Estimating Software: A Powerful Value Engineering Aid

Value engineering offers a wealth of benefits. Higher value at lower costs. More efficient projects. Better communities. To reach those admirable ends, architects, designers and other preconstruction professionals may use any number of tools and technologies. But there is one tool that stands head shoulders above the rest to inform your value engineering analysis: Construction estimating software.

A robust, feature-rich construction estimating software enables teams to understand the cost impacts of every decision in the short-term and the long-term value of those decisions. Plus, construction estimating software can unlock and amplify team collaboration, so everyone is on the same page at every phase of the project.

But not all estimating software platforms offer the same features. Here’s what to look for to make sure you have the value engineering tool you need to do the job well.

Accurate and Current Construction Costs

Accurate and current construction costs are the baseline for any construction estimating software. Without them, the software fails to be a minimally-viable value engineering tool. Here’s why.

The value engineering process is one of constant evaluations and iterations. Project teams will consider dozens, if not hundreds of alternative materials and systems. Without accurate costs, there is no telling whether these alternatives will create any value at all. Accurate cost data demonstrates the impact of design decisions and shows project owners the team has considered all options in pursuit of creating the best possible design within budget parameters.

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One of the “soft” benefits of using estimating software with accurate costs is it creates common ground for the whole team. It is common for those involved in value engineering to rely on the costs of past projects to inform their current work. But with everyone bringing their own historic costs to the table, there are bound to be discrepancies with no objective way to settle them. This is where accurate costs can help. A trusted cost database creates agreement among the project team about which costs are the right costs, so no time is lost in the process.

Any estimating software under consideration must offer construction costs that update regularly. This is true under any circumstances, but especially now, with construction costs rising fast. There may have been a time when last year’s construction costs were close enough for this year’s projects, but that time has passed. Without accurate costs that stay up to date with current market conditions, value engineering is a fruitless exercise.

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Collaboration and Productivity Features

Value engineering is a group activity, one that requires a team of professionals working together toward a common goal. It’s much easier to do that if everyone can use the same program. That’s why it’s helpful to find an estimating software with collaboration features that make it easy for every member of the team to play to their strengths and streamline the process. Look for estimating software that lets you organize your estimates as you see fit to maximize team efficiency.

Reliable Life Cycle Costs

While saving money in the short term will make any owner happy, the real value in value engineering is maximizing long-term function while minimizing short-term costs. Thus, it is not enough for an estimating software to provide accurate current costs to be a powerful value engineering tool. It must provide accurate life cycle costs as well.

Value engineering teams need to know how much systems and components will cost to repair and replace over the course of their lives. Designs that are less expensive in the present may prove costly in the future. An exceptional estimating software will clearly spell out the long-term ramifications of present-day decisions. Seeing cost implications in black and white can persuade owners to think beyond what they are paying now and to consider what they will have to pay later.

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RSMeans Data Online: Powerful Estimating Software for Informed Value Engineering

Many estimating software platforms have one of these features, but one has them all: Gordian’s RSMeans Data Online. There is no better value engineering aid on the market.

The power of RSMeans Data Online begins with our industry-leading database of 92,000 labor, material and equipment costs. The rigorously researched construction cost data updates regularly and automatically, so you know you always have the most recent and relevant information, and it contains square foot and assemblies costs for faster estimating.

The Complete and Complete Plus Tiers of RSMeans Data Online include features that enhance organization, fuel collaboration and make value engineering teams more efficient. Flexible Work Breakdown Structures empower team leaders to organize projects in any manner they choose, and shared organizational folders enable team members to focus on the areas they know best or even share their work. Taken together, these features maximize the output of the team.

The Complete Plus tier of RSMeans Data Online also includes reliable long-term maintenance and replacement costs for up to ten years into the future so you can better understand total lifecycle costs. With the power to customize the frequency of repair, labor inflation rate and more, you can model a number of scenarios for the owner to consider.

Estimating software is a powerful value engineering analysis tool, one that can make the process far easier or far harder. Preconstruction and design professionals should look for software with accurate current costs, productivity features and the power to project costs across a building’s lifecycle. RSMeans Data Online offers all of that and more.

About Gordian

Gordian is the leader in facility and construction cost data, software and services for all phases of the building lifecycle. A pioneer of Job Order Contracting, Gordian’s solutions also include proprietary RSMeans data construction costs and Facility Intelligence Solutions. From planning to design, to procurement, construction and operations, Gordian’s solutions help clients maximize efficiency, optimize cost savings and increase building quality.