IDW Data Helps Contractors Make Fast Work of Estimates
Chuck RossFor electrical contractors, unless an emergency is involved, getting a job generally means providing a cost estimate, first. And, especially if multiple contractors are competing for the same project, the accuracy of that estimate can mean the difference between turning a profit or taking a loss. Obtaining accurate materials pricing – a time-consuming process – is a critical piece in a successful estimate.
Today, however, the internet is making pricing data much more accessible, thanks to advances in today’s latest estimating-software packages. For example, many software products now allow contractors to pull price information direct from a local distributor and into their estimates, which provides assurance to both the contractor and potential clients of the accuracy of the resulting bid. Similarly, catalog services such as NetPricer also can take advantage of distributor-supplied information to provide their subscribers with the most up-to-date prices.
A major factor in bringing such functionality to market is a common protocol for communicating product and pricing information that was developed by an electrical-industry organization called the Industry Data Exchange Association (IDEA). Managed through an industry-wide database called the Industry Data Warehouse (IDW), this protocol provides a standardized framework manufacturers now use to describe their products, along with related dimensions, options, documentation and other information specifiers may require. ElectricSmarts depends on IDW data to ensure its Smart eCat catalog always features the latest manufacturer updates.
The verification process governing how manufacturers supply their data to the IDW helps contractors compare competing products on an equal basis, with assurance that they’re seeing the most current information on pricing and availability from both manufacturers and their selected distributors. And, with access now possible through the same estimating software used to prepare project bids, those contractors no longer need the stacks of catalogs – and numerous phone calls – previously required to pull their estimates together. By making the estimating process both more efficient and more accurate, IDW data is proving itself to be a major boon to electrical contractors’ bottom lines.