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Review of Construction Accounting Software — 2006

When I look out my window, I see house after house being built. Every day, there are pipes placed in the ground to carry water and cables installed to provide electricity. Soon the frame begins to look like a home, and eventually the painters arrive to paint the interior of each home, and appliances are delivered and installed.

From the April/May 2006 Issue

When I look out my window, I see house after house being built. Every day,
there are pipes placed in the ground to carry water and cables installed to
provide electricity. Soon the frame begins to look like a home, and eventually
the painters arrive to paint the interior of each home, and appliances are delivered
and installed.

The point I’m trying to make is that the homebuilder, the plumbing contractor,
the electrical contractor, and the service contractor all require the same thing
— a way to track job expenses, labor and equipment costs. In short, they
all need construction-related management software.

The level of detail involved in construction and related businesses far surpasses
many other industries. Just one job requires a tremendous amount of paperwork,
from bid to contract to budget to expenses to completion. A budget needs to
be set up in order to properly track expenses, and labor needs to be properly
expensed to each particular job. Licensing, workers compensation and insurance
certificates need to be tracked. In the meantime, bills are due and your employees
have to be paid.

What if you’re an HVAC sales and repair business? You’ll need
to enter and track every piece of equipment you have in stock. You’ll
need to have an accurate maintenance history attached to every cooling system
you have sold or worked on. And you’ll need to have a service dispatching
system, where you can enter work orders, establish priorities and assign jobs
to your service people.

If you’re a small contractor, you’ll need a system that can be
up and running without a lot of training or a lot of down time. If you’re
a large company, you’ll need a whole lot more, including personnel who
can be trained to use the system to your best advantage.

The products in this review are all excellent products. They have all scored
relatively high, which doesn’t mean that there aren’t some major
differences between them. Some of these products would provide an excellent
solution to small construction companies. Others would be terrific in a service-related
environment, such as HVAC, plumbing and equipment repair. Some are excellent
solutions for large companies such as builders/developers or large construction
companies with millions of dollars in annual billings. Some of the products
would be entirely at home in any of those environments. Others are more specialized.

The bottom line is that it depends on you — your likes and dislikes,
your needs and your budget. It depends on what you’re comfortable with.
Or more importantly, what you’re uncomfortable with. I’d advise
you to also spend some time on the vendor web sites. Many offer instant demos
of their products, or they will provide you with one at no cost. And remember
that these reviews reflect one reviewer’s opinion — my likes and
dislikes. Hopefully, they’ll also help you determine yours as well. 

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

A-Systems Corp. — A-Systems
Job View
A-Systems JobView – Version 6.0 is the latest
release from A-Systems Corp. A-Systems is designed for construction companies
of all sizes, and comes in three versions to suit even the smallest construction
company. A strong Job Cost module makes this an excellent product for
construction companies small and large.
Cougar Mountain Software —
Cougar Mountain Job Cost
Cougar Mountain Job Cost is one of the companion
modules offered by Cougar Mountain Software designed to integrate with
its core accounting software, and is designed for midsize companies with
an emphasis on contracting and manufacturing rather than construction
Contractor Software Corporation
— Contractor V Plus
Contractor V Plus from Contractor Software Corporation
(CSC) has been supplying the construction industry with valuable software
since 1978. Designed for contractors, construction companies, homebuilders
and developers, Contractor V Plus is best suited for small to midsize
Dexter + Chaney — Forefront
Construction Management Software
Forefront – Version 12.5 from Dexter + Chaney
is a scalable product designed for medium to large construction-related
companies. With industry-specific modules designed for construction, electrical,
heavy/highway (H/H) and material management, Forefront can fit the needs
of a variety of companies.
Easy Street, Inc. — Total Office
Total Office Manager from Easy Street, Inc.
is designed for small to midsize service-related companies, including
appliance repair, plumbing, refrigeration, and HVAC repair. While it also
will work for construction firms, its strength is in its service- related
eTEK International, Inc. —
eTEK Accounting
Available in three versions — single-user,
mid-range and Enterprise — eTEK is truly designed to fit companies
of all sizes. eTEK Accounting (mid-range) is reviewed here and is designed
for small to midsize construction and subcontracting companies that desire
a full-featured accounting and construction management program.
Foundation Software, Inc. —
Foundation For Windows
Foundation for Windows construction accounting
software is designed for labor-intensive contractors, including heavy
construction, specialty trades and general contractors. Using SQL server,
version 5.7 of Foundation for Windows is flexible enough to be suitable
for companies large and small.

Industry Specific Software,
Inc. — ISS Construction Manager
ISS Construction Manager – Version 6 from
Industry Specific Software, Inc. (ISS) is designed for small to midsize
construction companies. Add-on modules also make ISS an attractive product
for service and warranty management.
Intuit — Intuit Master Builder
Master Builder – Version 11 is the latest
release of the product from Intuit. This construction industry software
is a good fit for midsize construction related companies that desire the
ease of an Intuit product…
Intuit — QuickBooks Premier
Contractor Edition 2006
QuickBooks: Premier Contractor Edition is a specialized
edition of the popular QuickBooks Premier Accounting software. Ideal for
those already using QuickBooks, the Contractor Edition will supply you
with industry-specific details such as job costing and invoicing.
Management Information Control
Systems, Inc. (MICS) — Builder Information System
Builder Information System – Version 1135.18
is the latest version of this excellent construction-related software
from MICS. Designed for construction companies of all sizes…
Maxwell Systems, Inc. — Maxwell
Management Suite
Maxwell Management Suite – Version 6.2 is
the latest release of the product from Maxwell Systems, Inc. Designed
for larger companies in the construction industry…
Maxwell Systems, Inc. — The
American Contractor Enterprise Edition
The American Contractor from Maxwell Systems Inc.
is a business management software product designed for small to midsize
construction contractors and service businesses.
Sage Software — Sage Timberline
Office Desktop
Sage Timberline Office, designed for the construction
and real estate industries, serves a variety of large specialty and service
Toolbox Software Inc. — Toolbox
Construction Management Software
Toolbox Construction Management Software is aimed
at midsize construction, contracting and other construction-related businesses.
Originally developed by a construction-specific CPA firm…

Construction Accounting Software
2006 — Executive Summary
Although this is the 2006 Construction Software review,
the majority of the products that were reviewed in this issue are suitable
for a variety of construction and construction related businesses such as
custom homebuilders, subcontractors, HVAC contractors, Heavy Highway, and
Equipment Repair businesses.