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As the construction industry navigates the complexity of digital transformation combined with the economic impact of COVID-19, contractors are exploring new technologies to improve their daily operations and help maximize profits. One area that has seen immediate increase in interest and demand is the use of cloud-based estimating technology that improves efficiency with an estimating solution, fosters collaboration and supports a remote workforce. 

Estimating is an art, not a science, but having the right data can make the difference between winning or losing a bid. Traditional estimating practices can be full of risk, including errors during the takeoff process, incorrect labor productivity factoring, material pricing errors and change orders. Without accurate data, there’s risk that estimates will be incorrect or that errors will be introduced later in the estimating process as unavoidable changes are requested.

Keeping track of all this information on a daily basis isn’t easy, and it can be time-consuming. However, the ability to access information in real-time and collaborate via the cloud is a game-changer for the estimating process.

Digital transformation is driving more companies to cloud-based solutions that enable contractors and other stakeholders to access data and pricing information in real-time from anywhere. In addition, as companies are dealing with stay-at-home orders, the ability to work and collaborate remotely is of utmost importance. With cloud-based estimating, estimators and project managers working from different locations have access to the same items, assemblies and projects, and can still collaborate easily on estimates. That single source of truth ensures remote teams are all working off of the same drawing. In addition, a complete audit trail of all changes made to the estimate makes it easier to review and resolve issues before the estimate goes to the client.

Cloud-based estimating software can be continually updated with pricing information directly from the manufacturers and suppliers. With this tool at their disposal, contractors can be sure that the items and prices they’re including in today’s job estimates are as up to date as possible. Then, the only factor they need to leave to educated guesswork is where those costs are likely to be in the weeks or months between when the estimate is first created and the material purchase date. 

Most cloud-based software solutions are offered as a subscription model helping to eliminate large upfront investments making it easier to manage cash flow. Another benefit is that the contractors can focus on their core business without having to worry about the IT infrastructure and administration of estimating software. The software provider takes care of disaster recovery plans and software backups, while also managing the hardware and software updates, always ensuring the most up-to-date version of the product. 

Estimators find using a cloud-based solution to collaborate on estimates from anywhere––even if that’s in a truck using a hotspot––saves time and is a cost effective, efficient way of doing things. Access to information on-the-go with an Internet connection and shared access to the same information has become a game-changer when it comes to estimating. Teams can better collaborate and maintain productivity while managing remote and mobile work setups, now a necessity for many. 

The ability to effectively manage risk in estimating practices can often dictate the profitability and success of a job. In these uncertain times, contractors can use cloud-based estimating to streamline their processes, collaborate with remote workers and improve the accuracy of their data for faster, more competitive estimates now and in the future.

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