How SAWA grew 50 times in 7 years

SAWA increases turnover 50-fold using Benchmark

From their operations in the Republic of Malawi, SAWA Group is utilising Benchmark Estimating Software to deliver projects which are truly transforming the lives of people in sub-Saharan Africa. The Group partners with both public and private corporations, as well as non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and multilateral agencies, to develop projects which increase the available capacity in energy, utilities, transport and housing across the region.

The SAWA Group has been using Benchmark since 2011 and has found the benefits of the software to be highly significant to their outcomes.

“Benchmark has increased our success rate of winning projects dramatically,” explains Yasser Chaudry, CEO of SAWA Group.

“Without any question, it has helped a lot in growing our business and it has given us the confidence to bid for bigger projects. When we first implemented Benchmark, we had an annual turnover of around $200,000 to $300,000.”

After using Benchmark for the past seven years, the business has grown with annual turnover exceeding $15 million, a 50-fold increase.

“We have been successful in winning a diverse range of projects with work in electricity, water, roads and dams; a lot of that success has to do with the good quality estimating since we started using Benchmark,” said Yasser.


Meeting Challenges in Challenging Environments

Initially specialising in water activities, SAWA Group now offers turnkey civil engineering, construction, support services and facilities management. There are now 50 permanent staff and a contractor base of 200 to 300 people.

Prior to implementing Benchmark, Yasser reflects, “We were using MS Excel and found that estimating was taking a lot of time, reporting was not good and there were a lot of manual errors in estimates.”

“In Africa, clients work with Bills of Quantities (BOQs) and now using Benchmark the import and bidding features are saving time and money as well as increasing accuracy.”

“Almost all items are in Benchmark so all we need to do is import a BOQ and then use the Allocate function to bid the project.”

“Previously it would take us 16 hours to bid and now with Benchmark it takes 2 hours – that’s an increase in productivity of 88 per cent! And of course, the estimate is now a lot more accurate,” Yasser said.

SAWA is utilising Benchmark on all types of projects with values ranging from half a million dollars up to USD$ 20 million, with Yasser noting that the project value does not matter as with Benchmark caters for all sizes of projects.

“We use Benchmark to price projects for dams, water, overhead lines, solar power, renewables, electric projects and a lot more”.

“We are doing work in Zambia, Malawi, and also bidding for projects in Zimbabwe.”

“Working across many locations is easy with Benchmark using the Regionalisation feature which enables us to have different Resource rates for different regions.”

“When you change the region, you automatically get the correct Resource cost, and so the correct bid cost for your items. That is a very strong feature that gives both huge time savings as well as increases in accuracy.”

“We also find that Routines are very impressive and a great feature as it makes estimating so easy. When all buildings are of different sizes and land sizes vary, Routines provide you with the capacity to bid an appropriate price simply by answering a few questions.”


Security and Accuracy Making a Difference

Security of data and IP is a global issue and Yasser emphasises the importance of the security features in Benchmark Estimating Software.

“There are many security features in Benchmark which makes a difference. One is that you don’t need to give access to the whole program to every estimator. We set up password-controlled access that only gives access to selected parts of the program. It means that other users can access the Library Items, for example, but cannot corrupt the Resource rates stored in the Libraries.”

In addition to the security features, Yasser notes the benefits of accuracy, ease of use and confidence in his estimating as highly significant.

“Before we started using Benchmark we would sometimes make mistakes. We now have confidence that the figures I see on my screen are correct and good quality. The result is that we are no longer losing money on projects. Additionally, we have a clear idea of both direct and indirect costs for every project, as well as our margin. This means that we can have confidence when negotiating prices with clients.”


Superior Support Across the Globe

Yasser readily acknowledges that SAWA Group are dedicated Benchmark users and encourages others to consider Benchmark Estimating Software, wherever they operate in the world.

“The support team is very good. Whenever we have a problem, our contact is there to assist. Benchmark Estimating Software is very easy for newcomers to learn, is easily adaptable and very affordable.”


If you operate in sub-Saharan Africa or in a highly developed country, our team is ready to discuss your requirements and how we can work with you to implement Benchmark Estimating Software in your organisation. Please contact us and start the conversation.