April 2014 Newsletter

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Save April 30th for the 2nd Annual Tech Day!

Following the success of last year’s inaugural launch of LAI’s Technology Day, we are excited to announce Ledgerwood Associates’ 2nd Annual Tech Day – Weathering the Project Lifecycle.

This information-packed event is technologically universal – in the sense you may or may not be Sage users; you may be a small or enterprise-sized company; and your role in the company may be an accounting professional or the CEO. The plan is for YOU to pick the content!

Based around the Project Lifecycle, topics will cover everything from Employment Law to Lean Management to Lien Management! You may ‘sample’ a session and move to another, or decide to “speed consult” with a Sage 3rd Party Vendor or Certified Sage Consultant on a product or feature!

Ledgerwood Associates will host Tech Day 2 at the beautiful FireSky Resort and Spa in Scottsdale, and Sage Construction will be the event’s main sponsor. Also returning this year, are Core Associates (TimberScan), Trapp Online (TimberCloud), and first-timer Anterra.

LAI is excited to announce this year’s Keynote Speaker, Construction Technologist James Benham from SmartBidNet, who will discuss construction technology in 2014 and beyond. With extensive experience in the design and development of technology to streamline construction and risk management, James speaks across the U.S. and Canada on business information technology, data security, innovative software tools, and augmented reality. Mr. Benham is the founder of JBKnowledge, the makers of SmartBidNet, SmartReality, and SmartCompliance.

Find out more here and register for Tech Day! A light breakfast, full gourmet lunch, and Happy Hour are included. Get out of the office and learn all the things you want to know about technology in the Project Lifecycle!!!

 


Check It OUT — LAI’s NEW Online Calendar!

LAI has been a long-time resource for free and pay-for Sage software classes and networking events!! In fact, we’ve scheduled so many, we decided to create a FUN, all-inclusive, ONLINE CALENDAR to organize these events. But first, a refresher on how the categories work (that appears in the calendar navigation):

  • LiveWire–affordable, online training classes with live instructors. Course materials, recorded sessions, homework and testing make this an actionable, accountable way to learn (CEUs will be available soon).
    • We’ve further “bundled” these classes into topics. For example, the Reporting series are called (aptly, we hope) “Take the Fear Out of…” and finish either with “Report Designer” or “Basic Crystal Reports”.
    • Courses having to do with Sage 300 features that make you work smarter/faster are branded as “The Genius Series.” So far, we’ve added Inquiry Designer, Desktop & Security, and Subcontractor Management. We’re planning a series on Project Management for later this summer.
  • Skill Savor lunches – FREE, onsite (LAI’s Scottsdale HQ) gourmet lunches and Consultant-led presentations on features/functions in Sage 300 CRE (formerly Timberline) software. Limited to 25.
  • VIRTUAL Skill Savor lunches — don’t live in Scottsdale? Why should you miss out on this live, value-added learning opportunity? Join us at your desk at lunchtime, as we recreate the Skill Savor event via GoToTraining. Log in for the fun and networked training!
  • Sage Breaks — meet at the LAI headquarters for another FREE gourmet breakfast this time, where users engage in lessons learned and challenges faced in using Sage 300. Emphasis on subjects from the previous Skill Savor lunch; however, topics are often ad hoc, and active participation is encouraged!
  • Building Blocks – FREE online webinar events featuring industry solutions via software solutions. Focus is on case studies and success stories from existing clients; features third-party integration partners and is hosted by LAI.
  • Power Tools – onsite classroom training for Year End training (Scottsdale headquarters and/or Denver area, or by client demand); or custom, large group bookings.
  • Tech Day – Annual all-day event at luxurious Scottsdale resorts featuring renowned Industry Keynote speakers; Subject Matter Experts; Sage representatives, and third-party integration partners.(LAI’s 2nd Annual Tech Day will be held on April 30th at the beautiful FireSky Resort and Spa! Click here for details!)

Now, we’ve added so MANY more opportunities for LAI clients to interact and get the most from their Sage 300 CRE software solution (especially the LiveWire online classes) — we built a web-based calendar!

The LAI calendar is built with YOU in mind. You can view by the day/week/month/agenda – but our favorite view is the “Posterboard” that shows a graphic representation of the event (at left).

