August 2017 Newsletter

What we’re talking about in August:

  • It’s raining summer specials from Sage!
  • We’re opening the Estimating kimono! What??!
  • Kyle Z. previews the changes in Sage 300 CRE V.16.1 – FREE online presentation
  • Warming up for Year End – 4 things to do NOW
  • Great tips on budgeting best practices from True Sky
  • Webinar: Quickbooks CAN’T but Sage 100 Contractor CAN!
  • Awesome ‘Tips and Tricks’ for Sage 300 CRE | Sage 100 CON | Sage Estimating

 


It’s raining summer savings!

“Summertime, and the livin’ is easy.”

Sage is making your life easy with so MANY ways to purchase new, add on, switch, and finance right now!

B2G1 Free – Add Users/Modules

THE DETAILS: Purchase any two Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate, Sage 100 Contractor or Sage Estimating modules or user licenses by 9/29/2017 and get the third module or user license of equal or lesser value, for free!

Discount only applies to additional Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate, Sage 100 Contractor or Sage Estimating modules or user licenses, not to be combined with other offers or promotions.

Don’t miss out!! Now is the time to add additional uses of:  AP | AR | Job Cost | Service Management | Purchasing | and more!

Buy Sage Paperless Construction and save up to 30%

THE DETAILS: 20% off when purchasing either Paperless APFlow or Premium solution (licensed) – OR – 30% off when purchasing Paperless APFlow or Premium (licensed) PLUS a Paperless subscription. Choose from eForms, eCapture, or ePortal. 

Switch to Sage Estimating and/or eTakeoff and save 30%

THE DETAILS: 30% off Sage Core or Sage Core Plus when you replace a competitive estimating or takeoff solution (like switching from PlanSwift, OnScreen, MC2, ProEst, WinEst, etc.).

0% Financing for new purchases

THE DETAILS: 0% financing for a 2- or 3-year lease, on approved credit.

One more thing: Come back to the “family!”

If you have been off the Business Care plan for three years or more, you must repurchase your software. Being on the current version ensures that you receive software upgrades, important tax notifications, and Sage support when you need it (think year end help)!

Sage is making it easier for you to “come home” with substantial discounts!

THE DETAILS: 30% off license fees when repurchasing just the accounting software. 50% off license fees when repurchasing estimating only, or estimating AND accounting.

 


A peek inside the kimono!

by Tony Merry, Ledgerwood Associates Vice President

Worst business metaphor — ever?!

In full disclosure, I am very active on the Sage committee for the beta and controlled releases for Core and Core Plus Estimating. I find it’s mostly rewarding (I get to suggest development features that my customers ask for) and a bit frustrating as well (when we hit a roadblock regarding a module or legacy issue).

Regardless of the ‘open kimono’ expression, I want to share some public and private information (and opinions).

Feature comparison matrix – Pervasive vs. SQL

Sage put this product comparison together, and it’s a persuasive case for a migration to the Core Plus product (formerly Sage Estimating Extended). CAVEAT: Notice all the boxes are ticked with the EXCEPTION of BUYOUT. If buyout is critical to your operation, I highly recommend YOU WAIT until it’s available. At this time, Sage has not put a hard date to its redevelopment.

You’ll also notice some additional modules: crews, models, and advanced reporting. This allows for a more customized purchasing decision – buy what you need.

Navigating will change a bit

One minor warning about using the SQL versions of Estimating — you can’t open estimates from a network drive on Windows Explorer, like you’re probably used to doing. You MUST use the SQL server and use their tree structure to open estimating files. This means pulling a SQL license and limiting the availability to one user at a time.

My favorite features

I am a total fan of the new features in Core and Core Plus. For starters, there can be up to 40 user-defined WBS codes (where it used to be only ONE),  the addition of alternates (for pricing, CO’s and what-ifs). and increased integrations with Excel (the data integrator) within the application (import, and ‘cut-and-paste’ functionality)

And for those of you not on a server (local installations) – no more dongle! Your IT people are going to LOVE that!

Free upgrade ends September 29th!

To my knowledge, Sage has NEVER given away a major back-end upgrade FOR FREE (for you old-timers, this is like going from DOS to Windows)! But act now, because I don’t know if they will ever off it for free again.

Like to see a high-level overview?

