Estimating Technology: My Tablet is Better Than Your Paper!


Show of hands… do you like change? How do you feel about technology?


Experts agree many dislike or even hate change. This can be for good reasons (uncertainty, fear of failure, fear of departure from the status quo, etc.). When you add a general distrust of new technology on top of that, it can make companies slow to adopt changes, even if they will be beneficial.

For example, are you still using pen and paper to sketch homes and scope jobs? Why? The obvious answer is because it is what we have done for years. It is how we learned and so it is how we train others. It is the easiest (on the surface) and the cheapest method. But is it? Well it depends. If you have someone who doesn’t have any discernible skills on a computer or tablet, no matter the age, then you may be right, pen and paper may be best for them. But should you restrict others in your company that could streamline processes because of the fear or ability of a few in the company (possibly including yourself)? Here are some options for those looking to make changes and also some reasons to look at making a change for those not currently looking to do so.


What new tech is there? And what are some things to consider before incorporating them into your business?



In today’s blog post, we’ll touch on 2 types of new technology available for use with tablets:

  1. Magicplan
  2. Xactimate Mobile

There are other technological advances that are extremely useful in our industry such as 3D cameras. But that is a separate post altogether.


Check out the Self Paced Estimate Pro Series to learn Xactimate


1. Magicplan and Similar Apps


Tablets are relatively affordable now and many use their phones and tablets way more than pen and paper in their regular lives. Training how to sketch and scope on a tablet doesn’t have to be extensive if users are already partial to using tablets. There are sketch apps such as MagicPlan and . Depending on the plan you select with MagicPlan, it can range from $10 per month to $90 per month. This app can handle sketches and integrates with bluetooth laser measurers for easy sketching and improved accuracy. By upgrading the program, you can also take photos, make notes, create custom price lists and create actual estimates. So you could consider having your techs use this app and sending it to your estimator at the office to sketch from. Or you could use it to create an entire estimate and send it to your customer for both self-pay or insurance claims. 



2. Xactimate Mobile


I know what you’re thinking, “Wait,  Xactimate Mobile sucked!” Well guess what, you were right! It did! But typical of Xactimate, 27.5, 28, and probably X1, were all garbage at the beginning. But they got better! Xactimate Mobile is the exactly the same. It is a great tool now! It increases efficiency in the office and also in the field. 

I use mobile in the field and I don’t bring my laptop onsite anymore. XM integrates with Leica Disto laser measurers which makes it very easy to sketch. You can input line items via voice recognition or by using macros. What makes this a step up from a regular app, is that if your techs learn to accurately sketch from the field, it will cut their sketching time in half on site. Along with that, your estimator won’t need to spend any time on sketching. 1 sketch and that is it. This can save an immense amount of time which if reallocated correctly, has the potential to make huge differences in your estimate efficiency and profitability. 

How can you use Xactimate Mobile in your daily business? You could consider getting an Xactimate Professional License ($2,300 per year). This gives 1 license access to Xactimate Desktop, Online and Mobile. Or you could consider getting multiple Xact Mobile licenses  (consider 1 per truck to reduce confusion and login issues). This would cost $1,600 per license.


Want to learn how to use Xactimate Mobile in a profitable way? Come to our next Estimating and Negotiating Combo Course!


Are there other apps out there that will allow you to sketch a job? Yes. These are the 2 best options right now that I have seen. If you use another app, please let me know and I can try it out! Don’t let fear stop you from making changes in your company that could make you more streamlined and efficient. Finding an easier way to sketch that will increase accuracy is a no brainer. Don’t ever stop learning and getting better each day. One way to accomplish that is by being flexible and staying atop the new tech available at your fingertips.
nick sharp xactimate course

Written By: Nick Sharp

Nick Sharp has worked with Jeremy Reets for over a decade now. He started in carpet cleaning and mitigation before moving to the construction side as a project manager. He then was the senior estimator for Champion Construction for over 8 years. Since its inception in 2015, Nick has been an instructor of our Restoration Estimating & Negotiating course. His most recent venture is as a restoration estimate consultant. Nick is an Xactware Certified Trainer and also has his Levels 1-3 Certifications in Xact 28 and X1. He’s a bad boy on that sketch but better at finding lost money!


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