Trimble MEP recently launched the new digital takeoff, estimation and contract management software, Estimation MEP. The software is specifically tailored to small MEP contractor businesses in the UK.
We talked with product marketing specialist Rore Okoh about the challenges small MEP contractors, estimators and installers in the UK face today, and how Estimation MEP can help.
What would you say are the main challenges small UK contractor businesses are facing today?
Fundamentally, MEP contractor businesses in the UK are struggling to manage their job profitability and run the risk of going out of business. Issues include poor cash flow management and resource planning, bad estimates and bidding for non-profitable jobs due to the competition in the market. This stems from the many challenges they face whilst working.
Many of these issues stem from a challenging mix of complicated processes and manual takeoff methods. Performing the takeoff with paper plans, and manual measuring and counting is quite error-prone. Now more than ever, there is greater pressure to churn out estimates faster, as there is so much competition to win jobs. Yet, researching up-to-date manufacturer item information and labour pricing to build an estimate can be incredibly time-consuming. Another challenge contractors have is trying to turn around detailed, accurate bids out as quickly as they come in whilst managing all the procurement lists, invoices, timesheets and purchase orders. Most contractors are using separate takeoff, estimation and contract management software - making their workflow quite disjointed.
Ultimately, this can result in even bigger challenges for the project, including data loss, slow data migration and integration issues. Many estimators struggle with importing and exporting data between disparate applications, with data easily lost if the file formats are not compatible.
Tell us about Estimation MEP, the digital takeoff, estimation and contract management solution, and how it solves these many challenges for small UK contractors?
Estimation MEP gives contractors a user friendly software with the flexibility to work in the way they prefer, as you can still manually perform material takeoff, and upload quantities and measurements directly into the solution without the worry of sourcing up-to-date manufacturer content, loss of data, and importing and exporting the right estimates to a separate contract management system.
For estimators and contractors who want to fully digitalise their process, you can easily perform graphical takeoff by using the Estimation MEP estimating software. Start by selecting a unit of measure for your scale, you can electronically count, and mark up PDF drawings and specifications, while simultaneously filling in the takeoff sheet.
Either way, Estimation MEP emulates the traditional paper takeoff sheet and estimating workflow so you can work in an environment you are familiar with and save you time.
The integrated contract management feature complies data from your bill of quantities (BOQ) to your procurement lists in real-time as you win jobs. It will adapt to any unforeseen changes, such as automatically updating your bill of materials (BOM), procurement lists and original estimate if extra materials need to be added on.
Also, Estimation MEP allows contractors to focus on one or multiple projects at any given time. The software intuitively consolidates and displays costs across multiple takeoff sheets in a central platform. It can help you drive down material and labour costs by combining your bill of materials to create a bulk order.
Finally, honestly, Trimble Estimation MEP is so easy-to-use. There are in-app learning tools that tailor learning to your individual needs, so there’s no need for hours of generic software training. Both experienced and junior members of your project team can start building a bid in a matter of minutes thanks to the user-friendly interface of this takeoff, estimation and contract management software for UK contractors.
Most estimators and contractors use spreadsheet programmes to perform takeoff and build their estimates. So why should I consider changing to Estimation MEP?
To be able to monitor profit from takeoff to tender through to completion, spreadsheet programmes are simply not enough. Spreadsheet programmes can only provide you with a platform to store data during the takeoff process, without a digital trail through to bidding, winning a job and contract management. And, they don’t integrate with your other systems, so you’ll waste a lot of time in your contract management process migrating data from application to application.
Proactively using a tool such as Estimation MEP will save you time and lead to significant improvements in cost savings and efficiency, which is crucial to staying competitive in today’s challenging environment.
Estimation MEP has an integrated contract management functionality, which automatically transfers the data from your won estimates to the financial metrics of the job.
Moreover, spreadsheet programmes and separate takeoff software does not give users access to manufacturer-specific data or UK labour pricing. That means that already time-stricken estimators have to contact manufacturers and suppliers for price information for every project and to guess labour hourly rates and times.
When it comes to building estimates, it’s more than just the takeoff process. What about manufacturer content and labour prices needed to complete an estimate? Where does Estimation MEP get this information from?
Estimation MEP is integrated with the Luckins Database. For those who are not familiar with Luckins, it is the UK’s largest comprehensive, accurate and up-to-date catalogue of Electrical, HVAC and Plumbing items. Included in your subscription is over half a million MEP items (light fixtures, pumps, values, cable trays, air vents, etc.) from 200+ manufacturers and 10,000 commodity groups ready to use at your disposal.
This means Estimation MEP provides users with MEP material picklists to produce material and labour quantity estimates with the highest level of accuracy that can also be used for creating a bill of materials (BOM) that will include the part numbers and quantities of all the MEP materials required for the job.
This product is solely sold on E-Commerce. Why?
Some UK contractors work on-site during the day and tackle creating estimates and resource planning on evenings and weekends. We wanted a product purchasing process that makes the most sense for their work habits. It’s more convenient for contractors to purchase at any time of day, when sales reps aren’t typically available.
Considering the current challenges with COVID-19, what should small UK contractor firms be specially prepared for?
Many UK contractor firms need to have a close eye on their cash reserves right now. And this is why ensuring the profitability of every job is crucially important. Having cash left over will help during these more difficult times. There are still projects to be won, so UK contractor firms should prepare a management process to be preparing for creating estimates and submitting bids - even while working from home.
Most estimation solutions are confined to a local network in an office but being able to access your drawings, specifications and estimates, and perform takeoff from home is extremely beneficial in this given time. My advice is to keep on top of your workload so your business is ready to go when the situation changes.
Thank you so much for taking the time, Rore and talking us through Estimation MEP. If you want to see for yourself how Estimation MEP can save you time and help you deliver MEP projects on time and on budget then learn more about Estimation MEP, visit https://go.metrics.trimble.com/
About Rore Okoh: Rore Okoh is the product marketing specialist for Trimble MEP managing EU CAD and Estimation products in the UK, the Netherlands and the Nordic regions. Based in London, she regularly engages with customers to represent their needs in product development and enjoys driving new MEP products to the market.