Posted on 03/06/2020 at 07:30 AM by Kevin Buckalew
Recognizing Sunk Costs
Remember that electrical estimating and scheduling software you spent a massive amount of money on (but nobody uses)? What about all of those new features that came as part of your last estimating software upgrade (the ones you don’t know what to do with)?
Lots of companies – electrical contractors included – make investments in software platforms that are never put to good use but keep because they can't bring themselves to see it as a sunk cost.
Many of the industry professionals we talk to say they have an estimating software of some kind. These professionals may not know what it is (or how it works), but they know they do have it. When asked why they don't use their current software more consistently, the primary response is that it’s far too complicated and time-consuming.
That’s an unfortunate reality for many of today’s estimating or job-costing software systems. Ironically, it also misses the point of having software in the first place! A question you should be asking yourself is 'Why would anyone use the software if it didn’t make life easier and simpler?'
'Why would anyone use the software if it didn’t make life easier and simpler?'
Buying the Wrong Software
The core issue boils down to this: looking for an easy-to-use software is only half the battle. Once you find what you thought was the software you were looking for, you also have to make sure it has the features you need. We've found that with most software, all too often, “easy to use” translates to “not enough features.”
You need an inclusive project management tool. One that features scheduling tools, built-in features that can help with a specific job while considering labor hours and labor costs, overhead costs, material costs, and more. You need a tool that goes beyond a job costing system by providing for your actual needs when you need them.
If you’re in search of electrical estimating software – one you’ll actually use! – keep these three tips in mind …
1. Make Sure It’s Easy to Use
Right now, the electrical industry is a unique mix of workers:
- Contractors who have been in the business for 30+ years (before anyone used software at all)
- Electricians who are familiar with estimating software and may have used it in the past (with or without success)
- Younger workers just entering the field who are eager to use whatever technology they can get their hands on
A well-designed, truly easy-to-use electrical software is one that anybody – from those with zero experience to those who are technology pros – can use and be comfortable with. The software must be intuitive and engaging and features everything you need (and nothing that you don’t). This makes it easy to learn whether you’re a new technology user – or new to the electrical industry as a whole.
2. Make Sure It Doesn’t Require Lots of Training
After purchasing electrical software, it’s not uncommon for companies to have to make another large investment to actually learn how to use it!
Sometimes that investment may involve taking everyone out of the field for in-house training. Other times, it’s identifying key people in your organization to learn the software, become in-house pros, and develop training programs (not unlike a secondary apprenticeship program just to learn the software) that require more time and resources to roll out.
In some cases, you may even have to send employees hours – even states – away to participate in paid training. It may seem like a good idea at the time, but don't forget that this requires you to pay the training provider and your team to attend! The costs continue to rise, just to learn the tool.
Software that is as easy to learn as it is to use is essential in saving you time and money.
3. Make Sure It Incorporates Everything You Need
When it comes to integrating electrical software into existing business practices, which situation would you rather deal with?
1. One integrated system that incorporates everything you need to run faster, better, and more efficiently
2. Disparate pieces of software that operate in their own silos, fulfilling their one unique function: scheduling, time-card management, job costing, estimating, etc.
Having to access several software platforms to complete a project creates bottlenecks and slows down processes. Finding a single software solution that encompasses everything you need, puts it at your fingertips, and that can be used by everyone will save you valuable time and money.
Using Electric Ease is Easy
Electric Ease is estimating software created by a master electrician for electrical contractors.
We’ve seen new users (who have never used software before) transform – within minutes – into people who use it every day to make their lives easier when it comes to estimating, reducing supply-house runs, and boosting communication.
Our cloud-based electrical software combines estimation and job management, housing everything in one place:
Assemblies and material databases
Job and client description reports
Single-page estimating/job costing
Temporary power tracking
Timecards and employee scheduling
That means you only need one electrical software system to run your business. And you can be up and running in minutes, using Electric Ease to put together a commercial project budget number, complete job costing for a new house, or prepare electricians for a service call.