On Center Software

On Center Software provides software and training to construction industry professionals in 60 countries. Founded in The Woodlands Texas, over 29 years ago, the company’s mission is to transform the estimating, takeoff, and labor-tracking experience of construction professionals with comprehensive software solutions that turn winning bids into profitable projects. On Center Software solutions include Oasis Takeoff® and Oasis FieldCenter®, On-Screen Takeoff®, Quick Bid®, and Digital Production Control®. On Center Software is now a subsidiary of Roper Technologies, a constituent of the S&P 500, Fortune 1000, and the Russell 1000 indices. For more information, visit On Center Software or call 1.800.880.8254.

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For the construction industry, these are fascinating times. Whether grappling with off-site modular construction projects or the sustainable construction and green building movement, contractors are being challenged in bold, new ways. Along with a growing volume of work comes a rising level of risk — from the complexities of constructing a tall skyscraper to deploying drones in the field.

Ironically, this era of innovation has failed to bring about a wholesale embrace of technology — even as takeoff and estimating software, cloud-based systems and mobile apps promise cost savings and efficiencies. In particular, contractors seem less than eager to accept cutting-edge, next-generation technology like advanced data and analytics, drones, automation and robotics — even though they are designed to improve employee productivity.

Slow to Adopt and Accept New Solutions

First, let’s look at a KPMG Global Construction Survey of 200-plus senior executives showing how the industry, as late as 2016, has been slow to adopt new technology solutions. Only 8 percent of survey respondents were categorized as cutting-edge visionaries. Only 20 percent thought they were aggressively disrupting their construction business model with leading technology.

In fact, nearly three-fourths of the respondents said they didn’t use advanced data analytics for project-related estimation and performance monitoring. Think about the reams of data that most firms create — from bids to plans to projects — and the rich value of the information contained in most databases.

Of course, those who do use new takeoff, estimating and production management technology find the benefits are worth it — from omitting duplication of effort to minimizing errors to allowing for quicker communication between the field and the office. Still, many construction executives are being held back by manual processes and multiple systems. Just 20 percent of those surveyed reported having a single, fully integrated project management system.

Weighing Fears and Risks

What’s holding contractors back from stepping outside their technology comfort zone? For starters, the cost of adopting new technology may cause resistance. They’re not sure it is worth the risk when weighed against the benefits of faster, more accurate estimating and real-time data for production management. Ironically, they’re also reluctant to disrupt their business processes to train the very employees who could benefit from these efficiencies.

How bad is it? KPMG found 69 percent are either “followers” or “behind the curve,” according to the study. Inevitably, this hurts when it comes to driving consistency across projects — just 27 percent reported having consistent controls.

For some, the cost of integrating disparate software solutions fuels an unwillingness to take a new product off the shelf unless they can guarantee an immediate ROI. Another issue is a lack of know-how in choosing the right technology. When they do purchase new technology, many construction businesses have a weak implementation process and end up setting up new software to run like a legacy system.

Time to Make Better Decisions

We can all agree that new technology is essential for innovation in the construction industry. Not only can new tools and solutions accelerate contractor productivity and improve accuracy, it can also reduce the increased risk associated with complex building projects.

Ready to disrupt your firm’s technology cycle? The first step is to establish a thorough process for finding the right technology for your construction business. It can be intimidating, but all contractors should learn how to assess the potential rewards of adding new technology. On Center Software can help — read our free eBook, An Estimator’s Guide: Assessing and Picking the Right Software, to get step-by-step advice to determine where your company is and where you need to be going.

