A lot of people are searching, “Where can I find the best spreadsheet template for quoting CNC or sheet metal parts?” on Google.
The snarky simple answer: In some folder labeled “Excel quoting templates” on your shared drive that was created in 1995.
The more complete answer: You can’t. Or at the very least, you shouldn’t want to. Here’s why.
Nearly everyone I spoke with last week at the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) is still using Excel spreadsheets to quote everything from simple to highly complex CNC machined parts. The more tech savvy shops are using quoting modules from their ERP vendor, but even those were fewer and farther in between the throngs of people that flowed through our booth. For the past 30 years, the best and brightest shops have been quoting using a combination of PDFs, TI-89 calculators, Excel spreadsheets, and quite often, a magnifying glass to ensure that no detail is missed.
We asked everyone who came to our booth at IMTS 2022 the same question: “If you had to rate your quoting process today on a scale of 1-10, where would you put it?” Needless to say, quoting from Excel spreadsheets rarely garnered anything above a 5. “It’s fine,” was about the most glowing review. Quoting from ERP systems fared only slightly better, averaging at about a 6.5.
Intrigued by the notion that there is in fact a better way to do quoting, our booth at IMTS was often stacked 5 people deep per demo station. It was exciting to watch as the faces of onlookers changed from skeptical to amazed as our team (the “orange army” as we lovingly dubbed ourselves) talked folks through the powerful yet intuitive experience of quoting using Paperless Parts.
My talk track at the booth was relatively simple: think of Paperless Parts like an “Excel Macro on steroids” meets “the best 3D part viewer” meets “that guy in your shop that’s been quoting for 30 years.”
The premise of Paperless Parts’ quoting platform is solution oriented: we work with you during onboarding to codify what your estimators are doing today, streamline the admin and data entry, and let the geometry of the part drive your costing inputs. Layer on the ability to customize based on a customer’s willingness to pay for expedites and make it stupid simple for the customer to place the order. Then, pass that information all along to your ERP so nobody is stuck doing data entry once the order is placed.
Underlying this incredibly simple concept is some amazingly powerful software:
- Our Part Viewer allows users of the platform to quickly visualize the part without expensive CAD software.
- Manufacturability warnings based on the complexity of the part or the capabilities of the shop are immediately flagged, allowing seasoned estimators to examine more closely or junior estimators to call in some support.
- The Build-A-Quote page provides pricing recommendations, but is also highly customizable so that adjustments are easily made and revision history is tracked and stored.
- The collaboration tools inside of Paperless Parts allow estimators to chat with people internally (like engineers or specific subject matter experts) and externally (such as material providers, purchased part providers, or tool suppliers) and keeps all of that information attached to the record, eliminating the need to hunt through emails.
At the end of the day, using Paperless Parts allows customers to win more business and diversify their revenue base, streamline processes so that expensive and hard to find resources are utilized against more value added projects, and reduces the chances that data entry mishaps or less experienced estimators lead to costly mistakes.
So yes, there are certainly Excel templates for quoting out there. But when you’re quoting CNC machined parts, why take your chances? Why waste time that could be otherwise allocated to more strategic initiatives that make your business more competitive? Why continue pursuing and investing in a painful process? Too many people we had the pleasure of meeting at IMTS 2022 described their quoting process as throwing a dart at a wall with a blindfold over their eyes.
It can’t hurt to explore the alternatives to Excel and ERP quoting. Or at least it can’t hurt as much as quoting through spreadsheets does.
See how we can help you ditch the spreadsheets today.
Sarah McAuley is the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) at Paperless Parts. Click here to connect with Sarah on LinkedIn.