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Bidding is one of the most challenging parts of construction, with even seasoned contractors sometimes struggling to prepare a winning bid. Competition has only grown fiercer since the start of the pandemic, with the 2021 Autodesk Construction Outlook reporting a 36% increase in bidding since the beginning of the year.

Some companies are making lower-than-average bids in an attempt to beat the competition and keep revenue flowing. However, this is a risky strategy that can be a red flag to clients at best and damage a contractor’s bottom line at worst.

There is a better way to get ahead of the competition by leveraging data. Data can help in many steps of the bidding process, from selecting the right projects to bid on to making smarter, stronger bids.

Time Well Spent? Find Out With Data

 The first step of the bidding process is selecting the right kind of projects to bid on. Using historical data from past bids is common practice for establishing what kinds of work a company is more likely to bid on successfully.

However, it is equally important to establish project availability. After selecting a project that fits successful bid criteria, contractors should pull current data such as laborer and equipment scheduling, current worker certifications and material availability to ensure the company has the bandwidth to take on the project, should their bid be accepted.

Once project criteria and company bandwidth have been established, contractors can then start to bid more strategically. Equipped with a better picture of what projects are likely to make for more successful bids, contractors can focus on strengthening their proposals.

Estimate with More Accuracy

According to a study from McKinsey, 20% of construction projects are not completed on time, while 80% go over budget. By comparing the actual cost and time of similar past projects as reported from the field, contractors can make more accurate predictions in their bids to get ahead of challenges like these and avoid costly mistakes. Other important factors, such as the number of field workers, materials and equipment needed can also be estimated by analyzing the data of past work. But these aren’t the only areas where data can be helpful.

Illustrating Success

Clients consider many factors when selecting a bid for a project, such as safety, experience and reliability. Contractors can confidently demonstrate their success in these areas by supporting their proposals with historical data. Critical data points to include are those related to labor hours, asset utilization and quantities. Additionally, including safety reports and hazard tracking illustrates a contractor’s ability to stay safe and mitigate risk on a job. Including metrics from previous jobs of a similar scope demonstrates experience and reliability.

In addition, the inclusion of data also provides clients with insights into how a contractor came up with their final estimate. This adds a layer of transparency to the client-contractor relationship, which can go a long way in establishing trust, especially if the client is new.

Finding the Right Tools

Of course, to use historical data to their advantage, contractors must have the tools to collect, access and organize it. This is where technology becomes crucial. With the right construction management platform, teams can establish a streamlined process for collecting, organizing and accessing data in a single source.

Contractors should start thinking about solutions from the start of their data stream: the field. Construction management platforms with a mobile app feature are a convenient way for field workers to access important information using devices they already have on hand. It also enables workers to collect and send site data in real time back to the office.

According to a report by Autodesk and FMI, contractors spend 35% of their time on non-productive tasks such as searching for data and project information. By having all their data in one place, contractors can avoid wasting time transferring information between spreadsheets, deciphering hastily scribbled field notes, or digging through their inboxes for necessary stats; everything they need to complete their proposal will be right at their fingertips.

With many different features and software integrations, there are programs available for almost every specialty in the construction industry. When selecting software, contractors should be mindful of software integrations to ensure any new program works with ones currently in use and check that it offers convenient features like real-time data access and field accessibility via smartphone or tablet.

Data Offers a Competitive Advantage to Digital Laggards

 McKinsey reports that the construction industry is one of the least digitized industries, despite the world’s rapidly growing digital lifestyle. Contractors that opt to use data can experience huge advantages over their competition by gaining insights that help them bid more strategically, create stronger bids and demonstrate to prospective clients that they are the right team to get the job done.


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