August 2019 Newsletter
What we’re aiming for in August – jobsite safety and integration best practices!
- Every jobsite injury is preventable! Procore shares proven steps to achieve zero-incident jobsites
- Ruth S. helps you decide on integration partners for Sage Construction
- Five big risks and best practices for Financial Integration from Intacct
- Awesome ‘Tips + Tricks’ for Accounting | Sage 300 CRE | Sage 100 CON | Sage Estimating
Here’s How to Achieve an Injury-Free Jobsite
Reprinted with permission from Procore’s Jobsite – original post HERE.
| May 7, 2019
Out of the more than 4,500 workers who were killed at work in 2016, one in five of them died on a construction site. It’s a grim reminder that faulty safety processes can be deadly. Also at stake: your company’s reputation, costly schedule delays, higher insurance rates, and expensive litigation.
If you’re a superintendent who is spread too thin or a painter who’s rushed and behind schedule, the lines between what is safe and risky can get blurred. What safety experts know for sure is that most, if not all, construction accidents can be prevented.
You can start looking within your company, regardless of your size, to help you achieve a zero-incident jobsite. Here are some proven steps that will help you get there:
Start at the Top
“Every incident, every accident on every project, every day is entirely avoidable.”The more direct participation from the people at the top, the higher the chances of reducing accidents, studies have shown. The idea behind this approach is that when senior leadership–– the CEO or owner/contractor––directly communicates his or her safety expectations to all employees, this establishes personal accountability throughout the company.
“When every employee for every project understands that there’s no daylight between your safety expectations and their accountability, it eliminates a lot of excuses from people who are not conforming,” said Greg Sizemore, vice president of health, safety environment and workforce development at Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc.
There is another thing that happens when leadership drives the safety culture: your workers are empowered to be a part of the safety process and look out for each other.
“They don’t take what Joey’s saying as snitching,” explained Sizemore. “He’s now empowered to walk to someone and tell them, ‘I’m looking out for you, not because I’m smarter, but because I genuinely care what happens to you.’”
Site Safety Committee
Your field staff are your eyes and ears. They most often are the people who have an intimate knowledge of current and future conditions around your jobsite. That valuable insight can help you as a superintendent, foreman, or safety manager head off potential safety risks, correct any hazards, and even help form better and more effective safety policies.
“We have a safety committee and an open-door policy on all safety issues,” says Katy Browning, the project and safety coordinator at the Redhawk Group. “Our committee discusses issues, new regulations, and tips.” Redhawk’s safety committee is made up of several field staff, from superintendents to laborers.
While collaboration is vital for helping you get the information you need, the site safety committee approach also empowers and encourages your workers to provide helpful solutions and speak up in an industry that’s historically been resistant to reporting safety issues.
New-Hire Safety Orientation
The type of safety education and length of time you provide for new-hire orientation can have a dramatic effect on the number of safety incidents, a recent study showed.
Companies that incorporated an in-depth indoctrination of new hires into the safety culture and processes had a 50 percent lower incident rate than businesses that provided only basic safety and health compliance topics, according to an ABC Safety Performance Report.
Time spent on the training also made a huge impact. Companies that held new-hire orientation safety sessions of more than three hours compared to those who spent 30 minutes on safety issues, found their Total Recordable Incident Rate (TRIR) improved by more than 90 percent!
Why does it work? The new-hire orientation is where you can begin to establish your safety culture. More importantly, safety becomes a fundamental part of your project’s overall planning and execution process.
There are a lot of ways you can approach the challenge of heading off potential safety issues, at the top of the list is sticking to the basics: stay proactive and prepared with documentation.
Using software to document and track vital safety information can save a lot of time. It can also help identify previous injuries and accident trends. Once you have identified and understand the risks, you can either eliminate or correct them or establish safer processes to manage them.
This type of data could be especially useful when establishing new safety practices and even help identify the less obvious hazards.
The construction industry has begun to shift from a proactive nature as opposed to reactive when it comes to safety performance. Still, with three construction-related fatalities happening every day, there still remains room for improvement.
“We’ve recognized that there is a significant opportunity for companies to move from their current safety performance to achieving world-class safety,” said Sizemore. “Every incident, every accident on every project, every day is entirely avoidable.”
Safety on the jobsite will always continue to improve and evolve. Stay on top of the latest safety hazards and best practices by signing up for the Procore Safety Qualified program. All courses are free. After completing the Procore Safety Qualified series you and your team will earn nine continuing education units and the 2019 hard hat sticker. Register here.
