April 2016 Newsletter

Growing up near Detroit, MI, one of the biggest days of the year was Tiger Baseball Opening Day. It could be snowing or scorching in Michigan, you never knew…

And for 42 years Ernie Harwell, the “Voice of the Tigers,” opened every season with a beautiful verse from the Song of Solomon about Spring: “For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.”

What we’re talking about in April:

  • Welcome, Spring! Happy Opening Day to whomever YOUR team is!
  • Tony’s Pick — the best takeoff software just got better!
  • Gartner reports 75% of ERPs are destined to fail – how YOU can beat the odds
  • Welcome to our new Director of Professional Services, Ruth Stockdale
  • Outgrown Quickbooks? Free L+L in Tucson
  • Speaking of baseball, we want to “TUG” you to a Yankees game!
  • Tips and Tricks for Sage 100 & 300CRE, CON, Estimating and Accounting

 


Tony’s Picks

Tony Merry spends all day, every day, speaking with Construction Industry people — from accountants, to owners, to estimators. 

A former construction contract specialist and Sage 300 CRE user, Tony does what most Sage resellers don’t: he demos the products himself (most Sage Business Partners rely on Sage sales engineers to do the deep dives). Why? Because Tony’s industry experience includes accounting, project management, and estimating — which mean he RELATES to your construction business needs. 

The following products are what Tony thinks are the best-in-class, are new launches to the market, or are just particularly great performers.

eTakeoff: “It’s already the best.”

eTakeoff was integrated into the Sage family a little over a year ago, and Tony was on-board from the start.

Now, Tony sits on the development board for eTakeoff, and it’s his enthusiasm for this product that is helping to drive enhancements and upgrades. And attributing to his status of being an “insider,” he is “leaking” the new features which will come later this month (this is the part where Estimators get REALLY excited):

eTakeoff Dimension V5.5 Enhancements:

  • Complete Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) implemented within Dimension
  • Create and maintain set of standard WBS categories with default values
  • Copy/paste WBS values from Excel to enable maintaining Excel master WBS database
  • Ability to set a default WBS code for each “trace”
  • New Control Panel tool to view and edit WBS codes, allowing display of selected measurements based on WBS value
  • Bridge enhancements to follow
    • Measurement WBS codes to be mapped and passed through to Sage Estimating
    • Adding User ID to takeoff pane

 

Email Tony or call 480-423-8300 to pick his brain or set up a demo!


ERP – Determined to Fail?

Gartner, a leading technology research and advisory firm, is pretty sure your ERP system strategy will fail. In fact, Gartner reports that an astonishing 75% of ERP projects do already!rocket-crash

The reason? IMHO, ERP hasn’t evolved enough. Anyone whose company purchased a legacy, on-premise solution in the last ten years will probably attest to the pains of implementing and using these systems. Yes, they’re complex and capable, but like your brain, you’re probably not using of nearly enough of the available potential. ERP was either before its time in conception, or still a poor-behaving toddler in its behavior.

An article in the UK’s The Register cites the current state of cloud ERP as apocalyptic (according to Gartner):

Gartner has projected a near 100 per cent fail rate for cloud ERP projects by 2018.

Ninety per cent of those rolling out what the mega-analyst has defined as “post-modern ERP” will succumb to the traditional ERP headaches of higher costs, greater complexity and failed integration by 2018.

Their Achilles Heel will be lack of an application integration strategy and related skills.

Gartner defined “post-modern ERP” as systems that are federated and loosely coupled and no longer from a single, monolithic provider – such as Oracle or SAP. This is what defined the big ERP rollout wave during the 1990s that, presumably, Gartner defines as the “modern” ERP age.

Eighty per cent of those will lack the capability to successfully deliver on their postmodern ERP strategy, Gartner said on Tuesday.

Carol Hardcastle, Gartner research vice president, said in a statement: “This new environment promises more business agility, but only if the increased complexity is recognised and addressed. Twenty five or more years after ERP solutions entered the applications market, many ERP projects are still compromised in time, cost and more insidiously in business outcomes.”

