Intuit never stops improving Quickbooks. The software maker is offering a laundry list of helpful features in QuickBooks Premier Contractor Edition 2008 that should help builders manage more efficiently during these difficult times.

Home builders are inundated with paper purchase orders and invoices, for example, creating clutter that is difficult to control. So, QuickBooks 2008 features closer integration with Microsoft Outlook, the popular e-mail program.

Now, builders can create a work order in Quick-Books, click “send,” and QuickBooks automatically creates a PDF and passes the information directly to Outlook Express, which opens up an e-mail and attaches the PDF, which can then be sent to the sub. Builders can include a short message along with the PDF, or they can save the PDFs and send out work orders in batches at a later time. The new software also lets builders send an “accountant's copy” of their financial information. In the past, accountants complained that builders and other small businesspeople had a hard time attaching files when it came time to send information during tax season. Under the new system, a builder's financial information is sent within QuickBooks and travels over an Intuit server, so builders can send large files without worrying about e-mailing numerous attachments or messages. QuickBooks 2008 started shipping last fall and can be ordered online at or at major retailers such as Best Buy, Circuit City, and CompUSA. The price for the contractor version with change-order and job-costing features is $449.95.

SOFTWARE COACH: Another new feature, Quick-Books Coach, lets builders identify a business process, click on the workflow, and go directly into the application.
SOFTWARE COACH: Another new feature, Quick-Books Coach, lets builders identify a business process, click on the workflow, and go directly into the application.

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Constellation helps builders identify leads and assess online ad campaigns.

Over the past several months, builders have said that they are looking for marketing software that lets them generate and manage more electronic sales leads at any level in an organization, be it national, regional, or by community.

Constellation has answered the call by developing Constellation Marketing, a new Web-based software that ships after the first of the year and will be available for both FAST and NEWSTAR.

“Our module will let builders capture more leads, identify the good leads more effectively, and more accurately assess the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns,” says Mark Dalby, Constellation's business development manager.

Here are some of the software's highlights:

  • E-mail marketing communications engine: Lets builders customize e-mail campaigns down to the community level. Builders targeting families with children can list information on local school districts, places of worship, parks, and recreation facilities.
  • Campaign management and analytics: Offers tool for builders to track the effectiveness of e-mail campaigns versus print ads. Builders can generate reports that tell them how many homes they've closed from e-mail campaigns.
  • Internet advertising interface: Provides a centralized place for builders to order online ads. The system supports Google, Yahoo, NewHome-Source, and
  • Referral management: Allows builders to develop customized e-mail campaigns and takes into consideration the relationship between the home buyer and the targeted customer. The idea is for builders to offer incentives to buyers who make referrals; the software then helps builders set up follow-up e-mail campaigns to target the referrals they get.
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