Negwer Door Systems eliminates messy spreadsheets for tracking bids
Written by Andy Lee
“When I showed them how many hours I was spending just data entering and not estimating … clearly there was value.” — Erich Ruhmann (estimator at Negwer)— Erich Ruhmann (estimator at Negwer)
Negwer Door Systems is a door trade contractor, a division of Negwer Materials, based in St. Louis, Missouri, that supplies and distributes custom and commercial doors ranging from hollow metal and wood doors to frames and hardware. With four regional offices, Negwer Door Systems primarily serves Missouri and Illinois but occasionally services other states as well, on its customer’s requests, and adds value to the relationship.
Prior to our bid board, the estimating team at Negwer Door Systems coordinated bids across four regional offices and would receive 100+ emails per day, ranging from new bid invites to addendas and RFIs. Like most contractors, Negwer used a master spreadsheet shared across all offices and all estimators. Each row in this bid log tracked a single bid and contained necessary information like due-date, times emails were received, the general contractor, and the assigned estimator.
Erich Ruhmann, an Estimator at Negwer Door Systems, was in charge of checking Negwer’s estimating inbox three times a day and updating the bid log. However, managing a 20-person estimating team and coordinating multi-office efforts through a bid log and manual process was error-prone, inefficient, and caused problems.
- Hours wasted on admin work hurt productivity because estimators tracked 100s of emails and constantly kept the bid log up-to-date, leaving less time for estimating
- Poor coordination across offices caused the same bid to be called different names
- Manual entry was error prone and caused the incorrect entry of some bid deadlines and project details
“The biggest issue we were running into was tracking a high-volume of bid requests and coordinating the bid deadlines and project details with multiple offices without duplication of bids for the same project.”
After spending years painfully adding lines to a spreadsheet, Erich immediately understood why our bid board could help improve productivity and bid tracking.
“When you added 30 new bids, that’s 30 new lines that you needed to copy and paste into the spreadsheet while ensuring you did not alter the cell formatting. Using a manual entry spreadsheet was tedious and labor-intensive. .”
Concretely, the board helped in the following ways:
- Organized bids without manual-entry and wasted time: The email scraper functionality would automatically organize all bid-related emails and group them into a clean bid-management spreadsheet. No more mistakes from manual-entry. No more time wasted on entering bids.
- Cross-office visibility: Negwer had trouble coordinating bids across multiple offices and the ability to see which estimator is assigned to which job in an office-wide spreadsheet without manual input eliminated miscommunication and possible duplicate work among teams in different offices.
“We have not only been able to eliminate all of our old bid tracking spreadsheets, but we have also been able to stay on top of our high-volume of bids and coordinate with multiple offices with much more ease.”
Erich Ruhmann, the protagonist of the story As with any great story, the story had a major plot twist. Although Erich saw tremendous value in the board solution, estimating directors and VPs were initially skeptical. To convince leadership, Erich volunteered to run our bid board and Negwer’s old spreadsheet side-by-side for a month, and the results were unequivocally in favor of our board.
“When I showed them how many hours I was spending just data entering and not estimating and not possibly bringing in projects for the company, they saw that clearly, there was value.”
After a month of rolling our bif board out in one office, Erich became an internal champion and initiated a program to slowly onboard the other offices. Today, all four Negwer offices are using our bidding board.