Building a better bidding process
April 14, 2021 | 4:48 pm CDT

Photo By Cabinet Vision, Hexagon Production Software

As those of us who’ve been sucked into a social media vortex can well attest, thinking that we know how we’re spending our time isn’t the same as actually knowing. Sure, it’s a bit alarming when it turns out that those 15 minutes spent on Instagram were actually two hours, but it’s downright scary when it turns out that the one hour you thought you’d devoted to finishing work was actually four.

The quest for accurate bidding processes can be a real headache because understanding where time is spent takes valuable time that many businesses, particularly smaller shops, don’t think they have. It can be hard enough to simply get jobs out the door without tracking each minute spent on a range of tasks, especially if you’re a team of one or running a large operation with multiple moving parts. Though it does take some effort, understanding how long it usually takes for staff to complete tasks leads to more efficient and accurate bidding, which ultimately leads to you being paid for the job that you actually did.

Taking advantage of technology that will automate a major portion of bidding work can save a great deal of time and add up to significant savings in the long run. However, if you’re considering implementing software that includes bidding functionality you still have to tell the software how much time to allocate to specific tasks for bids to accurately reflect the amount of work that goes into your projects.

Investigating your shop
A great way to get down to the nuts and bolts of knowing where time is spent is to conduct a true-time study on how much time is devoted to common tasks. Once you have a solid idea of how much time is typically spent on each task, you can use the results of your study to help build the foundation of your bidding process.

How much time is spent moving parts around the shop? How much does the time spent moving those parts vary depending upon the size of the job? Organizing, labeling, moving, and sometimes even locating parts may take your team more time than is currently built into your bids, so it’s worth the effort to take a closer look.

An added benefit of studying your use of time is that it can reveal some potentially simple ways to streamline your workflow. If a significant amount of time is spent handling parts, for instance, rearranging your shop so that the parts are closer to where they need to be from the outset can reduce travel. Likewise, true-time studies on the amount of time spent on assembly, finishing work, and other common tasks may reveal that you spend more time on some tasks than anticipated, and less time on others.

Bidding made better with digital tools
When researching options for bidding software, it’s best to look for solutions that offer flexibility and customization, as flexible solutions enable users to price items as they see fit. Likewise, it’s ideal to implement solutions that account for how products are engineered and allow users to price those jobs accordingly.

Rigid bidding software can make it more difficult to generate accurate bids based on the actual process used if it differs significantly from the process used by the bidding system. Programs are available that include powerful bidding capabilities, including design-to-manufacturing software that offers flexibility.

Regardless of the software package used, the cornerstone of success with any bidding system is the quality of the data used. In other words, you must begin with good information to generate accurate bids. This includes data derived from time studies, as well as accurate vendor and pricing information. While it does take some time and effort to get the software up and running, the time saved on bidding future jobs is well worth it.

Source: Cabinet Vision, Hexagon Production Software. For information call 800-280-6932 or visit Read a longer version of the article.

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