As a manufacturer, you rely heavily on your manufacturing estimating software to manage your projects and costs efficiently and accurately.

But if you’re like most, you’ve tried off-the-shelf cookie-cutter estimators or even Excel, which don’t offer you the flexible algorithms required for parametric estimating nor take into account all of the factors necessary to produce a fair, accurate, and profitable estimate.

A dedicated estimating software solution tailored to the intricacies of manufacturing becomes an indispensable asset, ensuring that your estimates align precisely with the unique demands of your projects, leading to more informed decision-making and enhanced profitability.

Boasting extensive expertise, Alchemy specializes in custom manufacturing estimating software that is tailored to your organizational needs. With full integration and ease of use as our priorities, our custom business software is intentionally designed to contribute to ROI while streamlining communication between the company and the customer.

In this article, we explore the crucial role estimating software plays in manufacturing and how custom cost estimating software can help you create sophisticated estimates in less time.

What is estimating software?

Estimating software is a specialized tool manufacturing companies use for project planning and cost management. By factoring in materials, labor expenses, and overhead, manufacturing estimating software, also known as manufacturing quoting software, facilitates precise calculations of manufacturing costs so you can easily see or even specify what your profit margin will be. It serves as a comprehensive solution for businesses, offering the flexibility needed for accurate parametric estimating.

Integrated seamlessly into the sales process, it also aids in generating sales orders by incorporating existing master inventory items, ensuring a swift and accurate translation of estimates into actionable steps. This kind of software also contributes to the maintenance of an efficient master customer file, fostering a holistic understanding of client needs and preferences. It helps manufacturers navigate the intricacies of the supply chain, ensuring that all factors crucial to producing a fair, accurate, and profitable estimate are considered.

With the right manufacturing estimating software in place, you can streamline your processes, enhance decision-making, and ultimately optimize profitability.


Accurate Estimates: Why Custom Matters in Manufacturing Cost Estimating

Time is money illustration - stopwatch with credit card and cash in background

Your company requires a specialized quoting and estimating software that fits its specific needs. However, businesses vary greatly. Although there are key features needed in any effective project estimating software, you may find that many of the options are made to suit a wide range of companies, resulting in a more generic design.

As a customer using this software, you’ll generally find that it won’t take into account all of the factors necessary to produce a fair, accurate, and profitable estimate, meaning you have to take the basic numbers in the software and manipulate them in a utility app like Excel or Google Docs.

The beauty of Alchemy’s business software is that it is entirely customized, including manufacturing cost estimating. Our first step is to listen to your organizational needs before beginning to create a solution. With Alchemy, you can define custom attributes, utilize any established estimation norm from previous tools, establish seamless internal data sharing, and much more, including detailed sales reporting to provide a comprehensive view of your business performance.

Our systems act as the functional DNA of your business, containing all of the business rules and practices. That way, the correct information can be gathered, managed, and later handed off to other business systems or apps like Quickbooks, DocuSign, Slack, and Hubspot to do what they do best.

Main Benefits of Custom Project Estimating Software

The advantages of custom project estimating software, especially when it’s tailored to your specific manufacturing processes, are numerous. Unlike generic off-the-shelf software, custom software aligns seamlessly with your business intricacies, optimizing efficiency and accuracy. 

Custom software allows for the incorporation of specialized algorithms based on the unique parameters of your manufacturing processes, ensuring that material costs and other critical factors are calculated accurately. Providing a level of sophistication that generic software often lacks, this customization not only expedites the estimating process but also improves the sophistication of estimates as well. With a thorough, well-designed estimate, you’ll not only impress your customers but earn yourself more business. 

The result is a streamlined workflow that empowers your team to generate comprehensive and accurate estimates in significantly less time, fostering agility and precision in project planning and cost management.

Custom project estimating software from Alchemy:
  • Is ideal for manufacturing-related industries
  • Offers a variety of estimation inputs/attributes available at your request
  • Streamlines estimating by looking up pricing by vendor or inventory item
  • Creates and modifies estimates quickly and easily
  • Integrates estimate data with budgetary information within one unified system

Increase Your Bid-To-Win Ratio with Alchemy

Whether you are looking for manufacturing estimating software or are the decision maker for an organization in another vertical, the fact remains that being able to produce more accurate estimates in less time will naturally improve your bid-to-win ratio.

