Biggest Challenges Company Faced:
- Lacked method for multiple users to accurately edit proposals
- Project Modifications and Calculations too time consuming and inaccurate
- Under-estimated labor rates and time
- Proposals lacked professional look
- Lacked method of pricing and equipment cost standardization
Based in The Woodlands, TX, Forefront Innovation has over 50 years of cumulative experience in the design, implementation and aftercare of whole-home digital automation systems. Providing full Lifecycle, Digital Automation and Integration services for the Luxury Home, Forefront Innovation is a pinnacle system integration company serving the greater Houston area including The Woodlands, Magnolia, Conroe, and Tomball.
Forefront Innovation has been an expert in the Digital Home Automation industry for seven years and provides superior services and customer support in the following categories; Custom Home Theater, Distributed Multi-Room Audio & Video, IT, Computer Networking, Gaming & Telephony, Intelligent Lighting, Security & Safety, and Climate Control & Energy Management.
Zack Campbell, Director for Forefront Innovation , notes that prior to implementing a software solution, they experienced difficulties editing their project proposals. Revisions became an issue because each team member worked on their own system proposals, and that method proved to be difficult to track and maintain. “We weren’t able to employ multiple users on our team to edit our proposals which became a huge pitfall for us,” said Campbell. “If the employee who originally created the proposal wasn’t available, nobody could edit or complete it so we found ourselves operating on a stand-alone system without a real cohesive multi-user solution – which unfortunately resulted in a huge loss of time.”
Forefront Innovation also found that they were lacking a solid method to look at project margins and actual costs of their jobs because there was no set plan to accurately quote and account for their time and labor. Because they were seeking a way to standardize their pricing and equipment costs, a solution needed to be set in place in order for Forefront Innovation to build their company around.
During CEDIA 2008, Zach and his colleagues heard a buzz about D-Tools and stopped by the booth to check out what the company had to offer. Although they liked what they saw, they opted to take their time with the decision to move forward. At CEDIA 2010, Forefront Innovation decided to take the plunge and implement D-Tools System Integrator (SI) software solution for their estimation, proposal generation and system design.
“The fact that D-Tools SI integrates directly with AutoCAD and Visio was a major reason we went with the solution”, noted Campbell. “We are able to accurately quote our projects which positively affects our bottom-line. In addition to that, with the help of D-Tools, we can now actually track our labor costs and see if and where we’re making money on the job.”
SI’s full reporting capabilities enables Forefront innovation to run client reports, installation reports, and management reports. This function has proven to be a highly valuable asset for them in that they can ensure accuracy and enhance company organization. “Utilizing D-Tools has allowed us to improve upon our product and equipment order process because of the pick list and purchase order reports that SI allows us to generate. These reports have helped us better track equipment, minimizing loss and helps us stay better organized to ensure that the proper equipment and accessories go to the correct project location.”
D-Tools QuickLinks module enables Forefront Innovation to integrate System Integrator directly with QuickBooks™ to tie together their accounting processes, which they can access directly from within the SI platform. “By integrating Quickbooks, we now have a better understanding of our equipment costs and can now better manage the backend ordering process. Because of the payment schedules, we now know when to ask for proper payment which has helped us better manage our cash flow. Our overall project management has been streamlined because D-Tools provides all team members full visibility of the project life-cycle so duplicated work and effort is omitted. ”
Forefront Innovation is experiencing a 40% reduction in the area of proposal creation. “D-Tools helps us every step of the way in creating our proposals. We can accurately estimate the job, create visually rich designs and enhance project organization, said Campbell. “We wanted our proposals to reflect the quality of our work and stand out from the competition especially when we’re asking clients for a six figure project. With D-Tools, we can confidently achieve that goal.”
Saving 60% employee time on task, Forefront Innovation is experiencing a significant decrease in time spent within the area of purchasing and warehousing, which has led to a reduction in overall costs. “D-Tools has saved us a ton of time because it moved us away from spreadsheets into primarily running reports. The data is all there for us to use which has saved us an immense amount of time and money.”
Campbell notes that D-Tools has helped Forefront Innovation increase customer satisfaction as well. “Our overall customer satisfaction has been tremendously increased because our customers can better understand our quotes and see what exactly goes into them, and because our proposals and designs are so professional, they are able to visualize and comprehend their systems from the get-go.”
Forefront Innovation has had a highly favorable experience working with the D-Tools support team as well. “It has been great working with the D-Tools team. The tech support team is always on the ball when we need them and eager to help us find answers to our issues. The online support option has also been key for us because it helps us solve problems in real time. The online chat feature is genius because it makes it very easy to solve our problems without having to pick up the phone”
“D-Tools has helped us facilitate growth because It’s all about sales. Because D-Tools SI is our platform for sales, they have increased tremendously and as a result, our company is growing as a whole. Working with D-Tools has been awesome because it is turning into the backbone of our business. It is generating all of our revenue and we love it more than words can describe.”