HERE ARE THREE uncomplicated new software solutions that, like Dr. Seuss's Horton the Elephant, pretty much say what they do and do what they say:
MyInvoices & Estimates Deluxe ( www. avanquestusa. com, 800/ 325-0834) enables users to create professional-looking customizable invoices, estimates and purchase orders. The software can perform automatic tax calculation and generate more than two dozen different reports, including reports on receivables, aging and on product inventory. All of them are exportable as PDF files.
The solution, which is well suited for estimating periodic maintenance jobs or other projects with repetitive costs, includes the capability to track payment history and generate purchase orders, customer statements and collection letters. Directly from the software, users can e-mail invoices, estimates and statements accompanied by personalized messages. The program has the ability to send out batch invoices, estimates and statements.
The package is flush with wizards that enable customizing the look of the invoices and supports imprinting of a company logo and return address on the forms.
The customer list stores client names, addresses and other contact information, billing terms, credit limits, payment terms and tax rates. As each item in the database can run up to 99 characters, it is possible to create small assemblies for billing purposes.
The software automatically builds a customer list and a product list as you write your invoices. Contractors can import a customer list from an existing database. When creating an invoice, the information is filled from these lists when a match is found, saving time and helping ensure accuracy.
Users can accompany each estimate sent to a customer with a customizable cover letter. If the bid wins the project, one click can convert the estimate into an invoice.
Two for the road
For subcontractors who need to take existing CAD drawings into the field to verify them against existing building or to annotate them, carrying the drawings on a handheld computer can be more convenient than toting hardcopy versions, especially when reviewing multiple locations on a project or traveling to several jobs. Coutts Design's ZiPCAD: View for Palm OS Handhelds (Coutts Design, www. zipcad. com, 617/ 868- 2940) is a DXF viewer capable of loading and viewing scaled drawings.
Contractors who want to transport any CAD drawing already stored on the desktop can export the drawing into a DXF file, drag and drop the file into a folder in the office computer, and then perform a Hot-Sync with the Palm, which uploads the drawing. You can upload 20 or 30 at a time for convenience. Users can carry several scale drawings on their Palm OS Handheld, view drawings and lift measurements right off the drawings. The solution, which supports SD memory cards for storage of multiple drawings, includes measurement tools for length and area calculations right from the drawing. Viewing tools include pan, zoom in and zoom out, layers and review saved views.
PDA plumbing estimates
PDA Estimator Plumbing Sub-Contractor System PDA Estimator (E.S.T. Estimating, www.pdaestimator.com, 305/294-6428) for Windows, MAC, Palm, Pocket PC and PDA phones is a contractor-specific estimating solution for mobile devices. Plumbing contractors can use the database from the office computer in the field, either to generate ballpark or detailed estimates at the jobsite, or to collect onsite estimating data for transfer electronically later to PDA Estimator's desktop estimating software for job costing and preparation of a detailed estimate or bid.
When used as a total field solution, any estimate can be converted to a contract and beamed to an infrared compatible portable printer for printout and signing on the spot, if the contractor is equipped with a portable printer. The software includes 1,483 preinstalled bid record assemblies and items, all including the ability to do materials takeoff. All data in the software is based on national averages and every item can be marked up or down for local area pricing or can be customized with per-job pricing.
Also, the PDA Estimator database is useable in the field as a checklist for takeoff. As the estimator walks the job and enters data, the software can break the quantity of materials needed for each assembly, as well as tally totals.
The software displays details of each estimated item and allows users to attach notes and sketches to the estimate or to enter data with a keyboard.
Standard features include the ability to copy and paste all data to new areas, export data to word processors or spreadsheets, and beam (IR) to other PDAs or a home/office computer. The software supports the hot syncing of changes to the office computer or from the office computer to the PDA.
Quick Reports include entire bid, bid subtotals, man-hours, materials cost, labor cost, equipment cost, subcontract cost and cost totals.
The desktop and PDA software both include a markup calculator, for fast numbers from within the application.
William and Patti Feldman provide Web content for companies and write for magazines, trade associations, building product manufacturers and other companies on a broad range of topics. They can be reached at [email protected].