Switching to an Estimating System | 5 Things You Should Know

Making the change from using Excel to a full-blown estimating software may seem like a daunting task. 

After all, like many estimators, you likely have a fine-tuned process and developed your system after years of industry experience. 

Not to mention, you have elaborate spreadsheets and years worth of pricing, labor, and historical data to consider. 

So, with all this in mind, if you’re considering making the switch to an estimating system, here are some things you should know:

Eliminating Errors is Key 

Even the most seasoned estimators know that when you’re working with spreadsheets, errors happen.

Consider this: have you ever had an extra row in your spreadsheet cause the totals to be incorrect? Item costs that did not get added to the bid? Forgotten to add a cost for an indirect or bond? 

Now, what if I told you the chances of a miscalculation in a spreadsheet can be virtually eliminated? 

ProEstimate.NET has built-in checks and balances as well as “Bid Check” functionality to limit the risk of such omissions. This improved accuracy reduces the time spent correcting bid errors and virtually eliminates mistakes.

You will also no longer need to worry about a file being accidentally deleted or moved to a different folder. All data is stored in one location where every user has shared access.

Error-free estimating has a pretty nice ring to it. 

Standardization Improves Bid Accuracy 

Speaking of eliminating errors, standardizing your estimating process also greatly reduces the chance of mistakes.

By using an estimating system, you can add structure to your project set-up, crew building, bid closeout, and more. This structure improves productivity, enhances profitability, and, again, reduces errors. 

The standardization of reports within the system allows management to review an estimate in the same manner, every time, regardless of who put the estimate together.

Implementation Shouldn’t Be Painful

If you decide to make the switch to using an estimating system, the implementation process is an important part of getting started. 

However, this process shouldn’t require an exorbitant amount of work on your part. Beware: some companies require you to fill out 15+ spreadsheets to get your system up and running. 

At Oman Systems, we only ask for labor and equipment to get you started with ProEstimate.NET

An estimating system is meant to make your life easier, not burden you with spreadsheet homework.

Treat Training and Support Like a Necessity, Not an Added Luxury 

When you make the switch to estimating software, you should have access to expert training and unlimited technical support.

Many companies require you to purchase an additional support package to get the help you need. 

The standard should be 24/7 support without any additional price tags or hoops to jump through. You should also be able to pick up the phone and easily reach a real person, every time.

Don’t settle for less than optimal, all-inclusive support.

Finding Systems that Work for You is What’s Most Important

Most companies will say you need to use all of their products (and yes of course we highly recommend our field management, crew scheduling, dispatch, and bid tabulation software), but what is most important is making sure you’re getting what works best for you. 

Your estimating software should be able to pull data from a variety of systems rather than forcing you to make a switch that you might not want or need. 

Your estimating system should be able to integrate with all of your systems, including accounting, field, takeoff, and more. 

Before switching to an estimating program, make sure you get all of the information you need and make this a one-time move, done the right way. 

Highway Construction Accidents | How We Can Keep Crews Safe

Slow down in construction zones

It’s no secret that road construction comes with its fair share of hazards. After all, working with heavy machinery, next to multi-lane highways is no typical office job. 

However, did you know that on average more than 20,000 roadside workers are injured every year?

The statistics are sobering, to say the least:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that from 2003 to 2017, 1,844 highway crew members died on the job. The number of fatal work-related injuries on-site averages over 100 per year.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention notes that heavy/civil engineering construction and specialty trade contractors account for 62 percent of worker fatal injuries.

In December, an entire night crew was struck by a drunk driver in Arlington, Virginia. This is one of many instances where workers were injured or killed by impaired drivers. 

“The roads (…) are our office,” Jim Reed told WXYZ-TV Detroit after his colleague was hit by a drunk driver. “This is where our people work. Thousands of individuals from Michigan work on the roads every day. It’s important that we slow down and do the right thing.”

Safety shouldn’t be a fleeting luxury for our workers in the field. So, what can we do better?

Grab Distracted Drivers Attention

Distracted drivers are one of the biggest hazards for road crews. To get their attention, it is best to use multiple signals. 

Use certified flaggers to slow down traffic and allow passage through one-lane areas. Signs should be in place to signal that there are flaggers and road work ahead.

Construction Executive states ”Directives, such as evacuation route, do not enter, reduced speed ahead, road closed, and no outlet, assist drivers entering work zones and construction sites.”

Require Daily Safety Chats 

Accidents may seem like an inevitable part of construction work. However, workers should receive daily reminders to mitigate the risks that are in their control. 

These steps include preventing falls, wearing proper safety gear, maintaining distance from rotating equipment/unguarded parts, and exercising extreme caution around utility lines.

This video is a safety meeting from the Manhattan Building company. This comes from the vertical side, but the tone and delivery are still on point for heavy highway/civil.

Foremen should always be watching for any safety hazards, correcting unsafe practices, and sharing daily toolbox talks with their supervisors.

Which brings me to my next point:

Document, Document, Document

So, you’re having daily safety chats to keep your crew members informed, but have you documented it?

Too many times when accidents happen, companies are caught scrambling for proof that they took necessary precautions. Without proper documentation, not only are you unable to save yourself from litigation, but you also can’t be sure you’re doing everything in your power to protect your employees. 

To learn more about how you can easily create custom forms for field documentation, click here.

Spread Awareness

Eighty-three percent of Americans drive frequently, so we can all either be part of the problem or part of the solution. 

