Estimator looking at bid estimating software

What to Look for in Construction Bid Estimating Software

April 20, 2021

According to the 2020 Construction Technology Report, 62% of respondents are still using spreadsheets for their estimates. This method is still being used because it works, but it’s not the most efficient way to bid. Construction bid estimating software is meant to speed the bidding process and improve accuracy.

However, shopping for bid estimating software can be difficult because there are so many programs and options to choose from. We’ve put together a list of five things you need to look for when shopping for construction estimating software. This list should help you narrow your search.

1. Integration

You’ll want to make sure that your bidding software integrates with the current software systems that you’re using. It’s important that your bidding program integrates with your accounting system and your project management software if you have one.

If your existing software package has an estimating component, that may be the best way to go. You’ll know it integrates with systems you already have, and it won’t take long to get it up and running. However, you’ll still want to do your due diligence and check the features it offers to make sure they meet your needs.

Integration with accounting gives you the capability to transfer your estimate to accounting without having to enter the information by hand or upload a spreadsheet. Accuracy is improved when the information doesn’t have to be entered by hand.

When estimating integrates with your project management software, you can issue subcontracts and purchase orders directly from your estimate. Simply select the winning bids in the software and the subcontracts and purchase orders will be created automatically. You can also set up cost and budget analysis reports based on your original bid, so you’ll always know whether you’re on budget.

2. Reporting

The estimating software you choose should have a robust set of reports that you can use to track and monitor your bid success. You’ll want the ability to provide standard reports to management, as well as customize reports to your specific needs.

Reports allow you to monitor bidding trends, provide detailed analysis of your bidding success, and gather information you can use on future bids. Once you’ve reviewed the reports, you can adjust your bids as you learn more about the market and how your competition is bidding.

3. Accessibility

Make sure your team can access the bidding software from wherever they work, whether it’s in the office, in the field, or at home. Cloud-based systems offer the most flexibility because all you need is an internet connection to access your information. They also don’t take up memory on your server with large software files.

With more estimating teams working in the field or working from home, it’s important to have the ability to access the bidding information from a mobile device. If the software has a mobile app or is mobile friendly, this makes it easier for your team to make last minute changes or respond to questions when they’re in the field.

Many companies have multiple people working on a bid. The software should support having multiple team members accessing the same information, ensuring everyone is working off the same data and can contribute to the bid process.

4. Takeoff capabilities

Many companies still perform takeoffs with pencils and rulers. Today’s bidding software offers the capability to automate both counting functions and measurements. This saves your estimating department time and money, which means they can bid more work.

Electronic takeoff allows teams to get quantities and dimensions automatically by analyzing the drawings. With some software packages you can set up custom assemblies that will takeoff large sections of the building based on the construction type or the features included.

5. Historical analysis

Estimating teams can learn a lot by analyzing past bids. They may be able to identify cost savings or see errors that were missed. Without this analysis they’ll continue to bid hoping that they will be successful. Estimators that leverage knowledge gained on past projects are able to bid current projects more accurately, as they learn from experience.

No matter which estimating software program you choose, make sure you get a chance to test drive it before you purchase it. Many software programs offer a trial period where you can test the fully active program. If a test drive is not available, be sure to request a demonstration of the software so you can see how easy it is to use and whether it will meet your needs.

Need a way to track your bids quickly and easily? Check out PlanHub as your one-stop solution.

Estimator looking at bid estimating software