The Register says Gartner blames both sides of the coin: executives rushing to early adoption of cloud products for trendy devices (against the advice of the stolid IT types) AND vendors, who are “greedy” with more interest in the sale than the outcome.

Beating the Odds

This may seem like a contrary position from a Sage X3 reseller and professional services provider – BUT we can counsel how to make your strategy sound. You just need to go in with as much information and commitment as any other major business strategy warrants.

Be Slow to Decide

It’s no secret that the decision time to purchase an ERP system can easily run 12-24 months. Actually, that’s good. That means all the stakeholders have time to fully vet a system that affects the entire infrastructure of the company. Fully develop the scope of the project and communicate business requirements WITH your vendor.

Budget Wisely

There’s no “magic” formula to create a budget for a ratio of product-to-professional-services (installation, implementation, data migration, training, etc.) expenses —but be aware that professional services WILL EXCEED the actual software investment. In fact, the conditions for launch and ‘go live’ could easily triple it (and will probably take at least a year to implement)! So if your software estimate is quoted at $100k – budget $200-300k for the full investment.

Plan the Integrations Just as Carefully

It’s no coincidence that Apple devices work with Apple Operating systems, software, apps, even charging devices – it makes cross device platforms perform seamlessly regardless of the hosting device. Think of your ERP system that way.

Will you need additional software for business intelligence / cloud sharing / financial / customer management? Can you keep these additions in the software publisher “family?”

Also, what systems will your ERP software need to share data with? Is there bi-lateral communication, eliminating dual entries or data uploading? Do your platforms truly connect – or is there a clunky API doing the patching? Do your homework!

Think BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)

What do you need to take your company to the level you’ve dreamed of? Do you need to modernize your total IT infrastructure?

If you’re replacing or purchasing a new ERP solution, is it time to also add a CRM or HRMS system that will grow along with your company’s goals? Can you afford to unite Operations, HR, and Sales/Marketing in a compatible, universal software solution suite (can you afford NOT to)?

Lastly, consider the “maturity” of the product offerings. Like Gartner’s “post-modern” ERP example, is the software publisher stable, yet innovative? We think the Sage X3 solution is!

Sage X3 – “Not” ERP!

Sage has calculatedly and dramatically dropped the “ERP” from the Sage X3 product name last year (we wrote about it here). In a truncated explanation, Sage wanted to distance itself from the negative connotations associated with rocket-launchERP, and rightly so. Sage is not targeting the Fortune 50 companies that need software the size of Central Park. The vision is to corner the mid-market sized company that wants agility, speed, intuitiveness, and a reasonable price point.

The New Kid on the Block

Sage X3 is an “enterprise business management software suite” that could be considered the post-post-modern ERP. Newer to the American market, X3 has been extremely well received in Europe (the dev team is in Ireland). Considering that most legacy systems were written 15-20 years ago, X3 is agile with a super-friendly GUI (graphical user interface) and UX (user experience).

Sage X3 Is:

  • Web-based and browser agnostic
  • Mobile
  • On-premise and as a Service
  • Deployable in FOUR MONTHS
  • Customizable and easy to learn
  • Multi-currency, multi-language
  • Interfaces seamlessly with CRM, WMS, and e-commerce

Call Adam Melrose at 480-423-8300 to begin the conversation of whether Sage X3 is right for your company.

More reading:

http://www.projectmanagementwatch.com/2013/05/11/advantages-of-using-crm-erp-system-for-resource-planning/

http://www.erpnews.com/3-impotant-questions-for-new-erp-software/

 



Meet Ruth Stockdale: User, Consultant, and LAI Newbie (again)ruth-stockdale

Ruth is LAI’s newest employee, but one of our oldest and dearest friends! Ruth was formerly a consultant with Ledgerwood’s previous iterations (Creative Ware and in Australia). Most recently, Ruth was the Controller at Tucson Plumbing & Heating for nine years, and now joins LAI as the Director of Professional Services.

