This article is part of a larger series on Accounting Software.
The best construction accounting software for general contractors and subcontractors can vary greatly based on your company’s needs. Some contractors need only a basic bookkeeping tool that will calculate profit and loss by job, whereas others want an accounting platform that’s just one component of full-blown enterprise resource planning (ERP) software.
We selected a range of solutions to fit different business needs—from simple accounting software for contractors with one crew, to ERP software for midsized construction companies.
- Buildertrend: Best overall construction ERP features and accounting software when integrated with QuickBooks Online
- Sage 100 Contractor: Best construction accounting software with basic ERP features
- QuickBooks Online Plus: Best low-cost option for tracking costs by project, location, and class
- JOBPOWER: Best ERP software with GPS tracking of employees
- QuickBooks Premier Contractor Edition: Best desktop option for tracking costs by job with powerful reporting capabilities
Comparison of Best Construction Accounting Software
Number of Users Included
Construction & Project Management
Employee Location Tracking
From $99 per month
$30 to $200 per month
1 to 25
From $799 per year
(fee per additional user)
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Buildertrend: Best Overall When Integrated With QuickBooks Online Plus
Instead of having its own accounting software, Buildertrend integrates with your QuickBooks account. While QuickBooks Online can track costs by project, adding Buildertrend can take your business to the next level by combining great cost accounting and construction management features.
For instance, you can communicate with project managers, schedule crews, and provide real-time cost reports to help your managers stay on budget. Crew members can save your office staff time by clocking themselves in and out on their mobile devices, which also gives you peace of mind as you can track their location while they’re on the clock.
Standout Integrated Features
- Estimates and proposals: Buildertrend makes it easy to prepare proposals. By using a worksheet-based interface, you can modify your proposal and choose which columns will appear in the actual document. Also, you don’t need to worry about the layout since Buildertrend will craft a clean and professional proposal automatically.
- Project management and online storage: Track important information with your team, subcontractors, and clients through daily logs. With these, you can make notes and send updates to concerned individuals easily. Buildertrend also has scheduling features using a Gantt chart and calendar synchronization. Moreover, you and your team can access files anywhere through online storage so that you can save time and resources.
- Budgeting: Contractors need budgeting as a precursor to job costing. With a budget, you can set sales goals with your team and impose cost control measures to maximize profit opportunities. Buildertrend enables you to create budgets, compare estimated and actual costs, and integrate with other financial software.
- Accounting: Buildertrend isn’t a double-entry accounting software but integrating it with QuickBooks Online allows you to perform essential bookkeeping tasks, like bank reconciliation and check printing.
Our Expert Opinion
Overall, Buildertrend is a great solution if solely used for construction accounting such as budgeting, job costing, and project management. However, it doesn’t have double-entry accounting features, so you’ll want to integrate it with QuickBooks Online.
Sage 100 Contractor: Best Construction Accounting Software With Basic ERP Features
Sage 100 Contractor is a solid choice for small contractors looking for a simple solution with basic ERP features. It allows you to manage project activities and record worker hours in the same system that runs employee payroll.
This helps ensure all costs incurred are assigned to your jobs. It lacks some of the advanced features of a more comprehensive ERP system but, at a fraction of the cost, it holds a great position between basic bookkeeping software and extravagant ERP systems.
- Full bookkeeping software: Sage (formerly Peachtree) is a famous name in accounting software. Sage 100 Contractor combines the reliability of Sage bookkeeping with the accounting features needed by construction companies. Unlike other construction accounting software, Sage 100 Contractor didn’t skip an accounting software feature. You get the chart of accounts, financial reports, journals, banking, ledgers, inventory, payroll, and others.
- Job costing: The job costing features of Sage 100 Contractor are integrated into its modules, and you can review job costs by generating cost reports and checking job cost journals, labor journals, and billing summaries.
- Project management: Sage 100 Contractor includes project management, even with their full-featured accounting software. You can create task lists and operation statuses, generate daily field reports, and create correspondence.
Our Expert Opinion
If you need basic ERP features, such as job orders and data analysis, then Sage 100 Contractor is a great option. It can collect and analyze data, which can help you make better financial decisions, and manage your books. This means you can save money as you don’t have to purchase separate software to manage your ERP and accounting workflows. However, we recommend choosing Buildertrend over Sage 100 Contractor if you’re an existing QuickBooks user since the two solutions integrate seamlessly.
QuickBooks Online Plus: Best Low-Cost Solution for Tracking Costs by Location and Class
While QuickBooks Online is our best small business accounting software, it’s also a solid option for contractors, even without the Buildertrend integration recommended above. QuickBooks Online provides value for contractors with its class and location tracking feature. This option is useful for contractors who provide various types of services and operate in multiple locations.
