San Diego, CA
ELEN Consulting is a consulting electrical engineering firm based in San Diego, CA. ELEN specializes in large projects for clients that include public agencies, the military, educational institutions, and large corporations. The firm’s principals have extensive design-build experience with systems like power, lighting, communications, fire alarms, and utility distribution.
For ELEN’s customers, on-time delivery of highly accurate, code-compliant work – every time – is absolutely mandatory. In their former jobs the engineers had used AutoCAD, which they extended with considerable custom programming to meet their needs. In this new venture, they chose to evaluate alternative solutions, in part to help ensure their drawings would have a distinctive appearance.
According to Tim Locklear, one of ELEN Consulting’s principals, the founders initially identified four “must-have” features for their engineering software platform:
- It had to come out-of-the-box with everything (graphics, blocks, calculations, etc.) they would need to start productive work immediately. A long customization timeframe was not acceptable.
- It had to be easy to learn and use. A short learning curve that allowed them to be productive immediately was vital.
- It had to support full and ongoing compliance with the National Electrical Code.
- The vendor had to provide excellent customer support.
“Our evaluation basically started with going online and googling ‘electrical engineering software,’” relates Locklear. “We came up with four or five vendors, among them Design Master Software. On the basis of visiting websites we eliminated several products. We demoed the rest. In less than a day we could clearly see that Design Master Electrical stood far above and beyond the other packages, in terms of our needs. So it was a very easy decision for us.”
To check out their customer support, Locklear recalls that he “got on the phone with them the following day and talked for over an hour. From that conversation it was clear that Design Master understood our business and could support it.”
“Design Master Electrical integrates seamlessly with AutoCAD, it’s all-inclusive in terms of features, and the drawings it creates have a unique look-and-feel that is unlike those of our former employer. Plus the software is so easy to use that we were working productively and making money as soon as we installed it. For us, that was absolutely crucial,” adds Locklear.
Experience and Impressions
ELEN Consulting currently has seven Design Master Electrical users, all engineers or designers. After working with Design Master for eighteen months, Locklear reports that “the software has been above and beyond expectations, and the customer support has been there for us every time. Every question or issue we’ve had with the software has been addressed within a day or a couple of days at the most.
“Our industry by nature is deadline-driven, so we can’t wait around with software problems. We need to keep engineering. Design Master understands this – and we know they ‘get it’ by how responsive they are.”
But the responsiveness of Design Master’s customer support goes well beyond timely bug fixes. Several times they’ve extended the product with new capabilities at ELEN Consulting’s request. Says Locklear: “I’ve called and asked them to add something that would save us time, and very shortly thereafter I’d get an e-mail with a link to a software plug-in that did it. Talk about making us more productive… they exceed our expectations in every way.”
Design Master Software also provides ongoing support to ELEN Consulting and other customers by ensuring compliance with the National Electrical Code. “Design Master updates the software anytime the Code is updated,” Locklear explains. “The software checks for updates and alerts us to them automatically. We never even have to think about it.”
Another advantage of Design Master Electrical for firms like ELEN Consulting that work on large projects is its scalability. “Our projects vary in scale from small 5,000 to 10,000 square-foot commercial buildings to very large 300,000 to 500,000 square-foot casino hotels,” explains Locklear. “Design Master Electrical isn’t affected in any way, in terms of performance or reliability, by the size and scope of the project. It continues to operate flawlessly no matter how big the job gets. That’s not true of every product out there.”
"Design Master Electrical has a major impact on our productivity, turnaround time and the accuracy of our drawings. We’re a more profitable company because of it."
--Tim Locklear, Principal
Locklear points out that “Design Master Electrical has a major impact on our productivity, turnaround time and the accuracy of our drawings. We’re a more profitable company because of it.
“Design Master Electrical has significantly streamlined our engineering process, which minimizes the time it takes us to engineer drawings. So our drawings get to our clients on time, which endears us to them. At the end of the day we’re making more money because of our software investment.
“But it’s not just about owning software and interacting with a vendor– it’s a real partnership. We feel like we’re investing in Design Master Software, and they’re investing in us.”
Among the benefits of Design Master Electrical for ELEN Consulting:
- Immediate productivity with no need for training or customization, accelerating revenue generation
- Full compliance with National Electrical Code, including timely updates, ensuring conformance to client requirements
- Ability to create high-quality, highly accurate drawings, increasing customer satisfaction and driving repeat business and referrals
- Streamlined engineering design process and reduced turnaround time on drawings and changes, ensuring project deadlines are met
Design Master Electrical enhances ELEN Consulting’s profitability in two important, synergistic ways:
- It improves productivity and effectiveness, enabling the business to do more work in less time, without the need for more staff or resources.
- It increases customer satisfaction, leading to more repeat business, more referrals, and higher revenue.
Asked to summarize his experience with Design Master Electrical, Locklear replied: “I rarely mention Design Master Electrical to colleagues at other firms – because I don’t want them to know what our competitive advantage over them is.”