Homes and Forte - Building
for the future
The Bloor group began building houses over 35 years ago, and is today one
of the largest privately owned housebuilder groups in the UK.
Building in excess of 1800 homes each year, the housebuilding operation is
managed through 8 regional companies.
For the third year running Bloor Homes has received the highest rating possible
for the ‘National Customer Satisfaction Survey’. The survey, carried
out by MORI, was based on a representative sample of over 9,000 owners of
newly built homes selected from databases supplied by NHBC and Zurich. It
assesses UK builders in criteria such as construction and finish, value for
money, conditions on moving in day and after-sales service. Boor Homes is
one of only six builders in the UK to achieve the top 3 Star Award at over
95% confidence for all criteria.
The existing system was some 15 years old and although it had served the company
well it, was felt that a modern system was needed.
This was in order to respond to demands for up to date management information
and the increase in volume, especially in the Purchase Ledger area.
A number of requirements were considered crucial:
• Retentions at Supplier, Order and Invoice level
• Construction industry scheme support
• Scanning of invoices & delivery notes and subsequent remote authorisation
• Drill-down to cost explosion
• Integration with the SiteStream House Building System
• Ability to operate in a Citrix environment.
Forte demonstrated that it met all of these criteria within its standard package,
with the exception of the scanning solution. It was agreed that this would
require a bespoke element, as Bloor Homes’ requirements were very specific
in this area. Cyberscience produced a prototype for this element. This enabled
both users and management to visualise and evaluate the look and feel of the
final solution, which was required to utilise the existing scanning hardware.
A formal specification was produced and agreed with the initial version going
live only five weeks later. Weekly progress meetings and presentations of
the new software kept the Purchase Ledger staff fully involved in the specified
solution. Further enhanced versions have been delivered in line with comments
and additional features that have been subsequently identified.
"We have no regrets in our choice of Forte",
said David Seeds, leader of the implementation team. "It
is delivering real benefits and will continue to do so. The close relationship
we have enjoyed with members of the Forte team has been key to this result".
The implementation was undertaken with a very challenging timescale of only
12 weeks, which enabled Bloor Homes to commence use of the new system at the
start of the new tax year.
Data conversions were specified and tested in readiness while the users were
being trained in the use of the system on the actual converted data. This
was beneficial to the users as they were viewing data that they were familiar
with and it also helped with ironing out any data conversion queries.
An opportunity to review and rethink the structure of the Chart of Accounts
was also incorporated into the plan. This reflected the need to consider both
the on-going Group requirements and the need for timely financial information
support for the local divisional management.
Interfaces from the SiteStream House Building System populate the Forte budget
module with estimated building costs resulting in enquiry and reporting facilities
for each plot with Forte. Cumulative costs for each plot are exported from
Forte to SiteStream on demand for cost/value reconciliations. This ensures
that both systems have the latest information available.
An interface imports costs from the payroll system automatically each week.
Supplier invoices from a major supplier are also captured via the third party
interface module directly into the Purchase Ledger.
Regular project review and planning meetings were held during the implementation
with senior management and users. This ensured
that any slippage was identified early and remedial action put in place. Regional
meetings were also held with local management, finance, surveyors and buyers.
Forte consultants worked closely with Bloor Homes to design specialised reports
for the divisional management. Reporting is now concise and on demand with
a faster production time. The reports are now accessible on-line by all users,
including the divisional management and surveyors, and can be delivered in
a variety of formats including Excel and HTML.
• User-friendly and comprehensive access to integrated data.
• Directly available Divisional views with full drill-down to all the
• Automatic bank reconciliation via electronic statement download.
• Drill-down to images from the General Ledger and Purchase Ledger.
• On-line live updates ensure information is always current and up-to-date.
• Significant time and some staff savings achieved through faster input
and advanced reporting features.
• Tighter control of CIS transactions for subcontractors resulting in
improved audit trails and reconciliation.