Timberline Estimating Software Review

While the thought of being a full time blogger is certainly romantic, the reality of my life is that of a construction project manager and estimator. As I become busy in my professional life, something has to give and I guess writing articles is *that* something that has to give.

Before any project gets built, the owner wants to know how much the project is going to cost. Most of the time we are providing cost estimates and competing with anywhere from 5 to 10 other contractors. In most cases, the low responsible price wins the contract.

On a $3 million dollar project, I will spend about 2 weeks putting the project estimate together. Estimating software is of the most important software that I use on a regular basis.

Recently, the company I work for tasked yours truly to oversee a new computer and software upgrade. This particular upgrade included a new company server, workstations, and estimating software.

Prior to the upgrade, we were using a product from Sage software called Timberline Estimating. I believe Timberline was the first mainstream estimating software. I personally have been using Timberline Estimating software for the past 15 years.

After enduring multiple webinairs from multiple estimating software platforms, I narrowed it down to two choices – ProEst and Timberline.

Timberline has the advantage of being a tried, true, and tested estimating platform by companies large and small. It also had the advantage that all of us at work have been using it for a long time. Because estimating software is the most important function for us at work, we desire to utilize the best software to help us with our estimating.

Let me make it clear that the estimating software is a tool that we use. We are NOT slaves to the software and the software does not “think” for us. I guess an analogy would be playing the guitar. You aren’t simply going to put a Les Paul guitar in someone’s hands and all of a sudden they become Eric Clapton.

ProEst has a great marketing deptartment. They are able to clearly articulate and demonstrate the great things that ProEst can do. Unfortunately, that is as good as it gets with ProEst. The program is slow and klunky and I personally ran into several bugs that, according to ProEst support, were being worked on and “would be fixed in an upcoming release”.

Our company went so far as to buy several licenses under the false pretense that we would be able to get some of our money back if things didn’t work out. Long story short, things didn’t work out. Nearly all of our estimating team found the software to be too slow and time consuming to use. Our estmating team consists of 6 who all have at least 10 years estimating experience. Once they have their hands on your money, they will not do the honorable thing and hand it back (as we were lead to believe).

Unfortunately, ProEst’s answer to our unwillingness to have them force feed their software to us was simply that we needed to sit through umpteen hours of their web based support. I beg your pardon? Hey ProEst, we’re not dummies. We recognize a sub par estimating platform when we see one.

What I can’t explain are all the favorable reviews for ProEst. The only thing I can think of is the people who are favorably reviewing ProEst are ProEst employees or folks that have not tried the more superior, refined, and FAST Sage Timberline estimating.

Like I said, Timberline estimating has been around since day one. The folks that put this fine piece of precision software together are not without their A-Game. The programmers who put Timberline together have obviously made it their priority to have people from the estimating profession give input into making the program function.

Timberline really excels with it’s excel spreadsheet integration (no pun intended), report writing, address/contact book, and did I say FAST! With Timberline you never more than two clicks away from entering an activity. ProEst on the other hand…Ugh! After opening at least 3 or 4 windows (I honestly lost count), you finally get the opportunity to enter an activity. ProEst is simply too slow of a process to contend.

If you are sitting on the fence in trying to decide which estimating software to use, look no farther than Sage Timberline Estimating. There is absolutely no comparison. Simply put, no other estimating platform even comes close.

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4 thoughts on “Timberline Estimating Software Review

  1. Sometimes I really wish I needed something like that. But usually my question is not “How much will this project cost me?” It’s more like “Can I afford to build anything at all?” Then I go dig change out of the ashtray in my truck.

  2. Pingback: [Geek Squeaks'] – File Synchronization, Disable Services, Estimating Software, and External Hard Drives « What's On My PC

  3. G- did you look at Maxwell Systems at all? I just bought it, and I immediately have buyers remorse. Not intuitive at all. I’m really interested in having a good takeoff component. Did Sage partner with PlanSwift? I did a trial of PlanSwift and loved it, but really want an integrated system so I’m not doing double entry.

  4. Brad: Yes. I assume you are talking about the estimating portion of Maxwell?
    The only estimating platform I can recommend (and I have used or demo’d them all) is Timberline.
    If you are looking for a good (cheap) alternative to PlanSwift, check out Vertigraph. I use it for all of my on screen takeoffs.

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