Thursday, September 22, 2011

Options for Digital Takeoff: Which solution is right for you?

Working with blueprints and schematics can be an extremely time-consuming and costly part of doing business nowadays.  Having to rely upon your ruler and calculator to takeoff linear feet, square feet and individual counts compromises accuracy due to human error.  What’s the solution?  A visual electronic takeoff software interface, making doing your takeoffs faster and easier.  CAD files can automatically be transferred into the software, paper drawings can be scanned, plan room files can be used or digital photographs can be taken where Digital Takeoff’s intelligence will be sure that things are scaled correctly.  Digitizers are still prevalent but more folks are moving to digital takeoff because it is less expensive and want to get rid of the “bulk”, saving desk space.

Two popular digital takeoff packages are on the market which integrates wonderfully with your Sage Estimating application.  PlanSwift requires minimal setup before you can begin using.  The integration embeds the Estimating Items and Assemblies directly into the PlanSwift user interface.  OnScreen Takeoff’s integration requires “upfront” database configuration before using, however, resulting in reusable mappings and a more automated approach or generating estimates.  So which package is right for your business?

There are two qualifying questions to ask:
Does your organization have internal resources dedicated to regular database maintenance and ongoing refinement?  If yes, the initial database mapping work required with OnScreen Takeoff will result in a powerful automation tool for your estimating department.  If you answered no, the quicker and lower upfront investment in implementation would be PlanSwift.

How price sensitive are you when shopping for such a package? For smaller companies on a tight budget with limited resources, PlanSwift should be considered.  For larger companies that can invest more into the software and implementation, OnScreen Takeoff may be the appropriate choice.

To aid in choosing which the right package is for your business, listed below are some of the features in each:

OnScreen Takeoff
  • Improve takeoff productivity
  • Improve communication (change orders, plan addendums, etc.) between owners, architects, project manager and estimators
  • Manage bids (takeoff projects) electronically and check status and other project details
  • View, measure and annotate electronic plans
  • Calculate simple or complex lengths, areas and volumes
  • Keep track of takeoff. It it’s colored, it’s counted.
  • Store up to three values of each condition (example, LF, SF and CY)
  • Backout dimensions
  • Auto count
  • Takeoff summary tab showing detailed audit of takeoff
  • Worksheet tab allows manual entry of Labor, Material and Subcontract amounts
  • Ability to view multiple pages at once
  • Overlay feature saves time with exhaustive plan review using color coding for deleted and added items
  • Hot links can be strategically placed within secondary views such as elevation to provide supplemental information
  • Measure and draw takeoff directly on your display via interactive pen (w/ On Center’s Digital Takeoff Table 2)
  • Project Express.  Now estimators can easily share very large bids for free (up to 100 mb) via the internet. 
  • Get rid of paper plans all together
  • Works with all major CAD and image file types
  • Scan in or download plans
  • Level feature (plans scanned in crooked)
  • Easily navigate through plans
  • Just point-and-click to calculate areas, linears and counts
  • Calculates curved walls and arcs and cut-outs
  • Undo
  • Automatically calculates roof pitches
  • Identify takeoffs easily by labels and colors
  • Track changes with comparative plan overlays
  • Share plans (email) or individual pages with others
  • Hyperlink to URL or other plan pages
  • Export to Excel/2010 compatibility
  • 14-day free trial

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

On "Virtual Newstands" Now! Fall/Winter 2011 CPA Technology Newsletter

If you've been wondering what "good read" to immerse yourself in during your lunch's your answer!

The latest issue of CPA Technology's newsletter is on "virtual newstands" now! Included in this issue is important information on both recent and upcoming software updates and helpful tips for preparing for year-end.

Read it here!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

This just in! Sage and the CFMA Team Up for Unprecedented Partnership

Sage just announced a new partnership between Sage CRE and the Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA), an international professional non-profit association focused on the educational needs of financial professionals in the construction industry. With Sage CRE becoming a major sponsor of CFMA, the acceleration of development of timely, relevant educational content will fulfill the specialized learning needs of thousands of financial managers and professionals within the construction industry.

Through this partnership, Sage will sponsor many of the existing CFMA educational programs, as well as fund the establishment of the Sage Educational Fellowship which will develop new educational programs, opening many more learning opportunities to its association members and the broader construction community.