Last month, I attended NAHB’s midyear meeting in Miami and had the pleasure of sitting in on a presentation by Daniel Swift, president and CEO of Des Moines-based architecture group BSB Design.
Sprint and Motorola have partnered to offer the i930, a phone featuring the Windows Mobile Smartphone platform. The i930 has domestic and international voice, data, internet and walkie-talkie capabilities. Walkie-talkie communication is available nationally from Nextel Nationwide Walkie-Talkie Services. Wireless synchronization with Microsoft Office Outlook provides access to e-mail. Windows Mobile ClearVue Suite is preloaded and allows users to open and view attachments like Microsoft Office PowerPoint presentations, Microsoft Office Excel graphs, worksheets and charts, Microsoft Office Word documents and PDFs. There is a built-in camera and camcorder. www.sprint.com, www.motorola.com
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Digital Map Products has introduced LandVision, a subscription based mapping software. LandVision is designed for home builders and those involved in land acquisition, development, investment and brokering. This software combines mapping, detailed site and property information, customization and project management workflow in a web-based interface. LandVision facilitates exploration of the terrain via interactive maps. Land opportunities can be analyzed from segmentation data, including demographics, sub-market boundaries. Criteria-specific property searches can be conducted based on parcel size, location, land use and value. Target parcel lists can be by saved, refined, edited and sorted. The ThemeActive Parcel Notes function tracks contact history with the landowners; and ThemeActive BuilderSites feature provides information on what the competition is building. The presentation function, the PlanOverlay feature incorporates proposed site plans in the approval process. Organization maps and data can be accessed from an internet or wireless connection. www.digitalmapcentral.com
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BuildLinks is a web-based, collaborative project management tool that integrates project scheduling, product selections and change order tracking into one platform. BuildLinks provides real-time information on demand for employees, subcontractors and homebuyers. Targeted for small to medium-sized home builders BuildLinks has wireless Internet capability and can be operated remotely from a laptop, PDA or cell phone. It tracks construction tasks and subcontractor schedules. Home owners can access home owner manuals, selection options and pricing and change order costs. The Schedule Wizard automates the faxing of schedule alerts, e-mails and reports to subcontractors. www.buildlinks.com
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Microsoft Corporation, Stargate Mobile and Ford Motor Company have partnered to release the mobile office system in the "General Contractor" F-250 Super Duty truck. This integrated product was created for the contractor who travels to multiple work sites. This mobile office features global positioning satellite, wireless broadband, printer, credit card scanner and a digital-camera-equipped mobile computer. The Stargate Mobile computer can bid on jobs, order and purchase parts and materials and process payments. It is mounted on the transmission tunnel hump and powered by the truck's battery. The mobile office system features Microsoft Windows XP Professional and the Microsoft Office Suite: Microsoft Office Outlook, Microsoft Office Word, Microsoft Office Excel and Microsoft Office PowerPoint. The broadband wireless cellular card can connect to the internet for Outlook e-mail; Streets & Trips 2006 for real-time mapping; and Internet Explorer for Web browsing. The computer is designed to withstand a construction job site. The touch-screen computer is portable and visible in sunlight. Keyboards are optional. The mobile office will be offered as a dealer-installed accessory in the Genuine Ford Accessories program beginning in 2006. www.microsoft.com/automotive.
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DocuSign is an online signing service provider. DocuSign provides a secure and timely option for obtaining signed contracts from vendors, contractors and potential home owners. This legally-binding program is compliant with existing electronic signature laws and is more secure than faxing or mailing. This electronic signature service minimizes the problem of misplaced signatures as well as fraying the cost and delays of mailing signed contracts postal or overnight mail. This web-based program works with salesforce.com and other third party applications. www.docusign.com
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Master Builder, a fully-integrated business management software is offering Intuit Master Builder Version 11. This software is designed for general contractors and subcontractors for home building, electrical, plumbing/HVAC and specialty trades. Master Builder also manages the construction business profit cycle: estimating, production, accounting and reporting and analysis.
The upgrade includes a more flexible licensing model; the ability to activate and upgrade the software over the internet and manage simultaneous users; increased project management capabilities for requesting information, transmittals and submittals, plan records, punch lists; as well as the creation and tracking of responses to project documents. Additionally, there is a copy company function which allows firms to set up multiple companies for large projects. The add-on modules are offered on a per-company basis. The service receivables and inventory are combined into one module.
The Contractors' features can track payable invoices including two-party checks; export financials to Excel; share dynamic estimation information and receive remote transmittal of reports via e-mail or fax. Master Builder can be upgraded from QuickBooks Pro and QuickBooks Premier. www.intuit.com
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UDA is releasing Construction Office 2006. Construction Office is designed to handle estimating, scheduling, contracts, specifications and QuickBooks Integration for small to medium firms. This construction industry project management system features an improved Construction Contact Resource Management function. This upgraded feature unites all project-related information in one portal. Other new features include resource allocation, customizable cost database, industry standard AIA payment request forms and improved QuickBooks Integration. Tools for document management, financing and mobile devices are also available. www.udatechnologies.com
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PCVirtual Boss, job management software has added a new function, Remote VirtualBoss. Remote VirtualBoss is designed to connect users to their schedule from any location. This new product allows users to remotely access, edit, and update their schedule by connecting to the internet via a laptop, phone, PDA or any other device with an internet browser. www.virtualboss.net
Sage Software has a new release of the Sage Timberline Office. Designed for the construction and real estate industries this software integrates the financial and operational aspects of the home building business. The suite of products covers Accounting, Reconciliation, Estimating, Project Management and Reporting aspects of the business. New features include a quick-launch function for all functions of Cash Management, General Ledger, Payroll and Property Management; a quick checks feature in Accounts Payable that will record an invoice and print a check from a single place; the ability to export any report to an Excel file; a backup function for multiple folders, datasets and files in a single operation; enhanced error checking ability and a reconciliation tool and reporting function. Additionally, the Sage Software Information Center automatically delivers timely, tailored information to the customer’s screen via the Web. www.sagetimberlineoffice.com
AllTrack from HomeSphere is a rebate management control software program designed for builders who construct more than 1,000 homes a year. This web-based tool helps homebuilders to retrieve the rebate dollars they’ve negotiated to receive from manufacturers whose products are being installed in their new construction process projects. The builders’ account codes are used to monitor and track potential rebates based upon the manufacturers’ products in correlation to the cost of the house. Upon home closings, the program calculates rebate dollars and submits an invoice from the builder, based on builder-manufacturer payment schedules and agreements. Additionally AllTrack can generate standard reports on-line for quarterly and yearly totals by manufacturer, community or product as well as divisional reports. The reports can highlight categories and sub-categories where potential incentives are being missed.