From the July 2010 Review of Construction/Contractor
MICS has been producing construction-related software for more than 25 years. BIS for Windows was first introduced in 1997 and has continuously added system enhancements and features that the construction community has requested. Available in three editions, BIS offers construction and contracting companies a scalable product designed for businesses large and small.
BASIC SYSTEM FUNCTIONS:
The main user interface is highly customizable. The top of the screen offers drop-down menu functionality with access to all system modules and features. My Desktop features a vertical menu with access to each system module. Links are also provided to the immediate right. Clicking on a link will display the screen with all of the features relevant to that module. BIS provides real-time accounting, where all transactions entered in the system post immediately to the GL, eliminating batch use.
Other navigational aids include My Favorites and My Dashboards, where you can access frequently used features, functions and reports. BIS offers a fully customizable user interface where user preferences can be set up for each system user. Data-entry screens are easily navigated and contain the necessary lookup fields. The My Jobs Dashboard feature allows users to choose specific jobs or all jobs to display an overview of each selected job, with summary of billings and costs, labor comparisons, subcontract information, and document management included. In the Professional and Enterprise editions, users can create up to 13 user-definable fields in all master records.
BIS can be remotely accessed by field personnel so all employees can have access to the same data set at any time with an Internet browser. The company noted that with the Enterprise edition, a user is assured of a more secure form of access. BIS works with Windows 2000+, including Windows XP and Windows Vista, and the current edition is now compatible with Windows 7, as well.
CORE ACCOUNTING CAPABILITIES:
The Standard version of BIS includes GL, AP, AR, JB, JC and Payroll modules, with four optional modules available. In the Professional and Enterprise editions, all modules except for GL are optional. The GL offers real-time processing and a standard chart of accounts that can be easily customized for any construction type business. Alternatively, users may choose to create a user-defined chart of accounts. The product also has automatic reversing entries to ensure a sound audit trail.
The AP module allows users to distribute invoice costs to multiple GL accounts and contains retention tracking for all subcontractor invoices. The AR module offers up to nine discount levels for customers and numerous sales tax codes. In the Professional and Enterprise level editions, users can also set up recurring billing, recurring payables and recurring purchase orders.
The Payroll module is construction friendly, with the ability to handle multi-state payroll, distribute payroll hours to multiple jobs and change orders. For those with union requirements, a union payroll module is available. Depending on the edition, optional accounting modules available in BIS include Job Billing and Bank Reconciliation.
Multi-level security is available, including both module and menu level. Each edition of BIS offers additional security levels, with the Professional and Enterprise levels both offering function-level security. Finally, the Enterprise edition also offers field-level security.
The budget feature allows users to import estimate detail from a variety of third-party software products or from a spreadsheet file. With the JC module, users can easily track costs related to all jobs and, in turn, can compare budgeted costs with actual costs. BIS requires users to associate all job transactions with a corresponding job cost code or change order. All change orders are processed through the subcontracts option or through the budget and change order form with all change orders broken down by cost code to simplify tracking.
Vendor information is easily managed in the AP module. The main screen shows vendor information, and the tabs to the right of the screen allow users to access all POs, invoices and payments associated with that vendor. The AR module allows users to track all customer information, including all sales order, invoice, deposits and payment information. Employee information is tracked in the PR module and includes all personal and default information such as pay classification and pay type. Union employees can be assigned a union code and classification, and trade codes can be assigned, as well. Subcontractor information is also easily tracked using the optional Subcontract Control module, which allows users to keep a handle on all subcontract costs, change orders, workers compensation expiration dates, along with any invoices, payments and retentions.
The optional Inventory module allows users to create an inventory item number of up to 20 alphanumeric characters. Items can be assigned discount codes, and reorder points can be established for each item. All inventory items can also be assigned a type and unit of measure. The Purchase Order module allows users to track all POs by date, amount or number, with each appearing as committed costs for all job reports. The optional Job Scheduling module allows users to schedule job duration and track percent complete, along with both start and finish dates. Job schedules can also be created automatically from either the job budgets or schedule of values screens.
The optional Equipment Control module allows users to post equipment usage to jobs as needed. You can also track insurance information, as well as average maintenance and repair costs associated with each piece of equipment. Equipment photos can be attached to each file, and a history of use is easily accessible.
REPORTING & MANAGEMENT TOOLS:
BIS offers excellent reporting capability, with solid reports available in all system modules. The Job List report provides detail on all jobs, and there are more than a dozen other job cost reports available, including Variance Budget and Cost, Labor Distribution, Job Cost Status, and Burden Analysis. Another valuable report is the Job Cost Ledger, which provides transaction detail on all jobs in the system. With its exclusive Drill Down+® functionality, reports contain excellent drill-down capability so it’s easy to locate and access all originating documents. The Report Writer module allows users to create custom reports for more detailed reporting.
AIA Billing is available in the Job Billing module, with appropriate forms available for billing, change orders and certificate of payment. BIS also offers two modules designed to manage the large piles of paperwork required for each job. The Document Link & Imaging module works like a central repository for all documents. This allows users to link blueprints, jobsite photos, contracts and all corresponding transactions such as vendor invoices. External documents can be linked, as well, so all files are easily accessible. Using this module, users can also create Word mail merges and templates for vendors, employees and customers.
The Document Manager module is used to easily track and maintain all of the paperwork associated with each job, from the initial bid request to the closeout submittal.
Master Records information from other systems can be imported directly into BIS, eliminating the need to re-key data. Estimates, time card hours and job budgets can also be imported. All BIS reports can be easily exported or emailed in RTF, PDF, TIFF, Excel, HTML, or text file formats. With the Report Server module for the Professional and Enterprise editions, reports can be emailed automatically. BIS is an integrated system where all modules work together, and the vendor offers a long series of add-on modules.
BIS comes with an excellent Help function that contains a system overview with module-by-module assistance. Users can access the index, view contents, search for specific features or record a subject description in the Favorites area for future access. Reference manuals are available on the CD or online. The initial purchase of BIS contains six months of unlimited support (training and/or technical) for $699. After the six months are up, there are many optional support plans available, including onsite training.
Support options include telephone, email, fax or online. System updates are available to customers that have a current Software Update Subscription.
SUMMARY & PRICING
BIS is a scalable product suitable for construction businesses of all sizes. Starting at approximately $4,000, BIS is a system that users will rarely outgrow.
2010 Overall Rating: