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'Trimble MEP Interview: Tackling the Estimating and Contract Management Challenges of Small Contractors

29 June 2020
Trimble MEP recently launched the new digital estimation and contract management software, Trimble Metrics. The software is specifically tailored to small MEP contractor businesses in the UK and can be trialled for free for the next 60 days.
 
We talked with product marketing specialist Rore Okoh about the challenges small MEP contractors, estimators and installers in the UK face today, and how Trimble Metrics can help.
 
What would you say are the main challenges small UK contractor businesses are facing today?
 
Fundamentally, MEP contractor businesses in the UK are struggling to manage their job profitability and run the risk of going out of business. Issues include poor cash flow management, bad estimates and bidding for non profitable jobs due to the competition in the market. This stems from the many challenges they face whilst working.
 
Many of these issues stem from a challenging mix of complicated processes and manual methods. Performing the takeoff with paper plans, and manual measuring and counting is quite error-prone. Now more than ever there is greater pressure to churn out estimates faster, as there is so much competition to win jobs. Yet, researching up-to-date manufacturer item information and labour pricing to build an estimate can be incredibly time-consuming.   Another challenge contractors have is trying  to turn around detailed, accurate bids out as quickly as they come in whilst managing all the procurement lists, invoices, timesheets and purchase orders. Most contractors are using separate takeoff, estimation and contract management applications - making their workflow quite disjointed.
Ultimately, this can result in even bigger challenges for the project, including data loss, slow data migration and integration issues. Many estimators struggle with importing and exporting data between disparate applications, with data easily lost if the file formats are not compatible.
 
Tell us about the Trimble Metrics digital estimation and contract management solution, and how it solves these many challenges for small UK contractors? 
 
Trimble Metrics gives contractors the flexibility to work in the way they prefer, as you can still manually perform takeoff, and upload quantities and measurements directly into the solution without the worry of sourcing up-to-date manufacturer content, loss of data, and importing and exporting the right estimates to a separate contract management system. 
 
For estimators and contractors who want to fully digitalise their process, you can perform graphical takeoff to electronically measure, count, and mark up PDF drawings directly, and simultaneously fill in the takeoff sheet. 
 
Either way, Trimble Metrics emulates traditional paper takeoff sheets and workflows so you can work in an environment you are familiar with. 
 
The integrated contract management feature complies data from your bill of quantities to your procurement lists in real-time as you win jobs. It will adapt to any unforeseen changes, such as automatically updating your bill of materials, procurement lists and original estimate if extra materials need to be added on.  
 
Also, Trimble Metrics allows contractors to focus on one or multiple projects at any given time. The software intuitively consolidates and displays costs across multiple takeoff sheets in a central platform. It can help you drive down material and labour costs by combining your bill of materials to create a bulk order.
 
Finally, honestly, Trimble Metrics is so easy-to-use. There are in-app learning tools that tailor learning to your individual needs, so there’s no need for hours of generic software training. Both experienced and junior members of your team can start building a bid in a matter of minutes.
 
To be able to monitor profit from takeoff to tender through to completion, spreadsheet programmes are simply not enough. Spreadsheet programmes can only provide you  with a platform to store data during the takeoff process, without a digital trail through to bidding, winning a job and contract management. And, they don’t integrate with your other systems, so you’ll waste a lot of time migrating data from application to application. 
 
Trimble Metrics has an integrated contract management functionality, which automatically transfers the data from your won estimates to the financial metrics of the job.
 
Moreover, spreadsheet programmes do not give you access to manufacturer-specific data or UK labour pricing. That means that already time-stricken estimators have to contact manufacturers for price information for every project and to guess labour hourly rates and times. 
 
Considering the current challenges with COVID-19,  what should small UK contractor firms be specially prepared for?
 
Small UK contractor firms need to have a close eye on their cash reserves right now. And this is why ensuring the profitability of every job is crucially important. Having cash left over will help during these more difficult times. 
 
If you want to kick off your digital estimation and takeoff or learn more about Trimble Metrics, visit https://go.metrics.trimble.com/


 
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