Despite recent growth trends in the United States, the construction sector has been one of the slowest adopters of technology and innovation. This may come as a surprise considering commercial construction projects manage high demand, quick turnaround time, hundreds of thousands of assets, and multi-phased projects – all of which stand to benefit tremendously from digitization and a robust digital transformation strategy.
In many instances, commercial construction companies utilize and conform to off-the-shelf software solutions to help manage aspects of their business. Given their low initial price point and ready-to-use platforms, they are an enticing option for organizations looking to quickly and seamlessly automate components of their day-to-day operations. However, these software suites traditionally provide limited customization options, hidden expenses, and an overall lack of integration into existing infrastructure.
Organizations may be hesitant to invest in a custom solution with material prices, equipment costs, and labor rates consuming a significant portion of their working cash flow, but it is important to note that 36% of construction professionals cited a poor fit with current processes and procedures as the reason their software technology failed to meet their expectations.
Considering the lack of adaptability, ownership, and customization often associated with off-the-shelf applications, many organizations are now turning to custom software solutions to provide what ready-made software cannot.
Commercial Construction Estimation
The commercial construction industry is heavily reliant on their estimating process to bid on and win contracts. However, submitting accurate proposals is unquestionably a very time-consuming and data-intensive task. With many organizations responding to upwards of 60 requests per quarter, a significant amount of resources are required for project estimation alone. Automating this aspect of commercial construction would undoubtedly reduce overhead and quickly pay for itself many times over.
While there are a number of automated job estimating solutions available, over time, many companies find these platforms to be too generic to handle unique business requests and requirements. Off-the-shelf products are built this way for a reason: with the ultimate goal of marketing to as many organizations as possible. A modern customized solution can ensure your software fits your business’ exact specifications, requirements, and goals and is scalable to grow alongside your business. Don’t be held hostage by canned software.
Solving Estimating Pain Points with Digital Solutions
When forgoing an appropriate, integrated solution, organizations often have to juggle between multiple platforms, databases, and spreadsheets to perform simple tasks such as inventory lookup, recalling previous proposals, adjusting unit pricing, etc.
A major thorn that many commercial construction companies encounter during estimation are scope modifications or bid amendments. Envision this scenario: your project estimator has worked tirelessly on drafting a high-priority bid; the costs, materials, procurement, and labor are accurate, aligned, and ready to be delivered; however, the client amends the bid request to add new components, requiring numerous additional materials. This not only alters the number of raw materials, but the labor, procurement, expense, bid cost, and more.
Even a miniscule alteration to a request can cause chaos for an estimator using a system that is unequipped to dynamically update the material number, order, and price. In many older and off-the-shelf systems, the estimator would be forced to manually update each individual unit in the proposal - and, as is with many projects in the commercial construction space, there can be hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of material and labor units. In some instances, the change is so significant, the estimator is better off redrafting the entire outline. As such, wasted time and delays caused by modifying a bid can become problematic when monotonous tasks aren't automated.
This hurdle is not uncommon in the commercial construction space and in such a competitive landscape, you need every advantage you can get.
Whether organizations are utilizing off-the-shelf systems that don’t speak or integrate with their existing platforms or operating a solution that was built decades ago, a custom software application, by nature, is an option that can resolve a majority of underlying problems.
How a Custom Software Solution Enabled EAS to Scale Estimations
EAS Contracting, LP, a TxDOT and airfield construction company with over 35 years in the industry, utilized a 30-year old custom DOS system. Despite being operable, the system was simply unequipped to handle price changes or bid request amendments efficiently.
EAS contacted Code Authority in early 2019 to help develop a solution to their proposal modification problem their previous system could not manage. Seeking a custom, modern, and simplified solution, Code Authority was able to design and architect a dynamic estimator application that is currently in use by EAS.
Rather than maintaining their previous system, EAS is now running a robust and user-friendly platform that reduces both time and cost. The key to their new software is a code-based summary which provides a more practical aggregation of a bid's cost for labor and materials, in addition to allowing the seamless modification of an individual unit or unit set at either the proposal or database level.
As for working with Code Authority, Carrol Edwards said, “It’s been a good experience. It taught us a lesson. As electrical contractors, we are foreign to the software industry, and we thought we had an understanding of what we wanted. It may not have been right the first time, but Code Authority was quick to get the scope. We like the products so far, and it is going to be a good tool for us.”
Digital Transformation Consulting for Enterprise-wide Impact
Like EAS, the commercial construction space can benefit tremendously from a digital transformation strategy. A customized solution will not only lessen your software-induced headaches, but it can also give you a leg up on the competition.
Code Authority is a digital transformation company with software development experts that can equip your business with the tools and solutions your organization needs to not only succeed, but to thrive in a competitive landscape. Contact our custom software development team today for a free project consultation!