Software handles a range of needs

Spectrum Construction Software is a comprehensive and flexible construction management solution with up to 30 integrated modules that can handle a broad range of construction business needs.

Spectrum Construction Software (www.dexterchaney.com) is a comprehensive and flexible construction management solution with up to 30 integrated modules that can handle a broad range of construction business needs. Core modules for HVAC and plumbing contractors include Job Cost, Payroll, General Ledger, Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable.

Contractors can expand the basic system to suit workload and work style. Popular modules include Project Management, Service Contracts and Work Order. Other commonly integrated modules include Spectrum Mobile, Sales Analysis, Inventory Control, Document Imaging and Time + Materials Billing.

The Job Cost module helps project managers, controllers and owners monitor jobs with reliable and accurate data. The compiled information can help management spot potential cost overruns and help identify areas where adjustments can help keep jobs on track. Tight integration with other modules allows updates to Job Cost as soon as data is entered elsewhere in the program. For example, daily time card entry in Payroll ensures accurate labor costs at all times.

Designed to help manage workflow, the Project Management module keeps tabs on project components that must be fulfilled under a contract. RFI, submittals, change requests and change orders are tracked from initiation to final resolution in a well organized, easy to access system.

The Service Contracts module provides control over management of such tasks as billing, advanced scheduling, profitability analysis and warranty tracking. Various inquiry screens and report options facilitate analysis of each contract for profit at any time during the job. This capability is a good way to check on estimating accuracy. Management can evaluate productivity and other factors and either take a closer look at crew activity or revise contracts at renewal, if necessary, to ensure profitability.

Because the data is so easily shared within the module and the program, a contractor can generate both the proposal and then the contract if the client signs on and, as the work proceeds, billing can be generated too.

Management can schedule service visits for the entire contract year and can itemize the systems to be worked on, enumerate the projected hours for completion, and list the parts required for each visit and the specific tasks that will be performed. The module also can track the make, model, serial number and location of each system and its components.

Pop-up windows during processing allow users to select from various types of useful data, including all the contracts for a customer site, the systems/components under contract, and whether or not they are covered under warranty or a maintenance agreement.

It is possible to set up multiple contracts for the same customer site, with up to three warranty coverages entered for the same system and/or component. Labor and material costs can be tracked at the system and/or component level.

The Work Order module provides a complete billing, tracking and dispatch system with the ability to control service activity, review customer service history, invoice work performed and control profitability for each invoice. Reporting provides customer history and profitability across a variety of selections. And here's a feature that can help boost efficiency - the module automatically creates work orders for scheduled maintenance with tasks to be listed by labor category.

Consisting of a PC server application in the office and client software running on a Microsoft Windows Mobile remote device, the Spectrum Mobile module provides an effective way to communicate information to and from the field. Field personnel can transmit time card information and daily field reports on employees, jobs, phases and even equipment to the main office for immediate integration into the appropriate modules in the Spectrum Construction suite. The flow of data from the jobsite eliminates the inaccuracies, delays and redundancies characteristic of paper trails. For example, timecard data flows right to payroll for processing.

For time tracking accountability, each employee is assigned a unique barcode. Each day, the supervisor can either scan an arriving employee's bar-coded badge (using the integrated scanner built into the mobile device) or select the bar code from the pre-entered bar codes on a drop-down scrollable list.

Any bar-coded equipment or production quantities can be similarly tracked. The user selects a transaction type from a drop down menu on the remote device, which displays associated prompt buttons for that transaction. The field supervisor may, alternatively, scan the barcode of a badge or piece of equipment from a hard copy sheet with all the barcodes listed on it. He or she can view or edit the posted transactions on the remote device before the data is transmitted to the Spectrum Mobile server.

The Mobile system also supports signature capture on the screen of the remote device, so a foreman can get immediate documented approval for a change order, so there is no delay or risk in starting that work.

All transaction records uploaded from the remote device to the Spectrum server can be edited, deleted or filtered for viewing by transaction type and by field, allowing management to analyze data in a variety of ways.

Bill and Patti Feldman are freelance writers for magazines, trade associations, building product manufacturers and other companies on a broad range of topics. They can be reached at [email protected].