Our History – The story of Sterling from inception to product release

Our History:

The story of Sterling from inception to product release

In 2016 Steve Brunning founded Rapid DCS, initially as an integration and solutions consultant whilst we started working on the plans for Sterling that would support the evolution from just Cost to Carbon, to get it ready for seeking the support of initial investors. In 2019, funding from a small group of investors was secured. By June 2020, a trusted team of developers in Poland were engaged to develop the first prototype of Sterling, ready for a first soft product launch at the Project Controls Expo in London in November of that year. This was a speedy start to the Sterling journey, an early indicator of the pace and ambition that would drive the solution and the business forward over the coming years.

In 2021 enhancements began on that early version of Sterling, as well as the development of new modules. The Core of the product was being enhanced, and work began on a smart 2D and 3D Take-off module. Then later in the year, as part of the enhancements being applied to the Cost Plan, we began developing a set of standard libraries, for resources, cost items, and work breakdown structures. As well as the addition of libraries, the team in Poland started work on multiuser functionality, a key aspect of Steve’s vision for Sterling, to enable collaboration without barriers.

In early 2022, the team completed the development for multiuser functionality, enabling multiple team members to work in one project simultaneously without being able to overlap on cost items and affect each other’s work, and released this to our early access users. Once this was complete, development quickly moved on, and work began on adding a comprehensive revisioning feature to the Take-off module, as well as a Work Package Manager module. The revisioning feature would enable users to see the differences between two revisions of a drawing or model, then see the impacts on Cost & Carbon across the Cost Plan, prior to committing to the new revision, and would then automatically update the Cost Plan if the new revision was accepted. The Package Manager feature would enable users to group cost items from the Cost Plan together into Work Packages, and issue these to supply chain partners, or Delivery Partners, to tender for. But that’s not all, Steve’s ambitions for Sterling are high, and he wanted Package Manager to also offer the Delivery Partners a portal version of Sterling to work within to produce their quote, thus enabling Sterling users to compare Delivery Partner quotes for both cost and carbon side by side within Sterling, without any data transfer, and see their Cost Plans automatically updated after accepting a quote. So development was also started on the Delivery Partner portal in early 2022. But that’s still not all, the final feature which started development in early 2022, was the Report Writer tool, which would enable users to access 100% of the data within their Sterling Projects and Portfolios and create custom and template reports with a wide range of export formats, to suit any business need, without needing their own Business Intelligence solution.

Impressively, the development team were able to release the first, functional, version of Sterling’s Package Manager and Report Writer by the fourth quarter of 2022! Enabling Steve to push forward with his vision and form a Life Cycle Cost & Carbon Advisory Panel, to start to scope out the next, and most ambitious, modules to go into the Sterling development roadmap. As always, this wasn’t where the ambition ended, alongside scoping out the Life Cycle module, the team began to scope and design Forecasting, Planning, and Benchmarking modules in the final quarter of 2022.

In the first months of 2023, while the scope and design for Forecasting, Planning, Benchmarking and Life Cycle were being refined, and with Package Manager having been released and in use by early access clients since the middle of 2022, the team started to use the feedback to develop enhancements and platform optimisation.

By the second quarter of 2023, we ready to start work on Life Cycle Cost & Carbon, a module that would be critical to achieving the goals for the solution and to enabling the estimator and quantity surveyor to undertake the carbon assessment. As with all estimating, the devil is in the detail so to speak, and with Sterling you can work top down or bottom up.

With the first version of Sterling released to early access, and having moved on to enhancements and additional modules, Steve decided it was time to move development in house. This would ensure that the development of the product continued at a fast pace, that Rapid DCS had complete control over the direction and prioritisation of development sprints and that we could commit to stringent cyber security protocols. So in June 2023, recruitment started, and a development team began to grow in our offices in Chelmsford. By the end of the year, we had successfully rebranded as Sterling DCS, focusing solely on the development of Sterling, and the development team had grown to 12.

Our new development team had their work cut out for them, as they worked to deliver a new UI and optimised UX, decreased response times and the ability to handle larger data loads. Impressively, they were able to pull this off, and we unveiled Sterling 24 just before Christmas in 2023. Sterling 24 lays down our new foundations for Sterling, with Core Estimating, Take-off, and Package Manager having been completely redesigned to implement significant enhancements and performance improvements, but most of all to address the early customer feedback to make Sterling easier to use.

In May, we released Life Cycle Cost & Carbon, and the next steps in our journey involve the finalisation of the development of Forecasting, Planning and Benchmarking and more integrations with third party solutions all in 2024 as well. This is now supported by a portfolio of click through training guides, complimentary services, and data to support our clients making the transition to Sterling. And as we never like to make it easy on ourselves, alongside this intense development roadmap, we are also expanding our operations to North America, and the Asia Pacific region.

Want to see Sterling Life Cycle in action ?

Contact our Sales team today to schedule a call to discuss your requirements.