Setting the stage for a successful ProEst implementation.
The Kick Off meeting is the official start of the implementation process. ProEst team members brief client representatives on each phase of implementation, setting expectations for timing and determining roles and responsibilities. The ProEst team answers questions and addresses concerns—and stakeholders leave with a mutually agreeable “go forward” plan.
By the time Josh Dykens and his DORA Construction colleagues sat down for their 3:00 Zoom call with the ProEst implementation team, they were more than ready to put the software to work, and eager to finalize the last few details of their new ProEst partnership. Joining him in the conference room were the same people who had coordinated the company’s search for a new estimating solution, an intensive four-month exploration of available options conducted by Google search and word-of-mouth recommendations. For Dykens, the collaboration was invaluable; each of them brought a different perspective to what the “right” software would ultimately mean for DORA, and each had to agree on the final pick.
“Everybody had their own area [of expertise] and picked their favorites,” said Dykens. “Then they had to sell it to the rest of the group. We had six people who reviewed everything, made a list of pros and cons, and passed along recommendations.”
In the end, the short list of estimating solutions under consideration was even more abbreviated than they originally expected. The company had decided to replace their legacy estimating, project management and accounting software at exactly the same time— an ambitious undertaking, says Dykens with a smile, that held its own challenges—and all three platforms had to work together. With Procore in place for project management and Acumatica being considered for accounting, DORA knew that they needed an estimating platform that was cloud-based, a factor that narrowed the field considerably. When the DORA team saw the online ProEst demo several months into their search, they agreed that the software’s interface was an essential upgrade to the solution they had been using for the past thirteen years, which, according to Dykens, was anything but simple.
"We wanted something that was easier to use, presented data better, and had more automation to it."
-Josh Dykens, DORA Construction
“I’ve been working with it for a long time, so I knew how to use it,” said Dykens of their Sage software, “but when someone new came in, there didn’t seem to be any logic to it. There was always a steep learning curve, and we wanted something that was a lot easier to use, with more automation to it.”
Also on the Zoom call that afternoon—dialing in from the ProEst offices in San Diego— was Josh Flowers, Director of Support, and Jeff Gerardi, CEO, two members of the ProEst team who had been engaged with DORA from the time of their first inquiry several months before. With pricing details worked out and a signed contract in place, the meeting, recalls Gerardi, was straightforward, upbeat and relatively brief.
“Josh and his team at DORA know what technology brings to the table,” said Gerardi. “They were clear about their expectations, and we very quickly developed a great working relationship. The Kick-Off meeting was a welcome milestone for all of us.”
In many ways, DORA was the ideal client for ProEst: they had proactively identified the issues they needed to resolve, they had been rigorous in their search for the right software replacement, and they were well-versed in the benefits of a cloud-based platform in general. But mostly, says Troy Simon, the ProEst Implementation Manager assigned to DORA, they demonstrated committed executive leadership from the outset, which he considers the biggest single contributor to implementation success. “I don’t think we talk about leadership enough,” he s aid. “I can’t over-emphasize how important it is.”
As the implementation lead, Simon was responsible for making ProEst work flawlessly in the DORA environment, a role that involved multiple checklists, scrupulous note taking and a thorough understanding of the company’s specific business focus. But the essential first step, says Simon, is to introduce primary project stakeholders on both sides of the table. The Kick-Off call clarifies who will be acting as executive sponsors, implementation managers and project admins, the latter being those who are most heavily involved in daily tasks—and training—as the project moves forward.
“Once we identify roles in the process,” said Simon, “we go through and do a recap to validate the type of software they’re using now and confirm the type of work they do, just to make sure that we understand their business. Are they a design-build guy? Are they a site work company? A concrete specialist? We want to see if they self-perform, or sub it all out, things like that. Then, we reconfirm the client pain points. What is the problem you’re trying to solve? Why are you moving from the solution you have now? After all, they have gone to some trouble and expense to make the change to a new estimating system, and we want to make sure they are happy customers.”
The real focus of that dialogue, says Simon, is to help each client successfully navigate what he calls the inevitable “trough of disillusionment,” a temporary dip that can sometimes occur following the initial excitement of signing on for a new solution. By making sure that ProEst solves the most pressing issues, he explains, he can help clients validate their decision-making and continue to see value in their investment, quickly climbing up the other side of the “trough” with an increasingly positive perspective.
As Implementation Manager, Simon is also careful to conclude each meeting with milestone dates and “next steps” for everyone with a stake in the outcome. An added bonus? When, as in DORA’s case, remote Zoom technology is used, each live meeting is recorded and available for playback, giving those unable to attend a firsthand meeting experience and a convenient way for attendees to review what was discussed and decided.