Download “An Estimator’s Guide: Assessing and Picking the Right Software


All contractors have experienced bumps in the road — from surprises to delays to the wrong interpretation of plans. These can add up to a lot of headaches and put a dent in your profit margin. Once a bid is won, why not avoid costly mistakes and errors by taking a more proactive approach? You can then build on this process and apply lessons learned. Let’s review how you can use best practices to keep clients happy — from start to finish. Continue »



The speed of digital innovation is breathtaking. Mobile communications and software for construction management have revolutionized the business for building contractors. Today, project managers are linked to the office from their air-conditioned, Wi-Fi hotspot crew cab with a laptop and smartphone. General contractors, subcontractors and crews can see revised plans and discuss the construction tasks at hand, over the phone, all on the same page, whether it is a PDF on a tablet, laptop or large smartphone. Continue »


At the World of Concrete conference in Las Vegas earlier this year, I took a course called No Bad Jobs: Pre-Con That Every Contractor Must Embrace, by Brad Humphrey. He spoke at the conference for the past 16 years and has written several books including The 21st Century Supervisor. Continue »


“Winning is not a sometime thing…it’s an all the time thing. You don’t win once in a while…you don’t do the right thing once in a while…you do them right all the time. Winning is a habit.” ~ Vince Lombardi

The tough-minded approach of what it takes to be successful as quoted by Coach Lombardi easily translates to building a winning bid. Getting the estimate right isn’t something you should do once in a while… it is something you should do all the time. The results of this type of focused effort and consistency should pay off on bid day. Unfortunately, for many companies, winning on bid day is a sometime thing.

When it comes to bid day, here are some tips to improve your chances of winning. Following these simple guidelines will result in a stronger relationship between you and your client (general contractor, construction manager, owner, or trade contractor).

Tips

  1. Be intentional with your documentation – Make your attachments clear and relatable, meaning add a snippet of a drawing to show specific things you have covered in your bid, specifically those hidden items others might have missed.
  2. Show your real scope – Don’t hold back. This is the time to make sure you are telling the client about how your work will be complete against what they asked for.
  3. Disclaim with care – Don’t emphasize the “Disclaimers” or “Not Included;” sure they need to be there, but the point is to sell your strengths and specialties first and disclaim after establishing value.
  4. Remember your mistakes – What did this client berate you on last time? Did they complain that you didn’t include clean up, layout or some other unique item this client needs? If you can’t think of any mistakes made, you’re probably not getting the critical feedback that you need.
  5. Show your real details – Yes, show your quantities! Do you really think that you are the only one who knows how to take off concrete curbs, door frames, volume of rebar or whatever your scope is? How many times does your client call you back to ask, “Hey, did you include XYZ?” Pro tip: When you over communicate to your client as to what you include, it will overshadow your exclusions.
  6. Show the project schedule – Submitting number of days to complete isn’t the end. They want to know what to expect by seeing an itemized project schedule and check scope for efficiency. Such level of detail is not easy to produce, but that’s how you win. Imagine giving your client not only the number of person hours but also the sequencing of when you expect them to be ready for your crews.
  7. Show that you read the specs – Demonstrate your respect and knowledge of the project’s goals by referencing the specs as part of your decision-making process. Of course, this means that you actually have to read the specs.
  8. Don’t just go through the motions – Respond promptly to the RFI, RFQ or ITB request by fully completing the form. You should have already asked them prior to bid day why they need the information they’ve requested. That way, if there’s any issue with the information they ask for, you can respond with a note reminding the client how you already resolved this issue.
  9. Check in on bid day – Call them earlier in the day, advise them you are completing your bid and you will have it to them by a certain time. Ask once again if other things have changed with the bid, due date, time of bid, duration of the project or other questions that show them you are not only interested in but also knowledgeable of the project.
  10. Anticipate the other trades needs – If you really want to get out there, think how your trade/scope of work interrelates with another contractor’s trade/scope of work and show the client some specifics of how you will accommodate their interactions with your work. For example, you could say, “We have included a plan for the electrician to deal with their significant main conduits in the hallway and we will frame and rock the hallway side immediately so they can have access.” Though it may seem premature for the project, it makes you look like a better fit. Not only are you concerned with completing your work on time, you’re a team player interested in seeing the work of others succeed.

Now that you’re prepared to win a spot on the team, learn how to improve your game.

Moneyball Tips For Construction Managers