April 2018 Newsletter
What we’re talking about in April:
- YAY – it’s finally Spring! Time to put on some Ella Fitzgerald and SING!
- Why ‘doing more with less’ is a net loss – Guest post by Steve Mason
- The right time to upgrade to Estimating SQL
- TimberScan paperless approval webinar for Sage 300 CRE
- Jump on the TUG boat! 2018 Conference is in FL this May
- Awesome ‘Tips and Tricks’ for Sage 300 CRE | Sage 100 CON | Sage Estimating
So, I asked him a simple question…
by Joanie Hollabaugh, Sr. Director of Marketing
I had the opportunity this week to sit down with long-time LAI client and all around good guy, Steve Mason. Steve is the CFO at Old World Communities, has spearheaded the WP Carey School of Accountancy-Community Outreach-Student Apprenticeship Program, and is very active with the IMA and AFWA.
Plus, he has crazy-good Sage 300 CRE skills (yes, he still calls it Timberline)!
I asked him why more people don’t attend more LAI training events. The following is scripted from our interview; it was a circuitous gift of time. – JH
The Great Myth of ‘Doing More with Less!”
by Steve Mason (edited by JH)
In networking conversations I’ve had over the years with industry peers (CFOs, Controllers, and Accountants), the recurring consensus is that we have been constantly pressured to “do more with less.” We have more and more tasks being loaded on us, and the consequence of this demand is that the role of the financial professional is expanding almost exponentially!
While ownership and top management have been encouraging employees to “do more with less” (a fine and worthy endeavor in concept), it eventually becomes a losing game.
As we do the ‘more’ with the ‘less,’ their expectations rise to loading us with additional ‘more.’ And they expect us to accomplish this with even less ‘less’. After all, we were successful in our initial attempts — so they push it to see how efficient we can become.
What happens is that the ‘mores’ become a revolving set of crises as we attempt to juggle priorities. By the time we put out the biggest fires, it takes even more effort to prevent future fires. Stress ensues; we have no time for thoughtful analysis, additional training, or efficient flow-through of workloads. It’s no wonder staffs are disheartened, tired, and searching for better employment! Ultimately, we have a shortage of accounting talent, as the talent continually searches for a far better and healthier work-life balance. Loyalty to employers has consequently suffered.
Our role in the future
The role of accountants, CFO’s, Controllers, and Vice Presidents of Finance are expanding more into operations and operational metrics and analysis mostly attributed to construction technology and software innovation.
We are now expected to contribute to efforts in operations controls, forecasting, and operational metrics. We are also expected to seek out and understand critical success factors — and then track and report those data sets with wonderful software like Timberline, etc.
Some of these other software capabilities are now able to capture and quantify the dynamics that make commerce more effective and expansive. In doing these new duties it obviously takes more time away from some of the basics of our normal accounting duties. The effect, again, is that we really have a stretch on time resources.
The gift of time
Years ago, I developed a concept I call “the gift of time.” That is my personal philosophy regarding people I work for and with, and how I wish them to work with me. Essentially it is, “I won’t waste your time, please don’t waste mine!”
I believe our roles as accountants, within each of our areas of influence, has been expanded faster than we can grasp!
When it gets down to priorities, we are constantly shifting more and more priorities faster. This whole dynamic of do more with less is a net loss ultimately. Why? Because top management thinks, if we can do more with less well then lets load some more on and see how far we can squeeze it. And believe me, we have been squeezed to the ultimate.
What gives when time is stretched to the max?
When time resources are depleted, something has to go. Unfortunately, training and peer-to-peer networking events are some of those “extras” that are not deemed a priority.
Bring back the live events!
Many companies shifted to online training (webinars) as an alternative from allowing staff to be offsite, as another ‘more with less’ strategy. This too, has consequences.
What I’ve witnessed when I personally do live presentations, is a freer flow of information back-and-forth between attendees that is much more open and conversive. That dynamic is very hard to recreate in webinars. In webinars, I don’t experience that same level of interaction and collaboration among the people who are attending a live event. Often in live events, ‘organic’ questions, and discussions that are unanticipated take off in totally new directions!
And that’s a gift of time.
