Innovative Building Concepts, LLC
Innovative Building Concepts, LLC (IBC) has been providing the highest quality architectural composite material and metal roofing systems to design and construction professionals across the United States since 1987. Pat and Jerri Sweeney, who have been with the Bloomington, Minn.-based business for 25 years, purchased IBC in 2011 and continuing to build on the company’s strong reputation for quality, craftsmanship, attention to detail, and customer service.
IBC wanted to rely less on gut feelings and more on true facts and actual costs about their work, their estimates, where to cut cuts, and what to bid. The contractor also wanted to increase productivity across processes and lacked a complete, seamless solution that allowed that.
IBC chose Maxwell Systems ProContractorMX as their complete construction management software solution for estimating, job cost accounting, and project management. ProContractorMX was selected as the best fit to meet their needs now and for years to come.
With ProContractorMX, IBC has more efficient processes and accurate costs. The contractor replaced their manual takeoff method with digital takeoff to save time and eliminate errors. The seamless solution allows IBC to accumulate accurate bid details and quickly produces professional proposals to be more competitive. With all applications in one solution, ProContractorMX automates the setup of budgets and projects, allowing IBC to run job costs much more efficiently and be more specific about the different employees on the job, which is valuable to accounting staff and project managers. The contractor can also properly track change orders and be proactive for profit. Reporting and analysis tools bring all the critical facts forward for timely decisions that benefit the company’s bottom line.
Realizing the value of technology to speed processes and improve workflow, IBC management decided to re-evaluate its existing technology solutions and realized their need for a complete construction business management solution to increase productivity and profitability.
For the previous 10 years the company successfully used Maxwell Systems Management Suite™ to manage its accounting practices. To do due diligence in their software evaluation process, the company considered products from various vendors, including Maxwell Systems. Management wanted to be confident they chose a new solution that was the best fit for the organization to meet their needs now and for years to come.
The Complete Package
“It was the strong estimating features and the fact that Maxwell Systems ProContractorMX was a complete solution that sold us,” said Jerri Sweeney, president of IBC. “Other software providers partner with other vendors to offer a system with all the functionality we need. ProContractorMX is truly a single, complete solution.”
ProContractorMX is a complete construction software solution that handles the complexities of the entire project lifecycle from takeoff and estimating through job cost accounting and project management, and ultimately for critical reporting and analysis.
Improved Job Costing
IBC is taking a phased approach to implementing ProContractorMX. Sweeney explained that they first focused on the accounting side of the business and in a short period of time they have been able to automate some important processes.
One example is with job costing. ProContractorMX considers all the unique complexities of a construction business, such as the differing workmen’s compensation for the various classifications of workers or handling complex union benefits.
“ProContractorMX automates the processes allowing us to run job costs much more efficiently and be more specific about the different employees on the job,” explained Sweeney.
Becky Ernst, administrative manager for IBC, said, “I look forward to not having to enter in all the project budgets manually. That will save us a lot of time.”
Sweeney added that “it will also help us with purchase orders. We sometimes get POs, but not always. It will be nice to set up POs so we are not always bugging people ordering materials to create POs. And, it will significantly help with change orders. We do it ‘by guess and by God’ now. The project managers maybe tell us about a change or they may not. We are not sure what is legitimate or approved now. ProContractorMX will help our project managers be more efficient and enable us to track change orders and so be more proactive and make more profit.”
The team at IBC also sees the alerts available in ProContractorMX to be another big benefit. “If a job is over budget on hours or materials, we can alert the project manager and take care of it right then instead of waiting until the job is complete or too far along to make the change. This is a very valuable feature,” said Sweeney.
Saving with Speedy Estimating
IBC expects to see their biggest improvements by using ProContractorMX for takeoff and estimating. IBC will be able to perform takeoffs from electronic plans with ProContractorMX and never have to touch a set of bulky, expensive blueprints. “We push a pencil now and expect ProContractorMX to be leaps and bounds better,” Sweeney explained. “Using a manual scale for our takeoffs and writing down the measurements has been a barbaric method. Moving to digital takeoff, we will save time and greatly improve accuracy.”
According to Sweeney, another huge time saver will be their ability to change the price of any item only once in the system. ProContractorMX will update the material cost anywhere it is used in an assembly, saving valuable time and minimizing potential errors.
Being a seamless solution, ProContractorMX accurately accumulates bid details so then IBC can quickly produce professional proposals. With their old method, they type a proposal and then prepare it as a PDF to send it. “By automating the creation of our proposals in ProContractorMX, our process will be more efficient and our proposals will look more professional,” added Sweeney.
It’s not just about the product, but also about the team supporting the product that helps to make a software solution a success. “The team at Maxwell Systems has been pretty great throughout the implementation process,” said Ernst. “When we have a question, we quickly get help, and feel that we are a part of developing the next version. The Maxwell Systems support team includes knowledgeable people with construction business and technology expertise.”
Ernst added: “We’ve done much of our training through online videos and also had more personal training through once a week phone calls during the implementation process. Maxwell Systems is very helpful and we get a very prompt response to our email inquiries,” added Ernst.
“Before ProContractorMX, we were working in the blind,” said Sweeney. “By being able to see actual costs, it is a great learning tool to determine the accuracy of our estimates. Having this information is really valuable to know why we are losing jobs, where we can cut, what is really worthwhile to bid, and so on. ProContractorMX will also enable us to bid more jobs more often and more accurately, helping us to be more competitive all the time. It will help us to better manage our business, eliminating the need to rely on gut feelings and enabling us to compete better in the market.”