Because Ruth’s experience is so unique as a previous consultant, a client/end-user, and now the head of LAI’s Professional Services Group, we thought it would be fun to “interview” her!

Q: What feature(s) or function(s) in Sage 300CRE would you advise LAI consultants to share with clients — as in a shortcut or tip they don’t know, but a power user might have figured out because of a business need or problem?

A: Users should take an inventory of their Excel spreadsheets. Excel can be a powerful add-on for some things, but inefficient and redundant for others.  Data from Sage applications can easily feed into an Excel sheet if that is needed using an export or Office Connector. (At a minimum no one should be re-keying data manually.) On the other hand, many spreadsheets can be replaced by reports coming directly from Sage data.  It is also possible to create a Crystal report to run from Sage data and external data for analysis. I am a strong proponent of looking for the best tool for each problem—not assuming a favorite tool will always be the best.

I also advise looking at their normal Accounting procedures to see what has not been streamlined yet with Sage. Many users implement the software and get the basics in place, but don’t have the opportunity to add to or improve it. It can be good to look at what steps take time or cause frustration. One example is Financial Statement groups and/or macros. If someone is manually selecting the same multiple reports each month, they can save a lot of time this way. And it is easy to learn how to set up the groups or macros.

A third area to look at is the unused and custom field possibilities in each application. This relates to both the previous topics. Instead of storing data outside of Sage in Excel, perhaps the same information can be set up in a miscellaneous or custom field. That way it is stored in secured files and can be accessed with Inquiries and Reports.

retro-microphoneQ: As a recent user, how often did you upgrade your Sage software? Why?

A: We upgraded for year-end, of course. But for other version changes we tended to wait. We did not have the appropriate staff resources to manage a transition if there were issues, or if there were new features to be used.  In my previous work as a consultant, however, I did work with users who wanted to be early adopters. They had the resources and the desire to test and enjoyed the opportunity to possibly influence the outcome.

Q: Have you attended Sage Summit?

A: I did not attend Sage Summit as a user. (And it did not exist when I was still consulting.) Most users are looking for a different focus on educational content.  If I had been looking at alternative products from the world of Sage, I would have gone. It has information about all of them.

Q: Did you attend the TUG conferences?

A: I attended and volunteered at several TUG conferences. They offer focused content for Sage 300 CRE, Sage Estimating and have now added Sage 100.  Their workshops are led by users and consultants, with a wide range of subjects and sessions that go into great depth.  TUG has been around for a long time with different leadership models over the years. The last several conferences have been excellent and well attended. This year’s conference is in Phoenix, so for local users it is an excellent opportunity to check it out.


Join Ruth and LAI at TUG in Phoenix this year!

Sessions and Rooms are Filling Fast  — Register to Secure Yours TODAY!

While sessions are filling up quickly for the 2016 TUG National Users Conference on May 17-20 at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa in Chandler (Phoenix), Arizona, with more than 200 different sessions to choose from, there’s still plenty of opportunities to build an agenda to fit your specific role and experience level.  Join your peers for this incredible learning opportunity – register today!

TUG Conference Banner

Customized Education to Meet Your Needs

TUG invites you to join them for 4 value-packed days offering the opportunity to:

  • Choose from 200+ live sessions (more than 50% hands-on labs)
  • Learn real-world solutions from fellow users and subject matter experts
  • Hear directly from and interact with Sage product representatives
  • Explore leading products and services that enhance your software
  • Earn up to 26 continuing professional education (CPE) credits

Connect, Build a Support Network and Have FUN

This year’s conference will feature plenty of opportunities to connect with fellow software users and build a support network to tap into throughout the year all in a fun and friendly environment!

  • First-Time Attendee Mixer
  • Opening Reception in the Exhibit Hall
  • Networking-focused breakfasts, lunches and breaks
  • Annual TUG Party

Please visit www.TUGconference.com for more details and to register today! *Rooms are also filling up quickly.  Once you’ve registered for the conference, be sure to reserve your hotel accommodations.

