Likelihood to Recommend
[It is] well suited to large scale complex construction projects with many participants. Aconex requires patience and training and, although it's good, it could be better. Short duration, small projects probably aren't a good fit.
Sage Estimating was initially created for the construction industry and many of its current users use it to estimate buildings, but it has adapted quite well for the oil and gas industry. If the user is willing to invest the time and energy to develop and maintain their database, I can see it working for any industry.It is very easy to adjust and adapt the database as estimating methods and project designs change. As an example, our accounting department sometimes changes the way projects are reporting in our accounting software. Because I can go through our 9000 line item database in a couple of days, I am always ahead of the curve and can report my estimates in the format they require.
- File Sharing - unlimited storage, version control and access control on a neutral host - Aconex is significantly superior to ftp, SharePoint or a contractor hosted platform in that once onboarded, each user organization has equal privileges and can in turn onboard any number of members within the respective organizations.
- Process and Workflow Management - while imperfect, Aconex offers the opportunity to customize process control and enforcement. Our team used these processes for RFI preparation and response, submittal tracking and other custom requirements.
- Neutrality - while mentioned, the neutral host places all project participants on a equal basis. Typically, non-neutral platforms favor in-house participants to the detriment of the project. Until shared, files are 100% private to the respective organizations.
- Mobile interface - good (not perfect) access to unlimited project file information from a mobile device.
- Audit trail - no more "I didn't get that document". File sharing and file opening is tracked by user. Transmittals are a matter of record and there's no 'delete' function.
- Assemblies & Models are one of the strongest features of Sage Estimating. They take the software far beyond what simple templates can accomplish. The assemblies that the user creates are always up to date with the latest data in the database. They allow you to take off huge amounts of material & labor quickly, giving you the time to focus on analyzing the estimate.
- The WBS (work breakdown structure) gives the user the ability to sort data in a large variety of ways. Using multiple WBS fields the user can view the estimate in a variety of different ways, allowing for a more complete review.
- The Sage Helpdesk is always helpful and efficient. They are usually able to resolve any issues in a timely manner. And once the software is up and running properly, it requires very little maintenance.
- The software works well with Crystal Reports. The user can attach multiple Crystal Reports to the Reports Menu for ease of access. Sage Estimating comes with its own Crystal Report application. The user can use this to create custom reports.
- The latest SQL version of Sage Estimating represents a welcome step forward from Sage. It is more secure and stable than the older Pervasive version. It allows for the assigning of different roles to the estimators in the organizations, such as admin, Sr Estimator, Jr Estimator. The user can even define their own roles.
- Interface needs work; graphically inelegant, somewhat non-intuitive.
- Process controls could be better 'templated' for industry standards.
- Dashboard/to do for project managers - it's still too hard to see who is slowing the project down.
- While the SQL version may represent a step forward from Sage, it is a recent release and still has a few bugs in it. (I’ve contacted Sage with the issues I’ve found and hopefully they are working to resolve them.) For instance, I've found a bug where the Notes column prints twice when I run a report. However there is a simple workaround for this.
- Though the database contains lots of user fields, it lacks the ability to add custom fields to the database. For instance, a weight field added to the material portion of the database would be very useful.
- The Sage Helpdesk is always helpful unless they have not encountered the error before. In which case, they struggle a bit.
- The software works with Crystal Reports, but the Sage helpdesk doesn’t support Crystal Report. I have an issue with my reports latching onto data from old estimates and not letting go. I have developed a work around for this, but it is still a bug that needs to be addressed.
- I would also like the menus to be customizable.
Likelihood to Renew
I am currently using file sharing such as Egnyte and ShareFile which are useful but don't have much of a transmittal or inmail functionality so I can't really speak to other products in the same league as Aconex. I don't typically like proprietary contractor solutions due to their non-neutrality and embedded agendas, which often are not consistent with the owner's interests.
I have also extensive experience using spreadsheets to estimate projects. I still use spreadsheets to support my estimates. Spreadsheets are very flexible and can be adjusted to show the estimate in an endless variety of ways. However, spreadsheets suffer from one serious defect which Sage Estimating does not. At any time a formula can be broken. One missing formula can compromise an entire estimate. The formulas are built into Sage Estimating, so this is not an issue.
Return on Investment
- Reductions in print costs alone (subcontractor bid process) paid completely for the use of the product. Further benefits to all project participants included process streamlining and 100% access to all project documentation (Drawings, Specifications, Contracts, Notices of Change, Change Orders etc.) from any online source including mobile devices. Benefits probably accounted for 150% of product cost.
- Intangible benefits included reduced exposure to claims as a result of good (and agreed process tracking).
- Sage Estimating software is superior in almost every way to using spreadsheets. I have used both methods to estimate projects and much prefer estimating software. Using this software I can estimate an entire compressor station in under an hour. It literally takes seconds to generate the estimate; and then I spend the rest of the time adjusting and reviewing it. This saves hours of time and allows me to produce hundreds of estimates a year.
- We maintain a high level of accuracy by using Sage Estimating. While there are always outliers, most of our estimates fall well within the accuracy range of the class of estimate we produce. (Our accuracy ranges are based on AACEI guidelines.) Overall, our projects generally fall within +/- 5% of the budget.
- The accuracy and quality of the estimate is only as good as the time and energy invested in maintaining the database. The database requires quite a bit of maintenance in order to keep it accurate. I spend perhaps 10% of my time working with the data.
Premium Consulting/Integration Services—
Entry-level set up fee?