You may also sort by the event, or by ‘Tags’ (what’s designed for your role – Owner, Estimator, Accountant, Sage 100 User, Sage 300 User, etc.). Each event will have a description, date(s) and links to Registration pages.

Take a moment to add these events to your calendar, and if you have any questions shoot Joanie an email at Joanie@ledgerwoodassociatesusa.com.

 


Seven Types of Risk Management (excerpted from Sage)

Sage’s “Job Ready” site is a wealth of information for owners and employees, with real clients’ stories and solutions. This month we are “borrowing” content from this valuable resource:

Seven key areas related to risk from the Job Ready Guide to reducing risk and protecting profits:

Insurance – Just because you’re insured doesn’t mean you’re covered.

  • Job Ready Tip: When evaluating your insurance policies, pay particular attention to exclusions that could limit your coverage in critical areas such as construction defects and water intrusion.

Bonding – You need to get bonded and ensure your subcontractors are, too.

  • Job Ready Tip: Select an experienced surety underwriter for your firm, who has:
    • A successful track record for protecting clients from claims.
    • A license in the locations where you do business.
    • A professional claims department.
    • The ability to determine your risk profile and show you how to improve it.

Projects – Even small disruptions and project issues can cost you big dollars

Contracts – When it comes to contracts, the devil is in the details.

  • Job Ready Tip: Establish a formal process at the start of each project to thoroughly review all contract terms with the project manager and superintendent so they understand what they need to do to protect the company.

Safety – Even minor safety risks pose a major risk for construction firms

  • Job Ready Tip: Commit to a safety program at the highest levels of your organization, including active monitoring of safety measurements and sponsorship of ongoing safety initiatives by leaders.

Subcontractors – Don’t assume your subcontractors are complying with your policies. Know.

  • When working with subcontractors, three compliance areas present the greatest risk for your company:
  1. Uninsured workers on the site
  2. Lien waiver requirements
  3. Certified Payroll

Finances – You can’t manage what you can’t see.

Going with your gut is risky.

Cash is king.

 


Spotlight on Pam Schulz

Welcome to Ledgerwood Associates’ newest addition to the team – Pam Schulz!

Pam Schulz has over 20 years of experience working with Sage 100 Contractor (formerly Master Builder). She is certified and works with all parts of the program, including all Accounting, Project Management, Service Receivables, Report Writing and basic Estimating modules.

Pam’s goal is to help each client use their software AND human resources in the best way possible – through consultation, training and support.

Pam is a native of Colorado, and currently lives in Littleton, while spending a few weeks per month in Las Vegas, Nevada; with family and work in both locations.


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How Can Sage 100 Contractor Help the HR Function?

When one scans the Sage 100 Contractor menus and data screens, there is only one menu item that explicitly describes itself as pertaining to the Human Resources functions in a company – Menu 5-3-9 HR Forms. While this menu item is potentially a great aid to generating the various forms and documents that may be needed to properly communicate between employer, applicants, employees and various government agencies, it is by no means the only part of the program that can aid in Human Resources functions. With a little imagination, we can provide significant support for many of the requirements of a Human Resources department:

  • The 5-2-1 Employee record should be the central repository for all employee data, from the obvious information like pay rates, address, social security number, phone numbers, email address and the like, to a separate table for an unlimited number of contact people for each employee. Don’t overlook the ability to track the accrual and use of Sick Leave and Vacation hours. There are also several fields that can be relabeled and repurposed to meet specific needs.
  • The Employee Licenses table can be used to track Drivers Licenses and Trade Licenses that have expiration dates. Consider what other licenses you might need to track – think of an expiring Resident Alien or Employment Authorization card as a License to Work…. Never lose track of the fact that an alien worker may no longer be eligible to be employed if they haven’t renewed their paperwork and given you proof of the extension.
  • The Employee Training table can be used to track various training opportunities, especially those safety trainings and certifications that need to be redone periodically. Consider other “training” opportunities that should be revisited periodically – think of a regular performance review or a regular compensation review as training opportunities. By properly configuring the training item, one can track when the last training occurred, when the next training should occur, and keep notes as to what occurred during the training.
  • Attachments to the Employee record are often overlooked. Scan the employee resume or application, tax forms, form I-9, other employment packet forms, an employee photo, and anything else that can be reduced to an electronic file and attach it to the employee record so that it is always instantly available for reference.
  • Use Alerts Manager to create periodic automatic queries of Employee data to identify areas that need attention this week, or this month or next month. If the data is maintained in the database, it is likely that we can configure Alerts Manager to notify the appropriate personnel that an important action is about to require attention.

