DESTINI Estimator: Technology that Moves at the Speed of Preconstruction

by Balfour Beatty

The construction industry is constantly evolving as new technologies and processes improve how we plan and deliver projects. Some technologies, such as Building Information Modeling (BIM), have revolutionized the industry. But new technologies do not emerge in a vacuum. Developing a great idea into a groundbreaking invention requires an innovative partnership between experts in both technology and construction.

As an industry leader, Balfour Beatty has partnered with several technology firms to assist in the development of new construction software. These technologies continue to advance business initiatives, streamline operations and enhance services to our clients. The development of the DESTINI Estimator for the fast-paced and complex environment of preconstruction exemplifies Balfour Beatty’s commitment to accelerating technology in construction.

Presenting the Clearest Picture of Project Costs

Preconstruction is part art and part science, requiring a keen understanding of local market history, availability of labor and materials, and knowledge of all building elements required to provide complete and accurate estimates—often on tight deadlines. 

Balfour Beatty’s preconstruction experts analyze thousands of data points each day to provide precise and detailed estimates, expediting a succession of deadlines that prime our projects for success. Bid day itself is charged with rapid, controlled bursts of activity as final numbers roll in and are analyzed to deliver the most competitive pricing for our clients. 

At the heart of Balfour Beatty’s preconstruction process is a commitment to provide a transparent view of project costs that empowers owners to make early and informed decisions. By working with the owner and design team during the budgeting and conceptual design phase, we can identify essential constructability elements and options for materials based on design intent and the client’s goals. 

This approach gives both the client and the design team the clearest picture of project costs from the very beginning of the project. It is this “crystal ball” approach that defines and differentiates Balfour Beatty’s preconstruction services, helping prevent costly change orders, re-work, and schedule delays that could impact a project budget.

“We believe that failing to present a complete estimate of all known costs would be a disservice to the owner and the project,” explains Landon McQuestion, preconstruction director for Balfour Beatty in Southern California. “Our clients trust us to help achieve their project goals before the first shovel hits the dirt.” 

Balfour Beatty meets the challenges of pricing today’s projects by strategically investing in the right tools. When it was time to upgrade the company’s estimating software, our goals were to eliminate inefficient, time-consuming tasks, thereby creating time for more value-added data analysis. 

Partnering on a Bold Step Forward in Construction Technology 

While attending the 2016 Advancing Preconstruction conference, several of our preconstruction team members stopped by Beck Technology’s booth and previewed the DESTINI Estimator software with great intrigue. At that time, there hadn’t been a breakthrough in preconstruction technology in 10 to 15 years. One of DESTINI Estimator’s features, the ability to integrate 2D and 3D quantity takeoffs directly into the estimate from BIM files, represented a significant leap forward.

Beck Technology was looking for forward-thinking contractors to provide feedback during the day-to-day use of the estimating software to continue improving product design and features. Recognizing the value in leading the future of preconstruction rather than responding to it, Balfour Beatty brought DESTINI Estimator on board and continues to collaborate weekly with the Beck Technology development team. 

Over the next year and a half, several of our most experienced preconstruction professionals from across the U.S. met regularly with Beck Technology to test the software and provide feedback, storyboard new ideas, and identify paths for each user experience. By vetting the application on small to mega projects in diverse market sectors, Balfour Beatty played an integral role in expanding the software’s offerings such as making the 2D takeoff feature more intuitive and providing estimators with a wide range of customizable filtering options.  

Connecting the Dots for Future Innovation

Balfour Beatty implemented DESTINI Estimator two-and-a-half years ago, and today, the software is used by several general contractors in the U.S. and Canada. As one of the largest users of DESTINI Estimator, Balfour Beatty continues to help Beck Technology ideate new features that advance the platform. 

“DESTINI Estimator is a robust software, so there will always be more to learn,” says Landon. “There are many features that help customize the work breakdown structure, so we continue to explore how we can use the software to its fullest capabilities to enhance our estimating processes.”

The software has significantly streamlined estimating tasks. 2D quantity takeoffs that used to take days can now be performed in a matter of hours, and as a cloud-based platform, DESTINI Estimator is also promoting more national collaboration. A recently-added feature connects multiple estimators working on large projects and serves as a teaching tool for junior estimators.

“Using DESTINI Estimator has made a huge impact on the efficiency of our Mid-Atlantic preconstruction team," praises Bob Schrider, vice president of preconstruction in the Mid-Atlantic. “Among the many helpful capabilities this software provides, one of the most valuable is the ability to quickly create an entire estimate by entering only parametric data for the project, such as the gross square feet, number of floors and residential units, etc. Throughout the preconstruction phase, as we receive additional and updated design data, we can enter the changes, and DESTINI Estimator will instantaneously update the estimate. This technology has also allowed our team to provide specific client pricing formatting directly from our estimate and has enhanced our ability to track historical data.”

As technology continues to advance construction, one constant remains: Balfour Beatty will continue to drive innovation into every stage of the construction process and provide solutions that set a new bar of excellence for our clients and partners.