How to decide on Integration products for Sage
by Ruth Stockdale, LAI Director of PSG
Making the pieces fit
Add-ons and third-party software are not new options. We’ve had newsletter articles about them before—about the ability to expand and go beyond the functionality of your core software modules. Ledgerwood Associates partners with some third-party providers—products you will find in this newsletter and on our website.
But the number of add-on options has increased beyond that and we often get questions about those. It is not easy to decide whether an add-on will be useful, or which one to select. The marketplace is dynamic and growing, so your options change frequently.
Here are some points to consider when making your choice.
- How easily does it fit with your accounting applications? Does data need to flow from accounting to the new application and/or from the new application to accounting? Exactly how will this process work?
- Data can flow using text file imports or more direct built-in interfaces. Some methods require operator intervention to manually import or export. Some methods are automatic but still call for monitoring.
- None of the options are inherently “good” or “bad”, but it is important that you know exactly how the integration will work. Then determine if that works well for you.
- Does the module perform a function that does not require integration? This makes the selection simpler, but you still need to check on platform conflicts.
- Make sure there will not be a parallel set of data that may not match accounting. Examples would be job lists that are not in synch and estimate changes that don’t migrate to Estimating.
- Make sure that the system requirements do not conflict with your server and workstation setup for your Sage applications.
- Find out who will install the new application and who will support it. Ledgerwood Associates can facilitate an installation with our partners. We have also assisted with integration to other products on request.
- Check with us. Your Sage consultant may not always be needed, but it is wise to check in case there is information the third-party vendor needs.
- Many options are now operating only from a cloud-based platform and on a subscription basis.
- The same questions about integration methods, installation and support still apply.
Basic Due Diligence
- How long has the application’s developer been in business?
- How are they staffed to provide support?
- What other Sage users have installed and used their products?
- You don’t necessarily need to rule out newer products. The risk of trying something new may be minimal if the software is not critical, does not conflict with your core applications and is priced appropriately. Just make an informed decision.
Let us know if we can help! It’s No Big Deal.
Financial Integration Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
Reprinted with permission from Sage Intacct
BY BOB SHAWGO, SAGE INTACCT, CONTENT MARKETING MANAGER | MAY 9, 2019 | Original article link here
Modern tools use integrations to eliminate rekeying data, share information across teams or departments, and gather intelligence to enable broader analysis and faster decisions. For most companies following a best-in-class technology strategy, the finance system is the hub for the other systems they use. It becomes a go-to point for making strategic decisions that affect the rest of the company. You can find out more about how Sage Intacct does this on our website Platform page.
As you consider how to connect other services to finance, consider these five big risks and best practices that can help you get the most out of your connections.
1. Login credentials that leave your system wide open
Connecting to your financial system of record and then reading and writing information is a big deal. It requires serious considerations around security. Robust systems like Sage Intacct require two levels of security to get into the system through the API. The first one belongs to the company making the request. These web services credentials get logged with every request and must be white listed with the receiving company.
The second set of credentials links the request to a web services user ID in the system. By linking to a web services user ID, in Sage Intacct’s case, API requests can be limited to the permissions associated with that user ID, just like you would limit permissions on a user who logged in through the screen interface. For example, an integration for Bill.com would only need access permissions to vendors, bills, and payment information. If the service is ever discontinued, the webservices user ID would be deactivated, securing the system.
Securing these credentials is another key consideration. Integration partners should know to keep credentials encrypted and stored where they can’t be accessed by a browser. If you are building your own integrations, your IT people need to do the same thing.
2. Missing the big picture by only seeing the money
Don’t risk incomplete insight by only looking at financial information. Often when we look at connecting to the financial system, we think of things that have financial data, like payroll systems or point of sale systems. Limiting the data you pull in limits your reporting power. Consider data from an HR system that lets you know about turnover, information from a hospitality system that lets you know number of rooms booked, or a software platform that reports customer usage based on quantity of data. Unlike other financial systems you might have used, Sage Intacct provides statistical (operational) accounts to capture this data for use in reporting, billing, or resource management.
Consider the example of a software company that charges subscription plus usage. Their integrated usage tracking software reports the usage, along with the customer that used it, to a Sage Intacct statistical account. The Sage Intacct contracts and subscription billing module uses this information to automatically add a usage line item to the customer’s monthly invoice.
3. Killing opportunities to work together
Don’t limit collaboration by making integrations only run one way. As a developer, I was often asked to just push information from one system to another. At first glance, this seemed like the easiest thing to do because it could be handled with a single API request. In actuality, it almost never meets the users’ needs, especially when the users don’t have full access to both systems. Creating two-way visibility creates opportunities to collaborate. For example, Sage Intacct’s built-in Salesforce integration doesn’t just create a sales order in Sage Intacct based on an opportunity in Salesforce. Sage Intacct reports back, creating and updating the sales order record in Salesforce. In fact, as the order gets fulfilled, billed, and paid, Sage Intacct continues to report the status back to Salesforce. Sales people have visibility into how the back office is interacting with their customer and can collaborate with the back office over Chatter, which is also built into the integration.
