In this review of electrical estimating software we will cover the potential Advantages, Free verses Paid For versions, What to look out for, and Is a recession is the right time to procure a system.
For myself, I have been involved with electrical estimating software since 1983 and been through two major recessions with these systems.
The over-riding question you should ask is “Will this type of system help my business and is it affordable?”. To answer this we should consider the following key points.
Time efficiency savings:
- The importance of accurate costings to your business.
- The value of professional presentation of tenders.
- Other associated benefits of value.
- Affordability and future income potential of the investment.
- The wisdom of investing in electrical estimating software in a recession.
If you can price your work on the back of a cigarette packet, then this type of software is probably not going to help you. Similarly, if you work on pre-agreed set rates then it is unlikely to be of great benefit to you. If, however, you tender larger electrical projects, where you may split the work into sections and need to produce a schedule of rates for variations to the specified works, then an electrical estimating package may be of benefit and you should probably at least explore further whether it will help your business.
Assuming you do, lets consider the three key areas that Click here estimating software companies espouse as major advantages.
Time Saving is always the number one selling point. They promise that once you’ve purchased a system you will spend afternoons on the golf course or long weekends with the family not sweating over paperwork. Let’s look at the reality of these claims. With larger projects it is fair to assume that you probably will save time. How much time? Reported saving are up to 75%. The important words here are “up to”. I do not dispute this figure, in fact I know it is possible, but in truth it depends on the type of work you are pricing and the set up of your particular system. In a recession, however, saving time may not be your priority. That said it may give you the advantage of being in a position to submit more tenders, which should increase your opportunity of winning more work.
More Accurate Costing is the second big selling point. When margins are very low, as they can be in a recession, there can be a fine difference between “buying” work and pricing competitively. If you need to cut margins a bit closer to the bone then estimating software should define your project costs more clearly and accurately. So whatever decision you make it will not be on a wing and a pray, but an informed and intelligent decision. The ability to control costs is always vitally important and absolutely crucial with tighter margins.
Thirdly the promise of Professional Presentation may not have seemed that important to you during the boom years but it does matter during a recession. Why? Because your customers have more choice and they will not only be looking at price. In the last recession there were many of contractors that started projects but did not complete them. This will be a consideration for your potential clients. They will inevitability err on the side of caution and lean towards a tender that they feel has been professionally costed and presented.
So, assuming you decide the above benefits will help your business, you will then need to decide if a system is affordable to you and if so when is the best time to bring one on board.
The cost of electrical estimating software can vary from free to thousands of pounds. Very little in the business world is truly free and a free system is likely to have limitations, either in ability, services offered such as support, or products within the database and the frequency product price updating. If you can work within the limitations of a free system, then you are very fortunate and have no need to pay for a system. If, however, you need accurate material prices, breadth and depth, flexibility, fine tuning and support then you will probably find that you need to invest in one of the paid for systems.
There are many methods we can apply for calculating whether you can afford the investment and most companies selling these systems will have their own formula for cost justification and flexible ways to pay. A tip here would be to check exactly what you are signing up for. On-going costs can vary quite widely and hidden costs can come back to bite you in the future. The question may not be if you can financially afford a system, but whether the advantages of such a system will give your business the edge in this competitive market. Moreover, can you survive without such a system?
Right, we’ve considered the type of work you do, the main advantages of using a system and the financial aspects of buying a system, but is a recession the right time to buy electrical estimating software? There are a number of factors to consider here. The obvious one is cost, but don’t forget these companies also need the business, see if you can get the cost spread over a comfortable period, ask for interest free payments for lease purchase – You may find that now is a good time to negotiate a great deal. Time is another consideration. We all know that when we are busy we don’t have time to look at a newspaper, let alone get to grips with new estimating software. The silver lining of a recession cloud may be that you actually have time to invest in learning a system ready for busier times. Finally, you have to decide if the combined benefits of tighter, more accurate pricing and professional presentation will help deliver what you need to survive a recession and more importantly be ready to grow when we come out of it.