HOME BUILDERS LOOKING FOR A WAY TO understand HomeFront, the sales and warranty management software from Red Deer, Alberta, Canada–based Zybertech, should think of it as a pair of bookends that run on either side of BuilderMT's purchasing system and the Sage Timberline Office accounting and estimating software.

“HomeFront is the only system I found that brings BuilderMT and Timberline together successfully,” says Philip Robichaud, information technology manager for Morrison Homes of Calgary, Alberta. (Morrison builds about 500 homes a year in the $250,000 to $1 million range.) The builder paid about $25,000 for HomeFront and has been using the software since March of this year.

“In the past, we had a custom sales and warranty system, and we had to enter information into the different systems manually,” Robichaud says. “One big problem was that once we entered the data, it was stagnant,” he explains, adding that now with HomeFront, whenever something is updated in one system it's automatically updated in the other.

Here's a rundown of how HomeFront is helping Morrison Homes tie its BuilderMT and Timberline systems together:

  • Sales to job costing. When salespeople complete contracts with home buyers, the sales totals are automatically sent into Timberline's job costing application so reports can be run in Timberline on the job's profit potential.
  • Sales to accounts receivable. Customer deposits are entered into HomeFront and sent to the Timber-line accounts receivable ledger. Morrison hopes that by managing cash more efficiently it can ultimately reduce its interest payments to the bank.
  • Scheduling to sales. When project supers change the schedule on the BuilderMT software that runs on their BlackBerry handhelds, the changes are pushed to HomeFront for use by the sales staff.
  • Sales and accounting to warranty. Once a customer takes possession of a home, all the customer contact and selection information is transferred to the warranty system. When a customer makes a warranty request, the service techs can pull up information from Timberline regarding which vendors worked on the job and the selections made.
  • Portal to portal. HomeFront offers three different portals. One for vendors, another for home shoppers, and a third for home buyers once they've become customers. At press time, Robichaud expected that Morrison would have portals available to vendors and customers by the end of the year, but currently has no plans to do a shopper portal. The goal is to tie the portals to the production and accounting systems. For example, the HomeFront vendor portal is updated any time a schedule change is made in BuilderMT.
  • To be fair, there are many builders who use other sales systems, such as Builder 1440 and Sales Simplicity, to integrate their systems with BuilderMT and Timberline. The other systems work fine, but they are only sales systems. Builders who need both a sales and warranty package right now should take a hard look at HomeFront. Builders who are already running Builder 1440 or Sales Simplicity with BuilderMT and Timberline Office and are satisfied may want to wait until later this year when BuilderMT comes out with its own warranty package. For more information about HomeFront, visit www.zybertech.com.