Specialised success fuels expansion

FOLLOWING its first sale less than a year ago, Perth company Imagemation’s unique ClickHome scheduling management software for the residential building market is now the Australian market leader. The company is now looking to take its product international and further develop it for other industry sectors. ClickHome, which manages multiple projects, streamlines and centralises the massive information flow between builders, suppliers and subcontractors, is currently used by several of Australia’s biggest home builders. It has become a boon to supervisors, many tasked with the job of building up to 40 homes at a time in WA’s booming property market, previously with little more than a mobile phone and clipboard. After four years of R&D in close association with the building industry, ClickHome was developed as a tool to control and manage projects in the field, coordinate client issues, back-office staff and automate the many supplier and trade calls. "Some of our client companies have up to 800 homes being built at the one time," Imagemation sales manager Trevor Irwin told WA Business News. Research had shown the system saves supervisors at least two hours a day, more than a day a week. Multiply that by 10 supervisors and the savings in either time or supervisors, at around $200,000 a year, are compelling. Imagemation celebrated its 10th birthday this week. Founded by programmer James Selleck and accountant Aaron Savory, the company identified a need among builders to automate the hundreds of repetitive requirements of house building. There was little competition and what there was, was old, cumbersome ‘green screen technology’. None was as home building specific, nor had the database features of ClickHome. The system was given wings by the increasingly smaller, more powerful, pocket PCs or PDAs. Perth’s Scott Park Homes became the first company to trial ClickHome, was its first buyer and has been using it successfully ever since. Other users include local Don Russell Homes, Victoria’s two biggest home builders Metricon and Simonds, South Australia’s biggest residential builder, Hickinbotham Homes, and Burbank Homes in Victoria. But a growing business, with good cash flow from a number of other IT support contracts, is costing the principals and Mr Irwin in time, each lucky to be in Perth one week out of two because of installations, support and sales. This is also costing in terms of company and product development. Eighteen months ago, the company consisted of the two founders. There are now 10 full timers and "we probably need at least another three in the software development, programming, support and testing areas," Mr Irwin said. An option is to recruit internally, to train and upgrade those who know the product in different areas and employ others to fill those roles. Mr Irwin said the ClickHome software has potential in other markets, such as in engineering and bigger construction companies, adding to the need for more staff to develop such industry specific programs. Fifteen-year veteran in the WA IT human resources market, David Christie, said good programmers were hard to find in the current booming WA economy. "Each has their own individual language and style preferences, and tasking them to a common outcome within a commercial timeframe has always been an issue," he said. "With the current critical shortages, a solution usually requires a combination of staffing methodologies – full-time staff, contract and outsourcing. "Outsourcing, usually apportioned to the least imaginative lines of code, must be parcelled in a way that leaves no doubt as to what the outcome should be and when it is expected." The bottom line – get professional advice on the options. Mr Christie is principal of David Christie and Associates.

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