Construction firms continue to seek efficiency, and digital tools can help.

IRVINE, CA-Increased productivity is a big reason for construction companies to adapt digital tools for estimating and other tasks, and more and more firms are embracing them, Dennis Stejskal, VP of product management for Sage Construction and Real Estate, a division of Sage North America, tells Many firms are learning about these tools for the first time and are seeing quite a bit of throughput and productivity gains, he adds.

As reported last week, Sage North America, which supports 40,000 construction and real estate customers across North America, has launched a partnership with software provider eTakeoff to help estimators on construction projects produce more accurate estimates while vying for bids. The software provides estimators with a new collection of electronic takeoff products within the Sage portfolio of estimating solutions.

In addition, as reported earlier this week, the development sector is showing cautious optimism moving into 2014, and capital spigots are beginning to open across the board, according to Stejskal. After the dearth of development post-recession, demand for construction appears to be ramping up, he adds.

“We hear comments like, ‘We are using one less estimator than we were before, just for Denver alone, as a result of productivity tools,’ ” says Stejskal. “There are lots more takeoffs and proposals. If you work faster, you can make more mistakes, but if you use these tools, you can make fewer mistakes.”

Another shift in the construction realm, Stejskal says, is that the whole area of business development and customer relationship management is beginning to mature more. “Five or 10 years ago, you could walk into a company and ask what they’re using for CRM systems and you’d get a funny look, but companies are now getting into how they are generating their business. What type of business should we be focused on? They’re focusing more on profit margins than in the past.”

In addition, the issue of mobility area and allowing their workforce to be more productive out in the field is important to construction firms, according to Stejskal. “Technology has played a huge role there. This is giving people in the field access to data that’s locked up in the company’s servers, which allows them to make more informed decisions.”

Another construction trend Stejskal is seeing is using the cloud to host IT. “More companies every day are taking their in-house servers and putting them into data centers. They’re taking what they have and putting it into hosting environments. They want to get that IT business out of their hair. This is creating reduced IT headcount, which can be used in more operational areas. Also, hosting environments and solutions are providing easier access to their systems.”