Transitioning to construction estimating software.

plumbing takeoff software screenshotProfessional plumbers know they should be using a takeoff and estimating software program. Even knowing they need to change many still spend extra time doing estimates by hand. The biggest reasons are they do not know what program to get or they do not know how to make the transition to the new program.

Finding the program to use deserve an entire article and more. So not to take up all the space here I will suggest you check out this article Reviews On Construction Estimating Software.

Once you have chosen your program the excitement begins.

If you are like most people, you want to get going. This is the wrong way to go about it. First, you need to take the time and set up the program correctly.

When installing the program, make sure all the defaults are what you want. Yes, you can go back and change these later if you need, but it is so much easier at this point. Check to make sure the save files folder is where you want it and the measurement are what you use i.e. feet/cm. Be sure to set up your company name, information, and logo, you will end up using these for proposals at some point. This is time well spent.

The next step is to continue setting up the program with all your work information. Input your materials lists and costs, try to think of everything you would ever need. Customize your desktop too. Most programs allow you place sections in places you want them to be. Say top or left side for menus. Set up the program the way you want even what colors the program uses.

All right, now you have the program up and running, customized for you. Life is good, just one more step before you start working “live”. Go back a pick out a couple of the last estimations you have done and work them in the program. Why? Because you know how the estimation came out, so you can crosscheck your work and make sure you understand what you are doing. It is much better to make mistakes now, rather than on a project where money will change hands.

A big note of caution about this testing, just check the final number, do not check your work along the way. These programs tend to have a workflow slightly different than you do on paper, and it is important to learn the program the right way in the beginning. Do the work with the program, then see how closely the numbers match up. They should be close. Be honest with yourself and check your “new estimate” against what it really cost. Are you too high too low, just about right? Spend a couple more minutes seeing where the program differs from the real word results.

If you have any question always, feel free to call the programs support people or ask around the forums if you are comfortable with that. The great thing about testing against already done estimates is you can show people the answer you got that worked right for the job. You know it is in the way the program is calculating not in some boneheaded move you have made.

If you do all this right it should take you no more than a couple of hours, but the time and hassle you have saved yourself with be enormous. Estimating software will already save you time cutting your estimating time by 90%, and setting up the programs right will save you even more time.