Perfect time to upgrade to Sage Estimating SQL
Sage issued a final compatibility release on December 14, 2017 for the Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate v17.1 year-end update. Sage will no longer provide updates or upgrades for Sage Estimating (Pervasive).
In addition, Sage is unable to sell or replace Sentinel® USB devices after September 30, 2018. This means that you will not be able to acquire additional licenses for Estimating (Pervasive) or for Estimating (SQL) versions earlier than version 17.11.
Note: If you use Estimating (SQL) version 17.11, or later, you are not affected by this change.
Translation: we’re SQL now
No, Sage is NOT retiring their Estimating solution. They are just ‘modernizing’ the server and won’t support both versions. This is actually good news, because most clients prefer SQL to Pervasive; the bad news is, they are forcing you to upgrade if you want to continue getting updates and upgrades, or additional licenses.
Want to get current?
Have you met Shane Thurston yet? LAI hired him nearly a year ago to take on the Estimating solution. Shane is well-rounded in the construction industry working as a Project Engineer/Subcontract Manager, a Field Engineer (Environmental), and Controller for Kraemer North America. (He’s also a NCAA Men’s College basketball referee!)
Click the button below to shoot him (get it?) an email for a stress-free quote on an Estimating upgrade:
Paperless Approval System for Sage 300 CRE
A TimberScan Webinar
Timberscan 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.
Please join my meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone.
You can also dial in using your phone.
United States: +1 (805) 309-0012
Access Code: 613-783-752
Joining from a video-conferencing room or system?
Cisco devices: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jump aboard the ‘TUG’ boat!
If you don’t know about TUG — The Users Group for Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate, Sage 100 Contractor & Sage Estimating — you are missing THE ultimate informational resource for your Sage software and opportunity to network with other users.
Founded in 1987 to bring together those who use these software applications for the construction and real estate industry, TUG is a membership-based, volunteer-led, and professionally managed not-for-profit organization.
An annual membership gives you access to conferences, newsletters, web forum and a weekly “TUG Tip of the Week” — all driven by users.
LAI and TUG
Ledgerwood has always supported TUG and its mission:
To connect members with others who use the software on a daily basis so that they can educate each other and exchange knowledge to find real-world solutions.
In recent years, LAI’s Sage Certified consultants have presented and assisted at several National and Regional Conferences. This year, Pam Schulz (Sage 100 CON), Kyle Ziegler (Sage 300 CRE) and Ruth Stockdale (Sage 300 CRE) will be presenting and assisting at the 2018 Conference in Orlando, FL.
Registration for the conference just opened this month! Take a look at the conference information by clicking below, and while you’re visiting the site, consider joining or renewing your membership.
Follow LAI on Social Media for current construction and technology news!
Check out the LAI You Tube channel – recordings of past webinars and training classes!
Upcoming LAI Online Training and Networking Events:
The New Tax Law and Rental Real Estate
Submitted by Bryan Eto, CPA BeachFleischman
Do you own residential or commercial rental real estate? The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) brings several important changes that owners of rental properties should understand.
In general, rental property owners will enjoy lower ordinary income tax rates and other favorable changes to the tax brackets for 2018 through 2025. In addition, the new tax law retains the existing tax rates for long-term capital gains. (See “Close-Up on Tax Rates” in the right-hand box.)
Consistent with prior law, you can still deduct mortgage interest and state and local real estate taxes on rental properties. While the TCJA imposes new limitations on deducting personal residence mortgage interest and state and local taxes (including property taxes on personal residences), those limitations do not apply to rental properties, unless you also use the property for personal purposes. In that case, the new limitations could apply to mortgage interest and real estate taxes that are allocable to your personal use.
In addition, you can still write off all the other standard operating expenses for rental properties. Examples include depreciation, utilities, insurance, repairs and maintenance, yard care and association fees.
Possible deduction for pass-through entities
For 2018 and beyond, the TCJA establishes a new deduction based on a noncorporate owner’s qualified business income (QBI) from a pass-through business entity — meaning a sole proprietorship, a limited liability company (LLC) treated as a sole proprietorship for tax purposes, a partnership, an LLC treated as a partnership for tax purposes, or an S corporation. The deduction generally equals 20% of QBI, subject to restrictions that can apply at higher income levels.
