Replacing a tedious, paper based estimation process with an app

Client

Riverside Millwork Group

Expertise

Strategy, Product Design, Development

Mario Gianniotis has an incredibly difficult job as a co-founder with Waterloo, Ontario based Riverside Millwork Group (RMG). Giannotis oversees the manufacturing, supply and installation of home woodwork products for the family-run company that’s grown rapidly over the last 12 years. 

The Challenge

Estimating the cost to build and install construction materials accurately is difficult. The standard for innovation has always been the paper take-off form, which is written up in the field before it is handed off to order entry staff at the plant to key it into systems. Not only were the paper forms prone to illegible information, but staff training was also a challenge as the form is typically unique at every company.

As RMG’s business grew, Gianniotis knew the company had to adjust its enterprise resource planning (‘ERP’) to improve its operational procedures, bottom line, and to scale safely and smartly. 

Enter Ready Set Go

In 2017, Ready Set Go's Co-Founder, Dayton Pereira, met with Mario to talk about increasing RMG's productivity and revenue on client projects by converting to a digital-based estimates system - a solution Mario had desired for some time.  

RMG supplies thousands of construction projects every year, both commercial and residential. With that, Dayton first needed to understand the scale of those construction projects and how RMG staff completed the take-off form in the field.

So, Dayton grabbed a pair of steel-toe boots and a hard hat and then shadowed RMG supervisors and crews on construction projects for three weeks.  

The next step was for Dayton to lead Mario's team through a design ‘sprint’ (i.e., how Ready Set Go approaches complex design challenges) to decide how to build RMG’s estimation tool. Dayton had 1 week to pull it off and present it to RMG. 

Dayton started with RMG’s paper-based order form as the problem to be solved. He felt the digital product should feel familiar to RMG’s staff in the field and easy to use.

The output of the design sprint was a low fidelity sketch of a Takeoff app.

The Challenge

RMG’s pen and paper-based construction estimates were prone to human error, costing the company time and money on orders.

  1. An employee in the field would write up a paper takeoff form at the site.
  2. Images of the written takeoff would be emailed to staff at RMG’s order desk.
  3. The order desk manually entered the requirements into the ERP.
  4. A new document would be created for the shop floor to pick the right materials for the order.
  5. The result: the shop floor staff had to make many decisions for details not captured in the ERP.

Remember, this process was repeated day in, day out, for hundreds even thousands of orders. The business impact was painful. Beyond lost margin, it was wasted productivity, which ultimately affected staff morale for the entire company.

The Solution

The time Dayton spent with RMG on-site proved invaluable and resulted in Ready Set Go’s solution: The Takeoff app, which automated each step in RMG’s estimates process in real-time. Effectively, Ready Set Go not only removed human error from the process but the humans themselves (who were retrained and deployed elsewhere in the business).

Now, no one at Riverside Millwork Group has to think about which doors need drilling anymore or whether a home comes installed with plain or sprung moulding when preparing an estimate. With Takeoff, each product added to a particular project comes directly from a database of skills and products. This meant that RMG could now create virtually error-free estimates about 3-to-4 times faster.

“Before, when Riverside Millwork worked on an entire subdivision with a hundred homes on each block, you had to look at the nuances in every single house,” Dayton says. “Now, with the Takeoff app, you can just walk right in.”

The Result

Ready Set Go shared the Takeoff app prototype with Mario, who tested it himself. Mario also provided feedback from RMG staff, business partners and the company’s vendors, who grasped the efficiencies and scale his company could achieve through the digital transformation. Three months later, RMG gave Read Set Go the green light to develop the app, which was first released in 2018.

Beyond the innovation to it business operations, the software alleviates stress on the human side. There are significantly less estimation errors and staff who use the app feel a lot more confident with their order accuracy.

Three years later, Ready Set Go is still working with RMG, with lots of new Takeoff features in the pipeline.

Heading

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