Cost Estimating Software: When It’s Necessary to Go Beyond Spreadsheets

New technology is an area of cost estimation that’s often overlooked by outdated cost books. A job that took X number hours five years ago might take half as much time today. Similarly, Excel spreadsheets may be familiar but can take twice as long as using cost estimating software.

That’s not to say spreadsheets are a thing of the past. They can be useful for organization and archiving data. But if you use spreadsheets for any and all tasks, you might be overlooking the value of cost estimation apps.

The Recurring Problem with Spreadsheets

It can be highly productive to use a construction cost estimate template for Excel. If you’re doing the same projects in the same area, why fix something that’s not broken? While you could always optimize with cost estimating software, it might be counterproductive to switch everyone to a new system.

But the team at PT&C is made up of experienced cost estimators who deal with a wide variety of projects in various places across the country. And we were running into the same issues with spreadsheets over and over:

  • Each engineer will come up with an estimate on a spreadsheet.
  • Each spreadsheet is organized differently, so the project manager has to summarize all the estimates manually.
  • No one knows the progress of the estimation without checking in with the project manager.
  • Repeat for every phase of the estimation.

For smaller and repeat projects, this likely sounds like an exaggeration. But for those who have a variety of project sizes and locations, you likely know our (previous) pain.

Determining Your Needs

What do you need to do a cost estimate? Perhaps for a while, all you needed was a:

  • Cost book
  • Cost index
  • Cost estimate template for Excel
  • Some local city resources (that are probably outdated)

You might have even used your own cost data from your list of go-to local vendors. But once a cost estimation project hits a certain level of complexity, a cost book and Excel spreadsheet combination is a popular combination.

But just because something’s popular doesn’t mean it’s the right way to do it.

A good rule of thumb: if cost estimating software could be helpful, then it’s probably extremely helpful.

A construction cost estimate template for Excel is only good until it doesn’t apply to the next project. When that becomes a repeat issue, it’s time to upgrade.

Contractor frustrated of spreadsheets

Simple Estimations Using the Best Data

CostBook by PT&C offers constantly updated construction cost data specific to location. For example, cost estimates for Boston are different from those in Miami, and CostBook’s data reflects that geographic distinction.

You can utilize this data using a simple cost estimation tool that’s integrated into the platform. Plug that data into your Excel construction cost estimate template, and you’re seamlessly using the best data.

However, for more complex projects, cost estimation apps like CostPro by PT&C can be a game-changer.

Upgrading To A Cost Estimating Software

At PT&C, we offer two products that combine into one powerful, cloud-based tool: CostBook and CostPro.

CostPro, when bundled with CostBook, is a powerhouse platform made for cost estimators, by cost engineers. You can seamlessly utilize the data from CostBook without installing any desktop software. Everyone is in one, collaborative environment.

There’s a huge value in up-to-the-second estimates that can be provided to the team, managers, and clients at a moment’s notice. Someone checks in, and in five seconds they can see, for example, that you’re about 80% done, and so far it’s $60k.

The possibilities are as limitless as the possibilities of construction cost estimation. And CostPro is designed accordingly.

What Cost Estimation Apps Can Do That Spreadsheets Can’t

These days, there’s a huge emphasis on efficiency when it comes to construction projects – except for the cost estimation approach. Many cost estimators still use massive ledgers and unformatted spreadsheets.

With CostPro, everyone has access to the same web-based, multi-user cost estimation app. That means there’s no need to download (or constantly update) software, and you can seamlessly utilize it via desktop or mobile device.

But this incredibly powerful cost estimating software goes beyond the basics.

Estimate While Shopping

Add items from your shopping cart directly to your platform, no need to add each item with a price. If you need to add calcium chloride to concrete, that can be auto-calculated too. If there are any risk contingencies, such as the potential for chemical spills in a lab, you can add that too. The ease for finding and adding different elements of a project makes detailed cost estimates easier to organize and manage.

CostPro doesn’t eliminate the need for expertise. What it does is give cost estimators the power to get their job done better.

Easily Try Different “What If” Scenarios

It can be costly to build something out “just to see if it works better,” even when you’re using a construction cost estimate template for Excel. But the ability to do so could mean winning a contract, saving the company thousands, and a variety of other benefits.

With the PT&C cost estimating software, you can utilize the best data to try out all sorts of what-if scenarios without sacrificing productivity. Not only can that reveal some incredible things, it can be fun too, which is always a bonus.

Eliminate a Variety of Headaches

If you have to install cost estimating software, that can mean:

  • Constantly having to update
  • Keeping and backing up files
  • Experiencing regular crashing
  • Reinstalling everything when your system is upgraded

It also means you can only get on the platform when you’re at your work computer or at least the device with the assigned license key.

Both CostPro and CostBook are housed online, on secure servers, eliminating every one of those potential headaches. From an IT perspective, it’s a huge weight off your team’s shoulders. You can access everything from anywhere as long as you have your login. There’s no need to be limited to one device or worry about transferring licenses each time you change computers.

Schedule a Demo Today

As mentioned, you can utilize your construction cost estimate template for Excel with the unrivaled, location-based data of CostBook. You can also take your approach even further by pairing CostBook with CostPro.

But either way, we’d love the chance to show you how it all works. Get started here.


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