need to be reviewed? Do you have the right estimators on the projects? There are way too many details to easily keep up with at-a-glance.
And let’s not forget that all-knowing comfort zone! It may not be a perfect process. But, it’s easier to stay with what you’re already accustomed to and comfortable with when bidding. One thing is for sure—many people in construction feel this way.
The Better Way to Manage Bids
It’s hard to resist a process that would organize and centralize all this critical bidding information. What if you could make it immediately available to all and provide an easy way to manage it?
That’s why so many construction tech companies are busy trying to perfect the workflow and tools to help you go digital. You may already be half-way there—using takeoff tools, but still relying on spreadsheets to finalize your bid. Or maybe you’re using project management tools or proprietary software for some of your estimating and bidding workflows.
As the Bid Coach at ConstructConnect, I’ve seen the night-and-day difference a digital bid board can make. For example, being able to add a project from anywhere or simply forward ITBs from your inbox to a digital bid board is amazing. It sure beats the old dry-erase board.