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Building Better Bids

By Stephanie | Posted on

One of the trickiest parts about running a construction business is the bid. Customers want it accurate down to the dime, but most construction professionals know that isn't an easy feat to accomplish. The smartest estimators will use a company's past performance on similar jobs to make the best estimate. However, if you don't have good labor productivity and production tracking data coming in from the field then you won't know how efficient you are at certain things. If you use better production tracking than just pen and paper and excel spreadsheets you'll have the information you need to build better bids.

Accuracy Matters

Bids are the foundation for every construction project. Once a bid is approved, the project will commence, and you are of course obligated to honor what was outlined in your bid. However, if a bid is inaccurate, and you aren't able to follow the timeline or cost that you proposed, you could ruin your reputation for future projects, and potentially find your company in the middle of a lawsuit. It's extremely important to carefully and realistically create bids for jobs, as these are the guidelines upon which the profitability of the project ultimate depends. If you create a bid with the lowest cost in mind, you might be doing yourself a disservice - most potential customers would prefer to pay more for reputable, accurate construction bids, and you want to make sure you are allowing wiggle room for overhead costs. 

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Consult the Past

They say that those who don't know their history are doomed to repeat it. In the case of construction bidding, that's certainly true. If you aren't able to assess prior projects, you won't know what mistakes were made, and your bid is at risk for inaccuracies that could easily have been avoided. With the uncertainty of the entire bidding process, the last thing you want is to be unconfident with the solidity of your bid. The first step to building better bids is analyzing data from projects you've completed before. What went wrong? Why was it delayed? Did you order enough materials? It's important to take a step back and learn from mistakes - especially if you are bidding for a job with a company you've worked with in the past. 

Traditionally, all project data was recorded with pen and paper, and more recently excel spreadsheets, but those systems aren't always the most effective. First of all, there's the issue of whether or not all data is properly captured. Recording information manually means that there is always the risk of human error. Whether production is inaccurately calculated, or someone skipped a report, there are a bunch of factors that can mess up project data, and ultimately, your next bid.

In addition, you also need to make sure that you can access all those reports in the future. Although you can keep track of data through pen and paper and store it in a paper filing system, the act of digging through physical binders and filing cabinets takes a whole lot of effort. Manually searching for something specific can take you hours, and sometimes files are lost or thrown out in the shuffle of completing a big project, so all that valuable information is lost. You might think that some info is better than none, and that storing files in binders is the only way to stay organized, but with modern tech, you can easily consult past projects while efficiently setting up new, more accurate construction bids. 

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Bids of the Future

The construction industry is constantly evolving as new inventions assist builders with projects and structures are completed faster than ever before. However, as much as new tech has helped with physical construction tools and equipment, it seems that industry professionals are hesitant when it comes to technological innovations for administrative tasks. This is understandable, as in the past, construction software wasn't always designed for efficiency and ease-of-use, essentially rendering it useless for crews in the field. However, there are now solutions developed specifically to make recording data in the field to be easier than ever.

This means that you can now access thorough, accurate project information within a matter of seconds, expediting the bid-creating process. With cloud-based data repositories, you can find project documentation from any location, anytime you need it. Searchable insight databases make this even easier, as you can pinpoint the exact information you are looking for - without getting any paper cuts. 

The best construction software offers simple systems for tracking production through materials and time, and these data points are what really will take your bid to the next level. The estimating process doesn't need to be a total guessing game, and the more informed you are about past projects, the more you can prepare for the future. By being all able to pull up statistics and data at a moment's notice, you can quickly check up on your bids and see if they really are realistic estimates. You can see areas in which you are most efficient, and predict scenarios in which field crews might actually reach roadblocks or delays. This means that projects should be much closer to hitting deadlines and staying on budget than in the past, and that estimates should be more accurate. Building better bids starts with selecting construction software that gives you hindsight into past projects, allowing you to better prepare for the future. 

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