I only have 1,200 words to tell you as much as I can about some of the best estimating software programs available on the market, so I’m not going to waste any of them chitchatting. Let’s get started in alphabetical order … YEE HA!
Six years ago, I wrote, “[estimating] software technology is not going to dramatically change” (“Smart Buys,” Electrical Contractor, September 2005). Wow, was I ever wrong about that. It has changed quite dramatically.
For electrical contracting companies that have many large, complex projects underway at the same time, construction management software is the key to making everything go smoothly and to completing each job on schedule and within budget.
Questions every estimator should ask In every area of business, trends play a vital role in the analysis of what makes a business successful (or not) and predicting the possible future. As estimators, we play an important part in our company’s current state of business and its future.
Vendors strive to identify and meet the needs of ECs: There is a head-spinning amount of software options for electrical contractors today ranging from estimating to automating to integration of all facets of a very large business; somewhere in the midst of the many options, contractors need to loo
Electrical estimating is a tough, involved subject to teach and a very hard subject to learn. This is not a class they teach in high school or in most colleges, if any. Heck, I don’t recall the word “estimating” ever being said at career day.
Estimators come in all shapes and sizes. Most I have met are not very athletic, except for a few golf games between bids. I’m sure there are many who are very athletic, but let’s face it—on any given day, our most strenuous moment is lifting a 40-pound set of drawings onto our workstation.
Electrical contractors install a variety of parts, material and equipment on every job, which represents almost half of the total project cost. Providing the correct materials at the right time is critical to keeping projects on schedule; delays can waste valuable labor hours and money.
As the economy stands on firmer ground, privately funded buildings are coming back to life, bringing a surge of design-build projects with it. This is very good news for estimators, because more buildings mean more work to bid on and win for the company.
It is already the month of May—I know, I can’t believe it either—and the feeling of spring is in the air. Spring typically means warmer weather, longer days to get the estimates done and, of course, your annual tech support fees are due.
We all make mistakes. After all, we are human, aren’t we? Flesh and blood, instinct and intellect—we can’t be just computer chips and software, calculators and ScaleMasters. Yes, estimators are only human, and we make mistakes. But don’t tell your boss; that is, unless you actually make a mistake.
Estimating can get boring. Count, count, count—highlight all the little symbols, color all the lines red, enter the counts into the computer. Clicking the days away, one job at a time. It is nobody’s fault—any job can become tedious.
In this highly competitive industry, you need to bid more work than you are capable of doing. Most of this work comes with unforgiving deadlines and requires many hours of estimating. Hours you don’t have. Estimators you don’t have.
In my December column, I recommended you review last year’s estimating strategy. By examining what worked and the reasons for losses, you understand how to be more successful next year. Well, guess what? It is next year and the estimating clock started ticking two weeks ago.
My final thoughts for 2005 are for all the owners, chief and senior estimators out there—the team leaders who bear the responsibility of determining which direction their estimating department will take their company.
Even with the best software, training and proficient users-a program is only as good as its parts database. A parts database must be accurately built and consistently managed. Just like your company trucks, it is an important tool.
'Just in time' used to be the battle cry in security product manufacturing and distribution. Now, it is more than just in time-it is all about arming the contractor with the information they need to boost sales and present the end-user with a product portfolio adeptly suited to the application.