21st September 2016
Five features to look for in an ‘entry level’ job costing system
Software is as integral to your business as foundations are to your building projects, yet the bewildering array of options available to businesses makes choosing your ideal job costing system a nightmare! If you’re after an ‘entry level’ solution for your small business, the decision becomes even more complex. Do you opt for generic accounts systems that will meet most of your needs, or specialist software that might require a greater investment, but will contain every feature you could ask for?
If you’re new to the world of job costing software, or would like to find an entry level system that meets your requirements, here’s what you should be on the look out for.
Weighing up budget against actual contract costs is all well and good, but if you’re looking for anything other than surface insights from your job costing system, you need to be able to drill down. Look for a system that lets you assign budgets and costs to specific resources and activities so you can quickly see which areas of projects haven’t performed well. You can use this information to better choose jobs in the future.
One mistake that many small companies make is to leave their data in the software without analysing it and trying to make it useful. Report templates take all of the hassle out of data analysis. Your entry level system should contain a number of basic templates that quickly pull data out of your system into a more palatable format.
It can be tempting to opt for the cheaper (or free) generic software options when starting out, but you’ll soon face frustrations when you try to manage sector-specific aspects of your finances. At the very least, look for software that knows how to deal with applications and retentions. Ideally, your entry level system should handle CIS verification for you, too. If you opt for generic software, be prepared to create and use workarounds to help you deal with these obstacles.
Which forms of customer service are most important to you? You may be comfortable with email support, but given how critical your accounting software is to your business, you may prefer phone support for emergencies. Be sure to find out the level of customer support available to you before committing to a provider. Don’t assume that any level of customer support will be available. Some generic free software packages in particular may charge extra for support.
Room to grow
Finally, your chosen software provider should be able to give you room to grow. Their system must be able to cope with more than a handful of contracts and employees, and you must be able to establish a route to expansion. Will more features become available? How will pricing change? Can the data be transferred seamlessly if an upgrade is required?
‘Entry level’ software should mean that it’s crafted for small businesses. It shouldn’t mean a compromise on features or quality. If you’re after an entry level job costing system, contact the Integrity team - we’ll be happy to discuss your requirements.
There's no 'one size fits all' software package. For example, generic accounting systems don't work for everyone. In the construction industry, your payment structure is more complex than those used in typical business transactions. Additionally, those basic accounting systems won't offer construction-specific features such as allowing for retentions and applications.
Deciding on the right accounting software package for your business isn't an easy task – although here at Integrity, we hope we make the decision a little easier for those in the construction industry.