Building Strong Starts: Protecting Profit Margins Through Effective Preconstruction

The famous Aristotle quote that goes, "Well begun is half done," rings very true in the construction industry. When you stay on top of project planning and design from the beginning (i.e., the preconstruction phase), you complete a significant part of the job and create a strong foundation and direction for the remaining work.

That's why investing in a fully integrated construction ecosystem enables you to streamline preconstruction tasks and set your team up for success is crucial. 

Doing so won't just make your life easier; it'll also help you protect your profit margins. Why? Because preconstruction offers the biggest opportunity to de-risk a project. It's the most optimal period for identifying issues that may impact cost and schedule. 

The preconstruction stage also allows you to simulate the job before executing it. Think of it as a digital rehearsal process; you can "build" the structure before physically breaking ground and spot issues before they become problems that need fixing. 

And since 4-6% of the total project cost is related to rework, eliminating potential challenges early decreases unnecessary spending—and leads to a healthier bottom line. 

The question is, what steps should you take during preconstruction to optimize the rest of the project? What does building strength at the start look like?

Integrate design with downstream processes

A typical $100 million project takes around 30 months in design and preconstruction. Many things can happen during this period, and project teams often face complications like design creep and price increases, which negatively impact budgets and schedules. 

One way to avoid these challenges is to implement integrated design. Connect the design phases with downstream tasks like scoping, estimating, and buyout by ensuring data flows smoothly into these various processes. 

Integrating design with other project processes creates a more cohesive workflow and enables teams to make data-driven decisions. This, in turn, leads to improved accuracy in project estimates, proactive risk management, and more effective resource allocation.

Integrated design keeps field teams in the loop, so you can collaborate more efficiently. It ensures stakeholders can access the latest design specs, thus eliminating surprises and helping prevent rework. 

Plus, preconstruction solutions like Autodesk Construction Cloud offer automated clash detection tools to streamline model coordination and free your team from having to do tedious processes. 

Keeping everything connected also makes it easier to preview the entire project. When data is centralized and shared, you can build a clearer picture of the project and confidently move forward. 

Implement centralized and connected bid management

Bid management sometimes feels like a whirlwind, where you're tasked to review a slew of projects and go over numerous documents and information. When the process isn't carried out efficiently, bid management takes longer and causes more stress than necessary.

This is where connected bid management solutions comes in handy. Having a solution that centralizes bid solicitation and management allows your teams to improve collaboration and efficiency across multiple projects. 

The right software can help you manage everything from one platform and have a clear view of the projects you're bidding on and the status of each bid. This visibility into your bidding activity helps you make smarter decisions on filling your pipeline and ensure you're making accurate estimates while going after the right projects. 

A connected bidding platform also simplifies how you manage field proposals from other contractors and subcontractors. When you can view bids from one place (and have the correct data), you can find the "right fit" for your projects more effectively.

And if you're using Autodesk's TradeTapp solution, you benefit from automated risk analysis tools that assess contractors and reduce risks during preconstruction. TradeTapp evaluates, benchmarks, and reduces financial and safety risks to ensure you only work with the most reliable partners and vendors.

Manage financial risk early on

Given that we're on the topic of profitability, we'd be remiss if we didn't touch on managing financial risks. The best way to mitigate cost-related headaches in construction projects is to promote efficient estimating and quantification workflows in the preconstruction stage. Doing so enables you to eliminate potential change orders and pay applications, ultimately leading to better cash flow. 

Tracking costs and monitoring risk while keeping your construction project on budget isn’t easy. Attend our Protect Your Margins: Cost Management Event Series to build a better game plan.

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How do you accomplish this? Start by integrating your processes and tools for implementing 2D and 3D takeoffs. That way, data seamlessly passes between the two systems. And when these tools are tightly connected, the team can collaborate efficiently and produce more accurate work. 

For estimators, having a well-integrated solution means they’ll spend less time fixing mistakes and be able to focus on high-value tasks like conducting cost analyses and aiding project managers and executives to achieve ideal project outcomes. 

Additionally, implementing drawing and quantification workflows on a centralized platform cultivates transparency between estimating teams. They can rest easy, knowing they have the most updated documents and information—and this helps them determine the cost and scope to win projects and keep the company profitable.

Invest in preconstruction today to improve profits tomorrow

To future-proof your projects and maintain profitability, you must invest in robust preconstruction technologies that facilitate scoping, planning, and coordination. These advanced tools streamline the preconstruction process and pave the way for accurate forecasting, risk mitigation, and resource allocation. 

Ultimately, having a forward-thinking approach to your projects leads to enhanced efficiency, higher success rates, and a competitive edge in the fast-evolving construction industry.

Looking for a solution to help you achieve just that? Autodesk Construction Cloud's comprehensive suite of tools allows you to stay on top of all your projects during the construction stage and beyond.

Jenny Ragan

As Managing Editor - Content Marketing, Jenny oversees the execution of content strategies and implementation across the Digital Builder blog, podcast, and video channels. She has been working in the marketing side of the AEC industry for the past 15+ years and is the cornerstone of content marketing channel production, owning core editorial calendars and working with internal collaborators and external vendors and contractors to keep all deliverables moving forward.