Check out this recorded online overview we held last month (below), or sign up for these Sage Webinars for a deeper look:

 

 


TimberScan for Sage 100 CON

by Mark Jensen

Anywhere you can connect…

Core Associates has released their long awaited version of document management for Sage 100 Contractor, as we mentioned in the July newsletterT100 for Sage 100 Contractor is a browser-based system that allows for invoice review and approval in a secure environment — anywhere you have access to the web.

A practical example for Sage 100 CON users

Once the invoices have been scanned, the invoice is shown in the T100 screen. As you enter invoices directly in the Sage 100 Contractor 4-2 Accounts Payable invoice screen, T100 attaches the invoice image as an embedded attachment in the 4-2 record. This allows the user to take advantage of accepting all the defaults for cost codes, GL accounts, and cost types for invoices not related to subcontracts or purchase orders. Job costing for invoices tied to subcontracts or purchase orders are costed by saving the proper button.

Free implementation & training in August!

Are you an early adopter? Core Associates is offering no cost implementation and training until August 31st. T100 is reasonably priced at $2,695 for the first user, and just $195 for each additional user. Call 480.423.8300 to get your quote, today!

 


WHOA! Before you push the button…

What happened to the Sage 300 CRE desktop? Find out in our free 30-minute online presentation!

Haven’t updated to Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate V 16.1 yet?! Want to preview the changes BEFORE you push the button?

Join Sage Certified Consultant, Kyle Zeigler on  Thursday, August 31, 2017 11:00 AM – 11:30 AM MST (current AZ time). Limited to 25 attendees! 

The takeaways from this session:

  • Preview the new look and navigation features of Sage Desktop before upgrading to version 16.1
  • Learn how to prepare My Tasks in version 15.1 and prior to automatically create Favorites in version 16.1
  • Learn how to utilize the new Report Pages feature to access multiple reports, websites, and dashboards simultaneously

Are you ready to go from this:

To this?

See you online with Kyle Z. on August 31st. If you can’t make that, shoot us an email and we will consider adding another session! 

 


‘Warming up’ for Year End

Like an athlete preparing for a marathon, there are good habits that can make the ‘race’ easier – warming up, stretching, hydrating. 

We like that discipline for anticipating Year End accounting activities. What can you accomplish this early? These four things could help with your year-end processes:

  1. Find out if anything must be done prior to December

    • Check on software versions. Are you at the required version to receive year-end tax updates? If not, target a date before December to update to that level (Sage 300 CRE is v16.1  / Sage 100 is v20).
    • Do you need to make any hardware changes or additions to accommodate your software version?
    • Make appointments with anyone who might have a busy calendar in the fourth quarter. Do you need to talk with your accountant or schedule time with your software consultant?
    • Is there anything in your data that needs to be reviewed or corrected? It is best to do this sooner rather than later!
  2. Create a Year End folder or list

    • Start a list or make a YE folder with your favorite tools—paper, digital or both (Word, Excel, Outlook are just a few of the options).
    • Use this file location to accumulate your questions and notes.
    • If you already have information from last year, add it to this location.
  3. Reference previous Ledgerwood Associates newsletters and Sage knowledgebase articles.

    • Bookmark the LAI blog page, and use the “Year End” topics (in the right column) to sort for relevant help.
  4. Check the calendar

    1. See when the holidays fall; consider how this affects staff time off and tasks that need to be done.
    2. Make note of significant dates, such as the final payroll period end, and any billing cut-offs.
    3. Set additional cut-off dates for payroll events that must happen prior to 12/31 — unused PTO payouts, bonus, etc.

Spending a little bit of time now can set the foundation for a smoother year-end race! And check next month’s September newsletter for MORE tips to add to your list for year-end.

 


Brushing up on those budgeting Best Practices

Reprinted with permission from TrueSky. Written by George Braun, May 26, 2017.

For every company, from smaller companies to Fortune 500 corporations, budgeting is a necessary evil. Everyone dreads the process, but knows that it needs to be done. Whether you budget to meet reporting requirements to the bank or government or to keep your board up-to-date, the process must be completed, and completed on time. And since most companies only go through the budgeting process once every year, it can be easy to forget the pains of the past. Capturing those pains and translating them into ‘do betters’ or best practices can help to make next year’s cycle more effective and less strenuous.

Here are a couple of things that we have found can help make a difference:

Templates created for the user

Make sure the right people are involved in input and make sure that templates are created with the end user in mind to ensure a greater overall usability and the best end results. If spreadsheets are too big or contain too much information, the end user is likely to get lost, resulting in errors. Reduce the amount of data presented to the contributor to the bare minimum required to get the job done.

