Estimators are typically left with little time to complete their estimates. This tip focuses on reducing keystrokes during takeoff and therefore reducing the time it takes to complete an estimate while at the same time reducing mistakes due to incorrect entries. Using IntelliBid’s JobSpec feature, found in IntelliBid Lite, Plus and Pro, estimators can pre-answer questions about the project for common prompts asked by the program.

As an example, when performing a takeoff for many commercial projects, you may find yourself being prompted for some answers repeatedly. When performing feeder takeoffs you may use the same 12 or 15 feet of wire for terminations, 7 feet for trapeze spacing, and maybe even use an average of 3 90-degree elbows and possibly 1 field bend for offsets in a run. When estimating fixtures, your fixture mounting height might be set at 8 feet, with a conduit mounting height of 12 feet. When entering Devices, the Average Feet Between Boxes might be a standard 15 or 18 feet for the entire project.

As figure 1 shows, in a typical takeoff you might be prompted to answer questions like Conduit Mounting Height, Fixture Mounting Height, the number of Field Bends or 90 Ells, or Average Ft Between Boxes many times.

Figure 1 – Example Prompts for Devices, Feeders, and FixturesIBv7-37-Prompt-Examples

The Job Spec section of IntelliBid allows you to pre-enter values once for any of the prompts that are common for the project.

Setup is easy. First go to Phase Tree/Job Spec, and then select the Takeoff Prompts tab. There, you can pre-answer any takeoff prompts of your choice by selecting variables from the Master Variable List at the bottom, to include in the Phase Variable List at the top. Just follow the steps below.

Figure 2 – Defining values for prompt variables in Job SpecIBv7-37-JobSpec-Takeoff-Prompts

  1. Save time… Use the Filter Row to quickly find prompts that you are looking for.
    As a tip, write down the prompts that you see during takeoff that you find yourself answering repeatedly. Simply type the name of that prompt in the description field on the filter row to find the related variables. Also make use of the convenient “Show Abbreviated List” option at the bottom to show the more commonly used variables.
  2. Select individual or groups of variables that you’d like to include (Control+Click is very useful here)
  3. Add your selected prompt variables to the list. You can also double click on a line to add that variable.
  4. Pre-enter values that you want as answers to takeoff prompts.
    If you leave the “Prompt” box unchecked, the prompt will not be shown during takeoff and
    your pre-filled value will be used, but checking the box will show the prompt with your pre-filled
    value in case you need to adjust it during takeoff.
  5. Apply to Selected Phases will use these settings for the current job you are working on.
  6. You can save these settings as default values by checking Update All New Jobs. So future jobs can use the same prompt values, or if a job requires different values or additional values, it’s easy to use this as a base, applying the settings to selected phases as needed.

Now, as you can see in Figure 3 below, the prompt variables that we left unchecked, such as Conduit Mounting Height, Fixture Mounting Height, and Add FT Each Wire are now automatically entered for you and hidden from view. While any checked variables, like the 90 Ells are now pre-entered and visible with the value from Job Spec as a default value that you can change if needed.

Figure 3 – After Job Spec – simpler takeoff prompts with hidden and default valuesIBv7-37-After-JobSpec-Prompt-Examples

When you consider the amount of items and assemblies you would be prompted during takeoff for Fixtures, Devices and Feeders alone, you can quickly see how the time-saving and error-reducing options like this can quickly add up to faster more efficient estimates.

So any time you find yourself repeatedly answering questions to takeoff prompts, that’s the time to look to Job Spec to streamline your estimating process.

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