WITH QUICKBOOKS: PREMIER CONTRACTOR Edition 2006, Intuit has moved firmly into the visual age. The program's starting page features icons of popular work tasks, and everything is just a click or two away from an easily identifiable icon. Longtime QuickBooks users will be thankful for the way the software makes it easier for them to find the information they need.

George Jaquette, Intuit's group product manager for the Premier Contractor Edition, says that in previous versions, when builders wanted to run tasks, they had to click on a category (such as “customers”) and drill down through a menu of up to 14 entries. It was cumbersome and required several clicks to obtain the right information.

The new starting page is organized into five distinct work sections: vendors, customers, employees, company, and banking. Now, when a builder is working in the “customers” section, he sees a visual icon of tasks—including things such as estimates, change orders, invoices, and statement charges—arranged in a workflow. All the builder has to do is click on the icon and run the job process. Builders can also see a full customer list, contact information, and transaction history on a single screen. Builders can easily retrieve this information in the event a customer calls with a question, or they can print out a report with all of the information listed in one place.

Other important software features include job costing and the ability to e-mail invoices to vendors and to make change orders on estimates. The list price for QuickBooks: Premier Contractor Edition 2006 is $399. Visit www.intuit.com for more information.