Tag Archives: home building software

Home Builder Software: ERP vs. BOB

Integration is the key!

A lot has been written on this subject over the years, but most of the verbiage has dealt with generalities. Builders have asked me to explain some of the differences and I have tried to relate these differences to their business.

The Best of Breed (BOB) solution is usually interfaced together by one of the vendors involved in the solution. Indeed there are solutions available that require a vendor of accounting software, sales software, project management software and customer service software. The system interfacer will claim that they have married together the best of all solutions on the market, by bringing together four databases. Let us consider this claim when it comes to a comparison the truly integrated Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software.

Consider for instance an integrated ERP customer service module:

  1. Does it integrate to the purchase order module, in such a way that warranty staff are able to easily determine who did the original work on the lot?
  2. Does it integrate to the sales module so that all customer information and option selections are automatically transferred over?
  3. Does it integrate to accounting module to the extent that all work on the lot that cannot be charged back, is automatically posted to the warranty cost code in the costing module?
  4. Does it integrate to the accounting module to the extent that all backcharges approved by customer service, automatically reduce the payment to the errant subcontractor on the next pay run?
  5. Does it integrate to the purchase order software to allow warranty to issue customer service purchase orders that can be tracked through the normal process of the builder?

These are integration questions from just one module! Most or all of these will not be handled by BOB software.

Consider other more general questions that I have found important to the builder:

  1. Is the production software integrated to the extent that the closing entry to the general ledger with all the associated Work in process and Cost of sales entries (etc.) automated on a lot by lot basis?
  2. Can sales see the current status of all lots in a community by virtue of having the schedule integrated to the sales module?
  3. Can the approvers of an agreement run a margin report on a new prospective deal by virtue of having the budgeting and costing software integrated to the sales module?
  4. Can the builder run a report with data from all four BOB modules? An example may be where the CEO requires a field from warranty to be included in a required accounting report. As a general rule the BOB supplier would recommend that the builder set up yet another database to consolidate the reporting.
  5. The vendor portal in most solutions does a good job with purchase orders. However does it integrate to the accounting software to the extent that the trades can see the check number and amount that paid the purchase order?

I could go on and on but true integration that pays back to the builder.

One objection pointed to the ERP vendor is that you have “all your eggs in one basket”. Check out the ERP vendor you are dealing with as it may be that the vendor is on very solid financial ground. In a BOB solution you must do due diligence on say four vendors, any one of whom could bring down the solution which no one really owns. Will any one or all of the vendors continue to be a best of breed vendor? Who decides this?

When problems occur in an ERP solution it is one call to one vendor. In a BOB solution you would be faced with four numbers. Many times they may say the problem is another vendor’s problem.

Don’t get me wrong, I have seen BOB solutions function but usually to the extent that IT resources are hired to run it. The running cost of a BOB solution has to be higher because of the databases involved and the resulting reporting requirements.

I ask the reader one question. If you built a software solution, would you not want to be in complete control of it?

Share this article or connect with Simon via LinkedIn.

LinkedIn: Simon Gardner

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PARTNERS 2014: Constellation's National Customer Conference

Marriott Camelback Scottsdale: Build More 2013

From November 4-6, Constellation HomeBuilder Systems hosted over 200 guests from across the United States and Canada at the gorgeous JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort & Spa. The three-day event brought our home building customers together with 25 representatives of the Constellation team, keynote speakers from home building and beyond, as well as Professional Builder magazine’s BENCHMARK Roundtables guests.

We are excited to see our customers taking time out of their busy schedules and out of their comfort zones to interact with fellow – often competitive – builders. With networking events tied closely to keynote and training sessions, the conference promoted discussion amongst builders, who were ready and eager to learn.

Our cocktail reception kicked off the conference, allowing customers to unwind with a cocktail as they arrived in Arizona. As the night wore on, a little Arizona rain shower kept everyone on their toes.

Dr. Nick Bontis kicked off the conference the next morning, with a lively keynote on the modern stresses of “information bombardment” and how to manage and maximize the data coming at you by the minute. Test your own ability to manage this information on nick’s website. A panel of top builders then discussed operations and how Constellation systems can be used to keep information flowing through the organization.

 

Lunch – the food at Camelback was incredible – was held alongside a mini “trade show” where builders had the opportunity to demo peripheral software to enhance their existing systems, including land development, custom reporting, digital marketing, and electronic signature applications. The afternoons brought a combination of software training sessions specific to the builder’s ERP system, or complementary keynotes delivered by Charlie Scott of Woodland, O’Brien, and Scott, Michael White of G1440, and Blayne Parrish of Center6.

