Offering fabricators total flexibility in how they set up their estimating and management systems is what Hollander considers the hallmark of the JobTracker program. Purchasers install the software on their own servers and are allowed to have an unlimited number of users at no extra charge. The program can be limited to an inhouse network within the office or it can be made accessible to sales people and dealers in remote locations over the Internet.
JobTracker creates estimates by dynamically pricing the project as countertop specifications are entered. Templates for each type of customer class can be created to save time, with the ability to have multiple price levels per customer and to apply discounts on a customer-by-customer basis. Countertop upgrades and other options are figured into the price automatically as they are entered into the program.
Once a quotation is accepted by a customer it is frozen, which means the program won't allow any changes to the quote without the fabricator initiating a separate editing procedure, which is documented with a corresponding revision history. That is especially helpful in situations where a customer interacts with several people in the fabrication company, or makes a lot of changes to the proposal.
"If you put in a date for a particular activity, such as a template," Hollander continues, "the program can auto schedule activities like fabrication and installation. This gives you a pretty good idea of how far out you are when trying to schedule installations. If you just specify the install date, it could go back and automatically schedule all of the previous activities. When there is a problem with the scheduling, the program flags that activity with an icon, such as an exclamation point, to let you know something is not going to work right."
JobTracker has no drawing module included with the program, but allows files to be attached to each quotation. Thus, Hollander notes, users have the ability to scan pertinent documents, attach them to the quotation, thus, making them part of the total proposal.
"One of our customers scans every piece of paper and adds it into our system," he says. "That way anything they have ever done that relates to the project is in there and can be viewed by clicking on the document."
Of all the programs we tested, Countertop Pro by NoWag was, in our opinion, the most intuitive and easy to navigate. This 100 percent web-based program guides the user from layout through final quotation in a series of seven windows with a minimum of keystrokes. Color swatches, edge profiles, sink configurations and other data are graphically displayed, and a running total of the quote is conveniently displayed in an upper corner of the computer screen as options are selected.
"This is the first program in series of programs geared toward the remodel market," explains NoWag's Vipul Shah. "There is no software purchase required, and no software maintenance. Anyone with a computer and an internet browser is going to be able to use this program."
The only caveat to this arrangement is that since all the computing takes place over the Internet - preferably with a high-speed connection - being offline means being out of touch with your data. It also means if you wish to produce a quote onsite in the customer's home, you must make arrangements to access the Internet.