For homebuilders, having the latest technology can help improve business processes. Still the question remains: Does your software provider continue to invest in R&D (research and development) in order to continue to enhance product offerings?

In the case of many software providers, the answer is yes. Consider Mark Systems, www.marksystemsusa.com, Mt. Holly, N.J., which provides single-database ERP (enterprise-resource planning) software for homebuilders. In the past year, this particular company has continued to invest in R&D in a variety of ways.

First off, the company has hired new employees in an effort to expand engineering, quality assurance, consulting, and other departments. Looking specifically at the engineering department, Scott Duman, vice president, Mark Systems, says the growth in the software engineering department not only allows the company to expand research and development, but also handle a growing number of customer requests more efficiently. He also alludes to the fact the company is working on some complex infrastructure projects.

With this in mind, homebuilders can expect big upgrades from this particular technology provider going forward. While investing in staffing resources is one way for a software provider to build out R&D, another is through acquisitions.

While the residential homebuilding industry has been relatively quiet when it comes to acquisitions in the software space in recent months, there have been a number of acquisitions in recent years. Companies such as Constellation HomeBuilder Systems, www.constellationhb.com, Markham, Ont., have made a big investment in R&D by acquiring existing technology companies.

How does your software provider continue to innovate? While there are a number of ways technology companies can build out products—through acquisition or expansion in the engineering department—the key for homebuilders is to find a partner that has a focus on the future.