In today’s construction industry, estimators find themselves facing endless streams of tasks, deliverables, and deadlines one after another. Managing construction is not a walk in the park, especially for estimators who are in the first line handling the projects’ takeoffs. In the midst of all the bid invites, job walks, and due dates, how can estimator teams keep track of them all?
Fortunately, a few proven strategies can help construction estimators stay organized and on top of their daily workloads. Here are some of the favorites:
1. Minimize Manual Error by Incorporating Technology
Bidding is a fast-paced activity for both the general contractors and subcontractors to keep track of in a construction project. We are all human, and we make mistakes, but the difference between January 1 and January 2 is a missed bid submission. The less amount of data you need to manually log and update, the lower the chance for manual errors.
With the power of technology, different project management software designed specifically for construction, teams are sure to increase efficiency by automating manual tasks and activities. Automating manual entry of information and connecting all your tracking tools like central calendar, document control, materials inventory, and construction crew management in one place ensures data isn’t lost. The goal is to be as efficient as possible so you can bid better and quicker, saving you time and money in the process.
Truthfully, we know that you are already keeping track of your bid information somewhere, whether it is intentional or not. All you need to do at this point is connect the dots and find the right tools to help you leverage and win bids.
2. Create One Location for All Your Documents
Regardless of the bidding system, you are using, it’s incredibly critical that all your data, plans, documents, and inventory information lives in one place.
Keeping everything in one dedicated place helps contractors and subcontractors alike to stay organized across projects. Every single member will know what they’re supposed to get done, who’s responsible for each task, and when it is due. With all the things that one should track in a project, it is downright impossible to manage them all without a single system to help consolidate all information.
The organization is what makes s great contractor. If everything is kept in a single place, it makes tracking projects much more manageable, with everything at the tip of your fingertips.
3. Establish Accountability and Ownership for Projects
One of the most common productivity killers for estimators is when two or more team members accidentally end up working on a similar project. Failing to assign and delegate properly correctly could eventually mean missed projects.
A routine must be established that once your team accepts a new project, there should be a step-by-step process in assigning an estimator – and be sure to communicate the assigned tasks to the rest of the project team. This way, you’ll avoid wasted time and resources on a job that is already on someone else’s to-do list.
4. Focus on High Probability Estimating Jobs
You can’t entertain every single bid invite that comes your way, so you will need to prioritize a job that will produce more returns for the time you will spend on it. If you only have time to respond to one out of ten bid invites, then you will need to recognize the key characteristics of a quality bid invite to know if it’s worth the effort.
Once your tracking bid information is set up in place, it becomes more convenient to track critical pieces of information so you can analyze and make evaluations on your bid history. From that, you would be able to identify trends, points of weakness, critical areas of success, and what you can enhance to build solid criteria on what projects are worth investing in. Remember, in construction, it’s always quality over quantity- it’s the construction teams that focus on the right jobs that win more.
5. Work Collaboratively With Stakeholders
There is perhaps no better skill necessary to an estimator’s success than the ability to collaborate with a team. Collaboration is one of the cores of estimation; right from the start of the project, estimators work with stakeholders involved in the project, whether in the planning, operations, or closeout stages. Generally, more than one estimator is engaged and working on the same project.
Highly effective estimators focus on techniques that enhance the collaboration of a team holistically. While the ability to collaborate is partially a learned skill, it can dramatically be improved by implementing the right technology. Adopting cloud-based solutions, like Pro Crew Schedule, instead of traditional and static spreadsheets, makes it more convenient and much more accessible for estimators to collaborate their work and communicate with the rest of the team members.
Some of the criteria that you should look for in the digital solutions are the following:
- Allowing estimators and other key stakeholders to access the same documents in real-time
- – Offering a single platform that would streamline all information
- Updating project document, like bidding documents, automatically to ensure that the rest of the construction team is accessing the latest version of the document
- Providing access to all the project documents, any time, anywhere.
6. Stay on Top of Version Control of Essential Files
When version control of your estimating files and documents is not managed correctly, you can expect miscounting, rework, and worse, lost profits. It is critical to ensure that all the project estimators are on the same page and working on the duplicate project files.
This can be particularly challenging when estimators who are collaborating on one project are assigned to different offices. Locating documents and keeping track of who is working on which one at any given time leaves much room for manual errors apart from being very time-consuming. To cultivate a better collaboration system and manage construction projects more efficiently, the right digital tool should be implemented to reduce the time wasted on hunting down documents and files. Ideally, versions of any document or model should be automatically be updated for everyone when modified, no matter when, where, or who edits it.
7. Enhance the Takeoff Process
Performing project takeoffs can be a very daunting task. Many departments have to be involved, and the complexity considering the possible changes to the project’s scope, in general, makes it difficult for estimators to produce truly accurate takeoffs.
Consequently, takeoffs are usually the ultimate factor that sets the tone for the success of a construction project. Inaccurate takeoffs requiring a lot of rework will surely damage the bottom line eventually. Estimators must have a laser-focused mindset in improving the takeoff processes. However, keep in mind that shifting too many resources and time to the takeoff process can lead to inefficiency and errors. Therefore, streamlining the takeoff processes whenever and wherever possible is a proven way to improve the productivity of your estimating team.
Transitioning from paper and pen takeoff to a digital takeoff platform can save you a significant amount of time and money. A robust construction project software connected to the cloud can save even more as it cuts down the time spent tracking down the latest file versions.
8. Link 2D and 3D Models with Technology
During these modern times, all the industries know that the way to advancement and growth in technology and digitization- with construction, not an exception. Construction professionals must always look for the latest technological trends and not be stagnant when it comes to their systems. While 3D models are often visualized to be in the same umbrella as BIM managers, estimators also learn significantly from visualizing the design and understanding the scope in 3D to come up with a more accurate takeoff. Employing 2D and 3D models hand in hand in one centralized digital platform also promotes greater multidisciplinary collaboration by diving into the connection of BIM/VDC and estimators.
Highly effective construction estimator teams implement the practices discussed in this article, all of which can be achieved to an even higher level using the right technology. With the involvement of a centralized digital platform, estimators can produce more accurate takeoffs to win more competitive bids faster through increased collaboration and streamlined processes. This results in higher chances of winning, lesser risk of losing, and expedited construction schedules.
Pro Crew Schedule offers many features that make estimating processing faster and more accurate in a cloud-based environment. Estimators interested in leading in the construction industry can explore this new technology as a potential option in improving everyday workflows.
Interested in exploring more? Check out our Estimates Page video as discuss by Garrick Revels, CEO of Pro Crew Schedule. He shows how to navigate through it Pro Crew Schedule Estimate page.