What vendor can build a reporting system for my client?
May 14, 2024 11:08 AM   Subscribe

An affordable housing funder needs a system for borrowers to submit data (similar to HUD/Low Income Housing Tax Credit data), so the funder can submit reports to community stakeholders. I'm researching external vendors who could create and maintain this system (for 30+ years). So far, all paths have been dead ends. Can you recommend IT vendors who might provide this service?

A bit more information:

Local counties are investing millions of federal dollars into an Affordable Housing Fund. The fund manager will use those funds to write loans to local affordable housing developers, who will then sell those properties to affordable housing property managers.

The counties are requiring the fund manager to provide tenant-level income and demographic information, so county leadership can report to the community the impact they are having.

This is similar to the reporting requirements for HUD, LIHTC, and state-level programs. However, those programs have a built-in reporting system, where the property managers log in to a portal and upload data.

We are trying to find vendors who could create the database and portal, and ensure data privacy and security.

We are not sure if we want to host the solution internally or if we want the vendor to host it.

The lender has an internal IT team, but they are completely busy.

I've tried four vendors so far -
Yardi (property management service) - Did not create databases/portals.
Caspio (online database software) - Could not sell us their services for this project - expected us to design the system.
Devco - not a good fit.
HDS Housing and Development Software - did not return our calls, BUT created a similar solution for Colorado.

Can you please recommend me vendors who I could contact about this project?
posted by rebent to Technology (5 answers total)
 
Look at subsidiaries and partners of Realpage and MRI Software who build custom applications.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 12:50 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]


Do you need someone local to your state or with specific domain knowledge for property loans to build this? A lot of specialised projects include a design requirements stage where you pay for a company to figure out what exactly your users want before building it, then a regular software team can build it to spec.

In your shoes, I would contact other funder IT teams and ask them to recommend vendors informally - messaging or calling over a formal email - and also look at civic software developers, those creating software for government work who will be used to your requirements if not the specific domain knowledge.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 5:08 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]


Best answer: Also there is a huge price difference now between on-prem and cloud hosted and SaaS services. On-prem requires a substantial upfront investment and ongoing maintenance, but cloud can have data locality risks and with SaaS, your cost savings can be wiped by the customisation needed instead, plus you have to plan for being able to change SaaS providers over time in at least being able to export your data in full. You should confirm now with your company which way you’ll go as otherwise you’re doing triple the vendor searches.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 5:14 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]


Best answer: I have been building government software for over a decade at this point. I highly recommend reading the state derisking guide for software projects. You are an in an interesting space, because it sounds like you may not have the level of formal reporting requirements that a big federal system would require, and as such the big vendors may not really be the right place to go- they don’t have any interest in a contract of less than several million dollars.

Is there a digital service in your state, or a local civic tech group that you can reach out to? You may be able to be connected with smaller, more agile vendors that can build the smaller thing that your users need, using boring software, rather than shoehorning your unique needs into a product that doesn’t actually meet them.
posted by rockindata at 8:05 PM on May 14


Response by poster: Rockindata, thank you very much for sharing that link. I now know that I should focus my time on:

1. Creating user stories
2. Searching for small agile developers, starting with talking to local nonprofits for recommendations (thanks dorothyisunderwood)
posted by rebent at 2:38 PM on May 16 [1 favorite]


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