How ProEst helped AMR honor the past and look to the future.
AMR is well established as a “niche” specialty contractor, primarily focused on exterior building façade reconstruction, replacement and repair. The company has been instrumental in the preservation of iconic Minnesota structures, including the State Capital building, Fort Snelling and Split Rock Lighthouse. Before moving to the ProEst platform ten years ago, AMR estimators were fully reliant on spreadsheets, and were often frustrated by calculation errors and the need to re-enter data for back-end accounting tasks. Recognizing the need for a more efficient—and accurate estimating process, AMR President Tim Miller began a search for construction-specific estimating software, and ultimately chose ProEst for what he saw as the best combination of function, flexibility and price.
When AMR moved to ProEst in 2010, the impacts were immediate, and for Miller, impressive. After some initial pushback from estimators reluctant to transition from Excel, Miller “put his foot down” and insisted that the platform be adopted universally—with a big pay-off. Shortly after implementing ProEst, AMR resubmitted an earlier proposal using ProEst calculations, and the client was surprised to see that AMR’s number had gone down. “I told him that we have new software and that we have to trust it,” said Miller. “The difference was enough to put us under the next best bid, and that one job ended up paying for all of our new ProEst software.”
With ProEst, I can clearly see unit pricing and job costing as I go. That’s a real asset.”
Miller and the AMR team explored a number of options before settling on ProEst, and he is quick to point out that as a specialty subcontractor, the ability to customize the database with their inputs was a key selling point. “The beauty of what ProEst has,” he said, “is that we were able to tailor it to the restoration trade. We were able to build a database that worked for us.” Miller also cites inte gration as an important part of ProEst’s value, because it eliminates the need to enter data multiple times manually over the life of the project. “That saved us a lot of time,” he said.
We’ve experienced a 30-40% increase in estimating efficiency with ProEst.”
Miller acknowledges that learning styles differ widely among his users, and that some members of the AMR team are more “tech savvy” than others. In every case, he believes strongly in hands-on, in-person ProEst training, an option that he recommends to any firm transitioning to ProEst. “For me, I know how to get there, but it really helps to interact. “Especially when you’re moving to the cloud, training is a good investment. You need someone in front of you once a year to tell you what to do and how to do it, so that everyone is on the same page,” he said. “When you and I have a conversation face-to-face, something important always comes up. You can see if someone is getting the hand of it. That’s the best way to use the system to its fullest capacity.”
How much has ProEst helped AMR with their estimating efficiency? Miller estimates that even initially, the company saved 30-40% on estimating time as compared to using spreadsheets. Yet, even more important for Miller is the increase in estimating accuracy. “Accuracy is the most important thing. If the input is done correctly, the output will be good,” he said. “It used to be that something would happen, say, a locked cell on a spreadsheet, and the whole bid was wrong. That doesn’t happen with ProEst.”
For Miller and the AMR team, ProEst has made what can be a complex estimating process remark ably simple. “What really saves time is making adjustments. Instead of doing it all over again, I copy what’s in ProEst, take out the things I don’t need, and “boom,” I’m there,” said Miller. “I make the adjustments and I’m done. That’s huge.”