From the July 2009 Review of Construction/Contractor
Information System (BIS) offers construction-focused businesses a solid and
completely integrated suite of accounting and business management applications.
The Standard Edition core program modules include General Ledger, Accounts Payable,
Accounts Receivable, Payroll, Job Costing and Job Billing. Union, Bank Reconciliation,
Subcontract Control and Password modules are also available. In the Professional
& Enterprise Editions, in addition to all the modules above, other modules
available include Document Link & Imaging, Document Manager, Equipment Control,
Inventory, Purchase Orders, Report Writer, Job Scheduling and Report Server.
Also available are methods for customizing drilldown functions to link to other
supporting documents in the program.
The Report Server module allows prescheduled printing and/or emailing of single
or groups of reports to one or many. The Document Link & Imaging module
allows users to attach any image or document file to a job or many other records
within the program. BIS is offered in three versions: Standard, Professional
and Enterprise, with pricing for the Standard system starting around $4,000,
and it will support up to three concurrent users. The other versions offer more
advanced capabilities and module options, along with support for up to hundreds
of concurrent users.
Learning Curve/Ease of Use:
The BIS program includes 6 months of unlimited Support. Help functions also
assist in initial setup tasks. The program opens within an interface that offers
multiple navigation options, including a left-side vertical menu for accessing
several program functions and user-customizable features, such as the My Desktop,
My Favorites, My Workspaces and My Dashboard screens. All of these interfaces
provide friendly navigation, making it easy for users to find the program functions
they use most often. The My Desktop view provides users with a three-paneled
screen that includes the system menu with links to various program features,
along with a customizable area in the middle for accessing key tasks, and a
reports field on the right.
The My Dashboard screen also provides good management features, providing
an overview of jobs and key business stats, with quick access to underlying
factors, such as job status, equipment usage, labor, scheduling, billing, reports
and client histories. In addition to the customizable “My” screens,
the system offers many other user-controllable options, including the ability
to create several custom data fields in all Master Records.
Data-entry screens appear in subwindows that provide tabbed forms for grouping
categorical information, with entry fields providing lookup options and selection
lists. With BIS’s Document Link function, any file or document can be
attached to many records within the system, including images, invoices, spreadsheets
and other items. The system maintains a full-time audit trail and has a feature
that, if a user makes changes to an existing transaction, automatically creates
and posts an appropriate adjusting entry.
Key Modules & Management Tools:
The job costing functions in BIS allow for user-defined codes of up to 10 characters in length, while the system tracks and offers report options for all costs incurred on client jobs, whether a single house or job at a time or for large developments. Costs are broken down by codes, change orders and cost types, which can include labor, material, subcontractors, equipment and other direct costs. BIS offers a separate module for job billing, which enables invoicing by lump sum or “cost plus.” Billing forms follow formats approved by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), such as change orders, continuation sheets and payment certificates.
BIS’s Drill Down+ feature gives users the unique ability to customize
the drilldown action on reports and other screens, allowing them to link to
supporting information elsewhere in the program by simply right-clicking and
selecting from various source information. The program’s Job Scheduling
module provides advanced tracking and calendaring of jobs, following the critical
path workflow model that includes duration, percent complete, start and finish
dates, budgeting, and equipment management. It also provides billing scheduling
and free format scheduling, and offers daily, weekly and monthly tracking of
budget cash flow and billing cash flow. Inventory management features automatically
update data based on purchase orders, invoices and adjustments.
The system also contains compliant GL, AR and AP modules. The Payroll module
handles certified payroll and direct deposit, supports all states taxes, and
manages workers’ compensation and all the necessary wage reporting worksheets
and forms. For those with Union needs, the Union module supports an unlimited
number of user-definable company and employee contributions and works in conjunction
with the Payroll and Job Cost modules. Using Form Editor, a user can modify
many forms within the system using word processor-like editing tool.
Depending on the Edition, BIS can offer more than 400 report options that include
job costing, billing, financial reporting, payroll management and more. Users
can also create self-designed reports using the Report Writer module; for full
featured reports, a custom report writing service is available. As noted, construction-focused
reports follow AIA guidelines. The system’s new Report Server provides
even more extensive output capabilities, including the ability to preschedule
reports and output or save reports into Word, Excel, PDF, HTML, TIF and text
formats. Since BIS is ODBE compliant, data can be read by other report writers
such as Crystal Reports.
Data moves automatically throughout all of BIS’s integrated modules, providing
real-time management of business processes. BIS offers importing services for
Master Record data to be brought over from QuickBooks and other accounting packages
and, in addition to the reporting output options noted above, can also export
raw data into Excel, Word and Access. BIS also offers export of job scheduling
information into Microsoft Project.
Support & Training:
The BIS system provides outstanding customization options that will ease management
processes as users grow more familiar with the program. Additionally, assistive
features such as right-click menus and guides help users with specific tasks.
Technical support and training is offered through many plan packages. The vendor’s
website also offers access to self-help resources, downloads, supplies and training
options. A library of user guides and reference manuals is included on the program
CD and on the BIS website.
Builder Information System provides a strong and scalable business management
system to construction firms from small to very large, allowing all entities to easily add
additional modules or users (where available) or to grow into the more comprehensive
advanced versions of the program.
2009 OVERALL RATING: