Software Estimating vs. Excel Estimating - What's The Difference?

software estimating

Construction estimates are a part of every project, and the data that’s included is used to make key decisions in a construction business. From project bids, to takeoffs, to team schedules, estimates have a big impact on how you do business in the construction industry. But with today’s innovation in technology, using estimation software to deliver construction estimates makes the entire process easier and far more accurate.

Commercial building and construction projects are just getting bigger and more complex, so construction firms require larger teams and budgets. When adopting modern construction data technology, firms are able to better manage that information and quickly scale their business.

Today’s large-scale commercial building projects force companies to outgrow manual processes and methods like outdated Excel spreadsheets. But using a software estimating tool can help construction managers and CEOs make better business decisions and find real and lasting success.

The Risk of Excel Estimations

Using a data-based estimating software gives construction leaders solutions that Excel just can’t deliver. That’s because Excel spreadsheets and manual data tracking methods open your project up to a few different risks:

  • Decentralized teams: Tracking projects and task information on different spreadsheets makes it harder for everyone to be on the same page. When your crew has a hard time staying up-to-date on tasks or communicating any project setbacks, Excel will only make those issues worse, especially since it’s not a multi-user tool.
  • Inaccurate or outdated data: Mistakes are a part of every project, but old or incorrect information can throw a wrench in your work, especially if you need accurate numbers for project bids or reporting.
  • Accidental data deletion and broken formulas: Excel spreadsheets can be useful for tracking smaller-scale information. But commercial construction projects require more robust data sets from multiple departments and sources. Using Excel forms and templates require extra time and attention to detail that most managers don’t have.

Having a high-performing software to manage teams and track project information accurately is the first step towards success. Using technology has helped construction firms save money, win more projects bids, and build a reputation for accurate work.

Making Better Business (and Data) Decisions

Software estimation tools can help companies manage their projects (and their company’s future) more effectively and simply. “Ultimately, it’s the simple things that separate high quality, accurate budgetary estimates from poor ones,” writes Rory Woolsey for BCDN Network. “Understanding your costs, knowing where to gather cost data and organizing the data in a way that’s easy for others to comprehend will result in success.”

ProEst helps estimators accurately calculate costs, but can also help construction estimators with a few key strategies so they’re able to do better business overall.

  • Stay organized when dealing with different types of data
  • Keep track of costs and estimates, at any stage of a project
  • Keep track of materials to avoid project waste
  • Save time by using digital takeoffs directly from the project blueprint
  • Create reports for the executive team looking for insights and custom data

Firms can help to ensure their projects stay on track, but also help guarantee the smoothest process for all stakeholders. “It is very important to have the cost estimator involved right from the start of the project,” according to Whole Building Design Guide, because it ensures “the project budget reflects the decisions made by the rest of the project team throughout the integrated design process.”

Solutions for Software Estimating

Having reliable estimation software like ProEst helps managers make better, more informed decisions because they can trust that the data they use is secure and accurate. ProEst is also a cloud-based management tool that integrates with other business technology and software, so estimators have more opportunities than ever to save time and money on construction projects.

“The ProEst support is fantastic,” says Andrew Key with HeadsUp Landscaping. He needed a software solution that would work with the existing technology his team was using. “The integration with ComputerEase couldn’t be easier to manage and the personalized service we continually receive is excellent.

ProEst also provides a number of cost estimation resources and tools for construction professionals, including an RSMeans database with location indexes, productivity and profit rates, crew composition, and data on overhead.

According to Whole Building Design Guide, “accurately forecasting the cost of future projects is vital to the survival of any business or organization contemplating future construction.” By integrating with the software your team already uses, and making construction estimates a more accurate process, construction firms can plan for bigger (more successful) projects in the future.

ProEst is a cloud-based pre-construction estimating platform that helps you create accurate estimates and digital takeoffs directly from blueprints quickly, allowing you to determine the most favorable rates for your company within the estimation process. There’s no guesswork involved. ProEst makes quality assurance in commercial construction projects estimation effortless. You won’t have to engage your entire team to be sure your numbers are accurate.

