How are you managing the warranty process in the field? Some homebuilders may still be handwriting PDIs (pre-delivery inspections) and deficiencies. This causes a few problems: information needs to be rekeyed manually into a backoffice system and it becomes difficult for one warranty coordinator to work with another warranty coordinator’s client when all the notes are handwritten and difficult to read.
This process can be streamlined through software and mobile computing devices in the field. Arista Homes, www.aristahomes.com, Vaughan, Ont., is using technology to manage the warranty process at jobsites. The company has three warranty coordinators using OnLocation-Warranty from Constellation HomeBuilder Systems, www.constellationhb.com, Markham, Ont., on Lenovo tablets in the field.
With the technology, Arista Homes is able to record what was warrantable, what wasn’t warrantable, what needs to be done, and who was responsible. Through hand recognition, the customer can then sign off on a copy, and warranty coordinators have all the information they need at their fingertips.
“The normal procedure that we use is let (the warranty coordinators) play with it for a bit before going live, so they are comfortable with it. Especially when they are doing something in front of a client, you don’t want to have any hiccups. It has been fairly smooth working that way,” says Carlo Sistilli, CFO, Arista Homes.
One key component of the software is the information is shared with Constellation’s NEWSTAR in the backoffice, meaning information is available across the entire company. While time savings is one of the biggest benefits, having the information in the system and centrally located is another value-add.
“It is a seamless transition between staff because we circulate our staff every so often. We alternate them from site to site based on requirements,” says Sistilli. “The beauty is it is all centrally located on one database. It is never an issue of ‘oh we can’t find that form.’ It is here and the initials are there that the client signed off on it. If there is ever a dispute, with the client, the coordinator can review the form online with them. You can attach a picture to it if you wanted to show that the work was done or what exactly the issue was.”
Prashanna Patel, data base administrator, Arista Homes, adds another benefit is the coordinators can update outstanding items and mark them complete as they walk the house. There is no need to take notes, go back to the trailer, and sign off on work orders.
Moving forward, the company is going to take the technology to the next level, setting it up so the software can automatically initiate work orders to get issues resolved as quickly and as efficiently as possible. If setup correctly, the technology could automatically initiate the work orders, sending the information directly to the trades.
In Canada, Arista Homes also has to work with Tarion, www.tarion.com, Toronto, Ont.—an independent organization that does warranty work for people that buy new homes.
“What we are trying to do is streamline the system by entering the concerns that our clients send to Tarion automatically, to our system,” says Sistilli. “So we get it transmitted electronically, and we can theoretically have the work orders initiated and reviewed, in order to get the work done faster. So that is something that we are trying to work towards. That is a further enhancement for the future. It is not there yet, but we are going to get there.”
Overall, Arista Homes’ technology plan going forward is making the staff more mobile so they can be at any site and be able to deal with any issue.
“Mobile technology right now is probably the key area where—whether it be a tablet or an iPad or the Playbook, or whatever the new mobile computing devices is used—I think it is a great productivity tool to bring a lot more to the fingertip of our site supers or our site managers,” says Sistilli.