Drawings and city skyline on a blue background 1200x700
Drawings and city skyline on a blue background 1200x700

ERP Solutions to Common Workflow Challenges: Estimate to Job Costing

This post is part of the CMiC blog series ERP Solutions to Common Workflow Challenges. Check out the previous post in this series, where we look at how to streamline the job costing and subcontract creation process.

The process of turning an estimate into a job cost structure is complex and must be completed with total accuracy to avoid potential confusion, delayed work and lawsuits. There’s also no guarantee that the time spent on job costing will produce profit for a construction firm. Meaning, inefficient job costing workflows is extra time spent on a project before actually winning the contract.

Again, because job costing is an activity where the payoff is uncertain, leaders should seek out the best, most streamlined job costing software available. Unfortunately, there are still many firms not taking advantage of the technological advancements that have improved operations for countless firms. Let’s examine some common job costing workflow challenges and the industry-leading solutions that come with advanced ERP.

Storing Documentation

Many firms use an internal network or a generic application to store projects, drawings and other documentation. Because such applications aren’t built for the construction industry or equipped with smart data retrieval, firms must create time-consuming workarounds. For example, simple network databases don’t have the ability to transfer data across multiple documents or auto-populate new documents with project data. This means that when creating bid packages, RFIs or change orders, data must be entered manually into each new document created. Not only does additional manual entry increase the likelihood of mistakes, it also makes document version control more difficult and complex. At later stages of the project, this can make it hard to tell which version is the most up-to-date.

In contrast, advanced construction ERP software like CMiC Enterprise is designed to streamline document management. Instead of entering the same data multiple times, CMiC users can “relate” documents to a given bid package or RFI. When creating documents for a particular project, all the relevant project data will be automatically added to the document — no manual entry, no hunting for the correct numbers.

And because every document contains a history section, anyone with the proper clearance can view all past changes. All the changes are made in a single document, which means team members don’t have to sift through multiple document versions or worry about using the wrong one.

Consolidating Estimate Data

Manually consolidating data is considered a necessary evil for many firms, especially when crucial estimate data is compiled in a cumbersome Excel document or computerized worksheet. The process can be a long one and introduces the risk of rekeying or copy-paste errors.

With CMiC, data only needs to be rekeyed once. As long as the initial input is accurate, the correct data will intelligently flow into the job structure. With the click of a button, all the estimate data trickles down to create the budget. No consolidation required.

Managing Subcontractors

Sorting through subcontractors effectively is crucial to creating an Sorting through subcontractors effectively is crucial to creating an airtight bid. A single screen should be enough to display everything you need to know about a given subcontractor—but many non-unified systems have two separate profiles for a single subcontractor (for example, one profile in the financial system and one in the project management system). To get the full picture, you have to log in and out of two systems, repeating the process many times before making your decision.

A true single-database system that combines financial and project management operations solves this issue. ERP systems offer one source of data and one comprehensive profile for each subcontractor.

Job Cost Structure & Budget Setup

Once the estimate is created and consolidated, financial data is typically emailed to accounting. Then—especially in companies with non-unified systems—accounting enters the financial data into separate systems used for managing billings and budgets.

Single-database systems have eliminated much of this process. Users can set up their project, import an estimate and hit the “update budget” button. The system takes care of the rest by creating the cost and revenue budget, including relating the set up cost codes and types to the schedule of values. Without moving or rekeying the data, users can analyze the sub-trade estimate and get started on executing subcontracts. Instead of sending the accounting department a to-do list of rekeying tasks, the platform produces a ready-to-go job cost structure.

Summary of ERP in Estimate to Job Costing Workflows

With CMiC, users can enter their bid in the same place they store all communications and documentation. On top of that, all the data entered in the bid can be sent to subcontractors and used to create the job budget. This means that once you’re awarded the project, you can immediately start contacting subcontractors and gathering quotes without rekeying information.

Let’s go over the key advantages of ERP for creating a budget from an estimate:

  • Each subcontractor has a single, comprehensive profile

  • Estimate data can be imported or manually keyed-in once

  • Documents only need to be uploaded once and can be related to other documents for smart data retrieval

  • Advanced workflows completely automate manual tasks such as data consolidation

Looking for more ways to transform everyday workflows? Check out a previous post in this series on how to streamline the change order process.