Chelsea asked some time ago to write a blog piece on the different construction software lines that we support and sell at Cassell Consulting, construction software reviews. At first I resisted, thinking it was important to separate “church and state”, that is, keeping our blog set distinctly apart from any sales topics. That said, I agree that it’s in our cleintele’s best interests to explain our products, specifically what sets them apart from one another, and what makes one a better fit than another. To start, it seems relevant to reiterate exactly what it is that we offer our customers at Cassell Consulting:

First Class Customer Support is first, last, and always our hallmark.
Our main mission to achieve the highest possible standards of excellence and customer satisfaction in our training, consulting, sales, and support services.

With our focus on customer service and satisfaction established, estimating product consulting and support was what got us into business to begin with. Back in 1998, I found myself getting burned out working as an estimator-project manager for a commercial construction firm in Vancouver, Washington. One day the phone rang, and two weeks later I was on a plane to Sydney, to build a metric electrical database for the electrical firm that had the contract to on the stadium for the upcoming Olympic Games in Australia in 2000. Since that time over ten years ago, Cassell Consulting has been in the business of helping companies maximize their return on the investment in they’ve made in estimating and project management software. Timberline’s Precision Estimating & Job Cost software was our exclusive focus at that time, and has remained a mainstay in our product line ever since. Click the links below to read the construction software reviews:

(2) Primavera’s SureTrak
(3) On Screen Takeoff
(4) US Cost’s Success Estimator
(5) WinEstimator’s Modelogix
(6) Oracle | Primavera’s “P6″
(7) Beck Technologies’ D-Profiler
(8) RocTek’s WinEx
(9) iPM Global iPM Project Management
(10) Viewpoint V6 Construction Accounting
(11) PlanSwift

Whew! It’s a long list with a few competing interests, but by and large most of the software are more complementary than competitive. Using the chronology above, I’m offering  straightforward comments on each, the good and bad; the straight scoop on the different construction software and what they do best. I’ve also attempted to supply BALLPARK pricing guidance, which  is only approximate, and can vary considerably with different module configurations.  Please contact us for a software quote for your company’s particular requirements.

Timberline Estimating Review

  •  Focus: Estimating for Commercial General Contractors, vertical (building) construction
  • Optimum Company Size: $15mm & up
  • Quick eval: Timberline has been one of the top 3 commercial general contractor packages for over 30 years. It’s a mature, solid system that to a large extent put dedicated estimating systems on the map.
  • #1 Strength: The best assembly takeoff engine I’ve seen in all my years of consulting & support. Maximizes takeoff efficiency & reduces takeoff time using formulaeic calculations, quantifying thoes elements needed in the assembly, & eliminating those not required by the project spec.
  • #1 Disadvantage: old database engine, the company’s sluggish pace of software enhancement; it has lost its once innovative edge that charcterized its product for many years.
  • Base cost $3,500 Standard, $5,500 Extended. We would recommend the Extended version for all but an entry level investment.
  • Who to contact: Chelsea Cassell. (we are not Sage-Timberline dealers, but will be happy to connect you to those we work cooperatively with)
  • Base price: $3,000 Standard, $5,000 Extended per license (Concurrent Licensing)

Primavera SureTrak Review

  • Focus: Scheduling & Project Mangement for all industries requiring detailed critical-path scheduling & performance analysis
  • Optimum company size: $5mm & up
  • Quick eval: sadly now no longer sold. It was in my opinion the absolute second-best software deal in the world, right behind Microsoft Excel. No software could do the detailed analysis of where you stood or to predict where you were likely to finish, better than SureTrak, all for under $500.
  • Remaining comments omitted due to its unavailability. (please see P6 below, its successor software)
  • Base price: (NO LONGER AVAILABLE)

OnScreen Takeoff Review

  • Focus: Digitial Takeoff for Commercial General Contractors
  • Optimum company size: all companies who receive digital copies of project plans
  • Quick eval: one of the most efficient ways to speed up quantity takeoff, using direct plan measurement on the computer screen
  • #1 Strength: Save time performing quantity takeoff, (the grunt work of estimating)
  • #1 Disadvantage: I am disappointed with some of its networking features, i.e., inability to share project files with others. Great for horizontal takeoffs, not as efficient for vertical wall framing components
  • Base price: $3,000 per license (Concurrent Licensing)

