5 Reasons Your Estimating Spreadsheet Is Failing You

One of the most stressful aspects of construction planning is the cost estimation process, which is why many professionals in the industry swear by cost estimating spreadsheets as a method of keeping everything organized and accounted for.

However, the stakes can be high when your cost estimate is off, and even minor mistakes at this stage can plague an otherwise well-planned project with overruns that cost time and money, as well as shake the faith that others have placed in you and your company. The importance of accurate estimates of the costs involved in a project cannot be overstated, and the fact is that simple spreadsheets may not be enough to ensure that you can deliver in this regard.

With all this in mind, let’s look at five reasons that construction estimating spreadsheets might fail you when you need them most, as well as what actions you can take to make sure that your estimate is as accurate as possible.

1. The Estimates Can Be Wildly Inaccurate

Spreadsheets can fall short in terms of accurately estimating the actual costs of a project. Although they’re useful when it comes to recording information, spreadsheets are not always helpful when you are making calculations. You often still need to perform calculations by hand or use other less reliable methods before you enter any information, for fear of any inaccuracies in the final cost estimate. For all the features that a spreadsheet can have, such as sorting and dragging/dropping data as it changes, just one piece of information out of place can throw off your calculation and force you to start over.

Tip: Using software that includes integrated cost estimating features can give you peace of mind when you finally look at that bottom line of your cost estimation calculations.

2. Pertinent Data Is Often Discounted

One of the most frustrating things that can happen during the cost estimation process is when you are dealing with too much information and need to sort out what is pertinent and what is just wasting your time. There can be a bottleneck in this workflow right before data is entered into the spreadsheet. If you discount relevant information, that doesn't mean the data goes away; more likely, it will return to bite you later. However, it can be just as much of a mistake to enter more than you need to into your spreadsheet, as this can make it more like a junk drawer than an organized file.

Tip: Using software that has reporting capabilities and a reliable database to store these reports will go a long way toward helping you sort out important data from irrelevant data that is more likely to throw off your estimate.

3. The Full Scope of the Project May Not Be Accounted For

On large-scale construction projects, the process of data collection can be the easiest part. However, once a sufficient amount of data has been collected, this is when all the problems can start. It is often easier to simply collate this information than thoroughly analyze it, especially if you discover conflicting data when entering it into your spreadsheet. Failure to analyze the information collected throughout the estimation process, including early rough estimates and late additions, can contribute to the inability to measure the full scope of a project and the financial investment that will be necessary to accomplish each milestone in the schedule.

Tip: Software with data integration features is a capability multiplier that can help you get over the speedbumps that everyone runs into when they are recording a high volume of data.

4. The Estimation Process Can Take Too Long with Spreadsheets

In a perfect world, generating an estimate would be the quickest and easiest part of a construction project. However, any contractor knows that it can be much more arduous. Even if you have an excellent blueprint, a well-considered schedule, and experienced professionals who will collect all the data needed to put together an estimate, it can be a long and exhausting process to plug everything into a spreadsheet. The electronic tool meant to make your life easier can actually slow things down. Turning a blueprint into reality while on a budget is not what a spreadsheet was designed to do, and those design flaws can be frustrating.

Tip: Software that allows you to perform quick takeoffs from your blueprint will let you streamline the process and make these crucial steps the easiest part of the process.

5. SpreadSheets Are Not Always Efficient

Would it surprise you to hear that spreadsheets can be inefficient when it comes to certain areas of construction management? It probably wouldn't if you have ever pulled an all-nighter working with Excel. Managing workflow in the most efficient way possible and time management are two essential skills that construction management professionals can have. Spreadsheets have many uses and are quite versatile, but they have certain built-in inefficiencies that are a legacy of the era in which they were developed. They have not changed much to keep up with the times, so you need a software solution that fits the unique needs of your enterprise.

Tip: Spreadsheets may never live up to your expectations in terms of workflow, so a software suite that allows you to manage aspects of the workflow from beginning to end is exactly what you need.

Tired of estimating spreadsheets that are falling short of your expectations, wasting your time, and costing you money? Take a moment to check out the many features of our ProEst cloud-based software that can transform the way you work and start your projects off right.

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!

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