By Joe Stoddard. Timberline Precision Estimating and Gold Accounting have always been regarded as rock-solid products. But they can be difficult to implement without considerable outside help.

Production builders can tie together the major Timberline estimating and accounting products with the BuilderMT ProHome, which includes new modules for production scheduling, buyout, and project management. But what about the rest of the home building industry--custom home builders, large remodelers, specialty builders, and service contractors? Now Timberline has filled that void with the introduction of the "Timberline Office" approach to construction management.

Office provides a common shell and interface to tie together Timberline or partners' products, letting users build their own system. The approach has many benefits. Because it's modular, a Timberline Office installation will have the flexibility of separate applications, but with the scalability and analytical capability of a database-backed system.

The software can be tailored for a particular niche. For instance, a custom home builder would also use the Estimating and Accounting, as well as the Timberline Production Management and Buyout modules. A high-volume remodeler might plug in the Service Management module to manage a professional handyman service.

I'm impressed with the Office approach: It provides a clear implementation strategy for Timberline and partnering products, which makes it easier for builders to evaluate what they need and to deploy what they purchase.