While it isn’t entirely clear at this point, the new QBI deduction is apparently available to offset net income from a profitable rental real estate activity that you own through a pass-through entity. The unanswered question is: Does rental real estate activity count as a business for purposes of the QBI deduction?
According to one definition, a real property business includes any real property rental, development, redevelopment, construction, reconstruction, acquisition, conversion, operation, management, leasing or brokerage business.
Liberalized Section 179 Deduction Rules
For qualifying property placed in service in tax years beginning after December 31, 2017, the TCJA increases the maximum Section 179 deduction to $1 million (up from $510,000 for tax years beginning in 2017). Sec. 179 allows you to deduct the entire cost of eligible property in the first year it is placed into service.
For real estate owners, eligible property includes improvements to an interior portion of a nonresidential building if the improvements are placed in service after the date the building was placed in service. The TCJA also expands the definition of eligible property to include the expenditures for nonresidential buildings:
- HVAC equipment,
- Fire protection and alarm systems, and
- Security systems.
Finally, the new law expands the definition of eligible property to include depreciable tangible personal property used predominantly to furnish lodging. Examples of such property include:
- Beds and other furniture,
- Appliances, and
- Other equipment used in the living quarters of a lodging facility, such as an apartment house, dormitory, or other facility where sleeping accommodations are provided and rented out.
Important: Sec. 179 deductions can’t create or increase an overall tax loss from business activities. So, you need plenty of positive business taxable income to take full advantage of this break.
Expanded Bonus Depreciation Deductions
For qualified property placed in service between September 28, 2017, and December 31, 2022, the TCJA increases the first-year bonus depreciation percentage to 100% (up from 50%). The 100% deduction is allowed for both new and used qualified property.
For this purpose, qualified property includes qualified improvement property, meaning:
- Qualified leasehold improvement property,
- Qualified restaurant property, and
- Qualified retail improvement property.
These types of property are eligible for 15-year straight-line depreciation and are, therefore, also eligible for the alternative of 100% first-year bonus depreciation.
New Loss Disallowance Rule
If your rental property generates a tax loss — and most properties do, at least during the early years — things get complicated. The passive activity loss (PAL) rules will usually apply.
In general, the PAL rules only allow you to deduct passive losses to the extent you have passive income from other sources, such as positive income from other rental properties or gains from selling them. Passive losses in excess of passive income are suspended until you 1) have sufficient passive income or gains, or 2) sell the property or properties that produced the losses.
To complicate matters further, the TCJA establishes another hurdle for you to pass beyond the PAL rules: For tax years beginning in 2018 through 2025, you can’t deduct an excess business loss in the current year. An excess business loss is the excess of your aggregate business deductions for the tax year over the sum of:
- Your aggregate business income and gains for the tax year, plus
- $250,000 or $500,000 if you are a married joint-filer.
The excess business loss is carried over to the following tax year and can be deducted under the rules for net operating loss (NOL) carryforwards.
Important: This new loss deduction rule applies after applying the PAL rules. So, if the PAL rules disallow your rental real estate loss, you don’t get to the new loss limitation rule.
The idea behind this new loss limitation rule is to further restrict the ability of individual taxpayers to use current-year business losses (including losses from rental real estate) to offset income from other sources (such as salary, self-employment income, interest, dividends and capital gains). The practical result is that the taxpayer’s allowable current-year business losses (after considering the PAL rules) can’t offset more than $250,000 of income from such other sources or more than $500,000 for a married joint-filing couple.
The TCJA still allows real estate owners to sell appreciated properties while deferring the federal income hit indefinitely by making like-kind exchanges under Section 1031. With a like-kind exchange, you swap the property you want to unload for another property (the replacement property). You’re allowed to put off paying taxes until you sell the replacement property — or you can arrange yet another like-kind exchange and continue deferring taxes.
Important: For 2018 and beyond, the TCJA eliminates tax-deferred like-kind exchange treatment for exchanges of personal property. However, prior-law rules that allow like-kind exchanges of personal property still apply if one leg of a personal property exchange was completed as of December 31, 2017, but one leg remained open on that date.
The new tax law includes several expanded breaks for real estate owners and one important negative change (the new loss limitation rule). At this point, how to apply the TCJA changes to real-world situations isn’t always clear, based solely on the language of the new law.
