The Comprehensive Buyer’s Guide to Estimating Software for Field Service Management

December 12, 2023

The Nitty Gritty

  • Understand the important of project estimating and the role it plays in field service management
  • Discover top down and bottom up estimating techniques as well as the pros and cons of each
  • Learn some of the best practices in using project estimating software
A tradesman is sat on a stool holding a smartphone and a blue hard hat wearing overalls and a toolbelt

Whether your business is creating estimates for a new construction installation, a routine maintenance check, or any other service or project bids, project estimating requires careful planning and attention to detail. Accurate estimates ensure that you get the most out of every project, while also helping to protect your bottom line. However, making these estimates manually can be a time-consuming and tedious task.

This is where estimating software can provide you with a huge helping hand. We’ll take a look at the different techniques used in construction project estimating, the advantages of using bottom-up estimating in project management and the different things to consider when choosing estimating software.

Introduction to Project Estimating in Field Service Management

Project estimating is a vital part of any field service management business. It involves determining the amount of resources and time needed for a job. So you need to consider the different factors involved in a job, including materials, labor, and overhead costs. This then gives you a good idea of how much to charge your customers, while taking into account your own business costs.

The role of estimating in project management

In the simplest terms; it’ll affect your bottom line and stunt your business growth if your estimating is inaccurate. In addition, your customers will feel less inclined to leave a positive review or give you repeat business, if you’re having to mess around with costs partway through projects. A precise estimate helps you to accurately bid on jobs and avoid any unexpected costs or delays during the project's completion. It also allows you to anticipate potential issues or challenges and plan accordingly. On the other hand, inaccurate estimates can lead to costly delays or unsatisfactory results due to insufficient resources or inadequate preparation.

Importance of accurate estimating for field services

Why is it important to estimate accurately? You want to maintain accuracy but remain transparent with the customer that, given the nature of the work involved, the estimate may not reflect the final costs. That’s very important as it allows for flexibility if required. There are circumstances that can’t be accounted for, such as bad weather and unforeseen site conditions, which then affect the time taken to complete work. Perhaps the customer has asked for additional work, meaning more material and more labor are required. But as long as you make it clear the cost implications and process for requesting adjustments, it’ll avoid any awkward conversations later on in the project.

It’ll take time to build good techniques for estimating project time and costs. And at the start, it may feel like a lot of trial and error. Something to consider is carrying out research regarding market prices and trends so you can make informed decisions about pricing, based on current conditions within your industry.

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Understanding Estimating Techniques

There are a heap of things to consider when preparing an estimate, and techniques you can adopt to ensure accuracy. Let’s take a look both top down and bottom up methods, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

Techniques for estimating project time and cost

The top down method takes into consideration the total project scope and assigns an estimated cost for the entire project. This approach works well for projects with well-defined parameters, as it allows for quick estimates that provide a big picture view of cost and time requirements. However, it may not always be as accurate when dealing with more detailed projects, as it doesn’t take into account any unforeseen circumstances or changes that might occur during the course of the project.

The bottom up method involves breaking down a project into individual parts or tasks, then estimating their costs separately before adding them up to get an overall estimate. This approach can provide more detailed estimates that are closer to actual costs because it accounts for all potential scenarios in advance. However, it requires more time to complete since each task must be analyzed individually.

Pros and cons of bottom up estimating in project management

Like anything in life, there are always going to be ups and downs. And bottom up estimating in project management has its pros and cons, so let’s take a look at a few of them.


  • Incredibly accurate. As bottom up estimating takes into account every minute detail of the work, it provides a detailed level of accuracy. You’re able to see all the components of a project in one place.
  • Reduces risk. While not 100% risk-proof, bottom up estimating does provide accountability for unexpected changes. As everything is accounted for and broken down for complete visibility. So you can address any issues and relay back to the relevant team.
  • Saves time. It may take a little bit of time to put together the estimate, but in the long run this will save you time (and money) later on. By estimating the full package, you can make better informed decisions and avoid unwelcome surprises in the project’s lifecycle.
  • Productivity increased. Your teams are able to work more efficiently as the entire project costs are mapped out, giving them autonomy and control over the tasks at hand.


  • Slow moving. Shorter projects or last-minute additions don’t work well with bottom up estimation, just because they are typically not drawn up in a hurry.
  • Scalability. As each project is treated individually, bottom up estimation requires you to start from scratch for each one. So while you can use other projects for inspiration if work is similar, you’ll still have to build it from the ground up.

Exploration of Construction Project Estimating

The construction industry often deals with large-scale projects, taking weeks, months or even years to complete. So with that in mind, having an accurate project estimating procedure is paramount to any successful construction business.

The significance of estimating in construction projects

As we’ve mentioned earlier in the blog, the significant factors to consider when estimating are the labor, materials and your overhead costs. But there are other things such as the location of the job, length of time to complete, whether any special equipment is required and site conditions that also need to be considered. All of this should factor into your construction project estimating process.

The last thing you need is to be halfway through a large construction project and realise your estimation is inaccurate. Whether it’s under or over, it’ll cause you additional work trying to figure out what went wrong and re-calculate. Not to mention extra time wasted. So that’s one significant plus point for construction project estimating.

Due to the nature of a lot of construction projects, and many other field service industries, knowing all of the intricate details and tasks at hand is imperative. It aids an efficient workflow and allows you to account for unexpected delays. For example, material costs fluctuate and the types of materials required for an eco-friendly project will differ from those of a standard one. Being able to account for these different aspects of a project will only aid your business growth and encourage repeat business from your customers.

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Why Opt for Construction Estimating Software?

