Constructech Top Products ‘09

In a market where making the most out of what you have is essential for survival, technology providers are rolling out products and enhancements that help builders meet this primary objective.

For years the homebuilding industry has struggled with trying to recruit and maintain strong technology leaders. In recent years we began to see a shift in this trend as more and more highly skilled IT (information technology) professionals emerged across the industry with new plans for change.

Unfortunately, however, another shift has developed throughout the past 12-18 months where—alongside thousands of highly skilled tradesmen—many of these IT leaders are leaving the industry due to tight economic conditions forcing their respective companies to reduce workforces. While it is just an unfortunate circumstance of the times, the fear is that when the building industry does shift back into recovery mode we will be left without many of the leaders that can help guide technology strategies forward within construction firms.

In the interim, companies will be forced to lean heavily on their existing technology investments, which in some cases is not much. These days, builders are focusing on the concept of doing more with less and are looking inward at the software and systems that are already in place in an effort to reduce costs and improve customer support, among other functions.

When judging for the 2009 Top Products began, the editors of Constructech took this factor into consideration, and as result looked very closely at companies that entered products under the ‘Enhanced Products’ and ‘Supportive Technologies’ categories to ensure what was being ‘enhanced’ or billed as ‘supportive’ truly fit the current needs of an IT-constrained building industry. Many of the winning products within both categories demonstrate new features and enhancements which the editors believe serve a unique role and will help builders better leverage their existing investment in technology.

Not ignoring the fact that some builders still have resources to spend on technology, products submitted under the ‘New Products’ and ‘Trusted Products’ categories were still held to typical standards of being products that demonstrate strong value to end users and provide a platform for future growth—a standard to which any piece of technology should always be held. We hope you agree.

ENHANCED
PRODUCT

 

www.visionrez.com

Allen, Texas

VisionREZ
Designed as an enhancement to AutoCAD Architecture, VisionREZ customizes this technology to fit specific functions of residential projects. Delivered in two versions—VisionREZ Standalone and VisionREZ Plug-In—it uses BIM technology to help minimize time-consuming and error-prone tasks associated with 2D CAD. Using the core of the AutoCAD Architecture product, the company was able to customize it for residential. Among these enhancements is the VisionREZ VAR Manger which coordinates placement of intelligent objects in a drawing set. The program is also optimized for such tasks as roof design, trim detailing, construction documentation, framing, and bill of material—all of which can cause hindrances to the overall design process.
   

NEW
PRODUCT

www.builder1440.com

Baltimore, Md.

My1440Home
My1440Home brings the power of selection to homebuyers and prospects. As a compliment to Sales1440, Builder1440’s customer-relationship management application, this online selection portal provides a personalized site that allows customers to preview and select options, and monitor construction progress on their new home. Community plan, lot, and option offerings can be browsed and item wish lists can be created. The data selected within the portal is automatically populated from the Sales1440 customer-relationship management engine. The portal also engages prospective buyers, enabling them to view home inventory right on a builder’s Website.
   

TRUSTED
PRODUCT

www.buildertrend.com

Omaha, Neb.

BuilderTREND
Launched in 2006, the Web-based collaboration solution BuilderTREND has experienced strong adoption from small-to-medium custom building and residential remodeling companies. Online project management and communication functions, such as scheduling, document management, change order management, selections/options management, and sub/vendor management, allow builders to stay in constant contact with trade partners and customers throughout the process. Online scheduling and change order functions have been readily embraced by remodeling professionals, who also find the ability to keep customers in the loop via instant communication tools and photo sharing capabilities to be ideal in this line of work.
   

TRUSTED
PRODUCT

www.constellationhb.com

Markham, Ont.