US Cost Success Estimator Review

  • Focus: Estimating & budgeting for Department of Defense projects, facilities, manufacturing, public utilities.
  • Optimum company (type): > $50mm D.O.D. contractors, Government agencies, Owners
  • Quick eval: Easy to use right out of the box for estimating & budgeting. More popular with D.O.D., governemental agencies & facility owners
  • #1 Strength: an estimating system created by estimators, and doesn’t require a fully-developed database to use. That said, it’s got an extensive data library selection available also. Data is extremely portable for importing & exporting to other programs.
  • #1 Disadvantage: mature software with little active development. Assemblies aren’t as powerful as some software.
  • Base price: $4,000 per license (hardware based, per user; more info on request)

WinEst Modelogix Review

  • Focus: Conceptual budget estimates
  • Optimum company size: > $10mm
  • Quick eval: Lightning fast budgeting, even without plans, based on similar, comparable estimates
  • #1 Strength: Potentaily stores a company’s entire estimating intellectual property in a single database, This is huge. Extremely fast & intuitive budgeting, based on comps from in-house designed categories & queries.
  • #1 Disadvantage: As is, can’t be used as a basis for detailed estimate. Rigid category structure doesn’t permit reorganizing. However both these are being addressed in upcoming release which was originally scheduled for 12/2011, soon to be released….????
  • Base price: $5,400 per Admin license (1 reqd), $2,900 per User license (Concurrent Licensing)

Primavera P6 Review

  • Focus: Scheduling & Project Management
  • Optimum company size: > $15mm
  • Quick eval: Hands down, the best scheduling program out there.
  • #1 Strength: Scheduling, excellent project management / forecasting tool using Critical Path Method, superb analytical tools. Enterprise component allows a company to see all its active projects at once. Web-based utility has most functions available through internet. Gold standard for DOD projects.
  • #1 Disadvantage: to get the most out of P6, a SQL server is required, but it does run well on (free) SQL Server Express for smaller companies; Named User Licensing is most expensive type.
  • Base price: $2,500 per license. (Named User Licensing)

D-Profiler Review

  • Focus: Building Informationi Modeling (BIM) Macro Modeling
  • Optimum company size: > $50mm
  • Quick eval: Graphically-driven, conceptual modeling tool, capable of jaw-dropping, instant graphic modeling while creating a detailed budget simultaneously
  • #1 Strength: sales tool with Owners: can show potentially how their building could look, while developing budget simultaneously. Very flexible to add / subtract space, floors, building systems. Graphic tools include rotating all elevations, tilt perspective. Can link to Google Earth to place building on the Owner’s property..
  • #1 Disadvantage: macro-model (graphics) at this time cannot be used for more detailed followup graphic design. However it can create a Timberline estimate that can be the basis of a more detailed estimate.
  • Base Price: $5,000 & up. (Concurrent Licensing)

RocTek Review

  • Focus: Fast, graphic sitework / civil quantity takeoff
  • Optimum company size: sitework company > $1mm
  • Quick eval: Fast, graphic site takeoff, typically saving 75% or better of quantity takeoff calculations
  • #1 Strength: Saves QTO time for Civil contractors & sitework. Plus module can read digital plans & generate quantities without tracing contours.
  • #1 Disadvantage: dated graphic appearance
  •  Base price: $5,000 Std, $7,000 Master per license (Concurrent Licensing)

iPM Global Review

  • Focus: Project Management, Document Control
  • Optimum company size: > $50mm
  • Quick eval: Powerful, flexible Project Management, Cost, & Document control. Based on Microsoft CRM engine.
  • #1 Strength: CRM engine provides robust & flexible workflow. If a company’s process is not in the software, it can be quickly configured & added
  • #1 Disadvantage: Named User Licensing most expensive model
  • Base price: $2,500 per License (Named User Licensing

 Viewpoint V6 Review

  • Focus: Accounting & Project Mangement, HR
  • Optimum company size: > $10mm
  • Quick Eval: Modern, well-designed Construction Accounting suite, with Project Management, HR, & useful, optional peripheral modules
  • #1 Strength: modern, efficient, fully-integrated system with excellent interface to the popular Estimating systems and best-in-class Project Projection utility
  • #1 Disadvantage: only the pain of switching accounting systems
  • Base price: $20,000 for 4-licenses,   (concurrent licensing)

PlanSwift Review

  • Focus: Digital Takeoff
  • Optimum company size: all
  • Quick Eval: intuitive electronic quantity takeoff, nimble, lean, and easy to use
  • #1 Strength: saves time in generating estimate quantities, interfaces to popular Estimating systems. Can also be used effectively as standalone estimating for smaller companies.
  • #1 Disadvantage: no database, so some elements need to be recreated for each project. (no database can also be an advantage, to learn & implement the software more quickly)
  • Base price: $850 (concurrent licensing)