Why Excel is the most popular estimating tool.

The use of spreadsheets, or namely Excel – the de facto King of all spreadsheets – has always been the most popular tool amongst Estimators. Since inception, estimators have inevitably gravitated towards Excel and to date, many still heavily swear by it. Today we will explore why Excel, a seemingly simple software, has become the holy grail revered by the brethren of Estimators.

Electronic spreadsheets were pioneered based on paper spreadsheets, which were mostly used in the realm of accounting. As the name suggests, a spreadsheet is literally a large sheet of paper mapped with rows (Horizontal) and columns (Vertical). Business data was entered into the cells and collectively spread across the sheet to empower decision makers. However, due to the restrictive nature of physical documentation, users were only really able to enter and review data. To rectify this flaw, digital spreadsheets were developed to also enable users to store, edit, manipulate and visually present data.

Today, spreadsheet packages such as Excel have advanced so far that the functionality is virtually endless. From performing arithmetic operations, to carrying out “What If” analysis; and from visually presenting data, to filtering out unwanted information. If you can think it, Excel can probably do it, and naturally, flexibility is the inaugural reason estimators have embraced Excel to be their bread-and-butter.

When moving from paper to digital, estimators did not have to change how they went about completing their estimates. The logic behind it was effectively the same which helped ease the transition from a paper spreadsheet to a digital one. Additionally, Excel’s all round versatility stretched over to not only what Estimators can do, but also how they can do it. Users have the ability to configure and setup templates to suit their estimating methods and standards. Mathematical and logical formulas can be stored and called upon when needed. To top it all off, Excel supports a variety of “Add-on” applications to supplement the estimating journey. This may include linking up to an open cost database, or integrating with a takeoff software like eMeasure for greater speed and reliability. It is predicted that more estimators use Excel combined with “Add-on” applications than all of the other estimating applications combined.

Another prominent reason for Excel’s appeal is its accessibility. The whole suite of Microsoft software could be purchased from as little as $5.00 USD – $8.30 USD per user per month. A Double Quarter Pounder meal is valued at $6.60 USD, so if you can afford a meal at McDonalds, you can afford Excel. Plus, because it has such a low-price tag while still having immense value, Excel is pretty much taught into most, if not all, high schools and colleges. Today, knowing Excel can be practically classified as common knowledge; little training is required and the intrinsic familiarity has swayed people to adopt and use Excel every day.

Excel has and will continue to be the most popular estimating tool worldwide due to its simplicity, accessibility and unlimited potential. Simply supplement it with complementing tools to achieve greater efficiency and reliability. For example, with eMeasure you can live-link your takeoff directly to Excel and eliminate any Copy-Paste errors. As the quantities are live-linked, you can validate them anytime during your estimate to avoid any last minute spoilers. If you want to learn more about how eMeasure can be your estimating sidekick, then please feel free to contact us here.

(!) Please note that eMeasure is no longer available to purchase or rent. RIB Software have taken this decision so that development efforts can be focussed on RIB’s flagship iTWO costX range. Click here to find out more about iTWO costX takeoff 2D, which features the same underlying engine and workflows as eMeasure, plus several other advanced features.