How Hard Is It to Switch From American Contractor Software to FOUNDATION?

Implementing Software, 6 Minute Read
workers at a table
19 October 2018

How Hard Is It to Switch From American Contractor Software to FOUNDATION?

American Contractor software has been a solid choice for construction businesses since it first released in 1983, passed to Maxwell Systems in 2000 and was acquired in 2014 by Viewpoint, which joined the Trimble family of products a few years later. Many contractors have enjoyed it as an industry-leading program and would love to continue using for years into the future. That said, some American Contractor users may be looking to gain more long-term support and hardware compatibility, more product growth and development, and more stability.

While they have several options in front of them, one option is to convert their data over to FOUNDATION construction accounting software. So just what would that look like?

Data Conversion from American Contractor to FOUNDATION

We’ve Transitioned Hundreds of Businesses from American Contractor

Foundation Software has transitioned hundreds of construction companies specifically from American Contractor to FOUNDATION. New clients are assigned an individual trainer, who works with our AC-experienced consultants and our database specialists to map your particular American Contractor database.

You don’t have to start over when you switch systems. Foundation Software migrates important data from your database in American Contractor, including:

Customers and vendors

Jobs and tracking codes

Employee information

Materials list

Open payables and receivables

View the PDF

Key Features for American Contractor Users

Why American Contractor Users Get Excited About FOUNDATION

Clients who do move to FOUNDATION can look forward to a number of highlights that we’ve seen former American Contractor users love about switching.

No monthly closes required

Monthly closes are optional, flexible and easy to reverse when needed. System control dates can let you prevent or flag data entry on a previous period.

Easy report customization

Drag-and-drop designers let you personally tailor your reports, including columns, drill downs and custom calculations.

Optional G/L overhead allocation

Allocate overhead using general ledger, job cost or extra burden methods. You choose the basis or calculation that makes sense for your business.

Automatic overtime calculation

Eligible hours for overtime use custom rates and conditions that you can set, even when entered on our mobile app.

Unlimited cost types

You can use the cost structure you want, without being limited to predefined set of cost types or classes.

Unlimited user-defined fields

Use as many custom fields as you want to record and sort key information and data in FOUNDATION reports and lists.

Unlimited support

Our live phone support has extended hours for all continental U.S. timezones and no cap on your support account. Call us as often as you need.

Drill-down reports

From executive dashboards to reports you create, you can simply click for the next level of detail, all the way down to original invoices.

Additionally, only one company has owned FOUNDATION and taken care of its clients exclusively since Version 1.0. Foundation Software has been free of outside investors since we started in 1985, and we’ve always refused acquisition offers, because we’re really that committed to giving our clients stability.

See More Features

What’s the Learning Curve for American Contractor Users?

What to Expect From the Differences

New software will never be exactly like your old software, and many differences are neither good nor bad — just different. Fortunately, a lot of how FOUNDATION is set up will make sense to American Contractor users. Both FOUNDATION and American Contractor are designed for similar-sized companies, and moving from construction software to construction software you’ll see a lot of similarities.

At the same time, some things might feel less familiar or be a small change. To take a little fear out of the unknown, here are some of the bigger differences you can expect.

General Ledger

  • During training on FOUNDATION, you’ll create a custom chart of G/L accounts. This does require a little setup and gives you more flexibility.
  • Your G/L expense accounts won’t tie exclusively to one cost type, which means you can choose the cost type you want on A/P invoices.
  • Roll-up “heading accounts” in American Contractor aren’t built into FOUNDATION, you can create them in FOUNDATION’s user-designed G/L reports.
  • For overhead, you’ll need to assign costs and payroll to an overhead “job” before using FOUNDATION to allocate it.

Job Costing & Billing

  • You’ll import job budgets directly into FOUNDATION’s Job Cost Module rather than using EstiLink to connect.
  • FOUNDATION doesn’t require your budget to tie out to billing the way American Contractor forces tie-out.
  • FOUNDATION won’t tie out your costs to a particular change order, apart from using a purchase order. However, we can work with you on an alternative solution.


  • Certified payroll reports in FOUNDATION are retroactive. That means you can make adjustments and corrections when you need to and instantly rerun the updated report.
  • In FOUNDATION, you have the option to break out your worker’s compensation, FICA, FUTA and SUTA into separate G/L accounts by payroll department.
  • FOUNDATION allows shift differentials. It also allows home/away logic to manage fringe and deduction rates when jobs cross into other union jurisdictions.
  • You’ll first need to post certified payroll to your G/L in FOUNDATION before you can print it.

Other than that? Some things do have different names, which you’ll get the hang of quickly. And you’ll need to hit “Tab” instead of “Enter” to key through fields. So, sorry, that might take a little time getting used to.

What to Expect From Implementation

Once you decide to move ahead with our team, we use a five-phase approach to get you running successfully:

Phase 1: Planning

Even though you’re familiar with construction accounting software, we don’t throw you into the deep end or give you a one-size-fits-all plan. Your trainer takes the time to learn about your business and your goals. We’ll also prep you for the learning process and decide with you the best way to move forward with migrating your American Contractor data.

Phase 2: Maintenance Items & System Framework

After your initial meeting, we’ll make sure you have the assistance you need to get your data records moved over into a FOUNDATION-ready database. One of our data conversion specialists would be available to connect with you online, copy your data, convert it and import it into FOUNDATION for you.

With many of your maintenance records in place, like employee and customer information, you and your trainer will be able to review your data. They’ll also take you through the system flow. And as you navigate each of the modules, we’ll round out your database with important items like tax and fringe rates, elements of your job cost structure, and more.

Phase 3: Practice & Daily Transactions

Practice makes perfect, and you’ll get plenty of guided experience as you get comfortable with everyday functions in FOUNDATION. As you try out timecard entry, payment receipts, change orders and more, you and your trainer will also have the opportunity to fine-tune your setup and look at the reports that will be most valuable for your company.

Phase 4: Going Live

Here, FOUNDATION becomes the live database you use for all of your real-time accounting transactions. Your trainer will help you tie out your old accounting system so that you have a clean transition.

Phase 5: Settling in & Review

As you settle in, your training becomes more self-guided, and we’ll encourage you to ask questions about any situations that arose since going live. We’ll also discuss ideas and processes that may make the software easier to use, as well as review anything you need help with.

Everything wraps up with a final meeting to check in with your team. This is one last review of your setup and your experience. We want to make sure we’ve set you on the best path to success as you define it.

From there, our support department and dedicated client advocate will be ready to take care of any additional needs you have.

See Our Process

How Long Does It Take to Get Started?

We would love to tell you exactly when you could plan to run live on FOUNDATION. However, it depends in large part on a number of factors.

  • how prepared your office is for the change
  • how prepared your accounting is and any cleanup that’s required in your financial data
  • how much dedicated time your team can commit

In our experience, we find that most contractors are best positioned for success with roughly 35-50 hours of training on new construction accounting software.

And in order to practice, get comfortable and instill long-term learning, those hours do need to be spaced out. Contractors with lasting success will typically allow for three to six months, from change planning through wrap-up and review.

That time is a long-term investment in software you want to be getting the most out of and growing with for the next five, 10 or more years. Having developed FOUNDATION and other products and services for this long as a fully independent company, we have every confidence we’ll be with you down the road to support your business.

Just Take the Next Step

The best way to find out how to get your business started on FOUNDATION is to kick off a conversation. Begin with a video tour of our job cost accounting, project management and mobile software. Then, schedule a live demo with us to dive deeper in specifics and talk about your ideal path forward.

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