The Plus Series from Contractor's Software Group (CSG) is a complete construction suite that combines accounting, estimating, project management, and onscreen takeoff in a single system. It's designed for small- and medium-sized contractors with less than 100 employees, 100 users, and that generate between $1 million and $500 million in annual revenue. It's a strong fit for residential contractors including home builders (both custom and production), remodelers, roofing and siding contractors, and finishing contrators. It can also be used by design/build firms that work on residential projects.
Contractor's Software Groups offers accounting, estimating, customer management, and accounting applications as an integrated solution. It is available as an on-premise or web-based solution, so you can customize to the needs for your business.
CSG Plus Series is offered through J. Knutson and Associates, a national provider of construction management software with over 25 years of experience in the industry.
Carrie from Hochstedler Building and Development
Specialty: General contractor
I like how easy it is to keep track of the job costs and know whether you are over or under budget
I do not like that it is access based - that part seems antiqueated. Would rather have something web based that I can share with my clients on site and in my home office.
Give yourself plenty of time for implementation and understanding of how it all works. Be sure to load your conversion costs, etc over before you begin writing checks - make the balancing process much easier!
Francine from Pankow Construction
Specialty: General contractor
My support person was instrumental in getting my accounting Balance Sheet and Income Statement in line. With her gentle and compassionate help I was able to present our 2014 books to our tax accountant in perfect form. She was easy to understand and follow plus she went above and beyond to look at several issues I was having. She also provided tools to help me on the future. My support calls are now at a minimum, as I feel I can breeze my way through the system.
Screens are too busy and software does not seem intuitive or user-friendly.
Make sure it is compatible with procedures the company is using.
Ray from Cotswold Homes LLC
Specialty: General contractor
The software's ability to manage virtually all aspects of the construction process (e.g., client's initial visit, recording and managing their involvement, selections, financing the build to managing vendor costs, and purchasing L&M driving to real cost tracking from forecasting to closure).
Because we're using a number of modules in a complex and holistic manner for all business and field operations, it takes time and understanding to integrate the system effectively. However, depending on your specific needs, the software can be used in a far less complex manner.
Some of the terms used within the software are brand-specific but not much more than that.
I looked at eight or so software platforms over six months before choosing Contractors Software Groups products. In that research, the biggest takeaway I discovered is if you go to an online platform, use it for a number of years, and then transition to a different product, all of the data and records you put in the cloud cannot be downloaded as usable files. Once you stop paying, you loose access to all of that data!
The vendor even deletes your work to free space on their system so even if you tried to come back and use their platform again, you have to rebuild your data libraries! Not good for record keeping or the IRS if you integrate accounting functions and then cannot retrieve that information.
Jessica from Olde World Slate Service, LLC
Specialty: Roofing & siding
We purchased the CSG software about three months ago; we went with Salesbuilder Plus and Take-Off Plus. One of the best things about it is the amount of detail that we can use as we go through the setup and learning process. I don't like boilerplate software or documents, and CSG allows customization.
In our ongoing training, it seems that more than 50% of the questions that I ask need to be researched or explored before I get an answer. This makes me feel like CSG maybe has less experience with real-life contractors than we had originally expected. Basic setup issues, like transferring client lists and attaching to email (Thunderbird), have been glitchy. To be fair, all of my questions do eventually get answered, and the people I talk to seem to understand the nature of my questions.
Be ready to put months of time into setting up and learning a new software system!
Susan from Owings Brothers Contracting
Specialty: Residential remodeling
We appreciate the personal service that J. Knutson offers and the continued striving of CSG to enhance the product to meet the needs of their customers.
The details for each prospect/job are all in one place and easy to access. With the ability to open the information in this database in Excel, the reporting information you can obtain is very broad.
Utilize all the components offered to make better use of your investment.
Steve from Gonyea Homes & Remodeling
Date: July 2013
Gonyea Homes & Remodeling is both a new home and remodeling contractor. I have used the software for a number of years now, and its much more efficient and more presentable than using Excel spreadsheets. Right now, I use the Take Off Plus software only for the remodeling, which is the only area I concentrate on. Learning the software took a few months, but once it was up an running, it began to save time and money instantly. The support is quick and very helpful.
Tony from Century Building Team
Date: July 2013
Our team has been using the Plus Series now for over 3 years and have experienced a wealth of knowledge, training, and support from Contractors Software Group. The integration of their systems (Sales, Estimating, and Accounting), after a short learning curve and excellent training, has improved our operations greatly. We are ever continuing to improve they way we do our business with the help and implementation of ideas and concerns into CSG's annual updates. CSG has even accommodated our practices by providing the necessary and requested custom reports which allows us to provide better information to our clients in a format that we want and use on a daily basis.
Thank you CSG for your continued support, training and foresight into our industry.
I would highly recommend the Plus Series software to any new or experienced contractor looking to improve the way they do business and their bottom line.
Steve from Hansen Hometech Inc.
