Cunningham-Limp Embraces Big Technology for Bigger Benefits
When Preconstruction Estimator David Hardin joined Cunningham-Limp in 2014, one of the first initiatives he spearheaded was the adoption of Beck Technology’s DESTINI Profiler estimating platform to win more work. Having seen a demonstration of the software at his previous employer, he knew it could have a big impact on the small design-build firm, which has fewer than 30 employees and a commitment to continuous improvement through technology.
“It works very well for conceptual estimating,” Hardin says. “We receive much of our business from repeat clients that know what to expect when they come to us, so we make quite a few decisions and assumptions based on past experience, and that level of decision-making fits well with what DESTINI Profiler is able to do. I could see a clear path; we could program the software to do exactly what we were doing manually.”
After three days of on-site training and two years of using DESTINI Profiler, including as needed online support from Beck Technology, Hardin has mastered an understanding of the software’s capabilities. By modeling and estimating multiple office building projects over time, he has built an extensive pricing database that makes estimating these types of projects faster than ever before – a particularly valuable asset for a small company with a heavy workload.
“Once all our sample models are set up and ready to go, the traditional time to complete an estimate will reduce substantially,” Hardin says. “We predict that it will take 25 percent of the time that we previously expended to generate a normal estimate, allowing us to grow our business and respond better to clients’ needs and timelines.”
Hardin is now leading the charge to train additional DESTINI Profiler users and expand the database to include additional cost data specific to manufacturing, educational, and other types of facilities.
“DESTINI Profiler does the work for you,” Hardin says. “While there is a time investment up-front to program, once complete you are simply re-using those models for future estimates. With some basic information and just a click of a button, the pricing appears for a new estimate. I can very quickly make adjustments for each client’s specifications. The solution makes a lot of sense for any firm, and especially smaller ones who may be resource constrained.”
More Accurate Estimates
DESTINI Profiler has also helped Cunningham-Limp improve the accuracy of its early estimating process – a factor extremely important to clients. “When we provide clients with a number, it’s expected that the estimate is going to be that cost or less as we move through the process,” Hardin says.
To test the assumptions made in DESTINI Profiler, Hardin often uses it in conjunction with traditional estimating, running the two processes side by side to continuously improve accuracy. Cunningham-Limp also performs demonstrations of DESTINI Profiler with owners to emphasize their commitment to getting the costs right as well as embracing the latest technology solutions.
“We’ve received some good praise when we’ve demonstrated our technology capability,” Hardin says. “The owners were impressed. The software provides an accurate estimate as well as a visual tool which clients find quite compelling. The client is accustomed to viewing a one-page Excel spreadsheet, and now they receive the same information in terms of descriptions, quantities and pricing, along with a visual component.”
The more the firm uses DESTINI Profiler, the larger the cost database grows, and the more accurate the estimates are, Hardin notes. On a recent two-story, 180,000-square-foot office building, for example, the early DESTINI Profiler estimate came in within 1.2 percent of the subcontractor validated amount.
Immediate Answers for Clients
That same office building project also showcased the estimators’ ability to accommodate the owner’s requests on the fly, using DESTINI Profiler to explore the visual and cost impact of the client’s ideas in real time.
“When we presented the model to the client, he asked what it would be like if the windows were five feet high instead of six feet, and I made that change right in front of him,” Hardin says. “We watched the little price tag in the bottom corner change. Before, we would have had to say, ‘Well, we can get that information to you this afternoon or tomorrow.’ We were able to progress through the conversation quicker and make a decision right then and there, without the waiting.”
Cunningham-Limp is growing its advanced technological capabilities, working toward replacing its traditional Excel-based estimating method with DESTINI Estimator, which will build on its existing DESTINI Profiler database.
“DESTINI Profiler and DESTINI Estimator give us the ability to demonstrate to clients that we’re in the vanguard with technology,” Hardin says. “We are branching outside of the box and focused on consistently improving ourselves, as opposed to just continuing down the same path we’ve always been on.”