Competitive Edge and Confidence in the Bid Process
The ideal estimating software should provide a high level of detail, accurate material costs, and solid labor standards with automatic factoring based on conditions. The same intuitive format for organization and consistency from bid creation to proposal should be present every time. Then, if you’re awarded the job, you can be confident that you have the right number and the tools to assure a positive result.
Common Challenges – Material
Even the most concise estimate does not guarantee a positive result without the proper actions and decisions as the job starts and unfolds. Looking way back to my apprentice days, I was under the impression that all jobs take some time to get on track: Arrive at the site the first day, hope that some of the materials are there so we can at least get started, begin making a list of “incidentals” like beam clamps and couplings that were not accounted for, then drive to the supply house and wait in line while those back at the site struggle to gain momentum. Return after triggering a purchase order that costs as much in administrative dollars as the items listed on it, only find out that a few other commodities were also needed.
When in doubt, we sometimes bought more than necessary so we didn’t run out. There wasn’t time to worry about restocking charges or items that went back to our warehouse, some that were never required again.
Some materials were delivered too early and had to be paid for, moved if they weren’t in the right place, and sometimes turned up missing when it was finally time to install them. Receptacles and switches for building two, third floor, west wing that weren’t needed until long after the project started were hopefully found in boxes back on the panel room floor of building one.
Common Challenges – Labor
From a field labor standpoint, it’s even more of a challenge without the right tools and information. Where do we stand right now? Are we behind schedule, where, and what can we do to get back on track while the job is still active?
Estimating software – A Valuable Tool After the Award
In the estimating process, material and labor can be broken out by phase, building, floor, area, drawing, rough-in, etc. Even the largest jobs can be treated like a series of smaller, more manageable tasks. The projects that are won will be successful with the right management and summary reports after the award.
Material Ordering: Isolate right down to the rough-in on devices for example. The boxes, plaster rings, conduit, wire or MC Cable and fittings are sent to the job site, and the devices and plates are held back for the right time. Having software with a summary report component allows for timely deliveries, once again, by building, floor, area and room and schedule. If there is a motor hookup set for tomorrow, you’ll be able to make sure that every item needed is on the truck. The $4.00 missing connector may actually be a $100.00 loss.
Labor Coordination and Tracking: Be confident that you have the right crew at the right time and verification that you’re on track with the estimated hours each step of the way. The right project management software can also be make the field staff aware of what should be accomplished by the end of the day and week. Setting expectations for the team makes the goals easier to define and all will know when they are met.
Comparing estimated versus actual time can identify strengths and challenges so adjustments can be made on future projects. If you see a trend that you’re usually faster on recessed fixtures than anticipated, we can be more aggressive on the next bids. If you struggle on GRC feeders, an adjustment can be made for future estimates.