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Replace Your Estimator's Construction Spreadsheet with These 3 Steps

construction spreadsheet

Spreadsheets were a significant improvement over paper estimates, but they’re so 20th century.

Did you know that electronic spreadsheets are more than forty years old? Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankston released VisiCalc for the Apple II computer way back in 1979. Digital construction spreadsheets offered many improvements over paper processes, including increased accuracy, decreased production time, lower requirements for expertise, and integration into cost-estimating software. But construction spreadsheets, like construction practices, have come a long way in over forty years. In fact, they have been superseded.

It’s Time for Cloud Estimating

As great as VisiCalc and its successors (including current spreadsheet king, Excel) are, they have their drawbacks, including decentralized teams, inaccurate or outdated data, and accidental data deletion and broken formulas. (For more info, see “The Top 5 Risks of Construction Estimating Using Excel” and “Reduce Costly Errors in Your Construction Estimating Services.”)

Today’s cloud-based construction estimate solutions offer all the benefits of digital solutions, along with the serious advantage of a “one-stop” solution that is always up to date—both in terms of the latest program version and your latest data—and accessible anywhere via smart, connected devices.

Convinced that you need to upgrade your construction spreadsheet-based business and join the 21st century? Here’s how:

1. Focus on the Process, Not the Tool

As the adage goes, “If your only tool is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail.” Don’t reorganize your work to fit Excel—or any construction spreadsheet tool. Replace your construction spreadsheet tool with one that suits your work processes.

Capterra’s “Ultimate Guide to Construction Cost Estimating” reports, “Businesses make increasing use of computers and the software that runs on them, but too many construction cost estimators (over 55%, by one estimate) remain inefficient by failing to use proper tools.” What is a proper tool? Probably not a spreadsheet, according to Capterra. Unlike “purpose-built cost-estimating applications,” a spreadsheet’s flexibility is also its weakness. For example, a simple stray keystroke may cause a fundamental calculation formula to return inaccurate values without overtly breaking the formula.

This sounds like a minor problem, but according to Oracle, “Almost 90 percent of all spreadsheets have errors. Even the most carefully developed, tried, and tested spreadsheets have errors in 1 percent of all formula cells. In larger spreadsheets with thousands of formulas (that, let’s face it, exist in every company), there are dozens of errors.” As a result, “[a]lmost one out of five large business[es] have suffered financial losses as a result of spreadsheet errors.” In this time of COVID-19 upheaval, even large companies can no longer afford such losses.

For more information, see “Software Estimating vs. Excel Estimating — What’s The Difference?” Still not convinced? See “Discover the Top 4 Reasons to Show Excel the Door.”

2. Use One Platform So Everyone Is Connected

Today’s construction estimate requirements point toward an ultimate solution with two prerequisites: one platform and everyone being connected.

One platform means that CRM, cost estimating, takeoffs, integration, and reporting are incorporated into the same seamless solution.

Connected means that your team is on the same page in real time.

Project Management Blog, in their “5 Benefits of Integrated Project Estimating,” list the following benefits:

  • Real-time updates
  • Better reporting
  • Estimated links to other scheduling parameters
  • More accessible links with risk management
  • Better estimates

According to Construction Executive, nearly 20% of business owners say that they’re still using spreadsheets to track project reports, and almost 8% say that they “do the math in their heads, without keeping records.” CE recommends, “Accounting and job costing software can significantly increase the accuracy of a project estimate, while mobile technology means construction teams can track time and materials from a job site.”

What does this look like in the real world? Imagine real-time, 24/7 access to your client relationships, cost estimates, digital takeoffs, and estimate reporting. This is exactly what is available when you use ProEst's construction bidding software.

3. Set Up ProEst

“ProEst is an all-inclusive construction estimating software program that provides some of the best project management and digital takeoff tools in the construction industry. It's primarily designed for commercial construction businesses, but its range of digital takeoff tools, combined with its informative databases, make it a versatile construction estimating application.”

ProEst is a powerful, easy-to-use construction estimating platform that helps companies like yours quickly create accurate, competitive bids for your projects. With their construction bidding process, you can create estimates, perform digital blueprint takeoffs, store project drawings, and manage the bid day process using a single solution.

Schedule a free demo today!


For commercial construction companies to scale, you need to be at the forefront of modern technology to help you move faster through your processes while maintaining a high level of accuracy. ProEst’s features help you do just that.

About ProEst

Since 1976, ProEst has helped over 8,000 of the world’s most prominent construction companies streamline and improve their estimating processes. ProEst’s mission is to deliver outstanding value to each client they serve through their construction bid takeoff software. Their core values include integrity, dedication to excellence, and loyalty. ProEst practices their core values in their work, giving their clients an experience of trust and partnership that is unique in the business.

ProEst helps commercial construction companies maximize profits by helping them streamline cost estimation, takeoffs, and more. We believe commercial construction companies grow at scale through visibility of data, cohesion among teams, and accurate estimating. To see how ProEst can streamline your commercial construction processes, contact one of our experts today!