That much is clear. What more and more organizations are realizing, however, is that not all project estimating software is created equal. You’ll often find solutions with superfluous or missing fields and a lack of intuitive usability, not to mention the inability to automatically share data between departments. These are elements that each business cannot afford to be without.

Key Challenges Addressed by Custom Software Solutions

Manufacturing often means narrow margins. Custom manufacturing is especially vulnerable to losses if the estimates cannot take every factor into account.

At Alchemy, we can provide for all factors your business may encounter in manufacturing sales. Whether it’s special charges, unique supply chains, or variable pricing based on unusual factors, our custom software has you covered. 

This extends to seamless integration into the sales order process and robust cost analysis tools, ensuring that customer quotes are not only accurate but also reflective of the intricate variables inherent in custom manufacturing.

Common Applications for Custom Estimating Software

In the manufacturing industry, custom estimating software has proven to be an invaluable asset. Its versatility ranges from precise project planning to intricate cost management, addressing the unique requirements of custom manufacturing. Let’s take a look at some applications:

Let’s say you’re a high-end custom cabinet shop in which every product is engineered from scratch using a wide variety of materials. In addition to tracking materials by square footage, linear measure, or piece, installation needs can vary widely, and materials used may be unique, first-time materials. With multiple factors to account for, custom software is a must.

Man Using a Laptop at a Wood Workshop

The same applies to an audio-visual vendor who sets up and manages all audio-visuals for conferences with thousands of attendees. Their software must be able to estimate equipment, personnel (labor hours), as well as a range of other key factors.

At Alchemy, we have taken the complex estimating rules for various niche industries and built out easy-to-use estimating systems with features like real-time auditing of mathematical results, materials management, variable pricing, and complexity factoring.

We worked with a costume-making company that builds themed outfits for dance teams, marching bands, and drill teams. Each performer must be uniquely sized. More importantly, the costumes are often meant to evoke a particular mood or message. To do this, a team of designers estimates the costumes, starting with a sketch, and then adding materials that are found by keyword. Keywords might include color, fabric texture, or other attributes. Some costumes are more complex, so a complexity score can be added to an estimate.

What started as a small mom-and-pop operation, the company soon grew to be a medium-sized operation with a loyal customer base. As they moved into larger facilities and hired more people, their production tracking processes did not change. Every job had a thick paper folder that followed it through its complex process — sales, design/estimate, gathering measurements, fabric planning, patterning, cutting, sewing, finishing, QA, shipping — if the folder was lost, all was lost! We replaced this system with a full ERP that managed every aspect of the business, including an innovative reverse scheduler that allowed them to work backward from the ship date since most orders were needed by a specific show date. 

Man Working with Textile Machinery

This allowed them to be much better at meeting deadlines with no panic, and the business not only worked more efficiently but grew to be one of the top competitors in the industry within a few years. The system paid for itself in time savings and better order fulfillment within the first 18 months. We also built them a web customer portal that offloaded the entering of measurements (25+ measurements per performer, average of 20 performers per order) entirely to the customer, freeing up employee resources.

A Proven User Experience and Customization Process

What makes a certain custom software better than another? The process behind developing it. Here at Alchemy, user experience is central to everything we do. That’s why the people using the software are our first and final consideration.

We start with the team, their company culture, priorities, and general comfort level with software. We learn the processes and rules around how each department gets things done and design workflows in the system that closely align with the way the users think about their work – only more streamlined, with better insights. This results not only in software that closely aligns with the people using it but also in software that solves problems in the most efficient way possible.

Custom Estimating Software Specialists

No matter what kind of customized estimating software you’re looking to have developed, choosing Alchemy affords your company with easy-to-use, powerful solutions that are specifically built for your organizational needs. We’ll start by identifying organizational inefficiencies based on your recommendations and go from there! We’ll walk with you through each step of the process and develop a solution with full integration and ease of use at its heart.

Ultimately, we are invested in helping you save time and money by building beautiful and efficient custom software for your business.

If you are ready to learn more about what our custom software solutions can do for you, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Schedule your free consultation at your convenience and tell us about your project! We’d love to hear from you.