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4 Winning Habits of Highly Effective Estimators

4 habits of effective estimators construction

In the wake of COVID-19, reducing project risk is more important than ever. In times of economic uncertainty, protecting your bottom line and reducing surprises during building is vital for continued success. To protect the health of projects, businesses must invest in their estimators. 

Estimators are a project’s first line of defense against risk. They help decide whether a project is profitable and easy, or runs over-budget and behind schedule. All successful estimators strive to create accurate takeoffs quickly, and to effectively collaborate with their team and other project stakeholders. Here is a short list of the habits every effective estimator exhibits. 

Habit 1: Work Collaboratively

There is perhaps no trait more necessary to the estimator’s success than the ability to collaborate. Collaboration is central to estimation; from the start, estimators work with stakeholders across the entire project. In many cases, more than one estimator is working on the same project. 

Effective estimators focus on practices that improve collaboration holistically. While collaboration is partially a learned skillset, it can be improved through implementing the right technology. Employing cloud-based solutions, as opposed to static spreadsheets or siloed desktop technology, makes it much easier for estimators to communicate with their team, and collaborate on work. 

A good technology solution helps by:

  • Allowing estimators and other key stakeholders access the same documents
  • Updating docs automatically to ensure everyone is accessing the latest version of that document
  • Offering a platform that streamlines information 
  • Giving access to all information any time, and any where. 

Habit 2: Stay on Top of Version Control

When version control isn’t managed properly you can expect rework, miscounting, and ultimately, lost profits. It’s critical to ensure all estimators are working with the latest project files. 

This can be difficult when estimators are collaborating on one project from different offices. Hunting down documents and keeping track of who is working on which one at any given time is time-consuming and has the potential for serious error. To cultivate a better system, the right technology should be implemented, to reduce the time spent tracking down updated documentation. Ideally, versions of any doc or model should automatically update for everyone when modified, no matter who updates it. 

Habit 3: Streamline the Takeoff Process

Performing takeoffs can be a cumbersome task. Many parties have to be involved, and the complexity of accounting for potential changes to the scope of the project makes it extremely difficult for estimators to provide truly accurate takeoffs. 

At the same time, takeoffs set the tone for the success of the project. Inaccurate takeoffs requiring copious amounts of rework will undoubtedly damage the bottom line. Estimators need to be laser-focused on improving the takeoff process. However, shifting too much time and resources to the takeoff process can lead to inefficiency and work overload. Streamlining the takeoff process wherever and whenever possible is, therefore, a central habit to effective estimators.

Moving from a paper-and-pen takeoff to a digital takeoff tool can save a huge amount of time. A robust cloud-based solution can save even more as it cuts down on rework and time spent tracking down the latest file versions. 

Habit 4: Combine 2D and 3D Models with Technology

Finally, an important habit for estimators interested in improving their effectiveness is to always look to employ the latest in technological advances. While 3D models are often thought to be in the realm of BIM managers, estimators also benefit greatly from being able to visualize design intent and understand scope in 3D in order to generate a more accurate takeoff. Combining 2D and 3D models on one centralized platform also fosters greater multidisciplinary collaboration by breaking down the silos between BIM/VDC and estimators.

 In the past, 2D and 3D takeoffs happened in separate applications. Data had to then be combined through a manual and tedious process. This often resulted in errors, scope gaps, and inaccuracies. Additionally, the traditional methods for combining 2D and 3D workflows cost valuable time, leading to potential deadline slippage. By adopting the latest in technology, estimators can take the lead in their industry, offering stakeholders notable benefits.

bim collaborate and takeoff autodesk

Technology is the Bedrock for Highly-Effective Estimators

Highly-effective estimators implement four key habits, all of which can be achieved to a greater degree using the right technology. With the use of a centralized platform, estimators can create accurate takeoffs to generate competitive bids faster via increased collaboration and streamlined digital workflows. This results in lower risk, higher win rates, and expedited construction timelines. 

Autodesk’s latest product, Autodesk Takeoff, offers many features that make the takeoff process faster and more accurate, the most novel of which is the combination of 2D and 3D takeoff in a cloud-based environment. Estimators interested in leading in the industry can explore this technology as an option for improving everyday workflows.

To learn more about how you can improve your takeoff process, check out our ebook The 4 Habits of Highly-Effective Estimators.

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Christina Hu

Christina Hu

Copyeditor, Autodesk Construction Solutions

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