Case Study: Sundt Construction and DESTINI Estimator
When Sundt Construction’s director of preconstruction services, Don Goodrich, recognized that the firm’s estimating software platform was becoming outdated, he knew it was time to act. He wanted a system that tied in with DESTINI Profiler, so he reached out to Beck Technology.
Having already used Beck Technology’s DESTINI Profiler 3D modeling and estimating software to impress clients and win work, Lead Estimator Brian Parker understood how Profiler and DESTINI Estimator could work together to take the company’s estimating capabilities to the next level. Brian was selected to be the company’s DESTINI Estimator implementer. As a DESTINI “power user,” Parker is now training others within Sundt to make the most of the DESTINI suite of products.
Parker recently took the time to share Sundt’s unique power user strategy for rolling out DESTINI Estimator as its intelligent, enterprise-wide estimating standard.
How did you learn of Beck Technology and the DESTINI product suite?
When I joined Sundt full time in 2008, the firm had just started rolling out Profiler. I was working in the field as a field engineer and had the opportunity to do deep-dive training on Profiler in Arizona. I relocated to our Arizona office for six months to complete the training, help develop our costing database, and build out a myriad of models and estimates using the technology. Then, I returned to California as a power user to train colleagues. Our goal is to have multiple power users in each of our four California offices.
Working with Don Goodrich, I was able to beta test the initial version of Estimator, including looking for bugs or problems and trying to “break” the technology. It was a lot of fun, and I was able to gain experience in how the program works. More importantly for our firm, I was able to provide direct input on changes that would help the software better align with the way we estimate projects.
Since then, Beck Technology has sent trainers to our offices to teach users how Estimator and Profiler work and how they tie together. It’s great to have the experts in the room with us and be able to pull examples from our actual estimates and models.
Profiler works well on early-stage conceptual design-build projects. We also use it for construction manager at risk (CMAR) projects, when the general contractor is brought on early enough so that we can influence design and help the architects with cost ideas and scenarios. Estimator is our new estimating platform for all projects across the company and replaces MC2, which was becoming obsolete.
What advice do you have on how best to build the cost database?
Our cost database is a massive, robust Excel file, filled with lots of good information that standardizes all the models we produce, so we can have people working in different areas of the company using the same databases and line items. My colleagues have spent an incredible amount of time setting it up and maintaining the data. It’s really powerful and was incredibly helpful when we rolled out the DESTINI suite.
When I came on board, we had an Excel conceptual estimate file that you could open and plug-in parameters for a building, like size, size of site, and how many stories. It would go through these formulas and give you a bottom-line price estimate. So we used the existing file to build the backbone of our database and tweaked it to work with Profiler.
My role for the implementation was to create room datasheets. For example, let’s say we want to make one for classrooms. Then, in Profiler, we could label a specific room a “classroom,” and the technology would know to put all the line items in that room. This took background research on classrooms we’ve built, types of flooring that we’ve used in those types of rooms, and so on. Now when you draw a classroom, it calculates the right quantities of everything that goes into that type of room. While it took considerable work to get all the line items and knowledge in there, the end result platform makes every model and estimate now go so much faster, and it keeps everybody much more accurate.
What are some of your favorite features of the DESTINI platform?
In DESTINI Profiler, clients get a kick out of it when we incorporate Google Earth. The technology flies the building onto their site, so they can see the model in 3D, true to size, and where it will sit.
The platform is also very useful when clients aren’t sure what they want the building to look like. With DESTINI Profiler, we can easily model four or five options and show the cost impact to the bottom line. The earlier you can make those decisions, the quicker the project will go. The DESTINI suite saves time and money for everyone.
Plus, DESTINI Profiler and Estimator work together well. For example, with one large university project, we started with the architect’s plans, modeled those in DESTINI Profiler, and carried that model really far into development. The model looks awesome, and it’s a cool project to highlight. We transferred that information into Estimator and will carry it through until it is built.
What kind of reaction have you received from clients?
The DESTINI product suite definitely helps us win projects. We have had teams of eight people—senior management, project managers, and me—spend literally an entire hour-long interview with a client looking at the model or estimate, with me answering questions. Frequently we build a DESTINI Profiler model and compare it to a conceptual estimate and then proceed line-by-line reviewing detailed quantities.
It’s definitely impressive. Clients receive a good visual and a price, just what our clients are looking for. They want to know what the building will look like and how much it will cost. They don’t want to spend time and money having an architect design something and then realize they can’t afford it. The DESTINI products give clients more confidence and insight as well as input in the preconstruction process.
I really enjoy building models and showing them off. I like when clients are blown away. People love the models and can see the power quickly from day one. It’s fun to see the clients get as excited about the technology as we are at Sundt.