If you are an estimator, chances are that you have been given the speech about how you are the only one in the company, who has the power to singlehandedly bankrupt it. Although it’s a bit extreme, there is no doubt that estimators hold a major key to the success of a firm; they forget something or make a big enough mistake, it could be enormously costly for the company.
It is very common for construction companies to see regular losses because someone simply forgot to include something in the estimate, whether it’s the cost for the construction site or cost for a specific part of the building. If you have ever seen the amount of information that goes into construction estimates, it is not difficult to understand how this can happen. It’s also quite easy to make mistakes with the formulas that are used in a spreadsheet. For instance, you might make a change that isn’t reflected in the sum, and it won’t be until much later that you discover there was a formula error (or even worse, you don’t find out at all). Here’s how Sigma can prevent some of these typical causes for loss from occurring in the first place.
Sigma is different from a typical Excel spreadsheet because it’s much more aware of what you’re actually doing. Because spreadsheets are general purpose tools, it takes a human touch to double-check that everything is entered correctly. If you have a spreadsheet line with gravel, for instance, you’d have to piece together that the square footage or unit cost on that line was related to the same item. With Sigma, on the other hand, everything is neatly organized into components. That way, if the price was zero, Sigma would automatically determine that something is wrong with the quantity. Those items can be validated for you because Sigma understands your intent.
Because Sigma is made for estimating, formulas are built right in. This means you can never break a formula, even if you rearrange or drag and drop items. When starting a new project, you can work with templates and price books to make sure the experience from previous projects carries over without unnecessary effort. It’s also easy to involve other colleagues so they can help make sure nothing is missing in the estimate.
We think it’s also incredibly important that estimating software is easy to use. While we were building Sigma, we were inspired by tools like Microsoft Word. You can teach anyone to use Word in a matter of minutes—just open the program, start typing, and hit the print or save button when you’re done. Sigma is similar in that you can actually learn basic estimating in around ten minutes. The interface is intuitive and it’s very easy to follow what’s going on with the estimate. As people become better at using the software, they can learn how to leverage more advanced features. And whenever an estimate is shared with someone else, it’s quite self-documenting in terms of how it is put together.