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Office and Overhead.

Many contractors have difficulty grasping the concept of overhead, so SiteTrak has made it easy to distinguish between specific project costs and general expenses. To keep the interface consistent, the Office and Overhead window is treated as a special type of "job," and a single invoice can be split between a specific project and the "Overhead" job (Figure 4).
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Figure 4. To keep records consistent, SiteTrak treats overhead as a separate "job." Transactions entered here, such as office help or general vehicle expense, have to do with the cost of doing business rather than specific costs for a particular project. The category list in this window holds various types of overhead items, such as insurance, car and truck expense, or employee benefits; you can also create custom categories.

Analysis Tools

Once data has been entered, you can start using SiteTrak’s powerful analysis tools. In the Job Cost and Budget Worksheet, you can instantly see whether a job is over or under budget (Figure 5).

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Figure 5. Among the powerful analysis tools included in SiteTrak is this job-cost report, which compares estimated costs to actual job expenses. As estimated costs for each phase of construction are manually entered in the left-hand column, SiteTrak fills in the actual amounts spent to date in the right-hand column, and calculates any variance.

Flexible sorts.

The other powerful tool in SiteTrak is the ability to sort and filter the Nsite ledger every which way to Sunday (Figure 6).
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Figure 6. Data in the "Nsite" Bank Ledger displayed at the bottom of all four screens can be sorted according to almost any criteria. Here, for example, year-to-date transactions have been sorted to show only framing costs. The overlaid box shows how framing costs can be further narrowed to a single job or supplier. For instance, if you want to see only the money spent on framing the Jones job between the 4th and 9th of March, you could do it with a couple of mouse clicks. This feature is invaluable for everything from basic job tracking to isolating a lost payment to a supplier. And it can help you make good decisions or minimize disputes by putting the right information at your fingertips — without having to learn complicated spreadsheet or database programming.

Limitations

The current version of SiteTrak handles only businesses using a cash accounting system; accrual or percentage-of-completion accounting methods are beyond the scope of the program. Also, although the program does a good job of organizing the raw data, you’ll still need a CPA or a dedicated accounting package to produce tax reports, profit/loss statements, and other reports your banker or Uncle Sam might ask for. SiteTrak also won’t yet produce invoices or other business documents. According to Beacon, invoicing capability is planned for a future release to accommodate specialty contractors and service industries that process multiple work orders every day. For the typical builder producing a few dozen jobs a year, however, these chores can be taken care of with a word processor or simple spreadsheet. Even without advanced accounting functions, SiteTrak does what it was designed to do — give you control of your jobs and your checkbook — better than anything currently available to the small contractor. The retail version of SiteTrak sells for $495 and requires Windows95. A free, full-working demo version good for 15 uses is available (download at www.beacon-systems.com, or contact Beacon Systems, 4001 East 29th St., Suite 170, Bryan, TX 77802; 800/714-2229). Joe Stoddard is the technology editor at the Journal of Light Construction.