HBXL Case Study: Estimating Construction Needs
Let’s be honest, when you think about software, builders are not the first people that spring to mind as consumers. And its that thinking that have allowed HBXL to corner the market, creating estimating software for construction firms, making their day to day easier and allowing them to take back hours for themselves that would otherwise be spent labouring over quotes and plans. Jo Mulgrew (Operations Manager) sat down with us to talk how and why HBXL came to fruition.
Time for a history lesson Jo, how did HBXL Start?
HBXL was born nearly 20 years ago, when Adrian Wild (Managing Director) was a builder and developer himself. He realised, as you can imagine back then, that there wasn’t software readily available to help building firms. So, he decided to utilise the computing skills he had learnt through his Civil Engineering degree, to make the quoting software for himself. Why wait when you’ve got the skills to do it yourself?! Very quickly, other contractor’s interest was piqued by what Adrian was using and he decided to capitalise on the interest, realising that he had found a gap in his own market. For a while he was building extensions and houses whilst building a company, so you can imagine the graft he was putting in. Overtime, the company grew and a team of developers are now involved to keep the software moving forward. But Adrian remains involved, still innovating, still thinking out of the box. And with his background he understands the wants of the building community and what will actually work.
While I have a platform to, I think its important to talk about why we think our product is so important to the building community. It’s not just an online App that makes life a bit easier but all rather thin on detail, it’s a proper hard-working software tool which you run on your desktop that improves the day-to-day operations of people in construction. Builders get a bad rep, many are seen as cowboys that are tools down at 5pm and in the pub. Couldn’t be more wrong, once the tools are down, they’re at client’s houses talking through plans, they’re at their desk estimating costs and calculating quotes, and yes sometimes a trip to the pub is necessary but that is true of all of us. It’s extremely long hours, someone said to me the other day that the divorce statistics within building firms is around 50-55%, because they are never home. So yes, we’ll make estimating easier for you, yes we’ll minimise mistakes and yes, we’ll save your marriage – I mean don’t quote me on that but that’s the aim, giving people a life back.
So alongside preserving the sanctity of marriage, what else are HBXL working on at the moment?
We’re just about to complete our current major project, which is the re-platforming of ‘EstimatorXpress’ our flagship product to a new technology. It was one of the first packages that Adrian wrote, obviously this isn’t the first time the product has had a revamp, there’s been various versions over time, but this has been a complete overhaul. As I say, we’re coming to completion on this now which the team is really excited about and we’re looking at a March/April release, so it’s all happening imminently. And with our ‘BuildingWorks’ software that launched last year, with the involvement of the University of the West of England, it’s been 2 hard years of back to back tech challenges and innovation. So, I think the main thing we’ll be working on after March, is taking a breath for a sec!
Although it won’t be too much of a breather because we’re now looking at ways we can improve our current packages. Technology has moved on so much in the last 5 years that people’s expectations are much higher regarding what a piece of software can actually do. They don’t want to think too hard if there is a programme that can do it for them. However, the problem with estimating is there is a still a lot of work around it, there has to be some human input and thought process involved – to interpret the plans, the specification and the clients needs. So, we’re trying to combine the dream of being able to waft a plan past a computer screen and ending up with an estimate, with the reality of having to do a bit of work. We’re launching a bank of project templates that builders can choose from and then tailor to fit their needs, so ¾ of the estimating job will be done for them. It’s making the platform more ‘appy’ I suppose, which is the way the world is going!
And while you’re busy trying to make the dreams of the building community come true, how has Future Space fulfilled HBXL’s needs as a base for your headquarters?
Firstly, it looks great. It’s new, it’s modern, it’s funky. You’ve got a place that people walk through the door and think, ‘Oh, this is a really cool place to work’. And for our own business, the flexibility. I can’t begin to tell you how beneficial it has been to be able to change our office space as required. All the businesses in here will understand the growth and contraction in space that’s required as the needs of projects change. Some projects we’re doing require more space for a bank of developers and others don’t, so to be able expand and contract so easily takes away so much pressure. As much as I know its probably far more pressure for you to open and close offices, we love it!
That’s what we’re here for Jo! So, what are the future ambitions for HBXL?
Gosh! That’s a big question. As I mentioned previously, a lot of our focus is moving to more online solutions. We’re currently very much desktop based, CAD drawings require a proper bit of kit, so it’s trying to find ways, as we spoke about before, to create new Cloud solutions. We’ve got a really packed 24 month roadmap for software development. Bring it on!
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