If you would like to learn more about how your commercial construction company can increase its profits and reduce miscalculations during the estimation process, reach out today and schedule a 1-on-1 walkthrough with one of our specialists.

Factors That Affect the Cost of Estimating Software

Compared to manual methods of construction estimation, software estimation saves time, making it a reliable piece of technology.

The cost of a software model will differ between software providers mainly based on the following;

Number of users 

Companies charge software based on the number of users accessing the product. Companies multiply the number of users by a specific cost to get the final cost. The more users, the more expensive the software will be.

Features included 

For most estimating software, the more features installed in the deployment, the higher the price. However, some companies only have one product version, and this factor will only affect the cost of the software.

Desktop deployment or online 

In desktop deployment, the software must be locally installed on a business-owned server or the users' office desktops. Since a software deployment is a one-time purchase, it will be costly compared to online software, which doesn't require installation. 

How Much Does Construction Estimating Software Cost?

The average cost of purchasing construction estimating software is between $30 and $250 per month per estimator. Since desktop deployment software is bought once, they are more expensive. Price ranges typically between $550 to over $5,000. 

Examples of cloud-based construction estimating software you can purchase are; STACK, ProEst, Procore, Builder trend, Clear Estimates, ConEst, simPro, and Buildxact.

Software Estimating Versus Excel Estimating

A construction estimate calculates all direct, indirect, material, and labor costs required in a construction project. Cost estimates are usually done in the preconstruction stage to determine the feasibility of a project. 

Construction estimation can be achieved using either construction estimating software or structure estimating excel spreadsheets. Below is a detailed comparison of the two techniques of cost estimation.

Software estimating allows for integrating other software systems, while excel spreadsheets stand alone. However, when using excel spreadsheets, you will have to re-enter data to keep it up to date.

The chances of making errors are higher in excel estimating than in software estimating since data is manually input in spreadsheets, making errors harder to know and rectify. On the other hand, software estimation is more reliable since it is automated and no manual data filling is required.

Software estimating uses less time and is more efficient compared to excel, which uses formulas to calculate estimations. However, when using excel, knowledge of syntax for each calculation is needed, and if the syntax is wrong, it will give the wrong analysis. 

As a company grows, so do its construction estimations. Software estimating is designed to include other computerized systems like accounting software the firm has been using, unlike Excel estimating, which doesn't allow multi-user features.

Software estimating allows for changes in the construction business by upgrading its software data, unlike excel estimating, where changes take time to adjust.

Benefits of Construction Estimation Software

Some of the benefits of using construction estimation software are;

Offer project accuracy

The goal of all construction estimation is to give the most accurate bid estimate of a project. This software has all data in one platform that offers reliable insights into the project's budget.

Builds client/customer connection

A project is successful if all stakeholders, especially the client, are happy with the outcome. Construction estimation software is transparent since information can be easily shared with the client. With this software, you can acquire accurate cost estimates that translate to more bid wins and boost your company's reputation.

Improves communication between stakeholders

The reason why most construction projects fail is because of a need for better communication. Construction estimating software keeps communication channels open among stakeholders who can easily access info and analyze the project's progress. 

Fast project completion 

In software estimation, costs are calculated faster since there are no manual input tasks, and all information needed is in the software. Furthermore, since data is obtained faster, the construction process also speeds up, and you complete your projects quickly and successfully.

Better budgeting 

Using construction estimation software improves your budgeting as you know all costs required from the start to the end of your project. In addition, with the possibility of making errors at a low, your company will boost its productivity and mitigate risks even better.


Construction estimation software is an excellent method of accurately calculating costs to avoid miscalculations that disrupt or delay the construction process. 

If you want your company to budget better, and eliminate all tedious and slow manual processes, switch to automated data available in the construction estimating software.