BuildSoft
For years, this product has been an ideal solution combining accounting, project management, estimating, and job cost for builders and remodelers completing less than 50 homes annually. When Constellation purchased the product a few years back, it continued to maintain the quality of the product—offering four software releases with 16 major enhancements and 12 critical updates last year alone. Loaded with preconfigured builder data, BuildSoft contains standardized lists of materials, jobs, and work stages that can be modified to mirror customers’ workflows. Previous work can be used as a starting point to set up new jobs, budgets, and schedules. The product continues to be an effective tool for smaller builders to complete their jobs.
   

ENHANCED
PRODUCT

www.constellationhb.com

Markham, Ont.

OnLocation-Construction Manager

OnLocation-Schedule helps field superintendents manage scheduling and payment options using BlackBerry devices. Working with a team of early adopters the company recently enhanced the quality control and photo functionality of the product. Through this upgrade, builders are able to create quality control lists to help ensure work is completed accurately and that all issues are tracked effectively. With reporting capabilities and supplier/trade performance monitoring built into the system, Constellation has developed an enhancement that helps ensure reliability and accountability for all parties on the job. The product can also leverage the photo capabilities of BlackBerry devices to enhance quality tracking processes.
   

NEW
PRODUCT

www.homefront-software.com

Calgary, Alta.

HomeFront Field PO Request

The use of mobile devices on the jobsite becoming ubiquitous, coupled with the increased availability of innovative solutions, should eliminate the delays in purchase order reporting these days. Yet somehow this is a problem that continues to plague the building process. The release of HomeFront Field PO Request provides a Web-based resource that allows purchase order requests to be issued using a PDA, cell phone, or laptop. The purchase order is instantly emailed to the vendor and is available in the HomeFront backoffice database for builders, where it is queued for approval and made available for reporting. It is a nice example of a complimentary solution to one of the industry’s biggest challenges.
   

NEW
PRODUCT

www.link.schlage.com

Calgary, Alta.

Schlage LiNK

Builders that wish to make the profitable upsell through automation can offer something that hits close to home with every buyer—security, right at the front door. The Schlage LiNK looks to be an attractive product, as a wireless-controlled door lock that uses Z-Wave technology to allow homeowners the ability to remotely control and monitor access to their home. Homeowners are able to grant immediate access to anyone using the Schlage LiNK online portal or mobile phone application. Keyless access is another innovative feature: four-digit codes can be activated, deleted, or disabled via the keypad or virtually using the product’s customized Web portal or a mobile application.
   

ENHANCED
PRODUCT

www.marksystemsusa.com

Mt. Holly, N.J.

National Housing Quality Checklists

Working with NAHB’s National Housing Research Council guidelines, MARK SYSTEMS launched this enhancement throughout the scheduling component of its Integrated Homebuilder Management System. This user-defined quality checklist product allows for multiple checklists for each construction activity and multiple review and approval levels for each checklist. The checklist approvals are then integrated with schedule completion and payment approval. From there, checklist review and result confirmation is emailed to field personnel, trade partners, and management. Aimed at builders with annual construction volume between 10 and 5,000 units, this product is a nice scheduling enhancement, providing accountability and reliability throughout the process for all involved.

Below, please find the full list of winners in each of four categories.

New Products: My1440Home from Builder1440 LLC, HomeFront Field PO Request from HomeFront Software, Schlage LiNK from Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies, Paperless Service Management from Jonas Software, ConstructionSuite 2009 from UDA Technologies

Enhanced Products: VisionREZ from Ameri-CAD, Inc., Constellation OnLocation-Construction Manager from Constellation HomeBuilder Systems, IntelliBid from ConEst Software Systems, ProEst Takeoff from Construction Management Software, National Housing Quality Checklists from MARK SYSTEMS

Trusted Products: BuilderTREND from BuilderTREND Solutions Inc., BuildSoft from Constellation HomeBuilder Systems, Electronic Invoice Routing from ComputerEase Software Inc., GradeBeam Construction Communication Network from GradeBeam

Supportive Technologies: MTG Framework Solution Set from Morpheus Technology Group, MyAssistant from Innovative Software Design, SX7 Series from Telular Corp., Textura Construction Payment Management from Textura Corp.