When you’re evaluating preconstruction tools for your business, there’s a lot to consider. Not only do you need to be sure the platform meets your current needs, you also need to consider how you expect your company to change and evolve in the future. The software that can support you right now may not be best fit for the long term.
Here are some factors to examine as you plan for acceleration and growth.
1. What will your estimating team look like?
Tools that work fine for a team of one to two aren’t always scalable when your team grows. If your goal is to become a larger contracting company with a full estimating department, that team’s needs will differ from a smaller, homegrown team.
You’ll need a preconstruction software that offers document storage and management so there’s no confusion over version control among a larger staff. You’ll also want to consider collaboration functionality: if you’re working on large projects, will multiple team members need to be doing takeoffs on the same plan sets at once? Can the tool support that? Old-fashioned desktop-based software allows only one person to access blueprints at a time, so keep that in mind.
Finally, consider if you’ll have head estimators training newer employees – can they watch in real-time what the junior staff is doing to monitor and correct mistakes right away?
2. Where will you be located?
For now you might be comfortable in your headquarters, but imagine what will happen when you reach the level of growth you anticipate. You might need to expand to open an additional office, or if business really takes off, would you open branches in other cities in your region?
If this is a possibility at all, it will be absolutely essential that your team can collaborate with each other from multiple locations. Walking over to another estimator’s desk to discuss an issue or question won’t be an option for a geographically distributed team, so having the ability to see each other’s work within the preconstruction platform in real-time becomes imperative.
3. How complex will your projects be?
The higher the complexity level of your jobs, the simpler you need your tools to be. If your projects require materials of many types, you don’t want to have to add those materials to your takeoffs separately for each project. Having a takeoff library from which you can easily add your typically used materials, as well as prompting for any related items you’ll need to accompany them, is a time-saver you can’t afford to ignore.
Think about the level of detail in your blueprints as well. If you work up to projects that include hundreds of plan pages, how will you find the pages that pertain to your trade? Make sure your team has a tool with robust search capabilities so they don’t have to do this manually.
An automatic hyperlinking feature will be a big advantage for finding and previewing callouts referenced on other pages as well.
4. How will your processes change with growth?
If you currently have a single estimator bidding jobs at will but anticipate a hiring spree as you grow, you’ll need to look for a solution that will make it simple to assign projects to specific estimators to avoid overlap and duplicate work. You’ll also need a tool that allows your leaders to see progress and job statuses at a glance for tracking and performance measurement.
Additionally, adopting a platform that allows you to integrate it with your other existing software will make any workflow changes come more easily. If you begin using project management or accounting software in the future, for instance, you’ll want your takeoff and estimating solution to be compatible with those new tools to easily send data both to and from the platform.
5. What other tools might you need?
Choosing a tool with existing integrations with other construction technologies as well as an open API leaves your options open for taking advantage of a variety of other platforms as you become ready for them. You might start with accounting and project management tools and later scale to a customer relationship management system or field tracking application.
As long as you have access to developer resources, the opportunities are endless with an open API, so you can dig in deep with planning and strategy, data analysis, performance tracking, and more.
Choosing a Preconstruction Solution for the Long Haul
Planning ahead like this might seem tough – no one can predict the future, after all – but these are all vital considerations for you to think through now. The last thing you want to do is choose a preconstruction platform that fits only your current needs, outgrow its capabilities, and then scramble to find a replacement as things ramp up.
There’s only one solution that can scale with you, and that’s STACK – a full-service cloud-based preconstruction platform with a team behind you, ready to partner with you to help you grow and meet your full potential. Schedule a demo today or sign up for a free account to see how STACK can work for you.