3 Signs It’s Time to Break Up With Your Estimating Tools

November 27, 2018 Conley Smith

Ever been on the wrong end of weak tech support or disappointed by new software you thought would be more customized to your specific trade? You’re not alone. Whether your trade is concrete or wallcoverings, nobody likes to struggle after investing in new tech for their construction business.

When it comes to replacing or adding new estimating tools, contractors may resist making a change—even when all signs are pointing toward a serious need for new tech tools. Here are three signs you may need new tools:

  1. Your current tools are really slow
  2. Your current tools don’t perform takeoffs and estimates as advertised
  3. Your tools aren’t scalable so you still keep supplier prices in separate spreadsheets and have to cut-and-paste quantities

Overcoming Tech Obstacles

You’ve invested time and money to implement and get trained on tools so it can be hard to admit that it’s time for a do-over. This is especially true in construction where the industry spends less than 1% of their budget on technology. Resistance to adding new tech tools for takeoff, estimating, and bidding can come from all corners. Staff and management may have the following fears and questions:

  • Will the software be as useful and as easy to use as demonstrated?
  • Will we have buyer’s remorse?
  • Do we have the IT staff or expertise to manage the tools?

When it comes to adding new estimating tools, some of the main obstacles still come down to lack of IT staff and budget. The 2017 Construction Technology Report found that 39% of those surveyed cited lack of IT staff and 38% noted budget as the most limiting factors in adopting new technology.

Ironically, the ConTech Report found the comfort-level with new tech is running high, regardless of age. Even those surveyed who were born between 1940-1959 reported an average 8 out of 10 comfort-level with new technology. In fact, less than 1 percent were “not very comfortable” with technology and 24% rated themselves as “very comfortable.”

As estimating tools become more mature and pricing more competitive, the ConTech Report found that some management and employees are actually becoming overwhelmed by the choices. They also noted that management reluctance to try new technology had steadily increased since 2014.

Are We There Yet?

If you’re ready to analyze your current estimating tools or add software for the first time, it’s important to take time to reflect, analyze, and make plans to adjust. Understanding how new software impacts your bottom-line is essential. Start by getting feedback from those on the front lines to determine how your current tech is performing or where there is demand. Having visibility into estimated and actual costs will also help you identify profitability pitfalls.

Here are some questions to ask before and after you add new tools:

  • Is our business operating as expected after implementing new estimating software?
  • How did the implementation process go?
  • Is the tool performing as expected?
  • Is the software easy to use?
  • Has it been well adopted by our staff?
  • Do you understand what is needed for maintenance?
  • Are you getting all of your questions answered by your provider?
  • Is your staff fully trained?

By comparing these numbers over time at quarterly and annual intervals, you can begin to determine whether the time has come to make a change or add new tools. Want to learn more about selecting new estimating software? Check out our ebook, Estimator’s Guide: Assessing and Picking the Right Software.

If you’d like to discover the benefits of adding integrated estimating tools, don’t miss our white paper, Step Outside Your Comfort Zone: Digital Tech Holds the Promise of Boosting Construction Productivity


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