Choosing pricing software to for federal contracting bids is not is easy as it would seem (and it doesn’t seem easy to start with!). As you can imagine, all contact pricing software is not created equally. Some proposal pricing software is specifically designed for niche industries’ federal proposal writing needs, while some estimating tools cover a broad range of government proposals, but does not have the detailed functionality that might be needed in a specific industry.
While finding the right bid pricing software for your type of business depends on your needs and uses, there are some features that make one proposal writing software option better than others. These considerations include:
- Application Integration
It is really handy if the pricing software you choose plays nice with the other applications used in the planning process. If your accounting, design, and project management software can all share data with your pricing software, you can save yourself a lot of time and money in the estimating process.
Some pricing software charge extra for the integration capability, and some application integration is more comprehensive than others. Some systems will even let you share data between applications from a mobile device, which is incredibly convenient when you’re recording information in the field.
- Ease-of-use and Adoptability
If you acquire pricing software that is a hassle to use, your staff who responsible for estimating bids will not use it to its full potential. Consider how easy it is to install the pricing software, how difficult the interface is to navigate, and how complicated it is to enter project-specific data when evaluating a pricing tool.
Another aspect to consider on the subject of ease-of-use is the training and demonstrations available to help your staff make the most of the software. Some pricing solutions offer training when acquiring the application, and some have a library of demonstration videos available so that staff can continue to learn as specific issues arise. If the system you are considering does not provide any training for their software, this may become an issue in the future.
- Comprehensive Cost Tracking
One important factor in creating accurate estimates is being able to track the difference between your bids and the actual cost. Often, prices for materials or subcontractors change after you submit the bid, making your costs vary from your estimate.
Good pricing software lets you dial down cost tracking and differentiate between material costs and labor fees, so that you can see exactly where any variation is. Reviewing the cost tracking capabilities of the software you’re considering is an important factor in choosing the right application for your needs.
- Ongoing Support
When you first install a new pricing system, you will find that having support while you work out the kinks is essential for a successful adoption. Even after your pricing software is in place, unusual issues may arise that require customer support. One of the most important considerations when choosing pricing software is what method you can get assistance if you need it. When you’re in a crunch to meet a deadline, you don’t want to be limited to sending email and waiting around for them to respond in order to have your issue corrected. Having access to technical support immediately through chat or over the phone might make or break your bid.
- Other Considerations
A few other things you should think about before choosing pricing software include:
- Does the software work with any operating system? If you are a Mac-based business, this might be a huge hurdle.
- Can you generate custom reports? Being able to slice and dice the data from any project will help you stay on track financially and give you progress reports in real time.
- Can you track customers information? This might be particularly helpful when you do more than one project for the same customer.
- Are you able to manage vendors and suppliers? Depending on the nature of your business, you probably have hundreds of different suppliers and vendors that you work with. Keeping track of your vendors and suppliers can help you get better rates, and maintain a good relationships with those who give you good-quality materials and tools.
Have you acquired new pricing software lately? What considerations were important to you? Please share your experience in the comment section below.