Is Your Preconstruction Process Insane?


Colloquially, we define insanity as doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results. And while that may not be the medical definition, it’s something most of us can relate to – even in the construction industry. 

How many times have you seen a colleague doing something just because “that’s the way we’ve always done it” without thinking through better options?  

Complacency in the Construction Office

It’s not just an issue in the field. In fact, the worst offenders are often in the back office, where safety concerns are fewer and complacency kicks in. So, if your team is still relying on Planswift, OST, and other old-school software tools to run your preconstruction process, they might be insane to expect any improvement in efficiency, bid volume, or win rate.

Why Desktop Precon Software Is Insane in the 2020s

When the choice was between it and paper plans, desktop software made sense. It was an improvement on the traditional way to do takeoffs (although some would argue the interfaces were and continue to be so clunky that paper is actually easier), and it’s great that construction companies took the leap to try new technologies.  

But the world has evolved, and the construction industry needs to adapt to changing work environments, employee needs, and record-keeping systems. While the industry has been slow to change, we’re seeing new technology adoption increase, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic, and in order to stay competitive, it’s time to make some moves. Here’s why you’d have to be out of your mind to stick with old-fashioned tools today.  

File Corruption

Have you ever completed work on a takeoff only to return to it the next day and find the file will no longer open? Because of local file storage, file corruption is a serious problem with desktop software. You risk losing work, causing your team hours of rework, with less time to complete it. Often this can lead to errors that wouldn’t have occurred the first time around. 

Lack of Collaboration

When teams are forced to share plans and documents via email, and when they have to work in silos because only one person can be in a project at a time, takeoffs take longer. Not only do you lose time, but you risk losing valuable ideas that can emerge organically when team members collaborate and think through problems in real time together. The opportunity cost of desktop software is nearly as high as the amount of time it steals from you.

Version Control

Another maddening time suck associated with older tools is the need to save files with a new name each time a change is made. Before you know it, you’ve got “final_version_18” making the rounds. Team members might save documents to their own device, making it unclear which version is actually the most up-to-date. You end up doing a lot of investigating and manual comparisons, while still ultimately risking mistakes going out in the final product because you just can’t quite tell which version was final, if any. 

If you ask us, that’s madness! 

Gain Control and Get Clarity with the Cloud

With the advent of cloud-based tools, the issues surrounding desktop software evaporate into thin air. You’d have to be crazy NOT to put your head in the cloud! And STACK is THE best cloud-based preconstruction solution for subcontractors.

STACK’s Cloud Advantages

Real-Time Plan Markup & Collaboration

Remote work is a great option to offer to attract new talent, and it’s sometimes a necessity. STACK allows teams to work together easily, from anywhere. Estimators can access plans in realtime, at the same time, and they can markup pages with comments, arrows, and other symbols to call attention to details. 


Easily share your takeoffs and invite others – both employees and external stakeholders – to view plans for reference. By keeping documentation within STACK, you can avoid the headaches of sending files via email and second-guessing which is the most up-to-date version.

Version Control

In the cloud, changes are saved automatically in the same document, meaning you never have to question whether you’re working from the most recent version of a plan set. The risk of file corruption is also significantly lower for files stored in the cloud.  

Team Visibility & Permissions Management

Give leadership better visibility into workloads and how teams function. With STACK, you can easily view who is working on specific projects. You can also grant user-level permissions so that employees only have access to the parts of the system they need, providing an added level of security for your data. 

Connectivity with Other Systems & Data Insights

STACK is committed to partnering with other best-in-class tools so you can move your data among the platforms you trust. We also offer an open API, which means, in partnership with your IT team, custom integrations can be created between STACK and your internal or other preferred systems. This ability to move data seamlessly among the solutions that power your unique workflow provides valuable data analytics opportunities that can help your team make crucial business decisions. 

Ready to see how STACK’s intuitive, cloud-based preconstruction platform can save your sanity? Create a free account today! 


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