How to Determine What Features Your Team Needs When Selecting Estimating Software

Construction Office Estimators

You’ve recognized the problems you’re experiencing with your current estimating software or spreadsheets and have made switching platforms one of your goals for the year. Now the question is: where do you start? 

The best next step is to come up with a list of the features you want in your new software. Let’s walk through some of the things you should consider as you select your new and improved estimating platform. 

Consider your current process (and what it lacks)

Sit down with your estimating team and outline your current process and any problems you face along the way. Do you use Excel and manually perform takeoffs? Do you use estimating software? How do you currently generate proposals and reports? How do you organize client information? And how do you pass the awarded bid along to the next stage of the project? 

Identify any issues or errors you experience in your current process, as well as the important features you rely on. Make a list of what features you need to keep and what issues you need to resolve. 

Consider what you need in order to improve

What’s propelling you to change the way you estimate? Identify the reasons you’re switching and what features you’ll need to look for in your new software. 

If you’ve experienced inaccurate data due to human error, you need more automation and ease-of-use. If you’re spending too much time on each estimate, you’ll need a platform that’s more user-friendly and efficient. If your old platform lacked sufficient customer support, you’ll want to find a platform that has high user ratings for customer service. 

Consider whether you need built-in digital takeoffs & other features

Not all estimating software can perform digital takeoffs. For those without built-in takeoff capabilities, you’ll need a second program. Consider whether having your estimates and takeoffs connected in one platform is important to you. 

With ProEst, you can use your estimates to perform takeoffs and automatically calculate costs using electronic blueprints. Having takeoffs built-in to your estimating software saves you time and helps ensure your bids are accurate. 

Similarly, consider any other features you’ll want included in your platform. CRM? Reporting? Proposal generation? 

Construction Estimators Calculating Costs

Consider how many users you need

How many team members will be working on estimates? Some platforms structure their subscription levels by the number of user permissions you’ll need. For example, a software’s basic subscription might cover 2-3 users, with the next level covering 4-7. 

Compare pricing for the number of users you’ll need, and keep in mind any upgrades you may need to make in the future. What if you have three estimators on your team and hire one more? Suddenly, you have to pay as much for one extra user as you would if you had added four, and that’s not fair to you.

Here at ProEst, we rejected this model. With our unlimited subscription, there are no user-based levels, and as many — or as few — estimators can access the platform as needed. Pricing is instead based on your awarded bids, so companies never need to spend more than they need to on estimating software. 

Consider how you want to access your data

Is remote access to your projects important to you and your team? Consider whether you ever need to access this data while out in the field, during off-hours for last-minute changes, or when working from your home office. 

Also consider whether you currently have a safe, reliable way to store your data. If a fire, tornado, or hurricane struck your office building, would your project data be safe and accessible to your team? 

Consider what other programs you need to integrate with

After you complete an estimate, where is that data going? Look at your project management and accounting software and take note of what estimating platforms integrate with them. 

Integrations help ensure efficiency and accuracy for your projects by seamlessly transferring data from one stage to the next. If your platforms aren’t designed to work together, you may experience time-consuming issues and inaccuracies. 

Once you’ve chosen the right estimating software, the next step will be to help your team make the transition. For further reading, check our executive report, 7 Tips To Get Your Estimators On Board