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DALLAS-WorkPlaceUSA is rolling out a patent-pending online leasing program that founder John T. Amend hopes will set industry standards for a “cradle-to-grave” platform for Internet deals. There are eight nationwide transactions, ranging from 10,000 sf to 120,000 sf, in various stages of completion online.

“The goal is at the end of the year to have a completely seamless lease system,” Amend, WorkPlaceUSA president, tells GlobeSt.com. The program has been under development for two years by the WorkPlaceXchange team and paid for internally. Amend won’t disclose the cost, but did say the bottom line is well into the millions of dollars. He estimates 50 professionals, from brokers to software developers, have had input into LeasePilot’s functionality.

Amend says the launch is a landmark step for the many companies trying to grab the brass ring of online transactions. “A lot of people are trying to do it, but we’ve actually done it,” he says. Of course, he’s not saying other developers might not come up with another methodology, but WorkPlaceUSA is confident its program will be a leader in the race for online wheeling and dealing.

According to Amend, LeasePilot will cut transaction time by 75%. About a year had been spent working with three software consultants when Amend says he decided to bring the development process in house. WorkPlaceXchange now consists of a 20-member team, headed by senior vice president of technology David Gordon, that will grow as the Dallas-based WorkPlaceUSA continues development of its online system, which ultimately will come to market as a for-sale product. “It’s for any organization that wants to efficiently run a process of leasing commercial space,” Amend asserts. “We are going to make it available to everyone because we want to capture the standards in the marketplace.”

Pricing has yet to be established. WorkPlaceUSA COO Jack Seifrick, in a prepared statement, says the focus has not been on settling on a price for the product but rather “creating a killer app for real estate.” By internally funding LeasePilot, WorkPlaceUSA can focus on improving the process for the benefit of its existing customers, which include governments as well as corporations. “Adoption of this new standard of doing business is our primary goal right now,” says Seifrick, “and we are committed to funding this endeavor and doing whatever it takes to make it successful, especially for the benefit of small tenants, who have been underserved by the industry for too long.”

The rest of the year will be spent developing online processes for corporate planning modules, a lease administration database and modules for design, engineering, construction and project management. The WorkPlaceXchange team also is working on a procurement system as well as workplace high-tech strategies. Amend believes the year-end deadline is doable since the team has been working on the project for some time.

It is not, Amend emphasizes, “a pure Internet play,” but rather, “a natural progression of what we do already,” he says of the strategy to transition WorkPlaceUSA’s 16-division offline network into the online arena.

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