This old program has some new tricks. But it's still not for everyone. By Joe Stoddard

There was a collective sigh of relief from BuildSoft's 2,000-plus users last fall when word hit the street that the granddaddy of integrated accounting/project management software had been rescued from bankruptcy by HomeSphere and would live to generate another purchase order.

The new owners have already started to undo several years of neglect. BuildSoft 3.56 is now Windows 2000 compatible, includes updated 2001 year-end tax forms, and two dozen new or modified reports. One major new feature--an open database connectivity (ODBC) driver--lets users export data to other programs like Crystal Reports or Microsoft Excel, a much-needed improvement.

BuildSoft can be installed solo or in a multi-user environment using a Windows NT or 2000 server. Pricing starts at about $4,300, with various packages and configurations available that could hike the price to more than $7,000. It's a good value if you've been looking for what it has to offer, but it isn't for everyone.

On the pro side:

  • BuildSoft forces a process and workflow on you. If used as intended, it will add to the bottom line.
  • Financial accounting is done in the background. You focus on project management, and the money takes care of itself.
  • The new ODBC feature makes it fairly easy to generate custom reports for presentations or further data analysis.
  • On the con side:

  • It forces a process and workflow on you. Putting BuildSoft in place could mean throwing out whatever you're already doing right. So if you're looking for incremental change in your business, this software is not for you.
  • There's currently no easy way to synchronize multiple databases, making it less than ideal for larger builders with several communities to manage.
  • The current 16-bit interface is more like Windows 3.1 than Windows 2000.
  • It lacks a true options catalog and lead management tool kit, which would make it more useful to production builders.
  • The developers say that big changes are coming with the next full release, but that could be a year or more away.

    Overall, I'm glad that BuildSoft is back in the game and would recommend it as an out-of-the-box solution for the small- to mid-sized builder who could benefit from its schedule-and-purchase- order driven approach.

    For more information visit the BuildSoft Web site at

    Technology consultant Joe Stoddard can be reached online at the JLC Computer Solutions Forum at