- Class and location tracking: QuickBooks Online lets you create classes to classify your transactions. Classes can be a profit center, such as the roofing division, or an aspect of your operations like the assembly department. You can also set locations to monitor income and expenses per location, especially for branches.
- External accountant access: Construction accounting can be complicated. With QuickBooks Online, you can invite an external certified public accountant (CPA) to manage your books and fix your records to comply with reporting requirements for the IRS or concerned government agencies.
- Invoice tracking: The invoicing process is an important part of construction accounting. With QuickBooks Online, you can track client invoices and add billable hours to invoices easily. Its invoicing tracking feature can even help you manage invoice status, collection reminders, and payments.
Our Expert Opinion
If you have facilities in different locations or a full-service contracting firm that offers different types of services, such as electrical, general, or design, then QuickBooks Online’s class and location tracking features are extremely useful.
The biggest shortcoming is that estimates cannot be converted to budgets for comparison to actual job expenses. You’ll probably want to save the estimates in Excel and then compare them to the actual job costs report, which can also be exported to Excel. If comparing actual to estimated costs is important to you, consider Sage 100 Contractor instead.
Check out our Sage 100 Contractor vs QuickBooks Online guide to see how the two programs compare.
JOBPOWER: Best ERP Software With GPS Tracking
JOBPOWER offers an ERP solution with an integrated GPS location tracker and a map. The GPS tracker helps field supervisors and managers track the location of their employees, especially if they’re working in the field. JOBPOWER also allows you to set up hourly rates to charge to jobs when owned equipment is used, as well as track repairs and maintenance by equipment.
- Job costing and budgeting: JOBPOWER combines job costing and budgeting in a single platform. You can create budgets in the software or import data from Excel. Moreover, you can conduct variance analysis of projected and actual budgets to measure performance. You can also track specific job details like job progress and job cost history.
- Cloud accessibility: Through JOBPOWER cloud, you can access the software whether you’re in the field, office, or working from home. We like this feature for construction accounting because it can be accessed even during fieldwork.
- A/R and A/P: JOBPOWER offers expanded accounts receivable (A/R) and accounts payable (A/P) features to help your construction company keep track of customer invoices and vendor billings. For A/R, you can bill clients through various means like American Institute of Architects (AIA) billing, unit billing, or time and material billing. For A/P, they have a subcontract module wherein you can track retainage, change orders, and payments.
Our Expert Opinion
If you’re a general contractor, home builder, or subcontractor looking for an integrated solution for managing accounting and resource management, then JOBPOWER fits the bill. We especially recommend it for construction firms with many employees working across several construction sites, as it includes a GPS tracking system that can help prevent time theft and buddy bunching—resulting in improved productivity.
QuickBooks Premier Contractor Edition: Best Desktop Option for Tracking Costs by Job
QuickBooks Premier Contractor Edition offers exceptional job cost reporting in a desktop platform. QuickBooks’ desktop accounting programs have been leading the small business bookkeeping industry for decades, and while they can’t be accessed from the internet, they offer tremendous value to small contractors that only need one or two users.
You can create estimates and convert them to job budgets, which can then be compared to real-time costs as they’re entered. You can also create reports on income and expenses, specifically by job, to help you determine which makes and costs you the most money. Payroll software is integrated―for a separate fee―and can charge jobs for direct labor and the associated payroll taxes.
- Estimates: You can create and send estimates to clients. With QuickBooks Desktop Premier, you can include details in your proposals to show the client the breakdown of costs for the job.
- Robust reporting: QuickBooks offers industry-specific reports for construction accounting. You can create reports to analyze job profitability, actual versus budget reports, job progress billings, and much more.
- Job costing center: If you handle many jobs in your company, QuickBooks Desktop Premier’s Job Costing Center provides an overview of the top three most profitable jobs and the bottom three least profitable jobs. However, you can see the profitability of all jobs as well. It even has job costing highlights that present actual costs variances, unassigned expenses, and outstanding bills.
Our Expert Analysis
QuickBooks Desktop Premier Contractor Edition can help you understand how your construction company is performing on a job-by-job basis. Job costing details, such as estimates vs actual costs, profitability, and revenues, are important to predict upcoming problems and resolve them before they get out of hand. While QuickBooks Online also has a job costing feature, there’s no option to compare estimated and actual project costs.
