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Estimating Office to the Field: How Online Construction Cost Estimating Software Can Help

men at work

Construction companies are complex machines, with lots of moving parts. Very often, there are communication gaps between the various departments that are involved in taking projects from concept to completion.  

One of the biggest information gaps is often between the estimating office and the field. Estimators put bids together, secure projects, and then pass the information along to project managers. Budgets and schedules are created, and then it’s time for operations and production to take the ball and run with it.  

By the time the information reaches project superintendents, there are six degrees (or more) of separation. This is a challenge because it’s very hard to understand the rationale behind calculating the bid if you don’t understand the thought process. Trimble Quest helps to bridge this gap with our online construction estimating software. Here’s how.  


Theory Versus Practice 

One of the big problems that might be causing a disconnect in your team is that there’s a vast difference between theory and practice.  

Estimators often live in a world full of theory. We need to get our numbers into the budget range set by the client, so we theorize that if we use a particular machine or add additional crew members to the work and split overhead costs, we can reduce the cost of big-ticket items.  

We calculate our bids so that certain tasks run concurrently, so we can save on project infrastructure or equipment rental costs. Or we choose products or construction methods that we believe can get the job done faster.  

If that information doesn’t make its way through the system to the field, there’s no way they’ll know that’s how the work was planned and priced. So, the theoretical cost-saving methods you had in mind when you bid on the job never get put into practice.  

Those kinds of communication problems can lead to cost overruns. Which is bad news for estimators. Because if your projects are consistently coming in well over the budgeted costs, it’s your reputation on the line. Likewise, if you don’t get feedback from the field that certain theories just don’t work, you’ll never be able to adjust your estimates accordingly.  


Online Construction Cost Estimating Software Promotes Collaboration 

Most mid-sized and larger construction companies are busy places. When it’s construction season, there’s no time to have long meetings – even if everyone was in the same city!  

This is one of the reasons why the flow of communication out of and back to the estimating office suffers.  

Estimators might never know that there’s a problem with their budget, or that crews don’t know how to meet their theoretical production targets if there’s no communication. When that communication happens via a chain of different people, it’s a little like playing broken telephone. Not ideal.  

Online heavy civil construction estimating software like Trimble Quest solves that problem by building communication and collaboration right into the system. Estimators can check in on the progress of their projects long after the bid is closed, and the project is awarded. Superintendents can ask questions about the rationale behind specific tasks or scheduling issues. Project managers can feed change order requests directly to the estimating team with all the relevant information.  

Trimble Quest keeps everyone in the loop for the entire project lifecycle, so important decisions are never missed, and problems can be addressed and solved quickly.  

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Change Orders and Notifications  

Most construction contracts put hard deadlines on notifying clients about changes, problems with cost implications and other contractual issues. If you miss that window, you might have to absorb the extra cost, and no one wants that.  

Trimble Quest makes it easy to keep track of the quantities and items that were bid, so when there’s an overage or a new task or item, you can move quickly. Estimators can calculate the cost of change orders, additions, or omissions. Project managers can send the appropriate notifications of intent to claim to clients on time. Field staff can get the go-ahead to proceed quickly, so they don’t lose time on dependent work.  


Paperless and Location Independent 

Cloud-based heavy civil construction estimating software doesn’t rely on the paperwork that could get lost in a truck, inbox, or site office. It doesn’t require team members to be in the same city, state, or even country to have real-time communication and information sharing. You don’t need access to a fax machine or even a phone, and time zones aren’t a factor.  

Trimble Quest is the always-on team member who keeps everyone in the loop. Whether you update information after the day on the job site is over, or check-in from the office, it’s built for collaboration.  

So don’t let less than perfect paperwork or communication breakdowns derail projects and eat into profits. Choose the 21st-century solution to keep your estimating office connected to the production, operations, and the field, and everyone wins.