Make Sure Your Construction Estimating Software Pays Off with This Six-step Plan

September 11, 2019 Steve Watt

You may be well versed in the advantages of construction estimating software, but if the challenge of implementing it is weighing heavily on your mind, you’re not alone. 

Making a change is hard. And there’s no guarantee that every software implementation will be successful. You and your cost estimating team may have concerns about how a new system will disrupt productivity or introduce too much of a learning curve. You may even wonder if it’s easier just to keep the same old tools and processes in place, no matter how inadequate.

But you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t understand the value of a dedicated construction estimating solution. And to ensure that your recommended solution will deliver the intended returns—and convince others that it will as well—you need to create a solid business case that communicates the benefits of estimating software to decision-makers, including greater speed, accuracy, and efficiency. 

 

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At the same time, it’s important to acknowledge that these gains can only be realized if the software implementation is successful. After all, software adoption goes well beyond the initial vendor selection into how users fare with it on a daily basis. You don’t want to be a deer in the headlights when the inevitable questions come up about how to enable a smooth transition and optimal results.

To demonstrate that you’re committed to making sure your estimating software solution delivers a return for your company, you need to be prepared with a comprehensive implementation plan. 

 

Here are six critical steps you’ll want to include:

1. Assign a Project Manager

The role of a project manager (PM) is invaluable to any implementation or change management process. Assigning a PM to efficiently handle the changes, questions, and unexpected hiccups that a new system will bring can dramatically improve the success and outcomes of your software deployment. 

“Project plans are in place to manage change,
which is the one constant upon which
the project manager may rely.” 

The PM acts as the primary point of contact for your software provider and the internal point person for the project. Think of the PM as a go-between who can streamline communication, manage expectations, maintain the right project pace, and minimize disruptions. On a day-to-day level, the PM manages the timeline, oversees regular team check-ins, ensures milestones are met (see below), identifies any obstacles, and communicates progress.

 

2. Establish a Detailed Roadmap

During your vendor selection process, you probably identified your needs and requirements for a construction estimating software solution. These same needs and requirements can also help you focus on what you most want to achieve during implementation, as well as who can be responsible for ensuring those needs and requirements are met.  

Develop a roadmap that provides a detailed timeline with right-sized milestones along the way—nothing too big or complex that will be hard to complete in the time allotted. Your roadmap should document who has ownership of each milestone, as well as the individual or team assigned to any tasks that roll up underneath.

 

3. Monitor Your Progress

Monitoring daily or weekly progress is easier with a project management tool like Monday, Smartsheet, or Workfront that your PM can use to manage timelines and milestones. And there should be regular check-ins (at least once a week) with the entire team—both vendor and internal—to ensure everyone is on task and on time to meet each milestone. 

But when monitoring progress, don’t just look at your quantitative progress. Also look at how your software implementation is proceeding qualitatively. You can do that by establishing some key performance indicators (KPIs) or other metrics to ensure that the team is working together as effectively as possible. It’s also good to revisit your needs and requirements documents throughout the implementation to ensure you’re on track with your goals.

 

Want a helpful estimating software requirements checklist?
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4. Identify and Resolve Issues Quickly

The regular check-ins are key to staying on track with your construction software implementation and will help you identify potential barriers and breakdowns that need to be addressed. But in addition to your regular check-ins, reach out to individual team members on an ad hoc basis since some team members may be reluctant to raise red flags during a group meeting.
 

A warning about scope creep is needed here. The scope of an implementation project can easily spiral when you get lured into trying to set up and customize every capability at once. Instead, you need to focus on getting the key functionality in use first. Empower your PM to be on the lookout for potential scope creep and to bring concerns forward quickly.

 

5. Communicate and Collaborate

In any project that involves multiple people and moving parts, communication is key. Lapses in regular communication or total communication breakdowns are arguably the biggest potential threat to your implementation. Planning how frequently you’ll communicate, as well as what information to convey and to whom, will go a long way toward implementation success.

Because construction estimating software has the ability to integrate with other systems and technologies in your workflow and deliver benefits beyond just better, faster estimates, you should also enlist the involvement of other departments early on in the project. This will help foster collaboration, uncover additional opportunities, and ultimately ensure your company gets the most out of its investment.

 

6. Train, Train, Train

When it comes to software selection, user-friendliness is almost always a top priority. And it makes sense that you’d want to choose intuitive estimating software for your team. But don’t confuse “user-friendly” with “no training required.” Regardless of how straightforward your software may seem, it won’t gain enthusiastic users if training isn’t comprehensive and ongoing.


The proliferation of “user-friendly, quick setup”
solutions implies decision makers need not dedicate time
for implementation and training; all too often this
is the reason technology adoption fails.

 —JBKnowledge 2018 ConTech Report 

 

The difference between sporadic usage and widespread adoption of new software is often in the training provided. If, like many construction companies, you lack adequate IT resources to take on the task of training, you may want to prioritize vendors during the software selection process that make their training requirements clear and can offer initial and ongoing training as needed. 

 

If you’d like more guidance about how to evaluate construction estimating solutions, get your copy of the estimating software buyer’s guide.

 

About the Author

Steve Watt

Steve Watt is market segment manager of the General Contractor/Construction Manager Division of Trimble Buildings, which is focused on technology solutions that improve collaboration, efficiency and accuracy across the Design-Build-Operate (DBO) lifecycle of buildings. Trimble applies solutions such as positioning technologies, asset management and task- or user-specific software applications to help businesses become more productive.

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