Beard recommends ConQuest software
Beard is a multi-award-winning construction company which designs, builds, restores and refurbishes buildings throughout the South of England. With offices in Swindon, Oxford and Guildford, it works for all types of organisations on projects up to £10M. What makes the company really stand out is its commitment to making every project a prompt and faultless delivery.
Nigel Rowe is the managing estimator of Beard in Oxford. He started his career there 30 years ago as a trainee estimator. Today he manages an eight-strong team, pricing projects from listed refurbishments to new builds.
Beard had been using specialised estimating software for ten years, and in 2014, after hearing about ConQuest from various sources in the industry, it decided it was time to have a look at the ConQuest Q Series. Within a short period of time, they decided that the system that had suited them for the past number of years had been left behind by ConQuest. Beard wanted to work with a company and a product which provided a high level of stability, exceptional support, more features and a strong development plan for the future.
ConQuest was installed across all Beard offices.
A few months later, ConQuest had the chance to speak to Beard and Nigel about their experience of changing a major piece of software, the thinking behind it, the process and the results.
Nigel tells us how he felt and the reason for the move: “It is a massive step for any business to even think about changing a major piece of software, let alone to actually implement it. It is not done lightly. The more we dealt with ConQuest, the more our confidence grew. We believe that ConQuest shares Beard’s ethos and that the two companies are a very good match, the type of people we both employ, the fact that we can have sensible discussions and that ConQuest is willing to listen to our issues.”
The support and development team at ConQuest is three times the size of the ‘sales’ team. This says a lot about the way they do business. The ethos is about keeping the product at the top of its game and looking after the estimators that use it. There are a number of key functions within the suite of ConQuest modules that really separate it from other systems. If you are pricing traditionally and building up your own rates, the ConQuest Library Pack is one of them. Containing around 10 million item descriptions, rates, constants and outputs it is truly unique and offers unparalleled time saving and consistency. Another significant part of the system is the Cloud based enquiry system. Imagine cutting the time it takes you to get your enquiries out by up to 70% and your sub-contractors being happier with what they receive!
The team at Beard recognised how clever the system was: “One of the biggest reasons for moving to ConQuest was that the On Line Enquiry system was more advanced than any other in the market.”
In 2010 ConQuest released a complete re-write of their product; Version 7 was the market leader and hugely popular but it was a text-based product. ConQuest knew that as technology grew and more sophisticated methods of measuring and estimating arose, it would be no good to try and make an old system handle them. This is why you can now view CAD and PDF drawings within ConQuest, you can browse the internet, open pictures and even send emails without leaving ConQuest. The Company consistently hear how reliable the software is and this is in part down to the modernisation of it. This is something that Nigel and the team realised very quickly.
Part of the process of implementing ConQuest into any company is product training. ConQuest have their own training centre in Lancashire; every attendee is given a computer for practical exercises while the rest of the day is presented on a 3m by 3m screen. The Company find that by taking people out of their daily work cycle and having their undivided attention, lots of ground can be covered and get customers competently using ConQuest quickly.
Everyone at Beard came to ConQuest for training and the feedback was brilliant:
“The training was really good and the implementation went smoothly. ConQuest was on our computers ahead of the training which was important as this gave everyone the chance to preview the online tutorials which gave them a good idea of what to expect on the course.
“The course was bespoke to Beard’s needs in the fact that a lot of our guys were used to using an estimating system, so, we cut down on the training time, it was very well thought out. It was intensive and very relevant. It was clear that our trainer, Steve, had extensive experience as an estimator and knew what he was talking about.
“There haven’t been many issues with people not picking it up. In our bi-monthly estimating meetings, we actively review ConQuest and share learning. Whilst migrating over to ConQuest, we retained the old system for six months but only as a reference point for current projects. The general consensus was that it was immediately better.”
It is clear that Beard is impressed with the switch-over, the roll-out and the training, ConQuest is in turn pleased to have another happy customer.
Moving on from the actual changeover, Nigel was asked about the day-to-day estimating features and processes compared to what they were previously doing:
“The library is very comprehensive with extensive search functions and there is a general sensibility about it.
”Previously we were collating information, zipping it up and sending emails. Because of the tracking ability within the On Line system, which enables you to see what is going on at any time, it is such a massive improvement and has significantly reduced administration time.”
Can Nigel sum up ConQuest in a sentence?
“ConQuest is the complete estimating package, managing every aspect of the preconstruction process.”
Beard have won a number of projects in the short time they have had ConQuest. A notable and interesting one is The New Library at Queen’s College in Oxford.
A challenging £6.6M project creating a new basement adjacent to the existing Grade I listed building.