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3 Common Spreadsheet Issues Your Estimates May Have (& How Software Solves All 3)

It’s a well-studied fact: spreadsheets contain errors. According to a report by Dr. Raymond R. Panko, an IT Management scholar, 3.9% of all spreadsheet cells contain an error, and 94% of all spreadsheets contain errors. 

Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple fix or one-time solution. Issues like formula errors, typos, and lost data are all risks you have to accept when estimating with spreadsheets. It’s all part of human error. Software, however, can help you automate your estimating process and create estimates that are error-free. 

Read on to learn about three of the spreadsheet errors you may encounter while estimating, and what software can do to prevent them from happening. 

Formula Errors

How much time are you wasting fixing annoying formula errors? An estimate looks nice and neat until you notice one (or more!) cells are plagued by formula errors. Whether an error is an easy fix or a time-consuming headache depends on your level of spreadsheet proficiency and the specific error. Fixing any formula errors, however easy or difficult, adds up over time, and eats up the time you could be spending working on your next estimate. 

How software solves this issue: Estimating software performs calculations on its own. There’s no need to know formulas or troubleshoot them when something goes wrong. Simply enter in the data and you can be certain that the resulting estimates are correct.  


Entering and reentering data can be time consuming, but it’s also dangerous. Spreadsheets don’t have spell check. If you transpose a number, leave off a digit, put the decimal point in the wrong place, or put information in the wrong field, it’s up to you to catch your own mistake. Do you feel confident that you can catch every typo every time? 

As Dr. Panko details in his report, humans catch only about 60% of errors on average, and in all of the studies he looked at, not one participant was able to spot every error. 

How software solves this issue: Reduce the risk of typos by only entering the data once. With all-in-one estimating software, you can complete your estimates and takeoffs, generate proposals, and run reports without having to re-enter data. And when your estimating software integrates seamlessly with project management and accounting programs, there’s no need to worry about time-consuming double entries. 

Estimator With Laptop

Lost & Forgotten Data

How easy is it to delete the data in a spreadsheet cell? Too easy. And when multiple team members are working on one estimate, the risk for data loss only increases as they save and share new versions of spreadsheets. 

Forgotten or omitted data can also throw a wrench in your estimates. Due to human error, you can simply forget to include a row when re-entering the data into another program. 

The solution: Estimating software makes it more difficult to accidentally delete any data, protecting your work from human error. If your software is cloud-based, it also allows multiple estimators to collaborate and update the estimate with all of their changes in real time, so you can be certain that the version you’re looking at is the most recent one. Estimating software that integrates with your other programs also eliminates the need for double-entry, cutting down on human error even more. 

The next time you spot an error in an estimate, don’t forget about the ones you may be missing! To learn more about why others are switching from Excel to estimating software, download our free executive report, 5 Reasons Why Construction Estimators Are Leaving Excel