In the coming months, the IRS is expected to publish additional guidance on the details and uncertainties. Your tax advisor can keep you up to date on developments
Beach Fleischman 2201 E. Camelback Rd. Phoenix, AZ 85016 | 602.265.7011 | http://beachfleischman.com | twitter: @BeachFleischman
Knowing the ‘When’ of Job Costs
by Pam Schulz, Sage Certified Consultant
Knowing WHEN to expect the elements of Job Costs to be on a report is a key financial strategy. Using the Committed Cost Report – Landscape Form (report 6-1-2-31) below as a guide, the most common elements of many Job Cost reports are explained.
One of the best Job Cost Reports in Sage 100 Contractor is the Committed Cost Report. What makes this report better than others? With many Job Cost reports, the information is limited to POSTED Job Costs. This means that the state of the job can change drastically depending on what invoices come in the mail and happen to be posted, rather than information that is updated based on what has actually been spent or committed.
Posted costs versus committed costs
What is the difference between posted costs and committed costs? By the end of the job they will be one and the same, but during the job, it is all about the timing:
- Posted Costs are costs that are already “posted” in Sage 100 Contractor through Payable Invoices, Inventory Allocation, or any other Job Costed accounting entry.
- Committed Costs are costs that almost certainly will be spent and are “Committed” through Purchase Orders, Subcontracts and Accrued Labor. No accounting entry has taken place yet; the costs are not posted. Being aware of committed costs provides information that is up-to-date.
There are three columns in the report above that provide the committed costs information:
- Committed Contracts
- Purchase Orders
- Accrued Labor
These, added to the Cost to Date (the posted job costs) are then compared with the Job Budget to have a current view of the actual remaining costs, after all commitments are satisfied.
In the report above, the Committed Costs are:
- Committed Contracts — the remaining amount of the Subcontract. As amounts are billed against the Subcontract, they “move” into the Cost to Date column. So in this column you see what you are still committed to pay as soon as you commit the money.
- Purchase Orders — like the Subcontract amounts above, this represents the remaining amount of the Subcontract.
- Accrued Labor — if you complete time daily in the “Daily Payroll Screen (5-5-1),” the accrued labor can be added to the up-to-date information available. When the report is run, a popup allows for an estimated “Labor Burden” to be entered, so a close approximation of the Labor spent can be available every day.
Each of the Committed Cost information sources are useful modules for a host of other reasons.
Purchase Orders and Subcontracts provide valuable control features in addition to the Committed Cost information above.
Daily time entry means less rush on payroll day. And the field time entry options have made this even easier.
There is one more column that has a “WHEN” to be addressed:
In Sage, the Job Budget columns in reports are generally derived from the following:
- Original Budget (screen 6-2) + APPROVED Change Order Budgets (screen 6-4-1; Budget details)
Note that only approved Change Orders are included. Also, the period in which a Change Order is approved will affect when it appears in some of the job cost reports. (Example 6-8-1: Bonding report, since it is period sensitive.)
So, how does all of this tie into the when of all of the Job Cost report, not just the “Committed Cost” report?
In general, the following apply:
- Budgets — Original Budget + Approved Changes. Some reports are period sensitive regarding the Approval Period for the Change Order.
- Cost to date — these are costs that have been posted (through an accounting entry)
- Committed costs — Open POs and Subcontracts + Accrued Labor.
The ‘when’ benefits
To get the best reports, use the following steps. By the way, you will discover shortly that each of these actions have more benefits than just better reports:
- Enter Job Budgets (screen 6-2)
- Use Change Orders (screen 6-4-1)
- Implement Purchase Orders (screen 6-6-1) and/or Subcontracts (screen 6-7-1)
- Enter Daily Payroll (screen 5-5-1) — use a field time entry system to save even more time.
The benefits of more up-to-date information, added to the additional control and timesaving of each of these actions are immense. Each one only takes a short time to learn; your time will be repaid very quickly.
Without all the Job Cost elements above, you are risking flying blindly. Get the greatest visibility by knowing the “WHEN” of the information you are viewing.
Want help with your committed cost report? Use the form below to request an appointment with a consultant.
