Computers are supposed to make life easier, but small
builders usually face a tough choice: Either try to turn
off-the-shelf software into something it isn’t, or spend
big bucks on a high-end construction package that is really
designed for high-volume contractors.
That’s the dilemma David Jones was trying to resolve
when he set out to create SiteTrak. A tradesman himself, Jones
couldn’t find any software for his boss to use, so he
teamed up with his brother Brandon, a programmer, and formed
Beacon Systems. The software they created is just what the
doctor ordered for a lot of small companies trying to
computerize their operations, or for contractors totally
frustrated with the systems they’re using now.
Beacon Systems calls SiteTrak a "job cost" program, but I
prefer to think of it as a "job control" program. It
isn’t accounting software, but it does keep track of your
cash flow and it will manage your checkbook. It’s not a
contact manager either, but it stores all the information you
need about clients, suppliers, and employees in one spot.
SiteTrak does, of course, handle job costing, automatically
distributing payments and deposits to the appropriate job, but
it also provides tools to analyze where your business as a
whole stands at any given moment. The best thing about SiteTrak
is that the average contractor who loads it on a computer will
start to get good information about the financial health of his
or her business within five minutes.
I’ve been around computers a long time, so I appreciate
the value of SiteTrak’s simple and easy-to-use interface
— even computer newcomers will be comfortable right away
with this layout. The program is organized into four
interconnected main sections, or "windows," represented by
icons on the left side of the screen. All four windows share
the same general layout, plus a common "Bank Account Ledger"
called "Nsite" ("insight") at the bottom of the screen.
. The Bank Entry
window is where you enter payments and write checks (see Figure
1. The Bank window is where all checks, job payments,
and other transactions are entered. Entries can be assigned to
one category, such as a project or supplier, or spread or
"split" across several. Categories are customizable by the
Anyone familiar with Quicken will recognize the method of
distributing bank deposits and checks across multiple jobs by
"splitting" the transaction. For example, a check written to
your local lumberyard at the end of the month might actually
cover payments for invoices from several jobs; similarly, a
single bank deposit might include payments from several
projects. By breaking up these transactions, SiteTrak helps you
keep track of where all the money is going.
Tabs in the
Job Site window enable you to set up or view jobs that are
Current, Complete, or Future (Figure 2).
2. The Job Site window takes the place of a filing
cabinet, storing all vital job information, including customer
name, address, and phone, directions to the site, and other
notes. Jobs can be defined in or moved between one of three
tabs — Future, Current, or Complete — giving the
user the ability to update job status easily.
This screen also serves as a contact manager for your
customers, as well as a place to record notes about the job or
client, directions to the site, and other pertinent job
information. You can pick a job type (commercial, remodel, new
home, etc.) from a category list, or create custom job types.
The category list is nested, so individual clients can be
listed under the more general categories.
the Supplier screen lists not only material vendors, but also
labor and subcontractors — anyone who provides materials
or services to a job (Figure 3).
3. In SiteTrak, "suppliers" include materialmen,
subcontractors, and employees — anyone who provides
something to a job. Each tab has its own set of fields; for
instance, the Employee tab contains payroll
Detailed information for each is entered on separate
screens; for instance, the employee screen has fields for
withholding and other payroll information, while the
subcontractor screen would have different fields relative to