Consider zero based budgeting

When budgeting, many people simply take last year’s figures and apply an ‘inflation factor’ to them. Over time, the numbers keep getting larger and larger whether or not they logically need to increase. With zero based budgeting, you have users start from the ground up (with no data from previous budgets). By not providing prior figures you force contributors to really think about what they are going to spend and why.

Time is money

Give yourself (and your users) enough time to complete the budget. Budgeting takes time, but the more time you give, the more likely you are to end up with accurate numbers that reflect actual analysis and thought, rather than just data input. Also leave yourself time to analyze the end result.

Constant review and refinement

Budgeting can’t exist in stasis. You should continuously review the process and make appropriate changes when required. As things within your organization change, so too should your budgeting process.

Increase the frequency

The debate surrounding annual versus rolling forecasts continues to take place. Although there are merits to both frequencies, we believe that the more often you examine your budget, the less time it takes in the long-run. Budgeting on a regular basis, rather than just once a year, gives you the ability to identify both pros and cons with the current numbers and to make alterations as needed. This also helps to reduce those costly surprises at year-end.

There are many reasons an organization budgets – financial predictability, to understand business drivers, to manage performance – and each reason is important. To get a clear and accurate picture, following these budgeting best practices can really help.

True Sky and LAI understands how tedious and tiresome budgeting can be – even when you’re following budgeting best practices – but somebody’s got to do it, right? We can make it easier. Click below or call 480.423.8300.

Ready to see TrueSky, live? Click the button to request a demo!

 


Ready to quit Quickbooks?

Outgrown QB and need Accounting software based on the JOB??

Let’s face it, QuickBooks Contractor is great for a small startup company; it shows the expected financials and has an easy learning curve. However, it was NOT designed with job-specific financial information that contractors, specialty contractors, subcontractors, GCs and commercial or residential builders need most. The focus of Sage 100 Contractor (formerly MasterBuilder) is based around the JOB.

The Sage 100 CON dashboard shows all of the same financials that QB does. However, it takes functionality to the next level with critical information of the JOB: cash flow by job, under/over billings by job, job contract budget and cost to date, job uncommitted billing, etc.

For example, the Job Contract, Budget and Cost to Date Status report in Sage 100 CON shows the contract, change orders to the budget, percent complete, and estimated profit on a job. Another exclusive feature in Sage 100 CON is the Committed Costs snapshot that lists standard Cost Codes separate from the parts list. QB combines those codes and locks them into one item category.

FREE Webinar: Thursday, August 17th from 2:00 – 3:00 PMregister-here-button

 


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Should you convert your Single Member LLC to an S-Corporation?

Submitted by Bryan Eto, CPA BeachFleischman

The federal self-employment (SE) tax just keeps going higher and higher. If you’ve reached the breaking point, there may be a way to tame the SE tax beast by converting your existing unincorporated small business into an S corporation.

How to evaluate the option

If you’re a self-employed individual — meaning a sole proprietor, partner, or in some instances an LLC member — you have to pay the SE tax on your net SE income. The SE tax has two parts:

The 12.4% Social Security tax

Social Security tax is due on net SE income up to a certain amount. Unfortunately, the ceiling goes up every year because of inflation adjustments. For 2017, the Social Security tax ceiling is $127,200 (up from $118,500 for 2016).

The 2.9% or 3.8% Medicare tax

The Medicare part of the tax is due on an unlimited amount of net SE income. In other words, there’s no ceiling.

So until your net SE income exceeds the Social Security tax ceiling of $127,200 in 2017 (up from $118,500 for 2016), you owe the SE tax at the painfully high rate of 15.3% consisting of 12.4% Social Security plus 2.9% Medicare.

After the ceiling is exceeded, the Social Security tax portion drops away, and the SE tax rate falls to 2.9% to cover the Medicare tax. However, the Medicare tax jumps to 3.8% once your self-employment income exceeds the applicable threshold ($200,000 for unmarried individuals or $250,000 for married couples filing jointly).

Note: The tax results are the same if you operate your business as a single-member LLC, which is treated as a sole proprietorship for federal tax purposes.

While the SE tax is painful now, it’s could get worse in the future.

So it may be time to consider an S corporation conversion. Reason: The SE tax doesn’t apply to earnings from an S corporation business.

However, the FICA tax applies to salary compensation paid to an S corp shareholder-employee. In 2017, the FICA tax rate is 15.3% on salary up to the $127,200 Social Security tax ceiling. Salary above the Social Security tax ceiling is subject to a 2.9% or 3.8% FICA tax rate to cover the Medicare tax.

