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Software program to revolutionise NZ building industry

A computer science project from the University of Waikato, in New Zealand, has led to the development of a software program that could revolutionise the building industry.

According to a recent press release, Encompass is a program that can make the process known as back-costing much quicker and straight forward.

The program started with a group of third year computer science students. The sister and her husband of one of the group members, owners of a company that builds homes, needed some work done.

They required a program that would improve their tracking systems and get more detail about the cost of materials used in their builds.

There was no available software that tracked the company’s expenses at the granular level, so the group of students were tasked to create a prototype.

Typically at the end of a build, admin staff sits down with an Excel spreadsheet for a couple of days and tries to come up with a number for how much they have spent.

Through this, they can also find out the areas where they have under or overspent compared with the original quote.

The group of students worked to develop a more accurate program to reduce the time taken to come up with the actual spend.

From experience, it is possible that at the end of the build there might be 30 different bills from the same supplier. The system is able to generate a unique order number for the builders.

They will be able to open up their website or their phone, press a button and get a number that they can give to the supplier.

This makes it easier for the building office staff to tabulate everything as it is nice, neat and easy to track.

Once the group’s project had finished, one of the students worked with the company to finalise the product, fix bugs, and then went through the legal aspects of setting up an incorporated company.

For more than a year now, the building company has been working with Encompass as development partners.

They have found it easier to run the business after the installation of the software and have seen the growth since then. The company attributes the software for its success.

The beauty of the software is in the detail, which the other available industry programs do not offer. Similar products do not get down to the line-item-level tracking.

Encompass, meanwhile, is filling a much-needed niche.

There have been challenges in the development, the biggest technical one was to create a bespoke piece of software for every supplier that the company uses.

The program currently supports more than 60 suppliers in the Hamilton-Waikato region and they are looking to expand that.

In addition, whenever a supplier changes their invoicing system, the software has to accommodate that.

The Encompass program is currently being trialled by another Waikato building company.

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