We talk about the concept of transparency at Solid Earth in almost every meeting and we meet really often. The whole Solid Earth family is crazy busy doing two huge projects at once: supporting the 45,000 subscriber LIST-IT MLS Network and building a groundbreaking new real estate software platform from scratch.
Both projects are difficult but building the new platform is harder in most ways. It’s so hard that we intensely want to avoid building software that no one wants! How do we do that? For one thing, we try very hard to tell customers what we are doing and why. If we do that right, they will guide us and help ensure the relevance of our systems. It’s also hard to decide where to draw that line, between too much information and too little. So, here’s a shot at updating stakeholders, and probably updating our competitors too (Hi y’all!).
Spring is in stakeholder testing and is about to be released for new customers and existing customers at the NAR show in Orlando, a little over 4 weeks from now.
In the last several weeks we have received hundreds of applications from our customers, each applying to help us make Spring better.These applications are from MLS staff, brokers, appraisers and agents across the fourteen states in the LIST-IT network plus a few from outside. After a meticulous refinement process, the finalists have been selected. We are in the midst of distributing and collecting Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) from this group and once in hand, we’ll be handing over the keys – so to speak. Solid Earth wants to hear what you have to say! We know you’ll have some great feedback for us (!) and we are not afraid!
At NAR in Orlando, we will be officially releasing the viable replacement candidate promised to our existing customers at the 2011 Solid Earth Summit in Atlanta. For new customers, the roadmap is simple and traditional: To use SpringMLS, they only need to provide us with a data feed from the legacy vendor, build the new MLS to specs then cut over at the end of a few months of testing. Or we can install Spring first as a Consumer Portal and slowly add core MLS functions. For existing customers, paradoxically, the path is not as clear. That is the main purpose of this post, to describe some parts of the LIST-IT to Spring Roadmap.
The easiest way to characterize how the roadmap works is this: there is not one roadmap, there are 25 “different roadmaps”. Each market is different in many ways, that is why many of them chose Solid Earth! We do not sell cookie cutter MLS systems, never have. So a one-size-fits-all approach has never been appropriate for our customers, we get that. To properly address each relationship, a custom solution is be required and that means face-to-face discussions. To do that, I will be visiting most of our LIST-IT customers myself over the next several months to get that conversation going, and to help place expectations on a mutually agreeable timeline.
LIST-IT lovers, please don’t panic! We are releasing Spring alongside LIST-IT and we expect the Roadmap describing parallel operations to last at least one year. LIST-IT data will be fed into the new Spring database and updated all day so the listing information will be the same in both. Some features will only be available in Spring, some only in LIST-IT. Some features from LIST-IT will come over to Spring almost as-is, some will be totally rethought and reinvented, like Hot Sheets, and Saved Searches, Prospecting and Listing Maintenance. Some will be dropped entirely, like the old “Book View” reports, etc. The conversation about which-is-which will go on for a long time, all through the parallel phase and beyond.
For a typical LIST-IT customer the process will start with their consumer-facing site (like www.valleymls.com in NALMLS or www.monmouthoceanmls.com in NJ). The plan calls for the simultaneous release a new consumer-facing mobile/tablet site that replaces all current mobile webs well. As we get feedback from users, updates will be made to the site every two weeks, adding features and new services regularly.
To reiterate, we will be meeting to provide a Technology Roadmap for each customer individually, watch for that information leading up to NAR in Orlando.
The Spring platform also includes public records for the first time as part of the core package. Solid Earth is formally announcing with this post a new partnership with Digital Mapping. Ted Simon and his team at DM will be providing high quality assessment and parcel datasets to SpringMLS which we are to be including as a core feature. If the MLS has an existing relationship with a public records vendor, integrating or replacing them will be part of the Roadmap.
As we go through Q1 and Q2 2013, more and more features will show up when subscribers are logged in as an Agent or a Broker. Later in the timeline, an ‘edit’ feature will be added and the process of moving from LIST-IT to Spring will be complete, without a traditional hard-and-fast cutover. This more gradual process is far less stressful on everyone involved.
The most important part of any project is usually the money. Solid Earth has developed pricing that will allow LIST-IT customers to move to Spring for no extra cost. When Spring is released in an existing market, we will separate the subscribers by which platform they choose to use. The price for Spring will be the same as the price for LIST-IT so moving from one to the other is a lateral move, no change in fee.
So what is in Spring that you now buy from other vendors? Public Records data (like Tax Assessor data, Parcel Boundaries, Mortgage and Conveyance data etc.) is probably the biggest item but there are others. Examples include: scheduling, syndication, third party vendor management, forms and many more under discussion with our stakeholders. These will all work through Spring’s new Application Programming Interface (API). Watch for more on that topic coming up from CTO Robb Dempsey.
Thank you for your support and your eagerness to engage in this process! It has been met with the same passion and conviction from our Solid Earth team and the results are impressive.
We’re thrilled to be able to offer you your first glimpse of Spring and push the ball further down the field. We couldn’t do it without you.