The employee share of the FICA tax is withheld from an S corporation shareholder-employee’s salary; the other portion is paid by the corporation directly to the U.S. Treasury.

The Tax Savings

The FICA tax is only due on an S corporation shareholder-employee’s salary. So when the company pays only a portion of its profits to the owner, or owners, in the form of a reasonable salary, with the remaining portion paid out in the form of cash distributions, only the salary portion is hit with Social Security and Medicare taxes (in the form of the FICA tax). The profits paid out as cash distributions are exempt from the FICA tax (and exempt from the SE tax too).

Key Point

These tax-saving results are not a one-time phenomenon. You can collect similar Social Security and Medicare tax savings, or better, in future years if the business maintains or exceeds its current level of profitability.

Converting an unincorporated small business into an S corporation is not a great idea in all situations but it works for some businesses. Consult with your tax advisor for more information.
Beach Fleischman 2201 E. Camelback Rd. Phoenix, AZ 85016 602.265.7011 | http://beachfleischman.com | twitter: @BeachFleischman

 


 

Sage 100 Contractor Estimating – now introducing row tags!

by Kelcie Jensen, Sage Certified Consultant

(Note: This tip is for Sage 100 Contractor Basic Estimating)

Have you ever had an estimate with a lot of line items and wished there was a way to identify the main line items? Or wanted to flag specific line items for the PM to review? Sage 100 Contractor’s newly released feature may provide the help you need with row tags on the 9-5 Takeoff screen.

  1. To add a tag simply right click on the line you want to tag.
  2. Then select Add/Edit Row Tag
  3. Now you can add a specific note for that tag. Whether that is a message for follow-up instructions, request for more information, or an assortment for groupings, any of those can be utilized to improve your company’s estimates.
  4. Finally, you can click the Row Tags button located in the bottom left corner of the screen. This will allow the user to view all tagged rows in one spot along with their notes.

Exporting Sage 300 CRE data to Excel

by Kyle Zeigler, Sage Senior Certified Consultant

Let’s be honest! Despite your Sage consultant’s recommendations to eliminate outside systems, sometimes you just want your Sage 300 CRE data in Excel. As we approach year-end preparation time, this is particularly helpful in preparing reconciliation worksheets that you may eventually send to an outside CPA or auditor.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of prebuilt reports and inquiries in the software to get you started, and custom versions of reports and inquiries can be created using Report Designer, Crystal Reports, and Inquiry Designer if you have purchased those applications.

However, for those who love the on-the-fly flexibility and power of Excel’s subtotals, pivot tables, and other features, a number of options are available to you:

Office Connector (OC)

This is another Sage product that can be purchased through your local business partner. The various licenses let you create refreshable queries of your Sage 300 CRE data, as well as create custom import templates and even write data directly to certain fields in your database.

ODBC/Microsoft Query

This method requires no additional purchase and uses Microsoft components that are usually automatically installed on any computer using a Windows operating system. With a little setup, you can create read-only refreshable queries, but the manipulation of the data is sometimes more limited than what you can do with Office Connector. For instance, you can’t insert a calculation column in the middle of a query as you can in OD.

Printing reports to .txt

For those of you who have tried this, you know that it works only some of the time and that the results can just be…well, ugly. The reports you choose to print to a .txt file type should be those with well-defined columns, fields with duplicate information printed on every line of detail, and few or no subtotals so that when you import the .txt file into Excel, there is a minimum amount of cleanup to do.

Inquiries

Several versions ago, Sage heard the cries of users desperate for a better way to get data into Excel and finally enabled that celebrated button on the Inquiry window. Inquiries are possibly one of the handiest features of the software, with the ability to add and remove columns, filter the contents of the inquiry, even add formulas to do calculations, and either print the contents of the inquiry to .pdf or paper – with totals! – or export the contents to Excel. Some formatting may be required in columns used for sorting (leading blank spaces are sometimes added to dates, job numbers, etc.).

If you would like information about the advantages / disadvantages of these choices or  training in how to use them, call 480.423.8300 or click below!

request-support

 

Make your estimating workflows easy and more efficient

by Renee Mullen, Sage Marketing Manager

Use Statuses with Alternates in Sage Estimating

We have covered Alternates in Sage Estimating 17.11, but did you know you can setup your Alternates with identifiers called Statuses to indicate if they are to be included on your Estimate? Here I have some great information for you that will help you do just that. In this article we will go over how to add, export, import, and remove Alternate Statuses to help you make your workflow even more efficient and easy to use.

