Nucor's eQuote Building Configurator Case Study

By: Dennis Junk

Nucor Building Systems, a division of Nucor Steel, manufactures and supplies custom pre-engineered metal-frame buildings to a network of over a 1000 authorized builders across North America. Nucor employs a large team of software development experts and is known as a technology leader in their industry.

Case Study Overview

  • Nucor Building Systems needed to create a web version of the desktop application its builders used to configure and purchase metal-frame buildings.
  • Nucor wanted to speed up the development to decrease the timeline by working with a skilled and experienced development team. But they wanted their own agile-trained developers to remain closely involved in the project. Aptera offered just the type of partnership they needed along with a full set of  custom software development services.
  • After testing the Nucor/Aptera team’s technical expertise on a smaller project to build an ecommerce site, the company was ready to take on the larger project.
  • The new configurator, known as eQuote, gives members of Nucor’s builder network access to the tools they need to design and purchase buildings.
  • These include visualization tools to help the builders choose the right options, along with parts lists and diagrams to make the process of ordering and constructing the building as seamless as possible.

The Problem

In the days before the building configurator eQuote, Nucor Building Systems’ clients had to complete orders for custom pre-engineered metal-frame buildings with desktop software. Nucor’s sales team devoted a lot of time and energy to supporting, updating, and maintaining the system.

But what most concerned Nucor was that the software wasn’t accessible enough to members of their builder network.

Nucor had to send those builders disks so they could download the software. They then had to send all those same members more disks anytime there were updates. And if a builder needed to make a change in an order that had already been placed, the series of phone calls and follow-ups would often be long and complicated.

In 2010, the company decided they could offer their clients a better experience by moving the application online.

There were two main challenges:

  • The desktop version of the application was large and complex, so recreating it on the web would be a massive undertaking.
  • Nucor wanted to remain closely involved in the development. They wanted developers from their own IT staff to participate in the project so they could learn to maintain and update the software on their own after the launch. And if they were to collaborate closely with another development team, they wanted to find one that relied on the same agile methodology.

The Solution

The solution would eventually be eQuote, a web product configurator that builders could upload their project details into. Using this information, eQuote would then guide users toward completion of the order process.

But before getting started on that main project, Nucor wanted to make sure the collaboration with Aptera would be effective in developing complex applications. So the company decided to tackle a smaller challenge first. Instead of developing a large configurator for designing entire buildings, the team would begin by creating an e-commerce site where builders could order individual building components.

Today, it’s known as Nucor Steel Store, one of the most popular sites for building supplies on the web.

With the runaway success of this initial project, Nucor and Aptera proved they were ready to take on the larger task of creating an online building configurator. Developers from both companies worked side by side to create the application agile development, just as they had with Nucor Steel Store.

Project Results

The building configurator the team created, known as eQuote, not only provides a better experience to Nucor’s clients. It also makes life much easier on the employees who are responsible for fulfilling building orders.

With eQuote, Nucor has a system that’s much easier to support, maintain, and update.

Most important, though, eQuote provides builders with a set of tools they won’t want to live without. The ordering process requires builders to fill out between 50 and 70 pages of details. Once the process is complete, the builder can access the full list of parts and materials to make any necessary changes. And eQuote also creates diagrams of the buildings that guide construction.

Having this information on hand makes builders more competitive by, among other things, making it easier for them to bid large projects. Giving their customers access to such useful tools is one of the ways Nucor ensures its builders keep coming back to purchase more buildings.

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About Dennis Junk

Dennis has been writing about tech and marketing for 5+ years and have certifications from HubSpot and The Content Marketing Institute. A big science and literature geek, I taught college rhetoric and composition while I was still busy going to school for way too long, earning bachelor's degrees in anthropology and psychology, along with a master's in British and American literature.