Builders often lament that software vendors don't speak their language or understand their business. Now, four midsize production builders have formed the Technology Enhancement Project to define what they want software to do and have contracted with H...
Builders often lament that software vendors don't speak their language or understand their business. Now, four midsize production builders have formed the Technology Enhancement Project to define what they want software to do and have contracted with HomeSphere Inc. to develop the package they seek. They also created an investment fund to drive software research and development.
TEP was developed by Brian Ennis, president of Ennis Homes in Porterville, Calif.; Adam Cristo, president of Cristo Homes in Middletown, Ohio; Howard Hirsh, chief financial officer of Keystone Homes in Willow Street, Pa.; and Todd Lambers, CFO of Bosgraaf Homes in Holland, Mich. Craig Schweikart of Shinn Consulting helped structure the group's request for proposal to various software companies.
They selected HomeSphere and entered "an agreement in principle" to fund development of the software. TEP and HomeSphere will establish an advisory board to plot the direction of a broad-based, builder-designed technology platform based on HomeSphere's integrated BuildSoft Enterprise system. "TEP will establish a significant endowment to accelerate development of HomeSphere's planned software enhancements," Schweikart says. The endowment's exact size remains a secret.
"Our company has a strong technology focus," Ennis says. "We have a number of managers from other industries, and we see a lot of things that technology can do that we're not yet able to accomplish. About a year and a half ago, we started looking for builders to get together and create the collective power to drive the innovations we want. We did a lot of conference calls and eventually found a group with enough common goals that it just jelled.
"What unites us is the belief that we can leverage computer technology way more than we are today to make our companies more efficient, more customer-focused and more profitable."
TEP's request for proposal specified five goals:
- Participation in development of future enhancements
- A fully integrated system, from sales prospecting to the end of home warranty
- Connectivity of construction operations in the field to the main system
- Connectivity to trades and suppliers
- Connectivity to buyers and homeowners
Additional companies are joining TEP as investor and non-investor members.