Historically, expecting M&E estimators to produce a higher volume of bids could lead to a scattershot approach. It’d be almost impossible to predict how much materials would cost, and difficult to manually – and accurately – increase the amount of bids expected to be produced.
Nowadays, we’re all somewhat more familiar with technology and how it can help us in our day-to-day lives. Despite this, the same mindset doesn’t always extend to the workplace. Plenty of estimators still use manual processes, such as spreadsheets, to get their work done. The basic workflows will always remain the same, but there are proven ways that using expertise and experience alongside technology will streamline the estimation process.
In short, the result is a stronger estimator who can produce more accurate bids in a shorter space of time – who doesn’t want that?
3 ways to set up your MEP estimating process
Here are our 3 ways to set up your MEP estimating process for success for more accurate, profitable and competitive bids.
Create a consistent and scalable bid framework
Reference up-to-date, accurate labour and material cost data
Use technology to automate repetitive tasks
Let’s explore why leading M&E contractors wouldn’t be without these best practices.
1. Create a consistent and scalable bid framework
Having consistency can save time and headaches during the bidding process. When working in estimating teams, each person probably has their own approach, but when does that become detrimental to the speed and accuracy of bids?
As you know, every job is different. However, for the interest of time, it doesn’t make sense to start from scratch every time. For example, if your team has well-used item configurations, there should be a repository where they can access that information quickly. The extra time needed to start from scratch every time could be better spent working on the nuances of the bid or even moving on to the next one.
When you have a winning format that works within your team, make sure this is consistently applied to every project. If your bids follow the same structure, such as how you code items and even just the formatting style, you become easier to do business with. Clients will begin to get familiar with how you work, making repeat work more likely. Not to mention, when teams create repeatable consistency, they start to find more time, which gives you the freedom to scale your operations.
2. Reference up-to-date, accurate labour and material cost data
The importance of up-to-date costings can never be understated. The risks of under or over-estimating project costs can cause profits to decline and ultimately lead to missed opportunities. The culprit of these inaccurate estimations is often the material and labour cost data that the estimators are working with. Putting together material and labour costs often falls on the shoulders of the experienced team member, or is based on outdated figures that no longer reflect the current market conditions. Not to mention, these lists aren’t easy to collect and keep updated and it pulls team members away from the time-critical bidding process.
Access to a comprehensive labour and material cost database, such as Luckins, is critical to ensuring accurate bids. By using an estimating solution that provides integrated, up-to-date information on labour rates, material costs and productivity rates, your estimators can make informed decisions during the bidding process.
Naturally, this will make each bid quicker to put together, but it’ll also mean that bids will be more precise, thorough and competitive – meaning you can have the confidence that each bid submitted is your team’s best work.
3. Use technology to automate repetitive tasks
Estimating any job is a detailed process full of manual tasks that can slow down even the most experienced estimator. This is where experience combined with technology can bring about huge time and money gains.
The less time your estimators have to spend handling multiple elevations and searching for changes – the more quickly progress is made. A solution that includes takeoff and estimating will automate those repetitive steps. Estimators can also track changes in real-time, saving them from double raw data entry. Not only this, but frequently used assemblies can be put into libraries for even quicker future access.
Profitability is the key to sustainable business growth and often begins with your estimators, who map out every detailed figure, from material and labour costs to the margin of error before costs cut into profit. Expecting estimators to turn out a higher volume of bids without errors requires access to technology that streamlines and automates their workflows, provides them with the data they need to make informed decisions and opens the door to information sharing and collaboration.
At Trimble, we have an estimating solution for everyone. If you’re already using technology to produce estimates and takeoffs, take a look at Total Estimating and Total Estimating+ - they are ideal to help you further improve your workflows and gain more efficiencies. Don’t worry if you’re still using pen and paper or spreadsheets, Estimation MEP is our new, easy-to-use estimating tool for smaller M&E consultants. All of our solutions are hosted in the cloud and come with access to Luckins and collaboration platform Trimble Connect. Take a look at them today!