Slow down my dad works here

If you have the tools to reach an audience (no matter how small) take the time to share the statistics in this post.

Make an effort to remind people to slow down by adding a human element behind the “Caution Road Work Ahead” signs. 

These are our fellow industry professionals, and they deserve to go to work and feel as safe as I do sitting at my desk. Maybe that isn’t entirely realistic, but we could all use a reminder to drive more carefully. 

Construction Worker Safety – How to Beat the Heat This Summer

Summer is practically here, and most of us are already feeling the heat.

In the Southeast, we know our way around a 95 degrees, 100 percent humidity day. With this in mind, we need to know how to keep our construction workers safe in the field.

As most of us know, working outside during the summer can increase the risk of dehydration, sunburn, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke. Along with these physical ailments, hot weather can lead to slowed cognitive function, which can impair judgment and reaction time (both of which are critical for workplace safety). 

Here are some proactive steps you can take to keep construction workers safe this summer:

Have a Heat Index Tool on Hand

According to Veronica S. Miller and Grhahm P. Bates, “Protection of the health of workers without unnecessarily compromising productivity requires the adoption of a heat index that is both reliable and easy to use.”

OSHA has created a free heat index app that can be used on Apple and Android devices. All you have to do is enter your location, and the app will input today’s temperature and calculate your workers’ risk. 

Hand-held tools with more robust data, like the Kestrel 3000HS Heat Stress Meter or the Pocket Heat Index Monitor, are also available. 

Note: Temperatures of 92 degrees and above are considered high risk. 

Avoid Dehydration

Dehydration is the fastest way to succumb to a heat stroke. Foremen should be sure there is ample water on hand at all times, and allow water breaks throughout the day.

Workers should aim to drink a gallon of water a day. A great way for supervisors to promote hydration is to provide gallon water bottles/jugs to all field workers.

Workers should also try to avoid eating salty, high-calorie foods during workdays as these can contribute to dehydration. 

Know the Warning Signs of Heat-Related Illnesses

The CDC lists the following warning signs for heat exhaustion:

  • Heavy sweating 
  • Cold, pale, and clammy skin
  • Fast, weak pulse
  • Nausea or vomiting • Muscle cramps 
  • Tiredness or weakness 
  • Dizziness 
  • Headache 
  • Fainting (passing out)

The following symptoms are warning signs of a heat stroke:

  • High body temperature (103°F or higher)
  • Hot, red, dry, or damp skin 
  • Inability to drink
  • Fast, strong pulse
  • Headache
  •  Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Losing consciousness (passing out)

Plan for Emergencies 

Crew members should be trained and prepared for heat-related illnesses. 

If one of your team members is suffering from heat exhaustion, move that person into the shade while you get the AC running in a vehicle. Have your worker take off heavy clothing like jackets, long sleeve shirts, tool belts, and helmets (if you are in a safe area). 

Have a cooler full of ice and wet washcloths on site. Placing the cold cloths on your neck and wrists will help bring your body temperature down.

We also recommend having a thermometer on hand to check the temperature of a crew member who becomes ill (remember: the core body temperature of someone suffering from a heat stroke is 103 degrees or above). 

If someone is displaying the symptoms listed above for a heat stroke, particularly fainting, confusion, seizures, or inability to drink, seek medical assistance immediately. 

By taking steps prevention, knowing the warning signs of heat-related illness, and having a course of action in place in case of an emergency will keep construction workers safer during the grueling summer months.

FMP Product Manual Now Available

Oman Systems customers,
 

We are working on adding and updating product manuals to our Client Portal. These video tutorials, images, and text break downs will help you better use our products and quickly answer any questions you may have.
 

FMP Crew documentation is currently available and can be accessed using the following steps:

  • Go to our Client Portal and enter your login credentials (typically company email and password) to sign-in.
  • Once in, scroll down to the On-Line Help and Documentation section and select FMP Crew.
  • You will be able to navigate through the different section break downs of FMP Crew, including projects, scheduling crews, sending notifications, and more. 
FMP Documentation

As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to our support team via support@omanco.com, 1-800-541-0803, or our website’s live chat.

We looking forward to continuing to find ways to better serves you,

The Oman Systems Team

Oman’s Stone and FDR’s Pool

Did you know there is an indoor swimming pool in the White House?

While you might not find this question on a U.S. history test, it does provide an interesting anecdote. 

Throughout his adult life, Franklin D. Roosevelt used swimming as a means to exercise and ease the side effects of polio. In 1933, he decided to bring his physical therapy to the White House by requesting the construction of an indoor swimming pool. 

FDR's swimming pool (credit: 
National Archives).

The pool is located in the West Wing, and for years was only accessible through a trapped door in the press briefing room. 

Now, you might be thinking: what does this have to do with Oman Systems?

FDR's Thank You Letter to John Oman

John Oman Senior started his career as a stonemason and founded Crab Orchard Stone to operate alongside Oman Construction in 1929. 

In 1933, Crab Orchard Stone was used to provide the non-slip material for Roosevelt’s swimming pool. This stone, found only in the Cumberland Plateau of Tennessee, allowed the president to move around the pool with ease and eliminated the need for mats.

Roosevelt was so please with the floors, he wrote a personal thank you letter to John Oman. The letter still hangs in the Oman Systems office today.

An outdoor pool was later built at the request of Gerald R. Ford in 1975. However, FDR’s “grand old tub” will always hold a special place in our hearts. 

White House Envelope Addressed to John Oman.