4. Clogging workflows and the GL with too much information
As you look at an integration, consider how much volume you will be processing and how much bandwidth you have to process it. If you are integrating with a financial system that is not multi-tenant, but merely hosted as a one-off implementation on a service, you may run into constraints. Multi-tenant or “true cloud” systems like Sage Intacct build in elasticity to handle broad fluctuations in data volume.
You will also need to consider how much data you actually want to bring in to your financial system and what to do with it. If you are doing high volume sales to consumers, do you want to store every customer record in your financial system of record, or does it make sense to keep those details in the point-of-sale system and let the finance system just handle summary transactions? A good financial system will provide extensibility in the form of custom data tables or objects that allow you to store much of this data in the system of record, while only passing summaries into the tables that feed into the general ledger.
One integration customer I worked with had more than 10,000 lines contributing to each monthly vendor bill, which would have created unwieldy documents when it was time to cut checks. Due to the connectivity to custom objects in Sage Intacct, they were able to capture and summarize the data before creating a bill. The system then ran and emailed custom reports that covered the details for each bill. A little planning gave them a fast, stable integration architecture to grow the business.
5. Forgetting to stay GAAP compliant and auditable
Can you trace report summaries to the transactions and back to their source? Sage Intacct makes this easy by creating clickable links inside reports, and then provide link fields to source records. When sharing information from Sage Intacct with another system, the API speeds up the process with built-in link fields for each record. Other systems also provide links to connect to their source records and using them is vital to staying auditable.
For example, when you integrate a point-of-sale system to finance, you want to have a way to easily click back to the point-of-sale record to verify information about the transaction. Getting back to source data creates transparency and keeps you GAAP compliant.
Experts at the ready
Of course, the best integrations are those that have already been built and tested. Sage Intacct’s Marketplace Partners, listed on the Sage Intacct Marketplace, have already built integrations that work for a variety of company configurations. This is always a good place to start, as they’ve also considered many of the details you need to handle when connecting to your financial system. You can find out more about what Sage Intacct does to help you integrate and extend your financials on our website Platform page.
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Missed our last webinar? No worries, view the hh2 recording: “Document Flow – AP routing and approval in the cloud”
Tax Breaks for Company Vehicles
Submitted by Bryan Eto, CPA BeachFleischman
Does your business need to add one or more vehicles? If so, the purchases may qualify for tax breaks under current tax law. Here are the details.
First-Year Depreciation Breaks
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) allows unlimited 100% first-year bonus depreciation for qualifying new and used assets (including eligible vehicles) that are acquired and placed in service between September 28, 2017, and December 31, 2022. However, for a used asset to be eligible for 100% first-year bonus depreciation, it must be new to the taxpayer (you or your business entity).
The TCJA also permanently increased the Section 179 expensing limit for qualifying asset purchases from $500,000 in 2017 to $1 million for tax years beginning in 2018 and beyond. However, this break is phased out for qualifying purchases over $2.5 million in 2018 (up from $2 million in 2017).
For tax years after 2018, these amounts will be adjusted annually for inflation. The inflation-adjusted figures for 2019 are $1.02 million and $2.55 million, respectively.
Sec. 179 expensing for qualifying asset purchases is phased out on a dollar-for-dollar basis for purchases that exceed the threshold amount. So, no Sec. 179 deduction is available if your total investment in qualifying property is above $3.57 million for 2019.
Heavy SUVs, pickups and vans are treated for tax purposes as transportation equipment. So, they qualify for 100% first-year bonus depreciation and Sec. 179 expensing if used over 50% for business. This can provide a huge tax break for buying new and used heavy vehicles.
However, if a heavy vehicle is used 50% or less for business purposes, you must depreciate the business-use percentage of the vehicle’s cost over a six-year period.
To illustrate the potential savings from these first-year tax breaks, suppose you buy a new $65,000 heavy SUV and use it 100% in your business in 2019. You can deduct the entire $65,000 in 2019 thanks to the 100% first-year bonus depreciation privilege. If you use the vehicle only 60% for business, your first-year deduction would be $39,000 (60% x $65,000).
To qualify as a “heavy” vehicle, an SUV, pickup or van must have a manufacturer’s gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) above 6,000 pounds. You can verify the GVWR of a vehicle by looking at the manufacturer’s label, which is usually found on the inside edge of the driver’s side door where the door hinges meet the frame. Examples of suitably heavy vehicles include the Audi Q7, Buick Enclave, Chevy Tahoe, Ford Explorer, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Toyota Sequoia and lots of full-size pickups.
