There are many reasons to implement cost estimating software solutions, including to save a vast amount of time for your shop, to bridge the skills gap between your junior and more experienced employees, and to harness the speed and accuracy of these modern solutions in the costing process.

When you decide to invest in a cost estimating software solution, the question becomes which solution makes the most sense for your shop. So, what should you be looking for in your future cost estimating software solution?

1) The ability to send digital quotes
Utilizing digital quotes enables you to gain key buyer insights, namely through seeing how many times your buyer has viewed your quote, which gives you the strategic advantage of knowing when to follow up with your buyer. Sending digital quotes also helps craft your shop’s modern image to your customers while increasing transparency and even helping you secure expedites on urgent jobs.

When looking at your options for cost estimating software solutions, having the ability to send your digital quotes via the same platform is an indicator of a solution that will help shape your shop’s competitive edge.

2) The ability to quote through PDF files
If you quote through PDF files as many shops do, it is important to find a cost estimating software solution that allows you to accurately quote PDFs. The best solutions will have default formulas for faster pricing, as well as the ability to calculate the current pricing of materials based on your inputs.

3) Usability
Cost estimating software solutions are supposed to make your life easier, not more complicated. The solution you choose should have an intuitive user interface so that you and other members of your shop can implement it and immediately grasp how to best use it to your advantage.

The questions that you may ask yourself when determining the usability of a solution: Does the solution offer a centralized, standardized view of RFQs? Can I easily communicate with my team members on the platform? Is the solution simple enough for all of the members of my team to use?

4) The ability to communicate with you team
Having the ability to communicate with your team members anywhere and at any time through your cost estimating solution is key for immediate and necessary communication regarding questions or concerns about the quote. This may relate to manufacturability issues, special tooling requirements, and setup and run times. By being able to annotate and highlight notes to discuss with your team, you set yourself up for direct communication without ever having to leave the platform.

5) Scalability
The scalability of your potential cost estimating software solution may be the most crucial point in deciding which solution is the best fit for your shop. Ask yourself: Will this solution support the growth I envision for my shop? Will this solution support the increase in quote output and order processing required to facilitate that growth? Are there intelligent reports and analytics to gain insights into that growth?

The motivation behind implementing cost estimating software is to enable your shop’s growth in pivotal areas and over a long period of time. The solution shouldn’t just support you today; it should support you in your long-term goals in everything from enhancing your communication with your customers to reducing your quote turnaround time and increasing your revenue.

In interpreting the scalability of solutions, it is also important to ask if the solution is scalable within your team. A central benefit of this software is having a system in which your tribal knowledge and that of your more experienced employees can be saved—does this solution allow you to do that? And, of equal importance, is it simple enough that lots of different people in your shop can use it to work towards achieving the long term goals for your shop?

Choosing the right cost estimating software solution is rooted in asking the questions that allow you to see how any one solution fits into how your shop operates today and how you envision it operating it in the future. These solutions should not detract from how you manage your shop today, but rather serve to modernize the way you cost jobs and create a lasting system for quoting in the future.

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