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January 11, 2019

Spreadsheets for Construction Estimates: A Series of Unfortunate Events

estimating2Spreadsheets have dominated construction estimates for decades, but their reign may finally be coming to an end.

Nowadays, more construction companies are switching to data-driven cost estimating software that provides better and more accurate functionality and features.

If you’re among the one in five companies still living in the spreadsheet dark ages, take heed: this series of unfortunate events are all the proof you need to rethink your cost estimating strategy:

#1 – The Potential for Inaccuracy

It’s estimated that every cell in a spreadsheet has a 1%-5% chance of error. It’s a small number on paper, but when you consider the size of most construction spreadsheets, single errors can quickly add up.

Perfect spreadsheets are rare gems, even for experienced creators and users. What’s more, errors in spreadsheets aren’t usually easy to spot. Errors left undetected could pose a risk to your entire project – and profits.

Bottom line: mistakes in spreadsheets are too common and too hard to find. It’s just not worth the risk when a much better solution exists.

#2 – The Lack of Collaboration

Spreadsheets in the cloud have made it easy for teams to access the same data, but it hasn’t solved all collaboration problems. For starters, there’s usually no way to restrict access to certain parts of the spreadsheet or see who is making changes. Users may inadvertently alter the wrong cells, which sends your data into a tailspin.

Also, there’s a chance you may have several versions of the same spreadsheet floating around at any given time, which makes it harder to pinpoint your most important one.

In any case, spreadsheet collaboration remains limited, especially since their functionality isn’t tailored specifically to how construction teams work.

#3 – The Absence of Flexibility

Spreadsheets weren’t made for construction projects. Sure, their features fit the bill, but it takes a LOT of work to create a spreadsheet that does all the things estimators need it to do.

Rather than working the way you want, you’re forced to work the way the spreadsheet allows.

#4 – The Unnecessary Complexity

Even seasoned users may struggle to leverage spreadsheet functionality. The larger they get, the more complex they become. Hundreds or thousands of cells, formulas, and data can complicate estimates to the point where you’re second-guessing your results.

And, as previously mentioned, just one error can create inconsistencies throughout your spreadsheet. It could take hours to figure out what’s wrong – and there’s no guarantee you’ll ever figure it out.

#5 – The Blatant Inefficiencies

Considering all of the above potentials for spreadsheet disaster, inefficiencies are a natural by-product. Spending time finding errors, navigating complex tasks, being unable to easily collaborate or create standardized, repeatable processes to fit your work style – these things can sink your profits little by little until you’re left scratching your head on why you didn’t come out as far ahead as you expected.

Construction Estimates Done Right

Spreadsheets for construction estimates aren’t nearly the powerhouses they used to be. Sage construction estimating software eliminates the problems created by traditional spreadsheets to help companies become more productive, more professional, and more profitable.

Reach out today to learn more about Sage solutions for construction estimates and discover what your projects have been missing.

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