From finding upcoming construction projects to creating a professional proposal, the preconstruction process is a key component to setting a construction project up for success or failure.
In today’s competitive market, having an efficient and accurate process in place in the preconstruction phase can give you the edge you need to stay in the game and to keep increasing your bid-to-win rate. A digital workflow is the only way to achieve that efficiency. Here’s what it takes to transition to a technology-powered precon workflow.
Steps Involved in the Preconstruction Process
Preconstruction is the phase in which you set the tone for a successful project. The main tasks for this phase include:
– Making informed bid decisions
– Performing accurate takeoffs
– Creating detailed estimates
– Generating bid-ready proposals
Each of these tasks is made considerably faster, more accurate, and more scalable by incorporating technology and reducing or eliminating manual work and the data silos that come along with it.
An efficient digital preconstruction process controls costs by removing expensive mistakes from your team’s repertoire. With transparency and collaboration among estimators, little potential for error in takeoffs and estimates, and no rework or manual data entry, you’re effectively mitigating risk and surprise costs on the jobsite become a thing of the past.
Best Software Solutions to Help in the Preconstruction Process
Your two main goals for preconstruction are finding and winning work, and the best tools to help you accomplish these goals are online plan rooms and construction publications as well as takeoff and estimating software.
Identifying Work with Digital Sources
Construction software for finding projects to bid fall into two main types: online plan rooms and construction publications, and it’s in your best interest to subscribe to a selection of both. General contractors use online plan rooms to list their available jobs. You’ll often be able to access plans and specs via the plan room.
On the other hand, construction publication tools allow you to get more proactive. Instead of reacting to posted projects, you can look ahead to early stage projects, track general contractors you’ve worked with in the past, and be knowledgeable and prepared to bid when the job does become available.
For both of these types of platforms, you’ll want a comprehensive tool that gives you plenty of coverage. Online plan rooms or invitation to bid platforms should integrate with takeoff tools so you can easily download plans and create estimates, and they should have a significant number of GC subscribers posting jobs. For construction publications, look for tools that have coverage in your area and that allow you to search by your expertise or by company.
Some of the best online plan rooms include:
For construction publications, consider:
Takeoffs, Estimates & Proposals
There are several takeoff tools in the market today, but there is only one cloud-based platform that seamlessly integrates the entire bid response process from evaluation to proposal, and that’s STACK.
Most takeoff and estimating software tools don’t do both, leaving your team to cobble together a system that still involves data entry and manual work. But with STACK you can perform fast, accurate takeoffs, attach items and assemblies for pricing, and create detailed estimates using your takeoff data. Then, you can generate a professional proposal directly within the platform, including any terms and conditions.
Because the platform is cloud-based, you can access your work anywhere, any time, and from any device, freeing up your team. Team members will be able to collaborate with real-time updates and no version control confusion. You’ll also have easy access to all of your data for project review purposes and construction business forecasting.
How to Begin the Digitization of Your Preconstruction Process
Whether you’re currently working with paper documents, spreadsheets, or a combination, switching to a digital process can feel intimidating. But with some preparation, it can be a painless experience.
Start by identifying stakeholders at your organization who need to be involved in the evaluation process. This should include at least one person who will be using the tool(s) on a regular basis, as well as any representation from your IT department. These folks will form your search committee.
Browse some solutions online to get an idea of a reasonable budget. Remember when setting your range to consider costs the tool will eliminate from your existing workflow, such as printing costs, time spent duplicating work or searching for documents, or bids lost due to inaccuracy. The sticker price may cover more than simply software.
Determine your timeline based on your regular cycles of work. Don’t start the search during your busiest season, but plan to have the solution implemented and your staff trained before you amp up into high gear.
List out everything you need the software to be capable of, create a scoring system based on your priorities, and generate a Request for Proposals to a select few vendors to begin comparing. For help crafting your RFP, use this guide.
How a Digitized Preconstruction Process Leads to an Efficient Construction Phase and More Profitable Work
Problems that often creep up in the construction phase – such as lack of clarity over the most current plan set or discovering aspects of the job that weren’t included on the original bid – are eliminated when you adopt the right construction technology.
Because your preconstruction planning is much more thorough, accurate, and trackable, your field crew won’t be dealing with as many surprises on the jobsite, and you’ll be better equipped to stick to the project schedule and budget.
When takeoffs are faster, your decision to bid is easier, and actual project outcomes match what was budgeted, you are free to take on not only more jobs, but more lucrative projects that align with your strengths.