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The Evolution of Estimating the Last 30 Years

EstimatingEveryone always says “the times are changing,” and in the estimating world – that statement is certainly true. I have been an estimator at Faith Technologies for over 25 years, and have firsthand had the opportunity to watch it grow and evolve. Let me take you on a stroll down memory lane…

In my early days of estimating for the company, all of the work was completed using paper, pencils, and calculators. The measurement of conduit was taken with a scaled ruler, and symbols were counted with a manual hand-held clicker and marked with colored pencils. We would calculate the material and labor totals, and then record this information onto a hardcopy bid summary sheet.

Years later, our estimating department determined that in order to keep current, we needed to purchase a computer with estimating software. The first computer we acquired had a nine-inch screen and floppy disks. What was even more exciting was that there weren’t numeric keypads; the numbers coincided with the symbols.

The fax machine, a small device with a sheet feeder, was our department’s next big upgrade, and this was eventually made available to the entire company. Unfortunately, it used thermoset paper, which would curl up after it came out of the machine, so it wasn’t very conducive.

It wasn’t until after fax machines that super-charged Windows computers were introduced, which allowed us to receive quotes via e-mail.

Given the technology we have today, it is amazing seeing how far we’ve come. I couldn’t imagine us, or any company, going back and using hardcopy spreadsheets with categories for item descriptions, quantities, material costs, labor units, and extended labor unit costs; or imagining our estimating department relying on that old computer or fax machine.

Today, technology is driving us to new heights of speed and accuracy. The potential we have to estimate large projects is truly amazing, and businesses are also driving contractors to aggressive deadlines and construction schedules. Fortunately, this separates the competition, and favors the companies who embrace the changes. Faith Technologies has come a LONG way, and the possibilities are truly astounding. To be successful in any line of work, you have to be willing to embrace change.