Rural England, with its rolling hills and quaint, small villages has an ageless beauty, which attracts people from all corners of the globe. But that same timelessness is sometimes accompanied by a traditional reluctance to adopt change, or accept new technologies.
Humberts, one of the UK's leading firms of estate agents, chartered surveyors and valuers, was established over 150 years ago. With a nationwide network of offices combining national expertise with strong local knowledge, Humberts' hallmark is quality of service.
As Humberts grew and absorbed a large number of smaller, established local real estate companies, management soon realized that substantial revenue was being lost because of the informal processes developed over many years used to track and bill for fee–based projects. CTO Peter Clark explained that in many cases, timesheets were not being entered on the same day, which resulted in time being underestimated or, in some cases, never getting billed at all. And, Clark said, additional revenues were lost when staff spent excessive time on tasks that were flat–fee–based, without an easy way to establish which were most profitable.
"As we consolidated," Clark continued, "we knew it would be difficult to simply design and roll out a system for all offices without considerable testing; the application had to be developed while working closely with our offices and their staff to ensure it met their genuine needs, rather than what everybody believed they would need.
"It was essential to have a robust application that could talk to our MS–SQL systems, was easy to use and maintain, and that required minimal user training," Clark continued. "Developing a user interface that everyone could understand easily was imperative. FileMaker Pro is very well suited to this kind of prototyping because ideas can be revised easily and quickly."