2012 Review of Management Information Control Systems – Builder Information System (BIS)

As reviewed by CPA Practice Advisor in March 2012

Management Information Control Systems – Builder Information System (BIS)

From the March 2012 Review of Construction & Contractor Accounting Systems.

Best Fit: Builder Information Systems is well-suited for small to mid-sized or larger construction related businesses that desire a scalable product that offers room for growth.

Strengths:

  • Scalable with four Editions available
  • Excellent job costing capability
  • Excellent subcontract management
  • Solid document management and imaging capability
  • Real-time with an excellent audit trail

Potential Limitations:

  • No dispatch module available

Builder Information Systems (BIS) from Management Information Control Systems has been a steady provider of financial and job cost software since 1983. BIS continues to offer construction companies a solid financial product with excellent job management tools which is available in four editions (Essential, Standard, Professional, and Enterprise).

Basic System Functions - 4.75 Stars

BIS offers users a fully customizable user interface that is driven by the 'My Desktop' function. Users can choose to display complete 'my desktop' options which include system links, my favorites, my dashboard, and workspaces. Clicking or selecting links will display all of the features and functions found within the module, or users can access specific tasks using the drop down menu bar at the top of the screen. Users can access a recap of all system jobs from the 'My Jobs' screen, including detailed information on Billing & Cost, Cash Flow, Labor and Subcontract detail. Data entry screens are free of clutter and easily navigated and contain tabs where varying levels of detailed information can be entered. All data entry screens also contain the necessary look-up options, and a good number of user defined fields making it easy to enter and track the information needed. BIS is easily accessed remotely by anyone with access to an Internet connection. BIS is designed to work on a Windows platform, including Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7.

Core Accounting Capabilities - 4.75 Stars

The GL module is included in all versions of BIS. The Essential and Standard versions of BIS include other core modules along with a few optional modules. In the Professional and Enterprise levels, all modules except the GL are optional, so companies can choose only the features required.

The GL allows users to utilize up to a 10 digit account number and a 40 character account description. New companies can be configured with a default chart of accounts, enter a custom list of accounts, or modify the accounts used in another company. BIS easily handles multiple companies and the Professional and Enterprise editions can also handle up to 10,000 departments. The AP module tracks workers' compensation insurance as well as both liability and auto insurance information. Partial payments are easily handled and recurring invoices can be set up as needed. Users may also choose to pay invoices using a credit card.

The AR module contains a recurring billing option, handles contract invoices and both debit and credit memos. Users can also assign up to nine discount levels for all customers. The Payroll module is geared toward construction companies and easily handles multi-state payroll, union and certified payrolls, and contains the ability to distribute payroll hours to multiple jobs. Additional modules offered by BIS include Job Billing, Inventory, Purchase Order, and Bank Reconciliation.

Built-in audit trail functionality tracks all system transactions with a report available for reviewing when desired. BIS offers multi-level security for all users, including module and menu level security options. Each edition of BIS offers increased security levels, with the Enterprise edition of BIS offering the most sophisticated system security options.

Construction/Contractor-Specific Features - 4.75 Stars

The BIS job cost module imports estimates from a variety of third-party applications, as well as from an Excel spreadsheet. The Job Cost function allows users to track expenses for every job in the system and compare actual totals to budgeted projections. Users can easily create job budgets which track material and labor, as well as equipment and subcontract costs.

The optional Job Scheduling module, available for the Professional or Enterprise edition is an excellent tool for project managers, providing them with the ability to schedule any job-related activity, track job progress and completion and costs incurred to date. Change orders are processed through the AR module and can be easily added and tracked. Change order totals can also be viewed, offering detail on budgets and adjustments as well as any adjustments made.

The new Time & Materials Billing functionality allows users to enter actual job related costs – such as labor, materials and equipment and add a percentage markup. The optional Subcontract module tracks insurance expiration dates, invoices, payments, retention, and back charges. Both the AP and the AR modules offer detailed information on vendors and customers, including transaction and billing history, with the ability to customize each account as needed.

The Payroll module tracks employee history, including salary, job history, tax information, Paid Time off accruals and adjustments. An optional Inventory module allows users to assign inventory items to a department, a group or a sub-group, establishes re-order levels, and even adds a product image to the inventory file. The Purchase Order module provides managers with the option to create vouchers for better spending control. An excellent Equipment module tracks every piece of equipment including serial numbers, fuel usage, mileage, and all related maintenance costs.

Reporting & Management Tools - 4.75 Stars

BIS contains excellent reporting capability, with each installed module containing a solid selection of reporting options. Job cost reporting options are particularly strong, with reports such as the Job Cost Status Report which provides users with the detailed expenses of each job in the system. The Labor Distribution Report allows managers to quickly view labor costs for each project.

The Job Cost Ledger is an excellent audit tool, providing users with a detailed listing of all system transactions posted for each job. Drill down capability can be found in all BIS reports, and the optional Report Writer module allows users to create custom reports with ease. AIA Billing is available in the BIS Job Billing module and comes with all of the necessary forms needed for change order processing, project billing and certificate of payment processing.

Both the Document Manager and the Document Link and Imaging modules offers excellent document management capability, first by tracking all of the necessary documents for each job, and then by linking all related documents into a central file. Users can create custom templates in the Document & Link Imaging module as well, and can easily access BIS from any remote location.

Integration/Import/Export - 5 Stars

Users can easily import budget and estimate data directly into BIS. BIS also offers custom programming for special applications which integrate BIS data with other management tools. All reports can be exported using a variety of file formats including PDF, RTF, Excel, and HTML. BIS is a completely integrated system, with all modules seamlessly integrated. Both Professional and Enterprise edition users can also mix and match modules as needed, buying only the ones necessary, and adding others at a later time.

Help/Support - 5 Stars

BIS offers users an excellent help system, with users able to search and locate answers easily. The new Video Learning Center offers users a series of training videos that create a hands-on type of experience by demonstrating how a particular function is performed. System updates can be downloaded directly from the BIS website by anyone with a current support plan in place. The BIS website also contains information on each system module and provides screen shots for viewing. There are a variety of support plans available from BIS, or users can choose to receive support on a per-incident basis. All BIS support is available during regular business hours.

Summary

BIS from Management Information Control Systems (MICS) is a scalable product that offers construction and contractor businesses with the customization and flexibility they need to run their businesses profitably. BIS software pricing starts at $1,895, with pricing dependent on the edition and modules purchased. BIS also offers a new mobile application designed for Droid devices which allows users to access their BIS data in a read-only functionality at this time, but that actual data entry and compatibility with Apple products is on the horizon.

2012 OVERALL RATING:4.75 Stars

 


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