Developing independent, user-centric, and mobile-friendly applications results in all new efficiencies for the nation’s leading homebuilder

Headspring David Weekley Homes

INDUSTRY
Real Estate

HEADQUARTERS
Houston, TX

SERVICES
Application Development
Microservices
Legacy System Modernization

David Weekley’s Story

Founded in 1976, David Weekley Homes is the nation’s largest privately-held homebuilder, with over 1,500 team members working across 20 different markets. Their success is rooted in a true passion for people—which is why getting ahead of team member, vendor, and customer needs was so important to them.

The problem was that David Weekley’s whole business was run on a decades-old JD Edwards system—everything from vendor management to land contracts to construction was managed by this wieldy monolith. In order to innovate custom workflows for their highly-mobile network, they would need a more modern solution. It came down to a Build or Buy deliberation: Replacing the customized system with an off-the-shelf product would be exponentially more expensive and time-consuming. Finding a partner who could build new software and deliver value iteratively was a much more attractive option. 

When we connected with David Weekley at a charity event in Houston, they realized we were the right other kind of architects to realize their people-centric vision.

We were aware of Headspring’s reputation for being the ‘real deal’—practitioners of innovation and best development practices— well before this project. They often speak at conferences and host events that my team found informative. For this project, when the choice was between Headspring and a larger outfit, my team was far more enthusiastic to work with Headspring. Having that kind of buy-in is a great start to any project.

Ryan Hartzog

VP of Information Services, David Weekley Homes

Challenges

  • David Weekley’s decades-old JDE system was outdated and inefficient
  • Layers of custom code accumulated over the years made JDE difficult to update
  • A growing, highly mobile network of users demand better experiences
  • Any new software would need to be integrated with JDE to mitigate deployment risks
  • Needed to update internal development processes to enable continued growth

Solution

  • Spent time getting to know the system and business and unlock development priorities
  • Created a technology-agnostic and mobile-friendly solution to optimize users’ experiences
  • Built 4 independent applications with ASP.NET MVC, SQL Server, & NServiceBus
  • Established a 2-way sync integration with the JDE system
  • Trained teams on scrum and helped assimilate Agile and new technology/processes

Results

  • The new Construction app doubled builders’ capacity to manage projects
  • The Vendor app enables vendors to more efficiently submit bids and track invoices
  • The Warranty app lets reps document on the go, cutting out paper processes
  • Land Legal app reduced the number of reps needed to manage contracts from 3 to 1
  • David Weekley now has the blueprint and processes they need to scale their independent apps

Constrained by custom code

JDE was super outdated—they were operating on a green screen terminal interface and didn’t even have a field for adding emails when we came in. So even though David Weekley Homes is a forward-thinking company, their own system was holding them back. Layers of custom code accumulated over the years made the system almost impossible to update.

Missed mobile opportunities

The existing software wasn’t very mobile-friendly either, which meant missed opportunities to make work easier for in-the-field workers across 12 states. To keep pace with the business’ expanding needs, David Weekley Homes needed to innovate their applications for employees tasked with the data-heavy job of keeping daily operations running.

Independent but integrated

With a contract renewal looming, David Weekley Homes knew they needed to make a change. They would keep JDE for what it’s good at (accounting), while slowly reducing their dependency on the system. The challenge then became to create independent applications that would still integrate with JDE to minimize risks of deployment throughout their many markets.

We had a system that was getting in the way of the users. They had become alienated by the workflows, which is why one key to the project was to create a system that was intuitive and useful immediately. Getting end users to want to use the new system as a way to enhance their job was an important part of the project.

Ryan Hartzog

VP of Information Services, David Weekley Homes

Discovering what matters most

Our team spent time assessing David Weekley’s environment and organization to understand what it would take to create independent but integrated applications. By asking key questions, we identified our starting points based on certain priorities: Having team members close by that we could test, train, and roll out features with was one factor; as well as identifying where there was a real problem that should be solved quickly. Through this method, we determined that the first app would be Legal, then Construction, then Vendor portal, and finally Warranty.

Independent, integrated, and agnostic apps

The new software was technology-agnostic and mobile-friendly. We worked closely with David Weekley’s developers to build the applications in ASP.NET MVC, utilizing a SQL Server backend, and provided thought leadership on NServiceBus implementation. Integration was integral to success: Our two-way sync process successfully enabled the new software to run right alongside JDE.

Building better experiences with users

Modernizing these different applications meant upgrading the user experience significantly, while making sure they could be adapted to future needs. We built a responsive user interface from one piece of software that could adapt to all kinds of employee and vendor devices. Engaging end-users early in the process helped generate buy-in and build a stronger end product.

Passing on best practices and processes

Knowledge-sharing was at the center of our collective success. The David Weekley teams were getting up to speed on scrum, so we guided them in that transition while embedding Agile practices like sprint planning, retros, and daily standups. Outside of the sprints, we held regular “brown bags” to pass on new technologies and techniques.

Revolutionized user experiences

At the end of our 24-month journey, David Weekley Homes had four new flexible, user-friendly apps, along with a JDE integration backbone to keep business moving smoothly. Workflows vastly improved across the four business units, and other groups were chomping at the bit for their own updated apps once they saw how much easier their lives could be.

All-new business efficiencies

  • The Construction application doubled builders’ project management capacity and allowed them to pay vendors within hours as opposed to days.
  • David Weekley’s vendors can now submit bids, send invoices, and check on payments through the new vendor portal, giving them greater control.
  • The warranty application released David Weekley Homes from the grip of inefficient paper-based processes. Reps can now schedule visits, take pictures, and take notes on the go.
  • Thanks to the new legal application, only one person needs to manage land contracts, as opposed to three, and deal risks are tracked much more accurately.

A blueprint for continued modernization

The architectural guidance we provided throughout this process gave David Weekley a blueprint to keep building upon. The company is engaged in creating additional application modules that can be enhanced regularly based on user feedback. The Agile processes and expertise we embedded have accelerated internal teams’ delivery.

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