Build or Buy?

Sometimes our competitors are custom software developers and internal IT staffs that promote the idea of building a system from scratch rather than buying and customizing a "canned" system. They frequently do not realize that Property Sales Advantage™ is already customized specifically to the needs of the real estate development sales and marketing business.

It is true that there is almost always something that doesn't quite fit in a pre-written solution, but we realize that and usually add it in -- sometimes at no charge if it is a small feature -- prior to doing the installation. The result is a perfect fit for every customer without the long time frame, headaches, and expense of building a custom system.

Here are some thoughts and "war stories" to consider before embarking on a custom software development project.

An Enviable Position

Russ Brasher, President and Lead Developer of Propeller Head Software, has been developing database applications since 1988. Early in his experience he had a couple of situations where he was advising friends who were customers as to whether to build custom solutions or buy something "off-the-shelf". He was in the catbird seat because he was helping to "evaluate" the packaged solutions versus writing the solution himself, so he had all kinds of features and prices to target, as well as first hand observations of what his customers thought were important and what represented a fair price. No surprise, he recommended that he write the solution with all of the features the customers thought were important for a price that was just what they were looking for.

The biggest, saddest surprise happened next. As I'm sure you well know, projects of any kind have a strong tendency to take longer than you expect. In the software development business, time equals money, so more time meant more cost. Who was going to pay for all that extra time? Fortunately for Russ's customers, the little ethical voice in Russ's head said "you said you'd deliver the product for that price, now do what you said you'd do!", and he did. Even so, there were inevitable hard feelings and disappointment at the increased time frame and scrimping on features that had to occur to finish the applications.

Your Last Software Vendor

Unfortunately, it is very difficult in some cases to compete against other developers who have not yet learned these lessons. We have had many cases where we lost the battle, but won the war -- after discovering the low-cost developer could not deliver the product as promised on time and within budget, we were brought back in to do so. In the other cases, we lost the battle and the war -- and so did the customers. The competing developers constantly came back for more and more money, forever promising that the final product was "almost finished". If the customers held the developers' feet to the fire, they frequently simply gave up and disappeared, leaving the project unfinished.

I once heard a frustrated information technology manager say that "software development projects only end when the customer runs out of money or the lawsuit is filed." I'm proud to say that we don't work that way at Propeller Head Software. Our approach to software solutions -- whether pre-written or custom -- ensures that we are you last software vendor, not just another in a long line of frustrating experiences. We are proud to say that our customers are so satisfied, they almost always call us back for additional work.

The Money Pit

How much time and money can you commit to a software development project? Property Sales Advantage™ took thousands or hours to develop -- and the development is ongoing. We provide constant FREE updates to address suggestions made by hundreds of other users just like you. Here are some of the comments and questions we hear and how they were ultimately resolved.

"My developer says he can write a custom program that does everything your software does for the same (or less) cost."

We make Property Sales Advantage™ look easy, and we're very proud of that. In fact, it is deceptively easy to use and occasionally we run across someone who thinks they can duplicate it for a low cost. How can a custom application by a competent developer possibly be implemented for a cost less than the price of Property Sales Advantage™ when the PSA price is only a fraction of its total development cost? Something -- usually a lot of things -- get left out.

What about ongoing development? How much is the developer going to charge for future updates? Updates for PSA are free. That's hard to beat.

What about the lack of competitive edge from not having the benefit of hundreds of suggestions from other industry professionals like yourself? There are many features in PSA that you may not have seen or did not think important. You will most likely find that you need these features at a later date. Other experienced professionals have already discovered them and helped us get them right. With Property Sales Advantage™, you get the benefit of a wealth of features from day one.

What about the additional time it takes to get the custom software developed (which is always longer than originally planned!)? You could be saving money immediately with Property Sales Advantage™. We have implemented PSA dozens of times, so we know how to make you successful with it right away. Usually, our customers stop using their old systems at the end of the first day and are up and running with all of their legacy data by the end of the second day!

"Our business is unique. We need a custom solution to be sure all of our needs are addressed."

Certainly every business - even within an industry - is unique. There are things you do that make your operation different and competitive. However, arguably 90% of your data management needs are fundamentals that apply to everyone within your industry - lead generation and follow-up, managing marketing efforts and costs, handling closings, etc. We have allowed for the other 10% (or 5% or 20% - whatever your opinion may be) by making Property Sales Advantage™ highly customizable. The contents of every pick list is customizable. Dozens of fields are customizable. The user interface is designed to suggest an optimal work flow, but flexible enough to accommodate differences. We even provide a free custom reporting module that allows literally unlimited custom reporting capability.

If there are a few things that still just don't quite fit your unique needs, we can customize if for you. If you only need one or two additional features, we often provide the customization for free. In other cases, you or your consultant can add custom features. Why completely re-invent the wheel when just a couple of spokes need changing?

"We want to own our application. We've been burned by companies discontinuing support or going out of business."

Whether you buy a pre-written solution like Property Sales Advantage™, contract for a custom solution, or develop your solution internally, you are going to have to depend on the person that wrote the solution for support. Turnover among all employees - especially IT staff - is higher than ever. Independent developers come and go. Propeller Head Software has been in business since 1994. We are growing, and Property Sales Advantage™ is one of our primary products for which we see no shortage of demand for the foreseeable future.

Just in case, however, we have secured the source code to PSA such that you can obtain it in the event something unfortunate happens that prevents us from supporting your Property Sales Advantage™ installation. Most developers are very lax about documenting their code such that even they can't tell what they've done or why they did it when they look back at it. Our code is well documented so that any developer familiar with our widely supported Microsoft platforms can easily provide enhancements or troubleshooting.

Every aspect of Property Sales Advantage™ has been developed with maximum value to you the customer in mind. You get all of the benefits of a program that has been thoroughly tested in the market, plus the fit of a custom solution for a fraction of the cost. From the flexible pricing to top-notch technical support, Property Sales Advantage™ has been designed to save you money -- NOT be a "money pit".

What do you do best?

What is your core competency? You must be an excellent marketer of real estate, or you wouldn't be considering improving your efficiency through software. But do you really think it's best to get involved in writing the software? You might not think you will be involved in actually writing your custom solution, and you probably won't be writing any computer code. However, if your developer does not demand a lot of time to get your solution right, well, it won't be right.


Our first and foremost intention with this message is to share with you some advice that will hopefully allow you to avoid some costs and headaches. We don't deny, however, that our intent is also self-serving - we want your business and hope you will decide to purchase Property Sales Advantage™ so you can immediately have all the benefits of an application designed for your business at a reasonable cost.

Thanks for considering what we have to say. If we can ever be of service to you in any way, please do not hesitate to contact us toll-free at 888-508-4353, or via E-MAIL.