Estimating and Preconstruction

5 Reasons Why You Need a Precon Playbook

By April 5, 2022 April 6th, 2022 No Comments

Think of a playbook as a framework for success. – Ariel Lim

As a company dedicated to solving typical preconstruction problems, we spend a lot of time getting familiar with the hurdles that estimators jump through to get accurate estimates out the door. Our goal is to have every one of our users utilizing our flagship construction estimating software DESTINI Estimator to present accurate estimates to owners in record time, analyze cost history to make better project decisions, and help win more work for their company.

It’s extremely difficult for precon teams to do that without a standard way of operating, though. Most of our clients that switched to DESTINI Estimator were using Excel for estimating and experienced the same problems in consistency in the way estimates are created, inefficient workflows, and errors in estimates.

Standardizing the way preconstruction teams work has helped our customers build better relationships with internal teams and owners by providing a higher quality product. It has saved them a ton of time and eliminated risk.

But DESTINI Estimator isn’t the only solution. Creating Standard Operating Procedures or SOPs and writing a playbook will help your team become even more efficient.

red book with the title "The Rule Book" and a pair of black reading glasses

SOPs help train new hires, eliminate errors, and can mitigate risk.

What is a Playbook in Business?

A company playbook is a formal document that details all of your company’s SOPs. A good playbook will have step-by-step instructions on how to complete all tasks in your workflows. There are many benefits to having a playbook, but in preconstruction, the best reasons why your team should create a playbook are: training, eliminating errors, becoming more efficient, mitigating risk, and producing consistent estimates.

Training

Instituting a precon playbook helps train new hires quicker. When you have documentation of how to create estimates, senior estimators aren’t pulled from jobs as much to spend time training and junior estimators don’t have to disrupt workflow by asking as many questions. Junior estimators also learn just one way of doing things instead of multiple ways.

Eliminating Errors

A playbook holds people accountable. Mistakes, errors, and missteps are going to happen—we’re human after all—but a playbook significantly reduces those risks if followed.

Efficiency

Estimators always need more time. Time to collaborate with owners and operations. Time to value-engineer projects. Time to pursue new projects. Time to analyze data to make better project decisions. Without SOPs, estimators spend more time on low-value activities like copying and pasting and tracking down information than on activities that bring value to owners. A playbook makes the process more efficient and takes the guesswork out of how to do things.

Mitigate Risk

Before switching to DESTINI Estimator, Saunders Construction had a single point of failure in its estimating process. While working in Excel, only one team member was writing all the macros and that team member was the only one who understood how to maintain their workbooks. Without a playbook, if something were to happen to that one person, the estimating team would be dead in the water.

Consistency

Many of our clients turned to DESTINI Estimator as a way for estimates to be consistent, especially in multi-office firms. It is common for every estimator to create an estimate differently which can be very confusing to owners. For Balfour Beatty, consistency was key to providing a reliable, professional product, especially to its clients that have multiple projects. Standards and playbooks help present a cleaner estimate to owners.  Landon McQuestion, Director of Preconstruction at Balfour Beatty says, “The more standardized your estimates are, the more valuable that information is.”

How to Make a Playbook

To create standard operating procedures, start by auditing your current processes. This will help you identify your pain points which you can now work to improve. You will more than likely find multiple ways estimates are created with each estimator believing they do it the right way. And just like with implementing anything new, it is important to get buy-in from the team. Explain the reasoning behind the change highlighting the benefits.

Next, you will want to create a stakeholder team that will be responsible for deciding how you want your processes to be.

After establishing the new standards, chose 1 or 2 senior estimators to write the document. SOPs can look a variety of ways, whichever makes the most sense to your team is how you should write them. Many playbooks include step-by-step instructions, checklists, and charts.

When your precon team writes a playbook, it helps resolve issues and provides smoother transitions between departments. We understand that many estimators don’t want to mess with their process, but we have countless case studies to show how successful precon teams can be when they standardize.

To read more about how creating one standard way of estimating through DESTINI Estimator has helped many general contractors, click here.