At Tradetek Plugins, we get a lot of calls from Planswift users looking for guidance on how to get the most out of their software. I'm going to be posting some articles covering the topics from some of the most common questions that we get.
One of the calls that I get quite often is from GC's looking for help configuring Planswift to best meet their needs.
Having worked with and developed plugins for Planswift for many years, my take on the software is that it's a great digital takeoff platform with the ability to allow the user to configure the estimating side almost any way that they want. This is great if you have some software development knowledge, or if you have some time to invest and want to take on the challenge of learning how to develop tools in Planswift. For most users, the task of configuring the software to get the most out of it can be daunting, to say the least. One of the challenges that comes with Planswift's flexibility is determining the best direction to head in when it comes to setting up your system. In this post, I'll touch on some options that you may want to consider when trying to maximize the potential of your software as a GC.
Setting up Planswift to work for General Contractors can be challenging, depending on what you want to get out of it. Since GC's deal with all trades and facets of a project from start to finish, there's a lot to consider.
Most all of the contractors that I talk with say that their biggest challenge is getting bids out the door and they're looking for a way to be able to generate project estimates quickly. We developed the Project Estimate Plugin to do just that. Organized by division, it comes with assemblies that are very flexible and easy to customize. You can quickly create your own assemblies with copy and paste and add your own pricing which are stored and are available to use with all of your takeoffs. You can very quickly develop your own custom database of items with pricing to be used in every project. The Project Estimate report is auto-generated as you perform your takeoff and provides a line item breakdown with subtotals by division as well as optional mark-up percentage.
If you want to be able to generate your own detailed material lists for your projects you will need a more advanced configuration. The trade specific, GC and Lumber Yard plugins that we develop fit this scenario perfectly. Our GC Plugin is the most complete, comprehensive plugin for General Contractors that exists for Planswift.
Most GC's also use construction management software to help manage scheduling, change orders and other tasks throughout the project. In this scenario, most of the time the goal is to integrate the output from Planswift as seamlessly as possible with the management software. For this application in my opinion, it usually works best to handle your pricing in the management software and not in Planswift (mostly because you will want the pricing to generate change orders). It can be set up so that your export out of Planswift can include item numbers that match up with your pricing and be imported directly into the management software. We've made this integration process much easier with the release of our DBLive plugin for Planswift. DBLive creates a live connection between any Excel spreadsheet or workbook, Access database file or virtually any other database file and the takeoff item properties in Planswift.
If you're a GC trying to figure out how get the most out of Planswift, hopefully this will give you a little insight and help with your decision making process. What I can tell you is that when properly configured, Planswift is an extremely powerful estimating tool that can increase accuracy and save a significant amount of time.
If you would like to discuss your specific needs or have questions about setting up your system, we are always happy to help! To read more about our approach to developing plugins, check out our About page.