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The database is the heart of any estimating program.  Database arrangement and manipulation is a time-consuming task.  It is in constant motion.  Most estimating databases have approximately 40,000 + items.

Estimating programs are designed to allow the user to arrange items into assemblies by categories and various takeoff libraries of the program.

The value of estimating software is determined by its’ ability to allow the user to arrange items into specific material categories for quick takeoff.

Once an estimator fully understands the estimating program features, he will usually make modifications to fully benefit from the use of the program.

Review the symptoms below to see if you need to re-evaluate your database protocol.

The following are symptoms of a sick database:

  1. Estimates have large quantities of temporary items and assemblies.
  2. No electronic method to obtain current wholesale pricing for bidding
  3. No electronic method to maintain list pricing for change orders
  4. Program libraries and/or modules are not designed and arranged to the takeoff style of your estimators.
  5. Paper takeoff sheets are an everyday occurrence with your estimators.  Estimators are not “paperless” estimators.
  6. Estimators make most, if not all their entries with the item database or common assembles library.
  7. Estimators randomly select items that are “close” in material & labor cost.
  8. Estimators produce small estimates on pricing sheets because they feel it is not worth the trouble to use the estimating program.
  9. Unit prices are done on paper estimate sheets instead of using the estimating program.

Making your database better will take time and cooperation among your estimators.
Change can be difficult for some, but change can be a very good thing, especially if it makes your estimators more productive and more accurate in their work.

Some things in business are negotiable and some non-negotiable, database protocol should be one of your non-negotiable items.

Be sure that your estimators are not using your software as a glorified calculator, just to input material quantities.  With the right software program and a properly built database, this should allow your estimators the ability to arrange the program for easy and speedy takeoff.

I specialize in the database management of Trimble ACCUBID Classic software.  If you need database management training or database management work, please let me know, I can help.

Remember, estimating is expensive, poor estimating is costly, and quality estimating is profitable.