Project estimating is not an easy task, especially when you’re just starting out or the process is new to you. However with practice, comes experience and room to expand your knowledge. So why get construction estimating software? Investing in the right solution can have a significant impact on the success of your business - providing improved accuracy in estimates, better communication between departments, increased collaboration between teams on projects, streamlined processes and so much more. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits and things to consider when shopping around.

Benefits of implementing estimating software

With the right software you can submit estimates faster and beat the competition. There are a heap of benefits which include:

  • Saving you time. You can say goodbye to starting quotes from scratch. If a customer requires an estimate similar to a project you’ve already completed, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Instead, you can simply retrieve the archived quote and duplicate it. You can also reference past estimates when building new estimates, saving you time and making your business more competitive.
  • Digitized information at your fingertips. Gone are the days of sifting through files and documents to find the right price for parts, and the right amount to charge for labor. With project estimating software, you can sync supplier catalogues and access them on the spot to help you choose the right product. You can even compare suppliers side-by-side to ensure that you’re getting the best deal. Labor is also easy to calculate. Plus, you can even auto-populate customer details, reducing tedious manual data entry.
  • Minimize human error. With manual entry and manual calculation, mathematical errors or simple data entry errors are much more common. While estimating software won’t completely remove mistakes ever being made, it will at least improve accuracy in comparison to manual processes as information is pulled from a digital database.
  • Take off with ease. Within the field service industry, take offs are common practice. Whether you’re measuring water pipes, concrete, tiling, or electrical cable, take offs are an essential part of accurately estimating the materials required to complete the job. But creating them by hand with pen and paper is time consuming. By creating a digital take off you can estimate accurately without even leaving your project management software. Simply upload a floor plan, set your scale and start drawing. A list of materials will automatically be generated which can then be used to create a quote. Plus, if you’re in a hurry, symbol recognition tools help streamline the take off process. If there are any repeating components, you can update them all at once rather than one at a time!

Considerations for choosing the right software

Your business is unique, so it’s important to search for a projectestimating software solution that works best for your needs.

Not every software on the market will work for your specific workflow. But if you take a look for these three components you’ll be starting on the right path.

  1. Customisation - ensure the estimating software you choose allows you to customize estimates to your business or provides templates that are easy to adjust as needed.
  2. Compatibility with other systems — if you aren’t using a complete field service management system and are only looking to employ a standalone estimating platform, make sure that you find something that integrates easily with your other software or processes.
  3. Intuitive features — while you will likely need software training upfront, once you’ve implemented project estimating software in your business, your processes for estimating should become intuitive and straightforward. After all, the purpose of a good software solution is to make processes simpler and more streamlined.

Keep in mind that you don’t just want estimating software to solve your immediate problems. You want a solution that can help your business grow and scale.

Best Practices in Using Estimating Software

Using estimating software to streamline the estimating process, ensure data accuracy and consistency, and improve project visibility is smart. To maximize the potential of your software and get the most for your business, let’s take a look at best practices.

Streamlining Processes with the Right Tools

One of the key benefits of estimating software is the amount of time saved each day. And streamlining your processes helps that even further. Instead of running from multiple spreadsheets and notepads, you can build a quote, schedule a job and invoice a customer all in one place. Communication across teams becomes a lot easier, with job updates being relayed from the field to the office in a matter of minutes. The right software will provide you with digital catalogues for easily accessible materials, plus any complex calculations can be digitized saving you the headache of having to do daily mathematics.

A good project estimating software will also cut down on the time it takes to deliver estimates to customers, and make necessary adjustments throughout the estimating process.

Leveraging software for enhanced project visibility

Estimation software allows you to keep track of projects easily, giving you greater visibility into their progress at any given time so you can make informed decisions about resources with accuracy. It also makes it easier to identify areas where improvements need to be made across your business efficiently. For example, with Simpro you’re able to run many different reports that focus on different areas of your business, such as profit and loss, productivity, materials management and labor costs. With this data you have a much better understanding of what’s coming in and out of the business, how projects are progressing and easily spot areas for improvement.

Top Choices in Construction Estimating Software

From simple cost estimates to more advanced analytics and data integration capabilities. With the right project estimating solution, you can benefit from improved accuracy in estimates, better communication between departments, increased collaboration between teams on projects, streamlined processes, faster turnaround times for bids and proposals, and improved customer relationships. So how do you choose the right one? Let’s take a look at some of the options.

Recommended software for field service management

When you’re shopping around it can feel daunting with the amount of options available to you, here are some of the best project estimating solutions available:

  • Simpro. Easily create estimates by importing information from schedules or customers cards, add catalogue items, pre-builds, and take-off templates for faster estimate creation, import supplier lists into your database and use those lists to add items directly to estimates and Design personalised templates for estimates specific to your business with Form Builder. In addition to its estimating capabilities, Simpro provides solutions for all areas of the field service workflow, including a mobile app for field staff to stay connected at all times.
  • CoConstruct. Offering powerful solutions such as automated takeoff measurements from plans directly into budgets, product selection tools that list all available products in one place with interactive pricing displays, integrated order tracking capabilities that offer visibility into customer changes at any stage of the process and a heap more.
  • Jobber. Designed to help field service businesses schedule with ease, optimize routes, send quotes and invoices via SMS, and get paid quickly and efficiently. Jobber has a dedicated mobile app which aids communication between the office and field staff, streamlining processes further.

Final Thoughts in Project Estimating

Project estimating plays a crucial role in the success of your business. Techniques such as top-down estimating and bottom-up methods offer different approaches, each with their own pros and cons. And in the construction industry, where large-scale projects are common, precise estimating becomes even more critical due to factors like location, project duration, special equipment needs‌ and site conditions. Implementing project estimating software can significantly enhance accuracy, efficiency‌ and communication. Allowing for faster bid submissions and streamlined workflows, in no time—your business will be growing in no time.

Editorial Note: This content was originally published in February 2020. It has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.