Electrical Estimating Software Buyers Guide
Last updated: September 23, 2023
In today’s competitive market electrical contractors just don’t have enough profit available to take on the risk of any construction project without first properly evaluating the risks and costs associated with it. Creating estimates requires special attention as it is one of the important steps in vying for bids. A single error can bring your business down in a snap; that’s why electrical estimators are now transitioning to an electrical estimating system to systematize the estimating process. It helps increase the estimating productivity and speed by removing manual, error-prone tasks.
That said, we understand that the time you spend on researching the hundreds of vendors that exist to serve this market can affect your business drastically. So, we have put together this buyer’s guide to help you make the right electrical estimating software decisions for your business. The purpose of this estimating software comparison guide is to provide you with detailed insights about factors to consider while evaluating an electrical estimating software, helping you save time and money. It also explores the core features electrical contracting businesses should look for and suggests a direction to move when selecting the right platform.
What you'll find inside:
- Understanding electrical estimating software
- Benefits of electrical estimating software
- Tips on how to identify your needs
- Salient features of electrical estimating software
- Assessing the expenses
- Considerations when purchasing electrical estimating software
- Popular electrical estimating software
Understanding Electrical Estimating Software
What is electrical estimating software? Electrical estimating systems are designed to help electrical estimators accurately estimate the labor and materials required to complete each job. These tools come with item and cost databases for thousands of items to generate reliable estimates for electrical jobs. Managers can easily perform what-if analysis to understand different estimating scenarios. They help users in monitoring workers’ performance and allocating resources efficiently. You can quickly send quotations to gain more profitability. The electrical estimating tools also allow you to track job phases and categorize priority projects so that you can stay updated regarding recent developments. These technology-driven systems come preprogrammed with safety limit requirements for electrical wiring. Electrical contracting firms can rely on them to manage the project work, connect with fellow electrical estimators, and submit accurate bid proposals.
Benefits of Electrical Estimating Software
The key benefits of electrical estimating software applications include, but are not limited to:
- Improved Collaboration
- Professional bid proposals
- Organized work orders and invoices
- Increased professionalism
- Precise Estimates
- Improved accuracy
- Faster results
- Improved budgeting and planning
- Bid management
- Better client relationships
- Increased Accessibility
- Cost control and efficiency
Goal Setting: Areas You Want to Improve
There is no one-size-fits-all estimating solution for your electrical contracting business, so make sure you only select the one that meets your needs precisely. You should consider various factors before reaching out to a vendor to buy their product. Before reaching out to any software provider, it’s highly recommended that you set smart business goals. You should have a solid plan while you shop for electrical estimating software. Dig deeper to research about your options, know your budget, and talk to peers to get their recommendations. We’d also suggest that you do your homework on the popular features and technology advancements.
Define Your Current Problems Before Seeking a Solution
You’re not looking for a new electrical estimating system just because it might be necessary. There must be a process you would like to automate, some problems you’re looking to solve, or information you need to manage. To find the best electrical estimating installation system, you have to start by mapping out the deficiencies in your current processes. You should analyze and gather specific pain points, areas that require productivity improvements, and procedures in need of change. Wherever the shortcomings are, try to define them in as much detail as possible. Communicate these to the shortlisted vendor so that they can provide you with the best possible software solution for your needs. You should also evaluate the potential features and functionality of a particular product and ask detailed questions during the demo and sales discussion.
Vendor Shopping: Features to Look For
Your software search process should start with a complete understanding of what features and tools you need to improve your processes. This sounds like a no-brainer, but not many electrical contracting businesses think about this before investing in a new software. This only leads to disappointment and misunderstanding. You must keep a few features of electrical estimating software in mind as you begin with the software shopping. The right software application will offer all the tools you need to optimize your workflow efficiency while accurately forecasting costs for your projects. Conduct due diligence to make sure that you don’t sign up for a system that doesn’t let your bid proposals accurately or lacks any fundamental features.
Electrical estimating solutions, also known as construction takeoff software, are packed with diverse range of functionalities. You should shortlist the features based on your unique estimating needs and the type of your electrical contracting business. Make sure that the tool you choose to implement for your business allows you to generate reliable estimates and track various project phases before you lock yourself into a contract with the technology provider.
When exploring electrical estimating tools for your projects, be sure it comes with the following features:
- Item and Cost Database
- Quantity Takeoff
- Project Management
- Dashboard and Reporting
- Electrical-specific pricing service
Estimation: This is one of the staples of electrical estimating application. It allows you to color-code electronic blueprints so that you can distinguish factors like cables, switchboards, conduits, and more. You can also conduct what-if analysis to assess different estimation scenarios. Managers can use this feature to share estimates with their clients directly via the system.
Item and Cost Database: The best electrical estimating system allows you to access up-to-date material and cost data that helps in winning more bids. You can even customize these databases to ensure smooth workflows. The electrical estimating platforms let you streamline the time-consuming estimating process by building estimates with just a few clicks using drag-and-drop capabilities. Assigning and linking cost codes to job costing systems Estimators can ensure accurate calculations and easily assign cost codes to job costing systems.
Electrical-specific pricing service: Almost 100,000 different items need to be priced across various distributors in each region. Estimators prefer using a cost item database that is integrated to a specific pricing service such as NetPricer, Tra-Ser, or EPIC.
Assemblies: The best electrical installation system for cost estimation comes with pre-built assemblies that electrical estimators can modify according to their business requirements. You can also attach photos to assembly items to get a clear understanding of their purpose.
Project Management: Electrical estimators have to juggle several projects at once. The estimating software they choose to implement should ensure all projects are on schedule and documents updated. It should also enable employees to share resources among themselves in order to promote a collaborative work environment.
Quantity Takeoff: The top construction takeoff software let you level up your work by performing takeoffs from electronic blueprints. You can attach colored notes to calculated measurements in order to avoid wasting time on rework. You don’t have to deal with the hassle of using rulers and measuring tapes to calculate areas as these software applications use algorithms to auto-calculate the required areas.
Symbol Recognition: This feature allows you to count electrical symbols on a set of digital plans. You can mark them to count the standard electrical components and electrical outlets accurately.
Assessing the Expenses
The deployment method you choose to implement will affect the amount you end up paying for electrical estimating software systems. Some vendors require you to pay a heavy upfront amount, while others ask you for monthly subscriptions. Be sure to consider the long-term cost of the app, and always remember to ask the vendor if they provide monthly or lifetime access. The price of electrical estimating software also varies depending on the factors discussed below.
Size: The size of your company plays a huge role when it comes to shopping for electrical estimating products. Spending on a tool not designed to meet the needs of your business can shift you off your budget. It’s highly recommended that you check the size of your organization before you make any purchase decisions.
Features: The type and number of features you choose might cost you extra. Prepare a checklist to compare software systems to make an informed business decision.
Support: Most software companies offer different support options, such as phone, email, or live chat, but signing up for advanced options may require you to pay an extra fee.
Training: You can access some training materials for free on a vendor’s website. However, some materials may require you to pay an additional cost.
There are dozens of top-rated vendors available on the market, but you should also scrutinize companies offering free electrical estimating software.
Considerations When Purchasing Electrical Estimating Software
Integrations: You must look for a software that integrates well with the other systems you have in place. Otherwise, it might give you a tough time manually entering and recalculating information for every estimate. Consider purchasing systems that support industry-specific integrations, such as Excel and QuickBooks that ensure smooth estimating processes.
Easy-to-use: You wouldn’t want to work on an electrical estimating system that lags. Look out for a user-friendly software solution that is easy to install and update and offers troubleshooting solutions.
Data Security: The software system you choose to implement should not only offer a centralized database but also robust data encryption capabilities. The documents that are confidential in nature should be stored securely.
The Top Electrical Estimating Software
The following integrated electrical estimating applications have positioned themselves as market leaders:
- Electrical Bid Manager
- McCormick Electrical Estimating
- BIM 360
Choosing What's Best for Your Company
Gone are the days when electrical estimators used to rely on manual, error-prone methods to bid their prices and create estimates. Generating reliable estimates and tracking all your project phases is no walk in the park. Only the right electrical estimating system can help you automate the estimating process and save you from going through a mountain of files. You can create error-free estimates with in-built cost and material databases in just a few minutes. We understand the hassles you go through to pick the right software for your business; that’s why we structured this buyer’s guide to simplify the selection process for you..