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Technology is changing the way we do things from our homes to the workplace. This, too, is obvious in the construction industry, where modern tools and equipment are changing the landscape at a faster pace.
Beyond that, there are also innovations that are revolutionizing construction: digital technology. This is rapidly expanding and has evolved into a complex web of different kinds of solutions that cover estimating, procurement, financing, productivity management, design, and more. These digital tools have become an ecosystem unto themselves and are evolving how construction companies approach their tasks.
Among those, estimating software for construction has around 288 vendors currently, according to a survey conducted by McKinsey & Company. It is easy to see why: a proper estimating tool can make or break a project deal.
A map of a construction technology ecosystem created by McKinsey & Company where estimating has 288 vendors.
Fewer mistakes are made, numbers are more accurate, and less time is spent on crunching numbers. These lead to an increase in production, which ultimately, make a company more profitable.
But what are the technological drivers behind those results? We discuss some of the ways that technology is changing the way estimating software work below.
Software-as-a-service (SaaS) is drastically changing the way companies work, regardless of their industry. It does so because of the easy availability of software in the cloud, allowing people to work on any device at any time as long as they have an internet connection.
And while SaaS is usually associated with CRMs and customer service platforms, finance and accounting software, BI and analytics tools, collaboration and social applications, and ERP and e-commerce, cloud-based software also exists for the construction industry.
An example is estimating software that you can access on your web browser. Initially, estimating programs are available only on-premises, making it hard for parties involved to do their tasks on the go.
However, with the rise of web-accessible programs like estimating applications, those in construction like you can perform your estimation while you are on the move or while you are supervising on-site projects. Because of this, you can be more productive at work.
This way, you can provide your clients with cost estimates as soon as they need it.
New technologies like SaaS enable you to go global because of its mobility and full-featured interfaces. This means that you can access every tool you need in a single platform, including multiple currencies that you can take advantage of in your international undertakings.
It can be helpful when you need to present estimates with different currencies, especially when you have international suppliers and subcontractors. This can help you avoid discrepancies once you present your estimates to clients.
What’s more, you can convert the values into your project’s base currency so that you and your customers can have a better understanding of the costs.
Connecting different applications did not use to be possible. However, new technological advances enable software, particularly those in the cloud, to synchronize with each other for a better exchange of information. Because of this, you no longer have to deal with entering the same sets of data numerous times in different interfaces.
When you select a construction estimating software with robust integration capabilities, you can reduce, if not eliminate, errors. That is because you can let the applications talk with each other and transfer data by themselves, ensuring the accuracy of the information you get.
Moreover, integration lets you link with productivity tools that enhance your estimation workflow.
Client-Facing Project Breakdown
An advantageous tool to have in an estimating application is a work breakdown structure (WBS). But what is more essential is a WBS that can be split into two views--internal and client-facing.
The latter lets you present the project workflow according to the client’s expectations. Meanwhile, the former allows you to have a drilled-down itemization. It’s a hierarchical structure that enables you to detail the requirements for the fulfillment of an objective.
Technology makes it possible to present one part of the breakdown to clients so that they only see the most relevant information and so that you get to keep your internal processes.
In-Depth Report Creation
Estimating in building construction often requires looking back at historical data. An estimating software with a robust reporting module can help you look at the estimates you have made previously and look at them from multiple angles. Plus, a reporting tool allows you to analyze the changes over time for better decision-making.
These use cases can happen because of big data solutions that have made it into estimating programs. As such, you can generate reports that help you decide the breakdowns of projects, analyze project costs, and more. With this kind of information on hand, you can be confident that you are taking the right path with your estimates.
Going global with the right technology
Even when your company is equipped with first-rate construction technologies, it is not possible to reach a high rate of success unless you are maximizing the tools in the right way. That is why you have to choose carefully which digital construction solution, such as estimating software, belongs in your toolbox. Also, expensive does not always equal better. There are many factors that you have to consider when shopping around for an estimating application and your technology budget is among them. As such, you have to shop smart so that you can get the most out of your investments.
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Web based on-screen takeoff
“Don't count the days, make the days count.” — Muhammad Ali
- Fast accurate takeoff for any dwg, dxf and pdf file, just set the scale and start measuring.
- Measure areas, perimeters, length and count elements in both imperial and metric. A list of materials and their thicknesses can be added to every takeoff.
- Increased transparency! You’ll have complete oversight over what’s happening during each step of the process.
Real time collaboration
“Great things in business are never done by one person. They're done by a team of people.” — Steve Jobs
- Work collaboratively on the same project at the same time from anywhere in the world.
- Easily plan and manage your takeoff projects with intuitive controls and flexible tools.
Work from anywhere and you will always be up to date
“A satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all.” — Michael LeBoeuf
- Communicate in real time with team members down the hall or across the globe.
- Work seamlessly together with the right information to ensure success.
- Effortlessly find user friendly functionality and quickly focus on what matters.
“The value of an idea lies in the using of it.” — Thomas Edison
- Export to Excel.
- Pivot takeoffs into Methvin pricing.
- Link takeoff items back into the pricing module.
- General Contractor, Infrastructure, Concrete, Flooring, Framing, Drywall, Ceilings, Roofing, Electrical, HVAC, Plumbing, Landscape, Painting, Masonry and Drainage.
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A major difficulty facing businesses bidding on large International Projects is dealing with multiple currencies within the same estimate. When projects are funded with international funding in multiple currencies or when suppliers or subcontractors are providing material or services in a multitude of currencies. Funding Organizations often require as a prerequisite in providing funds that goods and services be provided in the same currency that the financing is provided. To estimate projects in multiple currencies, the estimator requires a system that allows resources to be saved in multiple currencies, as well as different currency values for each of those resources.
Converting Resources between different Currencies
To efficiently bid in multiple currencies your resource table must
allow the user to set the base rate in its base currency and then provide a
procedure to convert the value into the projects currency.
For material and labour resources this is a very straight forward process,
which involves just multiplying the rates by the appropriate exchange rate.
Entering and Comparing Quotations in Different Currencies
In a single estimate various suppliers may also quote on the same
commodity in different currencies. The system must save the quotation in the
source currency but also convert the currency to the base currency of the
estimate so the quotations can be compared against each other.
Generating Cash Flows in Multiple Currencies
One of the prime purposes of creating an estimate in multiple
currencies is that the financing will be procured in these same currencies. It
is therefore important to have the ability to generate separate cash flows in
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The work breakdown structure (WBS) module is the latest module incorporated into the Methvin estimating package. It allows for two independent work breakdown structures. The first allows you to present the project in the manner the client expects to see it. And the second provides an opportunity to break the project into a hierarchical and incremental decomposition of the project into phases, deliverables and work packages. It is a tree structure, which shows a subdivision of effort required to achieve an objective; for example a program, project, and contract. In a project or contract, the WBS is developed by starting with the end objective and successively subdividing it into manageable components in terms of size, duration, and responsibility (e.g., systems, subsystems, components, tasks, subtasks, and work packages) which include all steps necessary to achieve the objective.
The work breakdown structure provides a common framework for the natural development of the overall planning and control of a contract and is the basis for dividing work into definable increments from which the statement of work can be developed and technical, schedule, cost, and labour hour reporting can be established.
A work breakdown structure (WBS) permits summing of subordinate costs for tasks, materials, etc., into their successively higher level “parent” tasks, materials, etc. For each element of the work breakdown structure, a description of the task to be performed is generated. This technique (sometimes called a system breakdown structure) is used to define and organize the total scope of a project.