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Maxwell Systems, Inc. — The American Contractor – Enterprise Edition

From the April/May 2006 Review of
Construction Accounting Software

The American Contractor from Maxwell Systems Inc. is a business management
software product designed for small to midsize construction contractors and
service businesses. Particularly useful for companies expecting future expansion,
The American Contractor comes in three editions: Express, starts with two users;
Essential, five users; and Enterprise, starts with 15 users. Excellent service
management and dispatch features also make The American Contractor a good fit
for those who routinely send employees into the field on service calls.

Installation of The American Contractor was quick and problem free. You can
opt to use the default chart of accounts or customize it to reflect your needs.
After logging into the program, the Session Manager will appear. This is the
interface you will use to access the main areas of The American Contractor,
including Accounting, Command Center, Project Scheduling, Document Control,
Estimating and Admin functions. Icons at the top of each screen provide access
to other modules so there’s no need to return to the Session Manager until
you wish to log out.

Plan on spending a good amount of time entering beginning balances, tracking
codes, budgeting information, and descriptions and serial numbers for all company-owned
equipment. If converting from another system and you don’t have the staff,
expertise or time to do all of the entry, you can use Quick Start, a service
provided (for an additional cost) by The American Contractor. Quick Start will
import and setup up your master files, including beginning balances for AR,
AP and General Ledger. User-definable cost codes, purchase order forms, a customizable
proposal wizard, and work order forms are just a few of the customization features
found in The American Contractor.

The American Contractor offers specific program areas rather than modules. Such
areas include Accounting, which covers inventory, purchase orders, payroll,
cash transactions, and work order entry; Project Scheduling, which includes
schedules of tasks and resources; Command Center, which provides instant access
to vital cost, scheduling and financial information; Document Control and Info
Center, which help get a handle on out-of-control paper by storing information
on your desktop or in electronic folders; and Estimating, where the Proposal
Wizard helps you produce quick, professional bids.

Job cost tracking lets you handle a variety of venues including subdivisions
and tract homes. You can create budgets for each project, complete with notification
when you go over budget, and you can easily track contractor license or insurance
expirations. Multiple invoice formats allow you to choose the one that best
suits your needs. Payroll can be entered by employee, job or crew, and will
easily handle multi-state transactions.

The Service Management feature contains an excellent work order entry feature
that can enter and track all new work orders by priority. There is also a dispatch
screen, where jobs and equipment can be scheduled and progress monitored. Also
available is AC Tracker (for an additional cost), which enables you to link
your inventory and equipment to a barcode scanning system, print labels and
keep better track of all of your valuable inventory.

All features in The American Contractor are designed to work with each other,
so information entered once will show up in all the necessary areas. The American
Contractor easily integrates with a variety of third-party software including
MS Office, Payroll Processing Services, Project Scheduling Programs and Estimating
Services. Also available is Esti-Link, which provides an electronic link between
The American Contractor and various estimating software and pricing products.
Mobile Max works with wireless devices such as Pocket PC, Bluetooth and most
major carriers, so your technicians can download dispatched work orders and
have access to inventory, equipment and other resources.

Annual support and maintenance is offered at a cost of 18 percent of the software
you purchase. This includes priority toll-free support with a technician assigned
to your company. E-mail support is available, as well. Also included is an instant
messaging feature for quick questions. A “members only” web site
is available and provides access to software upgrades, payroll tax tables, an
advanced Help document library, and priority technical support. An excellent
Help feature is also included. The American Contractor recommends 40 hours of
system implementation training either on-site or via the Internet training for
the larger Enterprise System.

REPORTING — 4.5 Stars
Over 450 standard reports are included with The American Contractor. Both standard
and user-defined reports can be accessed in each individual function such as
accounting or job costing or run from the Command Center. Completed reports
can then be viewed, printed, exported to another program or e-mailed. The Report
Folio, included with the program, gives you a breakdown on each program available
from The American Contractor.

At a cost of $19,500, The American Contractor Enterprise System is ideally designed
for midsize to large companies that need to keep a tight rein on production,
equipment and service-related tasks. Smaller companies could ideally start with
a less robust version of The American Contractor and expand their product when
needed. The Express package is priced at $4,295, and Essential, with more modules
and users, is priced at $9,895.

2006 Overall Rating — 4.5 Stars