When your preconstruction team first starts looking for a new estimating tool, it’s easy to get caught up in the obvious things as you begin filtering through programs. For example, most teams want to be able to consolidate two or three tools into one platform; they’ll likely also want integrated 2D takeoff capabilities, comparison reporting, and unlimited sorting. And while these features are definitely important, there are a lot of other things you want to look for as you make your wish list – qualities that may not seem that critical, but that can have a huge impact on whether or not implementing a new tool is successful.
One of the first things to look out for? A vendor that’s not only willing, but eager to hear and implement your feedback. Every tool is created by a software company, and they’re not always the same in their approach. You don’t want to sign a contract for a tool that hasn’t changed in the past five years since it’s been out, with a support team that amounts to just a couple of “how-to” PDFs. On the other end of the spectrum, you also don’t want to purchase a tool whose only real updates are just bug fixes. You want to choose a platform backed by a vendor who is always willing to grow and adapt with you, and who proactively reaches out to you for features that you’d like to see, rather than just waiting for you to send in another support ticket.
The second thing to put on your list is a good implementation team. The reality of moving to a new estimating tool is that, while it may be necessary and have a thousand long-term benefits for your team, there’s always going to be an adjustment process. You have to train your entire team to alter the way they do things around this new software, and that’s always going to take a fair amount of time no matter what tool you choose. But you don’t need to make it harder than it is. You want to be able to have a strong implementation team who will help build custom reports and give you training sessions tailored to your company’s needs.
And the easiest way to find out if the vendor you’re evaluating has these qualities? Ask to talk to their current clients. Don’t be afraid to get their contact information and ask them for their honest and unfiltered opinions. If the vendor truly believes in their product, they won’t be afraid to let you hear from the people who are actually using the software.
So what are you waiting for? As we head into the holiday season, make sure you include these two qualities in your estimating platform wish list.