Statuses

Statuses are used to assign a status identifier to alternates which will also indicate if they are to be included in the estimate totals or not. Statuses can be created at any point in time during the creation of an estimate. If you already know which status you would like to use, you can create them first so that they are already available when you go on to create your alternates. The process of creating and removing statuses is very similar to process for alternates.

Add Alternate Statuses

  1. From the Sage Estimating Ribbon, click the Advanced tab.
  2. Click Statuses button to launch the Edit Alternate Statuses window.
  3. Click Add.
  4. Enter the name for your Status.
  5. The “Include?” box is selected by default which will allow any Alternates that are assigned this status to be included in the Estimate. If you wish to exclude this status, Un-check the box. This option can be changed at any point in time.
  6. If you would like to include any notes about the status, Enter them into the notes column.
  7. Click OK when completed.

Export Alternate Statuses

If you have a series of statuses that you would like to retain for future use in other Estimates, you can use the export feature to create a file in Microsoft Excel format which contains all statuses currently setup on the Estimate. This file can then be imported using the import feature in the Edit Alternate Statuses window.

  1. From the Sage Estimating Ribbon, click the Advanced tab.
  2. Click the Statuses button to launch the Edit Alternate Statuses window.
  3. Click the Export button.
  4. The Export Data dialog box will appear. Browse to the path where you would like to save the export and then click OK.
  5. A process indication will appear. Once complete you can click View Log to view the log file, or else click Close to complete the process.

Import Statuses

As an alternative to adding statuses one by one, you can also import statuses from a Microsoft Excel file that is formatted appropriately.

  1. From the Sage Estimating Ribbon, click the Advanced tab.
  2. Click the Statuses button to launch the Edit Alternate Statuses window.
  3. Click the Import button.
  4. Click Browse and select the Microsoft Excel file that contains the statuses you wish to import. Once the file has been selected, click OK to continue.
  5. A process indication will appear. Once complete you can click View Log to view the log file, or else click Close to complete the process.
  6. Click OK to save all imported statuses.

Remove Statuses

You can remove Alternate Statuses from the Edit Alternates Statuses window the same way we remove Alternates. NOTE: Any statuses removed will also be removed from the Alternates they are assigned to.

  1. From the Sage Estimating Ribbon, click the Advanced tab.
  2. Click the Statuses button to launch the Edit Alternates Status window.
  3. Highlight the rows you wish to remove and then click the Remove button.
  4. Click OK to commit changes.
  5. You can also review a Summary of your Statuses to quickly display your totals as well as statuses of assigned alternates!

Alternate Summary Window

The summary tab within Sage Estimating can be used to quickly display totals as well as statuses of assigned alternates. From this window you can also modify alternate statuses on the fly from your defined list of alternates. Once you have things setup the way you would like, they can be conveniently exported to Microsoft Excel.

Changing Alternate Statuses

Assuming you have already assigned Alternates to all appropriate items on the Estimate, click the Advanced tab on the Sage Estimating Ribbon.

  1. Click the Summary button to launch the Edit Alternates window.
  2. Confirm that Show Excluded Alternates is selected from the Alternate Summary Window. This will display all Alternates even if the status is not set to include.
  3. By selecting the drop-down that appears below the Alternate name, you can change the status to any status you have previously defined in the system.
  4. Changing the status will update the Estimate Totals if the status is set to included. Any excluded statuses will appear in red and will not be included in the Estimate Total.
  5. When completed with all changes, you can click the X at the top of the Alternates Summary window to close and return to the Estimate.

Opening Alternate Summary in Microsoft Excel

  1. With the Alternate Summary window open you can click the Microsoft Excel Icon in the upper left corner. This will launch the Export Data window.
  2. Once you have selected the location where you would like to save your export, click the OK button.
  3. A progress indicator will appear. This window will close automatically when the export has finished and the file will open directly in Microsoft Excel.
  4. In Microsoft Excel you can make any modifications you would like to the fields in the Alternate columns and they will update the respective totals. Doing this however will not write those values back to Sage Estimating.

Questions? Chat with Sage Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET.

For more information on this topic visit Knowledgebase Article 34212. You can find this information and more in the Sage Knowledgebase.

Also, join the conversation at Sage City, available 24/7, the online community is your gateway to many Sage resources.