When was the last time you came across an irrigation tool that was really different and beneficial? A while? Read on.
The Palm computer has gone from a handy gadget to help with time management to a powerhouse invoicing system. Here’s what you can do:

Your small (3-1/4” x 4-3/4”) calculator-like computer will track your time on the job, tell you how long you spent on lunch and parts runs and will give you an instant total of billable hours. It will easily build an invoice including the customer’s name and address, all the items you sold as a part of the job and calculate taxes. Then, you simply aim the computer at the infrared port on your portable printer and you have just produced a professional, accurate invoice that the pickiest owner/irrigator would be proud of.
Are you thinking that this scenario is far in the future or costs thousands? Wrong. It is available now and costs less than $650 for the hardware and software.

Let’s walk through a typical day with your new “Personal Digital Assistant” (PDA).

You arrive on the job site and access the “PunchClock” program by simply tapping its icon with your pen-type stylus. You punch “in” on your current job, “Customer, Joe.” (You have already set up “Customer, Joe” by adding the job name to your list and classifying it as “billable,” “warranty,” or whatever class fits.) See figure 1.

After you complete the job, tap the “TakeOrder” icon on your PDA to access your invoicing program. Pick the customer’s name (ie. customer Joe, already downloaded from your database of customers). The following screen shots walk you through this very simple process. See figure 2.

Now let’s “Add Item.” You are simply adding parts and services that were sold to Customer Joe. We will charge for a “Service Call” and for a “2 DCA.” See figure 3.

Here is what your invoice looks like so far:

When you’re finished, just press “done.” Viola, you have the completed invoice. It has accurately posted the correct price for each part, placed the correct amount of tax, totaled the invoice and stored it for later transmittal to your office computer.

But that’s not all. Now you pull out a totally portable ink-jet printer from behind the seat and put in some of your company’s letterhead. You aim your palm computer at the printer and tap “print” on the screen. The PDA transmits the data via an infrared port to the IR port on your printer. Your printer produces an invoice that is at least the quality produced on your office computer.

Hardware used:
Palm IIIx computer by 3Com
Canon BJC-80 printer Rechargeable Battery for Canon

Software used:
PunchClock v0.92b (at press time, v0.94b was available)
available at www.psync.com
Take An Order is available at www.stevenscreek.com

Always check for the latest versions of the software as they are constantly improving and upgrading the programs.

If you run many crews, software exists today that enable you to coordinate, communicate, account for time and resources, and bill while combining the various data on your office computer.
And, if you are an irrigator who’s looking for a way to increase cash flow while giving accurate, professional invoices, it may be worth your time to explore the exciting changes happening to the PDA platform.