” How do I know if my HeavyBid system is set up correctly? “
The Chief Says:
This is a terrific question that I have given a great deal of thought. The short answer is that it depends on how your company estimates. Some things will be common for most setups, and some things will vary. The purpose of even thinking about properly setting up your system is so that you can remove human error, use your setups to automate the parts of estimating that are repetitive, and create an estimating system that will stand the test of time.
Create a Strong Foundation for your Setups
HeavyBid is a cost-and-crew based estimating system for any sized contracting firm that will estimate primarily work they plan to self-perform. HeavyBid uses real-cost information as opposed to industry averages. An estimate built within a correctly set up HeavyBid system will have considered:
- Solid information from their own accounting systems,
- Historical data they have accumulated,
- Information from outside sources such as their insurance company for bond rates and relevant Workers Compensation rates, and
- Most importantly, a knowledge base built from the organization’s experience on how to best do the job.
This information is used as the foundation for setting up your Labor, Equipment, Crews, and the crew’s associated work calendars and rules. Crews are key to speedy and accurate estimating in HeavyBid.
Maintain a well-stocked Materials Codebook.
The Materials Codebook should include at least 98% of the items that your company purchases on a regular basis. If your company does drainage work, there is a good chance you buy the same drainage-pipe items again and again. These should all be in the Materials Codebook so valuable estimating time is not taken up by creating the same resource every time you need them. Once the basic setups and the Materials Codebook are in good shape the next step is to make sure you have a library of common tasks that relate to your bid items. This is called the Activity Codebook.
This is where your company setup might be different from others.
The Activity Codebook is a great example of where “correct” can vary widely from one HeavyBid company to another. Some companies that cover narrow scopes of work may only need an Activity Codebook with a few hundred items. Some that cover multiple scopes might need Activity Codebooks that number into the thousands. Each company has to decide to what level of granularity they want to estimate, while keeping an eye looking forward to sending that information to their accounting system and/or a production analysis tool such as HeavyJob. It’s been my experience that estimators will want to bid a job to a much higher level of detail than is possible to keep track of in the field. However, the accounting system will ultimately have greater detail than either HeavyJob or HeavyBid. Ensure that your Activity Codebook fits your company’s needs.
Prepare for Tomorrow – Keep Improving the Way You Estimate.
Even if you build your system to spec, there is always room for improvement. The next thing to look at is how well you are utilizing the automated functions and processes within HeavyBid.
Here are some questions to ask about automation:
- Are you still typing in bid items manually instead of importing them directly from the bid document or from your own takeoff software?
- Are you using the Bid Item Codebook, a Library Estimate or a previously bid job to quickly populate those bid items with typical activities as opposed to having to go to the Activity Codebook and selecting activities every time you bid a job?
- What about taking quotes from your subcontractors and suppliers? Are you entering quotes in an automated quote system where you don’t even have to create the quote folders because HeavyBid is doing that for you?
- Are you adding vendors automatically to quote folders?
- Are you using the built-in calculation routines in HeavyBid to get bedding and back fill quantities, calculate haul rates, calculate asphalt or concrete quantities?
- Are you automatically dropping a note into the activity so that you or anyone else can see exactly where those calculated numbers come from?
Don’t Miss a Thing – Check Your Work
And finally, are you using the tools in HeavyBid that can help you find errors that wake you up in the middle of the night? Questions like: Did I enter the RCP quotes? Did I remember to review each and every activity? Did I forget to get a price for a resource, and I’ve got one of those dreaded zeros in my estimate and I overlooked it? Use the Estimate Review, the queries, and Reports to help you sleep-confident at night.
HCSS has multiple resources to get you the help you need. The HCSS Learning Academy is a great place to start. There are dozens of easy-to-follow videos and webinars with “how to” information.
When you need us, please call us. You are not alone with HCSS Support: 800-444-3196.
Estimating Success Manager
For the past 30 years, Ray has held positions as an Estimator, Project Manager, or Chief Estimator for civil construction companies operating in Ohio, Virginia Beach, Virginia, and Norwalk, Connecticut. He has a heart of a teacher, and takes pride in listening well to others before offering advice.
Hal Klaus says
You said, “Are you automatically dropping a note into the activity so that you or anyone else can see exactly where those calculated numbers come from?”
I sure wish I could copy/paste from an Excel spreadsheet in the HB Activity Notes without losing formatting.
I spend too much time having to reformat these columns.
Earl Sharp says
I am not sure if this will address your question/concern directly or not, but the reason for the lack of formatting is technical in nature. Since all of the data in HeavyBid is stored in several databases/tables, there are some restrictions as to the type of data and information that can be stored in those DBs and tables. Formatting is definitely one of those types of data that are unable to be stored in what is really a “text” field. We are able to get some slightly formatted information stored into the notes via our Spreadsheet Calculations and Assemblies, so maybe that is another way you could get the information that you need in there. Here are a couple of links to our help site that walk through setting up some calculations and assemblies; I hope they help:
I hope this helps and I would also recommend the “Ideas” page within the HCSS Community to request any future features or feature changes: https://community.hcss.com/s/hcss-community-ideas
HCSS Professional Services Supervisor
Like!! Really appreciate you sharing this blog post.Really thank you! Keep writing.
I could not refrain from commenting. Well written!