 

 We want to TUG you out to the ballgame!

Speaking of Baseball…

Do you love to hate the Yankees (or are you a real fan)? Join Ledgerwood for a Diamondbacks game in a private suite at Chase Field in beautiful, downtown Phoenix.

Lucky winners will be bussed to and from the Sheraton on Wednesday evening, May 18th!

Click here to enter a raffle for a PAIR of tickets to the game!

Winners will be chosen and notified a week before the game.

**For TUG attendees only.



Outgrown the Baby Shoes?baby-shoes

When Quickbooks is Not Enough!

Coming to Tucson: Free Sage 100 Lunch & Learn

Do you find yourself inputting estimating, tracking, and billing jobs into Excel and then re-entering the information in your Accounting system?

Do you miss billing any change orders because they come too fast and furious? Have you outgrown your out-of-the-box, baby-steps system? Join LAI’s Mark Jensen as he expertly shows you the difference when your construction software is based on the JOB!

FREE Lunch and Learn – “What do I do when Quickbooks is not enough?”

April 21, from 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. | Limited space!
Olive Garden – 5410 East Broadway Blvd., Tucson

register-here-button

 

 


 Follow LAI on Social Media for immediate construction and technology news!

Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn LAI Page |  LAI Sage 300 CRE Users Group

 


Upcoming LAI Online Training and Networking Events:

Sep
12
Wed
Timberscan Paperless A/P Webinar @ GoToWebinar
Sep 12 @ 8:00 am – 9:00 am

Paperless Approval for Sage 300 CRE

TimberScan_Horizontal_LogoTimberscan is the ONLY Enterprise Content Management (ECM) System designed specifically for Sage 300 CRE (formerly Timberline)!

Join us for a live online webinar and learn how you can automate and simplify your A/P approval process.  Here’s an example of what construction companies are saying about Timberscan:

It streamlines the invoice approval process, and ensures proper coding of all invoices, eliminates lost invoices, and improves payment terms.

Tom – Model Group

This session will show you how your company can benefit from a highly automated paper-free approval system that is easy to use and designed specifically for Sage 300 CRE.


Oops! Payroll is Posted to the Wrong Accounting Period

Submitted by Walt Mathieson, Certified Sage 100 Consultant

Mistakes Happen

Pay dates on or shortly after the beginning of a month can present a challenge.  Too often, I get calls from clients that posted an entire payroll dated on the first of a month back to the previous month, usually because they fail tomistakes-happen check the rather small accounting period button on the 5-2-6 Post Payroll to GL screen before pushing the Post Payroll button.  Despite regular admonishment to always post payroll to the period in which the checks are dated, mistakes happen. How do we fix them?

Copy, Void, Paste

If the payroll was posted in detail (rather than in Summary) and the number of payroll records is not too great, I usually recommend a “copy, void, paste” process:

  1. First, print out a payroll check register for the misposted payroll.
  2. Then, for each misposted 5-2-2 payroll record:
    • Click on the copy button to save the header and timecard data to a program copy buffer
    • Go to the calculations tab, highlight all the rows of the calculations grid, right click and select copy to save the calculations lines to the Windows clipboard (as the save button does not capture the calculations grid)
    • Click on the scissors button to void the misposted payroll record and say yes to void the related job cost and ledger transaction records
    • When the empty record is displayed after the voiding, click on the paste button to paste record header and timecard lines to a new record
    • Click on the calculations tab and with the curser in the top left cell of that grid, right click and select Paste to copy the calculations from the Windows clipboard, and enter “Y” in the Override column for each line so that nothing changes from the original record
    • Save this new record and locate the next record to correct.
  3. When each payroll record has been corrected, trial compute the copied and pasted records, compare the records to the original payroll check register, and if everything agrees, final compute the payroll records and carefully post these new records to the general ledger in the correct accounting period.

It’s been suggested that I’m a cruel person to suggest such a tedious task, but there is the sneaking suspicion that such painful work to correct a problem may help that person pay better attention the next time.