Automatically Print Journals to File in Sage 300 CRE
by Kyle Zeigler, Sage Senior Certified Consultant
Your Sage 300 CRE software LOVES to produce printed journals. When you click the Finish button in any accounting module Task, you are presented with a Print Selection window. This window lets you not only specify a printer, but also gives you the option to print the journal to a file. If you mark the checkbox to “Print to file,” the next window that will appear will prompt you for a destination and name for the file.
Why bother with printed journals?
Some Sage 300 CRE users print all of their journals to a junk file and never even glance at them. However, these journals contain valuable information about what just took place in your system (think audit trail), including information about posting issues and error messages. Journals are one of the first things to review when troubleshooting an issue, so we strongly encourage you to preserve your journals!
Other Sage 300 CRE users will print their journals to paper so that they can be reviewed, and then they will either toss them or file them in binders for documentation. Either way, printed paper is vulnerable, and digital storage of important documents is now the norm for risk-adverse organizations. Besides, does anyone really want to store all of those binders that just seem to take up space and serve no real long-term purpose?
For those Sage 300 CRE users who mark the checkbox to print their journals to file and then select a destination and name for the file, we applaud you! Now we want to take you one step further to automate that process, provide you with a systematic way to store those journals digitally, prevent files from being accidentally overwritten, and create an audit trail of all the activity that takes place in your software!
Setting up the folder structure and file naming convention:
- Use Common Tasks > Tools > Options > Journals
- Mark the checkbox to Automatically print journal to file
- Select the Journal Folder structure. The folders and subfolders will be automatically created by the system as journal printouts are created.
- Select the Journal File naming convention. The files will be automatically named as the journal printouts are created. To create the best audit trail using journal printouts, always include the following in your Journal Folder and Journal File selections so that journals file will never be overwritten:
- Use Windows Explorer to navigate to the network location where your Sage 300 CRE data is stored. This could be \\[your servername]\Timberline Office\Data. In that location, create a folder named Printouts, Print Files, or whatever you prefer. If you have multiple Sage 300 CRE company folders for which printouts are produced, create a subfolder for each of the companies. Be sure to create the main printouts folder outside of any company data folder so that only actual data files are stored in the company folder. This helps facilitate the File Tools backup process.
- In each of your company folders, use Common Tasks > File > Company Settings > File Locations to point your Sage 300 CRE system to the Printouts folder to be used for storing the journals. You’ll need to do this in each of your company folders if you have more than one.
- Be sure to use a UNC path and not a mapped drive when assigning File Locations! Mapped drives are not well-supported in your Sage 300 CRE software. A UNC path will always begin with \\[your servername]. Check with your IT provider if you need help determining the correct path to enter.
The end result:
Once the setup is complete, you no longer will be prompted with a Print Selection window. The journals will automatically print to a file with the naming convention and folder structure you selected.
We still recommend that you review your journals for posting issues and error messages, so use Common Tasks > File > Printouts to locate the journal and print preview. And if you just can’t help yourself, you can still print the journal to paper – just keep the digital copies of your journals as well.
If you would like assistance setting up automated journal printing in your system, or with any other Sage 300 CRE issue, please contact Ledgerwood Associates.
Need help? Call us to schedule a Sage Certified consultant today!
What are the Collation Settings for version 17.13?
by Renee Mullen, Sage Marketing Manager
Looking to install Sage Estimating SQL to a full version of Microsoft SQL but need to know the exact Collation Settings for your new SQL Instance?
Good news, we will be covering this today in this article. The Collation Settings are incredibly important to the way that your SQL Server will function and operate during your daily workflow. This is certainly something you will likely want your IT professional involved in to ensure that it is setup correctly the first time.
Collation settings must be Latin1_General, case-sensitive, and accent-sensitive (Latin1_General_CS_AS).
You can customize the collation settings during the server configuration portion of the SQL Server install. In the SQL Server collation customization window, make the following selections:
- Select the Windows collation designator and sort order option (instead of SQL collation, which is the default)
- Latin1_General (for the collation designator)
- Clear all other options
If you have made a mistake and accidentally set the collation, the best way is to install a new database instance with the correct collation settings.
There we have it! So long as your new Microsoft SQL Instance’s are setup with the correct Collation Settings you should be good to start migrating or restoring your data then you will be on your way to working in Sage Estimating SQL.
Questions? Chat with Sage Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m.–8 p.m. ET.
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