When heavy construction contractors that rely on spreadsheets to manage estimating begin to look at an enterprise-class solution like B2W Estimate, one obvious question comes up early in the conversation. “How much does the software cost?”

I sometimes answer, jokingly, that it’s free. Before they get their hopes up too much, I feel compelled to clarify. What I mean is, it pays for itself quickly and many times over. Fortunately, I have the experiences of B2W Estimate users to back me up.

“You could try to compete with pens and paper or Excel, but for how long?” Glen Smith, general manager at EPC Services (video), a national project management company and long-time proponent of B2W Estimate, asks rhetorically. “I know people who have, and I saw them go bankrupt because of missed calculations, simple little stuff. You drop $10,000 here, $50,000 there or you forget to put in a couple tasks or line items. You can’t afford that, because that’s life or death to you.”

Spreadsheets vs. Software: The Limitations Can Be Costly

Contractors of all sizes and across all heavy construction work types that have made the move from spreadsheets to B2W Estimate have come to similar conclusions. Spreadsheets impose these familiar limitations that can end up costing them far more than the estimating software:

It takes me so long to create a bid that I can’t bid on all the opportunities that are out there for us.

I had unit cost correct and quantity correct in that resource item, but my formula was screwed up.

My estimators will bid the same type of work 12 ways. The guys copying from an old Excel sheet using the wrong or outdated costs are making us less competitive.

Somebody changed a formula by cutting and pasting cells, and I didn’t catch a big error until after the bid went out.

Updating costs takes too long. If I get a deal with a union, or a material gets cheaper, I have to change it in 50 places in Excel. Sometimes I don’t get them all.

Good news is I won the bid. Bad news is I forgot trucking somehow in the first two items.

We are constantly coming in second. Last week I had to carry a plug number rather than a better, lower subcontractor number, because our system is too slow to analyze quotes in the heat of closing the bid.

I needed input from four people on a complex bid. Not being able to work on it simultaneously cost us several days, and keeping track of the versions was impossible.

Benson Thoudsanikone, general manager at Kitsaki Projects (case study), a contractor focused on utility projects in Saskatchewan, sums it up. “What used to take us four days to bid, now takes us less than a few hours with B2W Estimate,” he explains. “If you have errors and you underestimate, you’re behind the eight-ball from the beginning. There’s no way to recover, no matter how efficient or productive you are in the field.”

B2W Estimate isn’t actually free, but it’s not an exaggeration to say it can pay for itself by delivering more winning bids at the right margins. When you think about it, in the long run, that’s actually better than free.

Please click here for a 5-minute video covering the key features and benefits of B2W Estimate.

By Jeff Russell

Jeff is the Vice President of Sales at B2W Software.

Jeff Russell