QuickBooks Desktop is a locally installed software, which can be a problem for those who work with accountants remotely. However, this weakness can be resolved by taking your QuickBooks Desktop files online through cloud hosting. Check out our top-recommended QuickBooks Desktop hosting providers.
How We Evaluated Construction Accounting Software
We considered a range of construction accounting software and evaluated each based on pricing, ease of use, general features, contractor features, and our own expert opinion. The contractor features include some items that should be included in good construction accounting software, such as job costing and estimates, plus other items generally available in ERP software like project management, employee location tracking, and managing equipment.
10% of Overall Score
Construction accounting software is sophisticated and generally requires the most expensive version of most software. Pricing is only 10% of the score because it’s more important to focus on getting the contractor accounting software that fits your business than to fixate on price.
20% of Overall Score
Ease of use is an important factor, particularly if the owner or other nonaccountant will be keeping the books. In addition to our subjective evaluation, ease of use includes the availability of customer support and whether common integrations require third-party software.
20% of Overall Score
General features are weighted to give more importance to features particularly important to contractors, such as tracking project income or loss, tracking employee time and assigning it to jobs, and integrated payroll.
30% of Overall Score
Contractor features include accounting features like creating customer estimates and budgets for individual projects. They also include enterprise resource planning features like managing jobs and service departments, tracking employee locations, managing bid requests, and managing equipment.
20% of Overall Score
Our Expert Evaluation is a subjective evaluation of a software program’s features, mobile app, and reports.
How To Choose Contractor Accounting Software
Construction companies have a range of options when selecting accounting software, from general-purpose to large ERP solutions that integrate your accounting with functions like project management, estimating, service management, and human resources (HR). However, there are some necessities that every contractor’s accounting software should provide, even if you’re a one-person company.
When General-purpose Accounting Software Is Enough
If your construction company is small enough that you can personally oversee the day-to-day operations, you may not need many of the advanced tools of ERP software. In this case, you might be served well with less expensive general-purpose accounting software that has at least the following features:
- Good general accounting: Your accounting software should invoice customers, manage unpaid bills, import and reconcile bank account activities, and print checks.
- Integrated job costing: Knowing how much profit or loss you make on particular projects is important for identifying inefficiencies and deciding how to bid on future jobs. Integrating job costing with accounting ensures that every expense on your books is assigned to either a job or overhead.
- Reporting: At the very least, your accounting software needs to be able to print a balance sheet, income statement, and profit or loss by job.
When To Save Time With Construction Accounting Software
If your company is large enough for two or more full-time office staff members, then you should start saving them time with good construction accounting software that allows information to flow from one process to the next without having to be reentered.
- Estimating: Good accounting software will not only produce estimates to send to customers and insurance companies but should also flow into reports comparing actual to estimated costs.
- Integrated payroll: By integrating payroll with your accounting software, you can make sure that payroll costs are included properly in your job costing.
- Remote time tracking: Remote time tracking allows workers to track their own time.
When To Upgrade to ERP Software
ERP construction software integrates accounting with other functions, such as human resources (HR), subcontractor compliance and management, customer management, project management, sales, and scheduling. While these are useful features, they come at a high price.
We recommend considering the following questions before deciding whether ERP software is right for you:
- Who will use the software? The best answer to this question is “everyone.” ERP ties all the functions of your business together, so everyone should have access to it. ERP software is not reaching its potential if your bookkeeper and/or project managers are the only ones using it.
- Is the owner or general manager ready to use ERP software? ERP software is powerful and provides useful advanced real-time information for decision-making. If upper management doesn’t understand how to use the program, such as they don’t know how to run advanced ERP reports, then they won’t get the best value for their business.
- Can you train everyone? An ERP software is not effective if used by only a couple of people in the organization. Everyone should be trained to use the software to take full advantage of the capabilities.
- Can you stay committed to ERP? Companies buy ERP software with the best intentions, only to stop using the program when people get busy and stressed. Learning new software will increase your workload and stress level in the near term, but you must stay committed to getting through the learning period to see the results.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is QuickBooks a good program for a construction company?
Yes, QuickBooks Online is great for tracking overall profitability and profit and loss by job. You can add even more construction features by integrating Buildertrend from the QuickBooks App Store.
What software is best for construction companies?
It depends upon your exact needs, but your accounting software at the very least should track profit and loss by job. The spectrum of good software runs from QuickBooks Online at $85 per month through very expensive ERP software that can manage your whole business.
Managing a construction company is complicated, so it’s important to look for accounting software with integrated ERP features, such as CRM, financial management, and reporting modules. While QuickBooks Online is good enough to manage the accounting side of your business, you can integrate it with Buildertrend to create a powerful ERP solution.