My excavating company has outgrown our accounting software, and I'm looking to replace it. But after doing a "Google" search, I am more confused than ever. Apparently, some accounting packages also do estimating. Other products say they do accounting, estimating and project management. One appears to be mainly project management software with accounting modules added on. At this point, we really need a good job cost accounting system, but I'm thinking maybe I should buy an all-in-one package to serve our needs in the future. What's your suggestion? And how would I find one that's right for my business?
You bring up an important-and controversial-point that other contractors should consider when shopping for any new software technology.
Nowadays, a lot of software companies are trying to be all things to all people. In theory, a one-stop-shop product would be ideal for contractors. You purchase one program from one vendor, and it handles all aspects of your business operations seamlessly and efficiently. In reality, however, it rarely works this way. Why? Because only "best-of-breed" software is suited to handle all the unique and specific areas of your business.
As an excavating contractor, you need to find an accounting package that meets your particular needs. Payroll, equipment and job costing, for example, may be important items to you. You might find an all-in-one package that offers the accounting modules you need, but chances are the estimating side will not work for you. In your trade, you need a very specific estimating package that speaks the language of excavating/heavy highway contractors.
Most contractors today are finding that the best technology solutions involve tying together their best-of-breed software products. To accomplish this, they look for products that come with built-in bridges for compatibility. And in many cases contractors don't need best-of-breed solutions for every area of their business. Depending on your needs, your best-of-breed accounting system, for example, may offer project management features that are perfectly suited for your business.
The challenge, Lee, is to know your business and find technology products that can help take your company to the next level. Don't be sidetracked by software that offers too much "stuff" but very little substance.
Construction Business Owner, April 2008