If the payroll has too many records to make this a reasonable exercise, ask your Certified Consultant to help you with queries and MS Excel to summarize the general ledger and job cost entries of the misposted payroll to use in a journal entry to reverse the entire payroll from the wrong accounting period and reenter it in the correct accounting period.

Current Version Information

On February 18, 2016, Sage released Sage 100 Contractor Version 19.7.52.  This update includes all payroll tax table revisions known to date, and more importantly, fixes a problem created in version 19.7.43 with the Reconcile Credit Card Statement function.  I strongly encourage users to consider installing this update.

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

Email Walt at walt@mathiesonconsulting.com.

Month End Best Practices

Submitted by Kyle Zeigler, Sage Senior Certified Consultant

Even in organizations that have used Sage 300 CRE for many years, we find that shortcuts are taken and procedures skipped during month-end processing.  Omitting what may seem to be non-critical steps can lead to huge end-of-monthheadaches later on. To lower the risk of major issues with your software and inaccuracy in financial reporting, we recommend you perform the month-end tasks for each application in the following order:

Accounts Payable

  • Post invoices and verify that all invoices are posted
  • Print checks
  • Record manual checks
  • Print month-end reports
  • Reconcile with General Ledger
  • Back up data files (using File Tools)

Payroll

  • Post checks and verify that all printed checks are posted
  • Print month-end reports
  • Reconcile with General Ledger
  • Make any necessary corrections
  • Back up data files (using File Tools)
  • Close month

Billing

  • Create invoices
  • Post invoices and verify that all printed invoices are posted
  • Accounts Receivable
  • Post invoices
  • Print month-end reports
  • Reconcile with General Ledger
  • Make any necessary corrections
  • Back up data files (using File Tools)

Contracts

  • Post entries and verify that all are posted
  • Print month-end reports
  • Back up data files (using File Tools)
  • Close month

Equipment Cost

  • Post entries and verify that all entries are posted
  • Print month-end reports
  • Reconcile with General Ledger
  • Make any necessary corrections
  • Back up data files (using File Tools)
  • Close month

Job Cost

  • Post entries and verify that all entries are posted
  • Print month-end reports
  • Reconcile with General Ledger
  • Make any necessary corrections
  • Back up data files (using File Tools)
  • Close month

Property Management

  • Post entries and verify that all entries are posted
  • Print month-end reports
  • Reconcile with General Ledger
  • Make necessary corrections
  • Back up data files (using File Tools)
  • Close current period

Cash Management

  • Post entries and verify that all entries are posted
  • Reconcile to your bank statement
  • Print month-end reports
  • Back up data files (using File Tools)

General Ledger

  • Post entries and verify that all entries are posted
  • Print month-end reports
  • Reconcile with Accounts Payable, Cash Management, Job Cost, Equipment Cost, and Payroll
  • Make any necessary corrections
  • Back up data files (using File Tools)
  • Reprint month-end reports if corrections were made
  • Close current period

If you aren’t sure what reports to run, have unposted transactions that you don’t know how to correct, encounter difficulty reconciling with General Ledger, or have other concerns or issues related to month-end processing, one of our skilled consultants at Ledgerwood Associates would be happy to assist you. Call us at 480-423-8300, and ask for Carolyn!

 


Stay on Top of Your Business Credit

Submitted by Bryan Eto, CPA

Why You Need a Good Business Credit Scoremoney-ladder

These days, anyone looking to form a new business relationship — especially one that involves credit — is wise to check out the risk involved first. After all, we know that even giant companies that once seemed untouchable, like Lehman Brothers and General Motors, may be teetering on too narrow a pedestal.

With that in mind, various parties might be checking out your company’s credit rating to determine whether they want to do business with you. That’s why, just as with your personal credit report, you need to be on top of what is in your business credit file.

If your company is in good standing, is free of legal hassles and has a good reputation, your credit file has the power to work for you. A good business credit score can:

  • Lead to lower financing costs on loans and credit cards.
  • Enable you to qualify for better credit terms from suppliers.
  • Lower your insurance premiums.

Of course, this pendulum swings both ways. Negative information, even if it’s false, can leave your company with higher interest rates, lower credit limits and elevated insurance premiums, plus a loss of revenue if customers decide not to take a chance doing business with you.

Does Every Business Have a Credit Score?

No. Many small businesses are judged by the personal credit score of the owner. That often happens when a sole proprietor pays business bills out of a personal checking account. Since business credit reporting agencies do gather information from sources like the Yellow Pages, there might be a bare bones record. And, if there are any recent legal judgments or pending lawsuits, these may show up and raise red flags for anyone who inquires about your business.

How Do You Find Out if Your Company Has a Business Credit File?

Pick up the phone, call Dunn and Bradstreet or Experian, or another agency that deals in business credit reporting and ask. It’s that simple.

Suppose you find out that your company doesn’t have a credit file. Here’s a checklist from Dunn and Bradstreet to help you get started.

Establish Your Credit File

Step 1. Call D&B to request a DUNS number. That is a unique nine digit number assigned by D&B and widely recognized as a means of checking out your business. Companies that want to work with you might ask you for your DUNS number the same way a lender might ask for your Social Security number when you apply for a personal loan. The D&B database includes over 140 million businesses worldwide. By getting a DUNS number, your business becomes part of that searchable database.

Step 2. Open a commercial bank account in your business name.

Step 3. Transfer at least a couple business expenses — such as phone and Internet bills — into your business name and pay those bills out of your commercial account. Obviously, you want a spotless record for on-time payment. This generates positive feedback that populates a business credit file.

Step 4. Over time, transfer more business expenses into your business name and pay for them out of the commercial account. A good policy might be to transfer a few accounts each month. Just don’t get overextended and end up with black marks on accounts that bear your business name.

Step 5. Other than bill paying records, your business credit file will eventually include information gleaned from public and private records, such as how long you’ve been operating, contact details, parent-subsidiary relationships, affiliations, number of employees, etc.

Step 6. Update and monitor your credit file regularly. Some credit agencies have a do-it-yourself update system that you can use to keep a close eye on the information that shows up, add data and correct errors.
When checking your record for accuracy, also look to see what isn’t there. Your company may have a supplier or vendor with whom you’ve developed an impeccable payment history, but that information doesn’t show up in your credit history.

You can call the credit agency and provide them with the data. You can also contact the supplier or vendor, give them your DUNS number and ask them to report your credit. If you’re a good customer, the supplier or vendor will probably honor your request.

What if You Discover That Your Business Has a Bad Reputation?

Even if the negative information is inaccurate, it can keep others from doing business with you. That’s why periodic monitoring of your credit file entries is vital. If you find inaccuracies, call the credit agency and provide correct information. Negative entries that are more than two years old probably won’t show up on your business credit report.

Just as with personal credit, the most important thing to get back on track is to pay bills on time. So beware of overextending your business commitments. Get, and keep, payments into the manageable category. If the problem is cash flow, get it under control by vetting credit customers more thoroughly. Use the same credit reporting agency that others use to check out your business when deciding whether or not to extend credit.

Beach Fleischman 2201 E. Camelback Rd. Phoenix, AZ 85016 602.265.7011 | http://beachfleischman.com

Standard versus Extended — Sage Estimating

by Joanie Hollabaugh

What’s the Big Diff?

While Sage’s Standard and Extended versions share more similarities than not, there are a few core functionalities that are quite different when you peel back the skin. For example:

  • Standard Estimating allows for only one user-defined WBS (work breakdown structure) code, and Extended allows for up to 40 user-defined WBS codes. That is a critical differentiator if you need that type of complexity and flexibility in your estimates!
  • Another distinction between versions is if you do estimating projects that need imperial/metric conversion or vice versa. You can always do that outside of the software, but why create extra work, expense, and increase the opportunities for error?

Want more examples in job situations? Email Tony Merry for a free demo!