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Cost Planning Software for ERNE

Prototype of an in-house software for more accurate calculation of building costs in quotations


«How can we turn a multitude of huge Excel spreadsheets with complex calculations and dependencies into a simple, easy-to-use web app that not only simplifies the workflow of ERNE’s account managers and construction engineers for building quotes but also reduces the chance of errors?»

Samuel Frischknecht

Head of UX, Adnovum

Definition of problem

ERNE AG Holzbau is part of the ERNE Group founded in 1906. It stands for highly specialized, individual construction from building, window and facade solutions to sophisticated interior fittings.

Calculations required in advance of such solutions for quotes are highly complex and include thousands of elements that must be estimated for this purpose. Over the years, Excel spreadsheets have become an established tool for this purpose. These have grown steadily and been enriched with new content and calculations. They now have dozens of tabs and tens of thousands of entries and interconnections, which means that only experts can keep track of everything, and even minor inattentions can result in large, trivial calculation errors. Not a good basis, especially for ERNE’s account managers, who have to provide information on the possible costs of a project within the shortest time possible. This is why ERNE wanted to replace the Excel spreadsheets with a simple, user-friendly web app that is connected to their internal system. Adnovum UX was commissioned to develop in close collaboration with ERNE’s key people a product vision that is tailored to the needs of the users.

Design process


Adnovum has proposed a standardized design process based on the Double Diamond model. This approach helps to better understand a customer and their challenges before starting to develop a solution. It also enables exploration of creative and innovative ways to address challenges and identify opportunities. Diamond one represents the exploration and analysis phases, and diamond two represents the ideation and prototyping phases. Double Diamond helps identify targeted solutions before beginning expensive and time-consuming development.


We started the project with an extensive scoping workshop in which all key stakeholders participated and had the opportunity to contribute (Milestone: SCOPING ). Scoping was all about jointly defining the framework and creating a common understanding of the project. In addition, we collaboratively developed initial rough user types in order to be able to specifically prepare the survey of users (user research). In the workshop, we also analyzed the existing user process to get a picture of the problems and the potential (ACTUAL user journey).


On this basis, we then developed a questionnaire, interviewed users and observed them in their everyday work (user research). This allowed us to better understand their context, goals, tasks and pain points and to create a solid basis for the development of a meaningful information architecture. It was very interesting to see that ERNE’s employees print out a lot of things in the quotes and manually mark them on paper with different colors to get an overview. In a workshop, the results of the analysis were jointly evaluated, and fundamental decisions were made for the product (milestone: DECISIONS).


Based on the good results of the user research, we jointly developed the overall navigation concept (TARGET User Journey) in a half-day workshop to define the functionality and the expected complexity. Then we created a detailed screen map to define and visualize the number of necessary screens as well as their interrelationships.


In the fourth phase, we developed an interactive prototype and visual design in several iterations. The prototype allowed all stakeholders to test the software or product vision and see how it would perform (Milestone: SOLUTION VISION). It provided ERNE with a good starting point for estimating the implementation costs of the software, obtaining quotes, and independently tackling the developing and testing phases (milestone: SOLUTION).

erne logo

ERNE AG Holzbau is part of the ERNE Group, which was founded in 1906 and was converted into an independent stock corporation in 1965. For more than half a century we have been offering highly specialised, individual solutions with overall performance quality - from building, window and facade solutions to sophisticated interior design. Above all, we see ourselves as a powerful partner for architects and their clients.

Our broad specialist knowledge, our feel for innovation and strict quality management enable reliable and sophisticated solutions. We put our complete trust in our team, which consists of experienced, competent employees and young talents. We meet the individual demands of our customers with personal commitment, proactive action and the promise to deliver our services from a single source.

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Added value for ERNE

Vision of the new product created. Thanks to the user-centered approach, we were able to develop a common vision of the product within a very short time, which was supported by everyone.

Clear, predictable budget and reduced risk. The project had a clear, predictable budget and the definition of all key functionalities minimized the risk of getting lost during implementation.

Accurate estimate for implementation made possible. The interactive prototype provided an accurate estimate of the effort required for implementation. This enabled ERNE to obtain various offers, clarify the technical framework conditions and find the best solution for implementation.

Time required and internal costs reduced. The software solved two problems at once: it reduced the enormous amount of time spent on complex calculations in Excel spreadsheets for quotations and prevented losses due to errors and inaccurate estimates.

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«The detailed research and analysis phase was crucial in making the right decisions in the project.»

Samuel Frischknecht

Head of UX, Adnovum