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Benefits beyond the Bid

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By Michael Gillum


Since estimates impact the entire construction team, the total project, and the experience as a whole, it is critical that estimators be empowered with tools that stop them from making costly mistakes and help them analyze estimates to identify how to find more profit in every job. Starting an estimate smart is critical to the success of any construction project.

Estimating with precision and profit margin is no easy task. Creating estimates can be an extremely time-consuming and risk-laden task for contractors. Profit margins have decreased at the time of bidding, making efficiency and accuracy of vital importance. Overbidding will result in a lack of business; underbidding can be devastating to a company’s bottom line.

The solution to this problem lies in contemporary, seamless takeoff and estimating software. Leveraging such technology is essential to produce accurate measurements and calculations -- preventing cost overruns, savingtime, and increasing profitability.

“In a tight market where bids must be low, we are continually trying to tighten up our bids, and if we can dial in our quantities within 1-2%, our costs will be tighter, we will win more jobs and, ultimately, be more profitable,” says Bret Chumbley, vice president at Anderson Commercial Concrete.
Yet have you considered technology’s impact beyond takeoff, estimating, and bid day? Do you have a software solution that allows you to perform most effectively when you win the bid? Managing the entire lifecycle – from bid to cash – and all components of a job electronically, you’ll achieve the best efficiency and accuracy.

The method you implement to achieve that electronic management is the lynchpin for best success. The problem with using disparate tools hitched together for your business management system is inherent and unavoidable – they are disconnected, and therefore, often slow and riddled with inaccuracies and/or redundancy. However, using a single system that manages the entire business can allow your team to communicate faster and react smarter – which will make you more competitive and profitable.

Let’s explore a few of the most valuable benefits and their impact on your business…

Single Data Entry Point
What you need is a process where the bid data can flow seamlessly into the project and is then available to accounting/finance. Eliminate duplicate data entry while ensuring that the same data is available to everyone (as permitted). Data is power; if you establish a system that allows you to instantly find and automatically share data, work with maximum efficiency and minimal data entry, and eliminate costly errors -- as well as increase accuracy and quality of data -- you’ll ultimately increase your profits.

Make sure that your important information can be accessed anywhere and anytime through mobile, cloud, or on-premise technologies. With accuracy from the very start, shared information, and real-time insight, you can bring greater confidence to decision-making and assurance to conflicts.
According to Joshua Ellison, CFO at Nevada Gypsum Floors, “Having our entire organization on the same system eliminates using 4-6 programs in different areas of the company. We now have a singular source, alleviating confusion, time spent on training and supporting multiple software packages, and communication issues among our departments. Because all of our data is in one software system and we can tailor it to our specific needs, it is leaps and bounds ahead of using multiple software solutions to access data.”

Minimize Risk
Winning a job with an accurate estimate does not guarantee a successful and profitable outcome for the project.  The job must be managed carefully and executed efficiently to reduce risk and achieve profitability. It’s important to identify and correct problems early in the project, track and measure jobs correctly, and maintain historical detail of this information to use in makingdecisions on future bids and projects.
Construction business management software helps contractors to manage with relevant, timely, and accurate information, and gain valuable insights that can improve the way they do business … that’s minimizing risk now and for future projects.

Growth and Profit
Maintaining accurate data across each phase of every project is vital to the growth and success of a construction business. Contractors can be better informed and proactive with timely data collection and analysis -- made possible using software that allows for real-time data and deep visibility of project performance and profitability. Using contemporary software that brings all applications together in an easy-to-use, integrated solution with mobile devices, contractors are able to not only execute projects for best possible profitability by knowing true costs and staying on top of every step, but can also efficiently uncover opportunities for additional profit.

“By having everything in one system, contractors can make sound business decisions based on accurate financial information,” explained J. Bradley Simons, CFO at Magleby Construction. “We can easily run a financial report on an individual company or a combined financial on the whole organization. This capability does not exist in spreadsheets or when using separate systems. And with real-time access to daily reports, change orders, and other project-related information, we will make fewer mistakes and be able to increase our productivity and profitability.”

Simplified Workflow
Using outdated programs with limited functionality and complicated workflows was costly to 2K General, as the company’s CFO, Clayton Morgan, explained, “As we grew, and starting working on multimillion dollar projects with 200 change orders, our system simply couldn’t handle it. I’d spend hours to figure out if we were even making money on a job.”

After moving to an integrated construction software solution, the contractor works with more ease and accuracy, according to Morgan, “We save time because it links change orders with the budget, so we clearly see revenue and expense. Reports are complete and show everything I need; I don’t have to waste time hunting down answers, looking for files, and seeking explanations.”

The entire construction team, as well as the process itself, can benefit by a simplified workflow. It gives the team the ability to make informed decisions quickly, while saving time, controlling costs, and improving profit margins on jobs. Everyone has access to key data and can quickly see details regarding proposals, bid details, change orders, win-loss statistics, and historical information; plus, dashboards provide fast, graphical representation of a bid or a project for at-a-glance insight.

Contemporary technology, with all applications working together in a seamless solution, allows construction businesses to:
• manage projects with accurate information in real-time and see a day’s profit potential at a glance
• see which jobs are making money and understand (and increase) profitability
• prevent potential financial losses and improve financial stability for long-term benefit
• analyze every project with straightforward reporting on wins and losses
• easily make adjustments and improve decisions to maximize productivity
• execute projects for maximum profit with real-time data -- whether in the office, on the road, or at the job site

Ultimately, looking beyond the bid to appreciate the importance of using an integrated solution, you’ll find ways to boost profit and productivity through better accuracy, time savings, and reduced risk. And by replacing disjointed, disconnected applications with a single system, you can improve communication across estimating, project management, and accounting, as well as achieve more effective exchange between those in the office and others in the field.


About the Author
Michael Gillum is Product Manager - Viewpoint For Estimating at Viewpoint, and can be reached by phone at 800-688-8226. Viewpoint is a recognized leader in meeting the collaborative and information needs of the AEC industry, providing construction-specific software addressing all points of the construction lifecycle from preconstruction to building maintenance. For more information on Viewpoint, visit www.viewpoint.com.

Tags: Costs, Estimating Construction



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