Day two kicked off with Scott Sedam of TrueNorth on the Lean Building Revolution, and Drew Gallanar of DocuSign discussing how home builders can use electronic signatures to streamline the sales process. Read DocuSign’s press release about integrating with Constellation’s software for home builders.

Software training again filled the afternoon with ideas and strategies, until Denis Leonard closed the conference with the Steps to Performance Excellence which tied into the next day’s events. Professional Builder magazine hosted Constellation builders at the National Housing Quality Awards, then kicked off the BENCHMARK Roundtables on Thursday.

Thank you to all customers who were able to join us in Scottsdale. It was exciting for us to have you all in one place again, networking and sharing ideas. We are looking forward to next year!

Photos via Facebook: http://on.fb.me/1b5LfDn
Photos via Flickr: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjMuRuG4

We almost forgot: before the Conference kicked off, we hit the links of the Camelback Golf Club with home builders who should shouldn’t quit their day jobs! (Nor should any Constellation golfers.) Here’s a quick video of the Best “Constellation Swingers” Caught on Tape! Vote for your favourite swinger in the comments!

Video via YouTube: http://youtu.be/oXfsiDfmXQo

The feedback from our customers is pouring in:

“I want to thank [the Constellation team] for giving us so much time and attention. You all went out of your way to answer our questions and concerns. We are looking forward to building our relationship in the future.”

“Thank you for your time and personal attention during the conference. Your conference was the best I have ever attended, and I felt that the structure truly met our goals as attendees. The networking was great, the seminars were very helpful and the keynote speakers were amazing.”

Notes: If you have photos to add to the slideshow, email them to Lauren at lhughes@constellationhb.com. If you attended the conference and have not received the feedback survey, please email Cathy at conferences@constellationhb.com.

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In conjunction with Shinn Consulting, we are pleased to invite you to our two-day seminar on Wednesday, November 5th and Thursday, November 6th at the Vail Cascade Resort & Spa in Vail, Colorado.

In this seminar, you will learn proven techniques to increase your operational efficiency and get the most from your information management systems.

In addition, Constellation HomeBuilder Systems will hold a 1/2 day workshop on November 7th to provide prescriptive techniques to get the most out of your existing software investment.

Managing your Company Out of the Downturn Seminar and Workshop Agenda

Posted in Best Practices, Blog, Builder 360, BuildSoft, Constellation News, FAST, Important Event, Press Release, User Conference | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

When: August 21, 2008 @ 1PM Eastern

Where: Online via WebEx (Register Now)

Home builders, vendors and trade contractors are experiencing a severe market downturn. Bankruptcy is the only option for some, while others have closed their doors. As the economy struggles, the companies that survive must take a proactive stance to address the problems they are certain to encounter in a cash crisis, with impaired assets and a credit crunch. The first step is to seek education about their options. To help, Constellation HomeBuilder Systems is offering a program to begin that education process with a 90 minute online conference hosted by a panel of experts including a veteran builder, an experienced bankruptcy attorney, a restructuring specialist and a banker.

This event is supported by NAHB’s Business Management & Information Technology Committee

Learn how to:
- cope and survive
- communicate and work with bankers
- deal with bankruptcy
- survive financial restructuring
- protect your assets

In this 90 minute session, panelists will provide prescriptive recommendations to minimize confusion and cope with the current state of our industry. A question and answer session will follow.

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While attending a session entitled Creating and Maintaining Company Value presented by Ron Robichaud at the 2008 Pacific Coast Builder Conference in San Francisco he says Information management systems are the second most important components in operational excellence.

“The second most important tool to achieve and maintain operations excellence is information. Now there are a number of providers who are actually successfully electronically integrating the full complement of sales and marketing, operations, production, service and financial functions into a seamless flow of live information readily accessible and useable to all parties as well as customer friendly.  Every builder is painfully aware of the costs generated by inaccurate plans, incomplete budgets, poor schedules, information slipping between the cracks, poor communication within the organization as well as with vendors, trades, and homebuyers.  All of the above is a function of information management.  The role of effective information processing, distribution and flow in creating and maintaining a well run company cannot be over-emphasized.  A consistently superior financial performance is not usually the result of some single secret formula or weapon, but rather the result of doing many things right, and the single most important way to do that is by managing information.”

Ron Robichaud
2008 PCBC
San Francisco

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