Full Circle: From AEC Project Lead to Building a Flawless Estimate

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Seamless Journey from Lead to Project Close

Better manage all aspects of the project journey through digital construction innovation

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Despite all your good intentions and efforts, do your AEC project outcomes mirror the forecasts that you set at the beginning? In the traditional bid process, construction firms would estimate project costs by referring to past projects and drilling down into old spreadsheets and expense data. But that no longer works for today’s AEC organizations, where transparency and collaboration are key to building better plans and estimates.

If your project outcomes aren’t meeting expectations, it can be a clear sign that the methods you’re using to estimate, plan and create projects are falling short.

Because Hitachi Solutions’ Engage for Construction connects all aspects of AEC project management, we may have the solution you need. From estimates and sales to forecasting and execution, Engage for Construction fully integrates with your back-end ERP system, making the flow of data seamless and accurate between stakeholders, and closing many of the gaps that often result in poor project outcomes.

Recently, our Hitachi Solutions Industry Architect, Rob George, and AEC Industry Sales Vice President, Mike Oster, joined forces with Microsoft, our longstanding technology partner, for a demo-filled webinar showcasing many of the features in our Engage for Construction product that are designed to close the transparency and planning gaps that can be commonplace.  Let’s take a look at a few of the enhancements we highlighted.

It starts with the lead

In the construction industry, leads aren’t always generated by the Sales department. “We don’t necessarily have people calling in with leads. You may be driving by an empty field and see a sign that there’s a building coming near you…that kind of thing could be a lead,” Oster said.  

Engage for Construction has extended Dynamics 365 Sales to include additional construction industry-specific data so you can track projects as leads as well as contacts. This data can include high-level project work descriptions, location data (latitude and longitude), and a map interface to confirm locations. It’s one more tool you have to ensure that potential opportunities don’t fall through the cracks, and give the entire project team the visibility needed to make more timely decisions.

Transparent bid evolution

If your project estimators and planners are often asking, “Where did that bid come from?” Engage for Construction provides the transparent collaboration tools needed to build a better bid. It pulls back the curtain on costs and risks by providing all project stakeholders with a better understanding of how a bid evolved from initial projection to final, submitted estimate.

Building on Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales,  our quoting process ensures complete and transparent bid development. You’ll have visibility into how a bid evolved over time, starting with conceptual estimates from the sales team. As the estimate becomes more formalized, you can output it to a third-party cost estimation program for more fine-grained analysis, and then import the resulting estimate back into the quoting system.

“We have the ability to bring in data from outside sources because Microsoft’s infrastructure is so open with the Azure cloud,” Oster said. “You can have a very rich set of data, a lot of opportunities to do research, reach out to publicly available information and get more data.”

Once integrated, the output can be used to determine the margin and to better understand the historical genesis of the bid. From the winning bid, a resulting project is created automatically, and Microsoft Project Operations then supports resource scheduling and operational tracking of the project through automatic creation of project production schedules.

Let’s talk

Our recent webinar was just a taste of all the transformative construction-related functionality we’re working on with our customers at Hitachi Solutions. Be sure to check it out! You’ll be energized to start thinking about all the different ways you can easily modernize your project lifecycle and kickstart your digital transformation. Then, contact us. We love to talk about the AEC project process and our broad toolkit for the construction industry, Engage for Construction

“We’re not looking at one and done, we’re looking to develop a partnership with our customers and manage that throughout the years. You’ll find that’s how we do business,” Oster said. “We have an internal saying at Hitachi Solutions, that we want to create a customer for life.”