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Ditch the spreadsheets and automate – with bespoke software development

1 inadvertent software engineer
100s SAAS users
0 spreadsheets

From a Microsoft reliant, independent businessman to the proud owner of a mightily powerful management tool, Stephen Todd never thought for one second that his business would permeate into the SAAS market.

What is VAS?

VAS Software is a Valuation Panel Management Tool that allows UK property lenders to build and manage a highly targeted valuation panel, based on a set number of pre-determined parameters.

The Client

Stephen Todd. A chartered surveyor and registered valuation specialist.

Having held a number of senior positions within large international property advisory companies and also one of the UK’s largest niche property lenders, Stephen boasts a wealth of experience in the UK property market. His continued success in his field of work eventually stirred his entrepreneurial spirit and in 2015 his desire to ‘go-it-alone’ became a reality.

The Challenge

Almost certainly not dissimilar to many of his counterparts, at the time that Stephen originally formed VAS he was undertaking a good proportion of his business processes using Microsoft Excel spreadsheets.

One of his key functions was to be able to identify the most relevant property lenders and valuers within a certain geographic area and whilst his spreadsheets gave him some of that information, they were also fraught with inconsistencies. His way of doing things was repetitive, labour intensive and all too often, inaccurate.

One of the problems he faced on a daily basis was that when searching for a local lender or valuer, his results were being limited to a strict postcode criterial selection. This meant that they didn’t capture any details of Clients that were geographically closest to that particular project, or those who might be positioned just slightly over an adjoining postcode boundary; or indeed those that were in a relevant sector to the one required.

Solving The Problem

Following a period of consultation with Tom at initforthe, Stephen quickly realised that he had found himself a dynamic software engineer who understood his business and who could advise him on the best route to take if he was to automate his processes and ensure more consistent, timely and accurate results.

I was introduced to Tom at initforthe since I had a specific requirement to create a Valuation Panel to help assist my clients and grow my business. I only had a brief vision of what I needed the software to do, but Tom took the time and effort to sit down with me and fully understand how my business worked and how the new piece of software could be developed to assist my clients, both back then and in the future.

— Stephen Todd, Founder and Director, VAS Software and VAS Audit Services

Developing the Solution

The initforthe team forged on to engineer a brand new management tool that allowed Stephen’s clients to build and manage their own individual valuation panel based on a set number of parameters.

The user interface was built with simplicity and usability in mind, so that once the valuation panel had been created, all that was left to do was insert a property postcode, the desired mileage radius, the type of property and the estimated value. The result of this was that all relevant valuers would be listed on an easy to use interactive map, with each valuer office visually plotted and the closest offices showing up at the top of the adjacent listings.

Since the integrity of the information was considered absolutely key to the project’s success, Stephen also invested additional capital for the development of an automated test suite.

From a practicality perspective, since the app was built using cloud-based technology, access would be possible via practically any desktop, tablet or mobile device meaning that clients would be able to use it ‘on the go’.

What the Future Holds

Overall, the VAS software project has been a resounding success, not only for Stephen himself, but also with a number of his clients, some of whom are now licencing the software for their own use.

This fantastic management tool has not only streamlined his own business processes, but it will essentially help to reduce property specific lending risks across its network of users by ensuring that the correct advice be provided to a property lender with the most relevant local knowledge and experience.

Tom has subsequently built me a fantastic valuation panel management tool that my property lender clients will become heavily reliant on to assist them in finding the right valuers across the country; helping improve the service to them and reduce their lending risks, which is invaluable.

This is therefore an extremely powerful tool that is better than I had ever imaged and it will undoubtedly allow me to grow my business and reputation even further.

Several of my clients are already using the software and it has added significant value to them.

— Stephen Todd, Founder and Director, VAS Software and VAS Audit Services