If you would like help with implementing any of the functions, contact your Sage 100 Contractor Certified Consultant.

More about Sage 100 Contractor here. Call Ledgerwood Associates, 1-877-918-8301 today and we’ll match your needs to the best solution.

Submitted by Walt Mathieson, walt@mathiesonconsulting.com, Ledgerwood Sage 100 Consultant

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Incremental Backups

The saddest phone calls we receive are from companies that experience a catastrophic server failure, their Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate data is unrecoverable, and their backup method produces incremental backups. We have had two of these cases so far this year. One company, fortunately, had a File Tools backup from three weeks prior. The other company is still searching for a full backup that is more recent than July, 2013. The first company spent a long weekend re-entering their missing data. We can only hope the second company finds a more recent full backup.

Full backups are always recommended. Incremental backups are not advised or recommended and may result in incomplete data files if these backups need to be restored for any reason.

Backup best practices cannot be stressed enough. You never know when disaster may strike your server or your data!

The critical Sage 300 CRE files to back up are:

Timberline Office\9.5 folder – This folder contains security files, reports, report menus, inquiries, dictionaries and possibly payroll tax files. This folder should be backed up every time data files are backed up. Depending on your server operating system, this folder is located at:

  • 2008/Windows7/Vista C:\ProgramData\Sage\Timberline Office\9.5
  • 2003/XP C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Sage\Timberline Office\9.5

Company Folders — Your company folder (data files) can be placed anywhere on your system that is local to the pervasive engine. If you are unsure of the location of these data files, contact your system administration or if you are an application administrator within Timberline, you can view the path to the company folder in the Select Company window if the company folder has been added to Security Administration. Company Folders should be backed up at least daily.

Other File locations — If you are storing custom reports or payroll tax files in location other than those indicated above, you should either move those files under one of the locations above or make sure that you are backing up those locations as well.

Submitted by Kyle Zeigler, Sage Certified Consultant

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Employee Theft: Common-Sense Ways to Identify and Prevent It

A variety of recent studies estimate that businesses lose as much as $1 billion dollars per week to employee theft. In its publication entitled “Report to the Nation on Occupational Fraud and Abuse” the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners revealed that losses from all types of employee fraud have increased from $400 billion to $600 billion in the span of six years. The report also provided these alarming statistics:

  • Approximately 64% of business frauds are committed by employees.
  • Losses involving male employees were generally found to be three times greater than those involving female employees.
  • Only 7% of perpetrators had been convicted of a previous crime, indicating that most people who committed fraud were first-time offenders.
  • Approximately 33% of frauds involved two or more individuals. In these cases involving collusion, the median loss was six times higher than losses involving only one person.
  • The highest incidence of fraud loss occurred in privately held companies, where the median loss per incident was $127,000.

While every employer wants to believe employees are honest, there are often changes in employees that develop over time. The key to prevention or detection is recognizing the common motives, justifications, and telling signs:

  • An employee develops severe financial problems due to family situations, medical problems, or poor personal financial management. Telling signs include deterioration of employee performance, collection calls received at the office, or numerous requests for loans and advances. In this situation the employee may feel that there is no solution except to steal from the company. The employer should make a point of being “tuned in” to these signs and consider increased monitoring of the employee’s work until the crisis has been resolved. The employer may also wish to consider offering loans to employees under certain limited conditions, rather than risking an “unauthorized loan”.
  • An employee has complained that they are underpaid and/or overworked. Telling signs include deterioration of performance and frequent complaining to co-workers. In this situation the employee feels justified in stealing because they are only taking what they “deserve”. The employer should conduct an honest evaluation of the employee’s complaints. Are they, in fact, underpaid for their position and abilities? Are they overworked? Should the answer to these questions be “No”, the employer should consider terminating the employee rather than risk fraud loss and deterioration of overall employee morale.
  • An employee appears to have a lifestyle that cannot be supported by the wage earned at the company. Telling signs include expensive vehicles, expensive vacations, expensive hobbies, etc. In this situation the employee’s lifestyle may be paid for by theft. The employer should be aware of these conditions and consider inquiring of the employee, as well as closely scrutinizing the employee’s work.

