21st May 2013
To battle: Construction-specific accounting software vs. a generic approach
For many firms, a generic piece of accounting software will suffice. The matter of tracking incomings and outgoings is a simple procedure; products and services have a set value and cost, employees are consistent from one month to the next and it is easier to estimate the end-cost of a project on commencement. Sadly, the same cannot be said for the world of construction.
In the construction industry, products and services may be assigned estimated costs, committed costs and actual costs; subcontractors on a project may alter from one month to the next, all of whom must be individually verified with the HMRC, and the end-cost of a project rarely matches the estimated figure.
Why use construction accounting software?
Naturally, it is possible to source construction-specific accounting software. These are designed with the specific challenges of the construction accounting team in mind in an attempt to ensure ease of use, simplicity of access to required information and more streamlined workloads. For example, Integrity’s own solution allows verification of subcontractors from within the system and can handle monthly CIS submissions. In addition, the process of viewing profit/loss on individual contracts is no longer an impossible task reliant on manipulation of multiple spreadsheets fraught with the potential for errors, and integrated document control
Continued use of generic systems
If specifically designed software provides so many advantages, why do some construction firms continue to use a generic system alongside laborious manual spreadsheets and other practices? Sadly for some, it often appears to be the case that they ‘have always done it that way’.
Reservations about switching to a new system are often related to fears that the move itself will be overly complicated, requiring a great investment of time and resources to ensure data and information is accurately transmitted. In addition to this, a new system is likely to require staff training, and the actual time investment of choosing the right system can be significant.
It stands to reason that the choice to continue with a generic system or switch to construction-specific software must be handled with an eye on return on investment. If a generic system does not allow you to access vital information that will enable accurate job costing and billing, or if it hinders the amount of time available for other tasks because of exhaustive manual approaches, the move to a specific solution should be initiated immediately.
At Integrity, we frequently think of accounting software as a tool that enables bookkeepers to better perform their jobs in much the same way that machinery allows construction workers to work effectively. In much the same way that adjusting a generic JCB to perform a different task is possible but less effective, a generic piece of accounting software will never perform as well as one designed specifically for the task at hand.
Integrity offers three different construction accounting software packages to meet the needs of different firms. You can read more about the features and benefits of each different package, or browse some of our case studies to see how other firms like your own moved from a more generic package.
As providers of construction-specific accounting software, we’re often given the chance to witness innovations in the construction world when they are still in their early stages. Recently, we have played witness to a number of small revolutions affecting the ways in which accounts within the construction industry are managed.
Whilst the financial investment required by a construction business to change accounting systems remains a key consideration, it’s the perceived disruption caused by the change which is now the largest reason businesses avoid a change to their accounting system.