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Computer business software has enhanced accounting, tax preparation, purchasing, delivery, marketing communications, and customer service. Everyone knows that.But did you know that construction estimating and management software linked to laptops, tablets, and smartphones, has revolutionized the business of building contractors?

The Contractor’s Suite from On Center Software combines On-Screen Takeoff®, Quick Bid® and Digital Production Control® for pre-construction estimating, winning the bid, planning, managing change orders, and tracking the project from beginning to end.

This type of software package enables contractors to work closely with general contractors and owners in real time. Team members are on the same digital page at the same time. Revised drawings are instantly distributed between offices and job sites via Wi-Fi and cellular signals. Digital pics of construction progress and building issues are shared with the team on the spot. Revised plans, including screen-shots of 3D image models, are distributed electronically from laptops to tablets and smartphones.

General contractors, subcontractors, and crews can see revised plans and discuss the construction tasks at hand, over the phone.

Compare the Contractor’s Suite with old school project management — file cabinets filled with notebooks, spreadsheets, invoices, rolls of blueprints, and crumpled sheets of hand-signed price quotes. Revised floor plans are printed and then driven to key members over the next day and a half. The new set is spread out next to the last set of plans and meticulously studied and marked up. That’s another four hours at best. New materials may need to be ordered and the crew schedule reworked, that is just inside a week’s time. A few days of delays can quickly add up to catch-up work and expensive overtime.

Talk about old school; these are one-room-schoolhouse processes. They add up to poor organization, painfully slow decision making and communication at a snail’s pace. This leads to missed deadlines, contractual misunderstandings, wasted work and expensive rework.

There is “No crying in baseball,” a great line by Tom Hanks in “A League of Their Own.” But there is crying in construction when you find out that the last five days of work have to be torn down and rebuilt according to the change order you didn’t follow. Someone will need to come up with additional money. Either, the subcontractor absorbs it, or the general contractor makes up the difference.

The main types of estimating/project management errors are:

Poor project tracking: Your team doesn’t fully understand the project and your project manager uses the bid to track labor and production. They guess about productivity and labor without a tool like Digital Production Control, which calculates the percentage of work completed on any given time of the project.

Price changes: Labor costs or higher-grade material costs may rise between the bid (made six weeks earlier) and the project.

Scope creep: Small changes in plans, if not documented, can add up to a chunk taken out of your profits.

Missed blueprint revisions: If you build something wrong by following an old version of drawings, you didn’t see the changes, your crew will have to tear it down and build it again. You may be able to get the architect or owner to pay if the changes were not clear – but in reality, most likely you’ll end up paying for it twice.

New materials and procedures: New exterior wall coverings with unique applications and assembly techniques have a steep learning curve for your crew. Even allowing some extra time, you may find that it takes days longer than planned. Extra labor and rework can quickly wipe out your profits.

On-Screen Takeoff with digital overlays identify the details of revised blueprints with color-coding and Digital Production Control records changes with electronic timestamps.

On the job, Digital Production Control continuously tracks, calculates, and color codes the project and will raise flags if the project is approaching the red. Stay in the green and on budget with this productivity and profit tracker – keeping you on schedule and within the projected budget. Quick Bid with eQuote and ProjectExpress enables you to get updated supplier quotes by email. On-Screen Takeoff has the color-coded overlay feature to compare new drawings with the previous version on a computer screen. What’s new in the plans is blue, what’s red is now dead. New specs also show up in blue. The digital platform streamlines field communications so that everyone is on the same set of plans.

To learn more about the Contractor’s Suite, click here.

Check out the Contractor's Suite

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