But motive is not the only ingredient required to inspire employee theft – opportunity must also be present. The opportunity for employee theft is unintentionally created by one or more of the following company characteristics:

  1. The company does not have a clearly communicated position on ethical standards, or management does not strictly adhere to those standards.
  2. The internal control and financial reporting systems are poorly designed or have not been adequately upgraded to match the needs of a growing business.
  3. The company does not place sufficient value on accurate and timely financial information.
  4. The owner is not sufficiently involved in monitoring the financial reports of the company.

There is a fifth way that the opportunity for theft can be unintentionally created by an employer. Business owners are often tempted to use company funds to pay for personal expenses (vacations, food, clothing, jewelry) or to purchase non-business assets (boats, jet skis, motorcycles, cabins). Understandably, the owner’s position is “Hey, this is my company. I’ll spend my money any way I see fit.” Unfortunately, this sends the message that it’s acceptable to “steal” from the company and creates an environment where employees can more comfortably justify theft. Management must be a positive role model for all employees.

Well, off the soap box and on to practical ways of avoiding employee theft:

  • Employ the services of a qualified CPA to assist you in evaluating and improving your company’s internal control and financial reporting systems. The system should be well documented so that existing employees are clear on the procedures and new employees can be more easily trained.
  • Owners and other management personnel must strictly enforce and personally adhere to the systems put in place. Frequent overrides or exceptions will significantly impair the effectiveness of the systems.
  • At every opportunity, involve more than one employee in a process. This diminishes the opportunity for any one employee to perpetrate an undetected theft. If the office staff is limited, the owner may need to become involved in certain activities.
  • The owner should implement specific dates by which company financial reports must be presented. The owner must then review the information and ask questions – even if you don’t really want to know the answer. This procedure serves to discourage theft by demonstrating that you routinely review the information in detail, and that any anomalies will be promptly detected. (Of course, the secondary benefit is that the owner becomes much more in tune with the company’s financial position – an extremely important element of business success!)
  • A typical method of covering up employee theft involving the issuing of company checks is for the employee to destroy the canceled check, eliminating much of the evidence. To remove this opportunity, the owner, or another management level employee not involved in the accounting process, should receive the monthly bank statements unopened. (Receiving the bank statement unopened insures that no canceled checks have been removed.) Then, prior to reconciliation by the accounting staff, a review of the statement and canceled checks can be conducted to identify suspicious or unusual items for follow-up.
  • Since theft of cash is the most common company asset stolen, and since most small businesses need to have an accurate cash balance in any event, the owner should require that bank accounts be reconciled by a specific date (generally a date between the 15th and 25th day of each month is reasonable). Additionally, the owner or other specified management person should review the reconciliation, looking for unusual items, or unexplained adjustments. This procedure, too, demonstrates that you are paying attention to details, thereby discouraging theft. Your CPA can help you identify the key items to be looking for, making your time investment no more than 15 minutes per bank account.
  • The owner should not delegate check signing authority to employees involved in, or having access to, the accounting system. In most small businesses it is recommended that the owner alone perform this task.
  • Avoid using a signature facsimile stamp for signing checks. If use of a signature stamp is unavoidable, limit its use to a specific management person who is not involved in the accounting process.
  • Obtain fidelity bonds on all employees who might be in a position to steal company assets. This type of coverage is relatively inexpensive and the inquiry process performed to acquire it may discourage recruits who have previous convictions from accepting a position. But, more importantly, it will protect the company against potentially devastating losses.
  • Develop a standard procedure requiring that, prior to hiring any employee who may be in a position to steal from the company, the recruit must agree to allow you to perform reasonable background and credit checks. Any prospective employee who balks at this request can be disqualified.
  • Engage a qualified CPA to perform a regular (at least annual) review of your financial records, as well as periodic unannounced “spot checks”. Such reviews can be focused on specific elements, such as cash, receivables and inventory, or may include the entire set of financial statements.

Employee theft is a growing epidemic in the business world, and it has been greatly stimulated by the recent economic problems, but with a heightened awareness and implementation of some common-sense procedures, significant losses to your company can be avoided.

Submitted by Rick J. Kratz, CPA, Pittman & Murdough, PLLC, rkratz@pm-cpa.com