Bad data. Duplicates. Data silos. Whether you’re a roofing or drywall contractor, you’ve probably experienced garbage-in, garbage-out. We can all agree there is a huge need for contractors to clean up and integrate the data they use when bidding. Nobody wants to create more data entry errors that get duplicated and replicated again and again.
As someone who started out in construction as a plasterer in the late 1980s, I know that data management isn’t likely to be a top priority for most contractors. You’re busy trying to find, bid, and win construction projects. It’s easier to push time-consuming and tedious data management down the road as a nice-to-have solution.
However, siloed data is more than likely hurting your profits. Think of the money you may be losing with multiple teams accessing different sets of data. It’s not only inefficient, but you’re probably causing bottlenecks in how your team works collaboratively.
For example, you know that a critical part of creating a detailed cost estimate for any construction project involves determining total material costs. During a quantity takeoff, an estimator must know which materials are needed and how much those materials will cost. If you’re digging through outdated spreadsheets for prices and creating a bid manually, not only are you wasting valuable time, but there’s a good chance your numbers are bad.
Is it Time for Integrated Tools?
If your answer to siloed data has typically been, “Let’s get the intern or a part-timer to fix it,” you’re probably not looking at the big picture. For starters, there are dozens of data management platforms, integrated software, and APIs out there today that make data management easy, efficient, and effective.
Of course, the flip-side is data application and data sprawl. Small businesses say they average 14.3 applications. Not surprisingly, when you look at enterprise-level businesses that number jumps to 500. When your applications don’t integrate, you could have a recipe for disaster—not to mention a huge overhead increase in IT budget.
Is it time to stop with the excuses and good intentions? If you’re ready to find the right integrated tool, you’ll need to make sure whatever you choose makes it easy to integrate and streamline your data. In other words, no more multiple spreadsheets and randomly segregated software that don’t easily integrate.
Let the Software Do the Calculations
For cost estimators, digital estimating tools are a great place to get started. Instead of having to read blueprints or design documents to determine the required materials manually, you can upload the design blueprints into the software and review the list of required materials. Takeoff software reduces the skill barrier for creating a detailed cost estimate—saving time and improving accuracy.
Another major benefit is that estimating software integrates the calculating function into the software itself – so material picked from the document is quickly calculated. No more checking and re-checking your math.
When you can make changes to materials, quantities, and material prices with one-click, you can more easily streamline your estimating process and improve data quality. Even better, your estimator can use one program instead of transitioning from one program to another—saving time and labor. Adjustments can easily be made on the fly and you’ve got peace of mind knowing your bid is accurate.
Cloud-Based Tools Improve Data Accuracy
Now, let’s consider the rise of cloud tools. In 2017, the American General Contractors of America found that 85 percent of contractors were using or planned to use cloud-based solutions.
The main driver? The ability to improve communication and greater efficiency on the jobsite—sharing drawings, documents, and field reporting.
However, they also found that the migration of back-office information—like financials—to a cloud-based system has lagged. If your accounting team is in a jobsite trailer and ends up running back-and-forth from the office, you may end up with document errors and discrepancies.
When you consolidate your data onto one cloud-based platform, it’s easier to share data in real time anywhere, anytime—from the worksite to the office. The benefits are numerous.
For starters, you can keep everyone on the same page—no more missed addenda or change orders. Now, everyone is collaborating, working together—from bid to build-out. In addition to providing seamless integration for applications across your construction project workflows, cloud tools provide robust security and data storage.
After 40 years in construction and witnessing the evolution from email to cloud-based tools, I can tell you it’s a lot more efficient when everyone is accessing the most up-to-date data. You’re much more likely to win more profitable projects when you can quickly see what has changed from one drawing to the next and know your material prices are correct as you finalize your bid.
If you’d like to take the leap and check out some great integrated tools, be sure to check out ConstructConnect’s fully integrated tools now.