Allied Concrete-Leaman Building Materials, Inc.
Bids Application
"We estimate we saved three to four weeks of time and between $5,000 and $6,000 in development costs by using Iron Speed Designer."

- Jay Patel of JNovation Inc.

Bids Application

Allied Concrete-Leaman Building Materials, Inc.
Houston, TX USA

The Bids application was developed for Allied Concrete-Leaman Building Materials, Inc. and is used by Allied Concrete sales representatives, project managers and administrative staff.

Allied Concrete, a division of Leaman Building Materials, Inc., is a family-owned business, founded in 1954 by Dean K. Leaman. The company is an industry leader with more than 53 years of experience. Allied Concrete has offices in Houston and West Harris, Fort Bend, Brazoria and Waller counties in southeast Texas. As a customer-centric and technologically advanced company, Allied utilizes Global Positioning System (GPS) monitored trucks, laptop-equipped sales/service personnel, and centralized dispatch to provide instant information and the controls necessary to manage each project.

Bids project list screen displays active projects in real-time.

Bids manages Allied Concrete's contracted projects. The application maintains individual contractor details, provides current pricing and tracks bids by sales representatives. Bids also helps Allied customers manage, report, and analyze real-time data in order to respond more effectively to market conditions.

Bids maintains individual contractor details for each sales representative.

Two different user types access the system. They are administrative staff and outside sales people.

Administrative and support staff set up projects and contractor information from a Dodge Report or from other sources. Tasks include:

Set up and manage project information (Project Name, Location, Bidding Date, etc.)
Add contractor's information (Name, Contact, etc.)
Review bid information
Update project information to indicate which contractor was awarded the job
Manage user and role information

Outside sales people add bid information for their projects and print quote sheets. Tasks include:

Set up additional contractors, or adjust existing contractor profiles as needed
Gather bid information and enter details for each bidder
Print quote sheets for a contractor in the field for immediate signature

Application size and scope

Bids accesses one Microsoft SQL Server 2005 database and has eight database tables with five database views. The largest database table is Bid Detail, which captures bid detail information and stores approximately 300 records per month.

Project bidder screen showing project information, list of bidders and bid details for each bidder (print button opens quote sheet).

We expect the Bid Details table to grow rapidly as each project can have multiple contractors and multiple bids. The number of contractors may stabilize over time, but new projects will continue to be added and the bid detail table will grow by a considerable factor.

Bids has more than 42 different web pages. This number excludes default Iron Speed Designer security pages. There are 12 initial application users processing 300 transactions and 100 projects each month.

The project

The project took one part-time developer 40 hours over a six week period. This estimate includes the time it took to gather requirements, incorporate custom code, test, implement and deploy the project to the client site. The Iron Speed Designer portion of the project took 25 hours.

Code extensions and customizations

I wrote 50 lines of custom code. The major customizations include:

Security logic to disable UI items based on role
Audit trail to log ChangedUser, ChangedDate, CreateUser, CreateDate

It took one hour to implement the customizations above. I did not incorporate any third-party components.

Page layout customizations

We made several page layout customizations to implement an application-specific design theme.

Custom Quote Sheet comprised of a printable Record page
Added print icon to print Quote Sheet
Added table control (inside main table) to show bid details for each contractor
Project-Bidder screen

Custom quote sheet comprised of a printable record page.

We used the standard Diablo page style in Iron Speed Designer. We enhanced this style slightly by removing the page margins (body tag) and adding extra styles for labels.

Iron Speed Designer impact

We estimate we saved three to four weeks of time and between $5,000 and $6,000 in development costs by using Iron Speed Designer. Creating a high quality ASP.NET application of the same caliber by hand would have taken two or three times as long and cost much more. This project would not have been feasible without Iron Speed Designer.

Next steps

Allied Concrete plans to enhance the application and add additional users in the future. Features they are considering include:

Email notifications informing assigned sales person or other relevant personnel that a project has been added to the application.
Printable quote sheet in PDF format.
Assuming sales persons have small portable scanners; allow them to upload a scanned version of signed quote sheet.
Reports for management.
Add scanned signature of all sales personnel to database to include on quote sheet.
Add a dashboard (either on intranet or within the application) to list a summary of various activities, including:
Current open projects.
Projects without pricing, ordered by bid date.
Statistics of recent bids and their status (win/lose).
Number of bids by sales person in last X days.
Download electronic Dodge Report and load the information directly into the Bids system, saving staff and sales people data entry time.
Ability to view potential bids as they become available from the Dodge Report so that management can analyze historical data to determine which projects are worthwhile.

About the developer

Jay Patel has been involved in software development and IT since 1994. He has worked in all phases of the software development cycle, from initial concept, through requirements gathering and design, to maintenance and support. Jay has worked with web technologies for more than eight years. His principal toolset and technologies include Visual Studio.NET 2008, ASP.NET, C#, Iron Speed Designer, SQL Server 2005/2008, TFS, TeamCity, and Subversion (VisualSVN Server).

Jay holds Bachelor of Science degrees in both Computer Science and Computer Engineering from University of South Florida.

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