Date: July 2013
I want to thank Kuntson Assoc. for advancing my estimating, accounting, and timecard reporting. We have been in business for 25 years under Hansen Hometech Inc. and 5 years prior under Doug Hansen and Sons Construction. We have been working with them since day one. I had a Quickbooks stint for 5 years because it was windows based. Then back to the windows CGS version Plus Series. It has been a learning experience and I thank them for encouraging our company to look forward. There were times I had to go backwards to move forward, and they were always available to answer questions and resolve our problems. The last 4 years has tested the 30 year relationship like no other. I have been able to reduce my office expense by $75,000, increased my number of estimates by 100%, and maintained my closing ratio to a manageable amount. The jobs became smaller and change orders increased because people liked how we did our work and wanted to hire us for more work. It tested our accounting, scheduling, and timecard reporting - which meet each challenge. I have waited 30 years for the field to tell me when a change order needs to be signed. Thanks for all your help.
Terry from Covington Construction & Construction Advice Central, Inc.
Date: June 2013
Like all of us in the business, I grew weary of software designed by folks with little if any actual construction experience. I was using spread sheets, word, and manual calculations to handle the four basics of a real integration. The basic four...Sales, Estimating, Accounting, and a Schedule. There were programs out there that ranged from $500.00 to $30,000. In 1992 I chose CSG's Take Off Plus, Job Accounting Plus, and MS Project for scheduling. I was able to get interfaces with CadSoft and Ms Projct that worked well with Take Off Plus. I used Microsoft Sched+ to track Sales contacts and appointments. After implementing, I was 5% above the average in the Greater Atlanta Hombuilder's Association net profit average, by 1994.
Over the years it has evolved to incorporate new tools and interfaces making it faster, more integrated, and easier to communicate.
Now, the truth about all software, its "soft". It takes real time and effort to set up and anyone who presents you with an "Easy" button should be shown the door. Half of what you spend for software will likely be required in training. Are you willing to change you time consuming processes? You will have to in order to succeed in today's markets. Do you have to be faster, more efficient, and agressive in a 2013 arena, yes. CSG is no different in that respect to time, however, the return investment for time spent is superior to any tool in the industry that I am aware of. They are at least 19 months ahead in system programming of any competitor that is even attempting a truly seamless integration.
Finally, If I were actively Building and Consulting today, would I use CSG as my tool of choice? Yes and I don't consider the truth a conflict of interest. I love teaching the product.
Angela from Frailey Roofing
Date: June 2013
As an active roofing company serving a variety of customers - including residential homeowners, commercial property owners, property management companies and builders - it was imperative for us to find a software program that would cover our wide customer base, including multi-projects for the same client. We purchased both the SalesBuilder and TakeOff Plus from Contractors Software Group.
This team rocks!! Not only is the software top-notch, their technicial and support team is top of the line. They are continually upgrading their software to meet the requests of their clients. I don't know another software vendor out there that would continually take ongoing requests from their clients, and make improvements to fit their wide client base.
Kudos to a job well done! We appreciate all that you continue to do for our business needs.
Howard from Kodama Construction, LLC.
Date: June 2013
I purchased CSG's package in January 2013 and have been working to implement it in my remodeling business. What led me to this package was that I desired a way to have my client/job information flow from the prospect phase all the way through the warranty phase and was frustrated with Quickbooks for not working like a contractor works (estimating, job cost tracking, change orders!)
In my previous job, I worked a lot with American Contractor, and though it was clunky and archaic at times, I got used to being able to handle all aspects of a job from one program. CSG offered this capability at a price that a small contractor can afford.
CSG is built on the Microsoft Access database platform. Databases can be confusing, but they are highly customizable and provide much better information flow and reporting than Excel. CSG has built the database interface to be pretty straightforward as far as data entry, estimating, accounting, and project management (don't expect all the pretty icons and windows you are used to seeing in QB - this is a workhorse pickup, not a flashy sports car).
Make no mistake, this package has a large learning and implementation curve. I am 6 months in, and am just scratching the surface as far as having it fully implemented. The estimating program, for example, may require a good amount of time to update the processes and pricing to better accommodate the way you estimate. Same with the accounting program. If you don't have an accountant to help get you set up, I would recommend it (unless you have a great chart of accounts that works for you).
However, the support team is very friendly and helpful. Terry handles the estimating and sales-builder and he is a former contractor and puts the program through the rings to ensure it works for contractors. Robyn is my support for the accounting side and she is very knowledgeable and is great at taking you through the program step-by-step.
This is a large investment and commitment! If you don't want to make a serious change in your business don't do it! However, if you are planning for the future and want more control, more accurate accounting and reporting, and a "flowing" business system then by all means talk to CSG.
Jodi from Progressive Builders, Inc.
Date: June 2013
I have been using CSG software since 2006. I find that the software is very user friendly and easy to move around in. I have trained on computer systems before and the simplicity of the CSG software makes my job a lot easier!! If I do have a problem, CSG support is a phone call away. They offer free webinars to inform the users of the new and upcoming products and any edits they may have with the existing software itself. I recommend CSG to all contractors. It has saved our company a lot of money having budgets within jobs. My boss is not a computer friendly guy and he has no problem running the Job Cost program from CSG.
Chris from McDonald Construction
Date: May 2013
We purchased the software under the premises that it's "the best in the market" and "no other software can do what TakeOff Plus can". Needless to say we were very disappointed in the product. TakeOff Plus is extremely cumbersome to navigate through and very inconsistent with its report totals. We found much of the software to be a burden to get through. We decided it would ultimately be cheaper to take the financial loss on this product (as we were not going to get a refund) and purchase a new software, than it would be to fight through this program for years to come. I will, however, say that the product has the right intentions and theory, just that it doesn't quite seem to be developed to that point yet.