To produce successful estimates, many contractors now rely on construction estimating software tailored to their specialties. Estimating software comes with powerful, specific databases that support multiple pricing structures and data relationships. Estimating software also has interactive capabilities: The software's different functions automatically tie in with each other. Because estimating software's capabilities and costs vary widely, it's important to analyze your needs before you shop for a system.

To help you compare systems, here are ten good questions to ask the salesperson or representative:

  1. How much time can I save?
  2. Will the software help reduce omission errors?
  3. Is the database geared to my needs?
  4. Can a digitizer be used?
  5. Can the software handle metric units?
  6. What are the reporting capabilities?
  7. Will the software allow my company to standardize estimates?
  8. Can the software show the estimate in more than one way?
  9. How much can I expect to pay?
  10. What support services and personnel are available?

Asking these ten questions can help you fairly and reasonably assess different programs.