Garden-Variety Passenger Vehicles
The tax breaks for passenger automobiles (defined to include light SUVs, pickups, and vans) are less generous than for heavy vehicles. The inflation-adjusted depreciation limits for passenger vehicles that were acquired before September 28, 2017, and placed in service during 2019 are:
- $10,100 for the first year ($14,900 with bonus depreciation),
- $16,100 for the second year,
- $9,700 for the third year, and
- $5,760 for each succeeding year.
The depreciation limits for passenger autos acquired after September 27, 2017, and placed in service during 2019 are:
- $10,100 for the first year ($18,100 with bonus depreciation),
- $16,100 for the second year,
- $9,700 for the third year, and
- $5,760 for each succeeding year.
If the vehicle is used less than 100% for business, these allowances are cut back proportionately.
Important: For a vehicle to be eligible for these tax breaks, it must be used more than 50% for business purposes, and the taxpayer can’t elect out of the deductions for the class of property that includes passenger automobiles (five-year property).
The Sec. 179 limits were permanently expanded by the TCJA. But the first-year bonus depreciation program will gradually start phasing out 20% per year, beginning with tax years starting in 2023. And the bonus depreciation program will expire after 2026, unless Congress extends it. If you have questions about depreciation deductions on vehicles, contact your tax advisor.
Beach Fleischman 2201 E. Camelback Rd. Phoenix, AZ 85016 | 602.265.7011 | http://beachfleischman.com | twitter: @BeachFleischman
An Updated Look at Security in Sage 100 Contractor
by Pam Schulz, Sage Certified Consultant
Improved data security
There are new features in your Sage 100 Contractor Security toolbox — this is a good time to take an updated look at protecting your valuable data.
Sage has added new security features that allow better control over certain options and posting command within menus. These are in addition to the menu and field-level security already in place. Also, it is now easier to see the individual fields on a screen that have been modified for security.
Access to the menu options and individual fields on screens were already protected by security features. But certain drill-downs and the ability to execute commands once a user was on a screen were not part of this protection. Two changes in version 22 give you enhanced security:
Button Drill Down Security
Using the Vendor Setup Screen (menu option “4-4: Vendors”) as an example, note the drill-down buttons at the bottom of the screen for invoices, payments, and other items. The ability to drill down into this detail can now be controlled with new security features.
To activate security for the detail buttons, begin at the top of the screen under “options.” Hover over the desired option, and press the F7 key on the keyboard.
The Security Settings window opens, and the user access can be set:
Enhanced features in Version 22 allow Security settings for “posting” and other COMMANDS on certain screens. Using menu option “11-2: Service Invoices” as an example, the new features will allow access to the POSTING commands on the screen to be secured.
At the top of the screen under the POST menu, hover over the particular option to secure and press the F7 key on the keyboard:
The Security Window opens and Users can be selected for access:
Other screens with this useful new feature include Recuring Transactions and Recurring Payables.
Better views and reports make working with Security easier
Securing individual fields on a screen has always been possible, but it could be pesky to find which fields were secured. A new feature makes this simple. In the VIEW menu, check the box labeled “security” and the fields with enhanced security settings will be highlighted:
This is a good time to review and enhance your Security setup. Remember, every menu option and submenu can be secured, and many individual fields on each screen have available settings. Reports #22 and #23 show the current settings in the menu option “13-7: Database Format”.
Need help from a certified Sage 100 Contractor Consultant? Just click, and we’ll contact you in a jiff! It’s ‘No Big Deal, right?
How to Track Bid Jobs in a Separate Data Folder
by Kyle Zeigler, Sage Senior Certified Consultant
Create a ‘bid company’
Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate (CRE) users love the Project Management (PJ) application for creating and managing change requests, change orders, and the other documents critical to managing a construction project. However, PJ users would be even happier if they had the ability to enter estimates for jobs being bid so that they could track jobs landed and lost, and the estimate associated with the bid. One creative user came up with a handy solution: Create a separate “company” (aka data folder) to track bid jobs.
Creating new company folders can be done by a Sage user who is assigned the role of Application Administrator. Once the new company is created, only the Job Cost (JC) and Project Management (PJ) applications are configured, and all interfaces to other Sage 300 CRE applications are disabled. When new bid opportunities arise, jobs are set up in both JC and PJ so that the RFIs and other documents can be created and tracked throughout the bid process and estimated costs can be entered as information is received. The PJ application can be used to track meeting minutes and correspondence throughout the bid process as well. When a job is won, the JC job can be copied with the estimate already in place and either the original job or copied job can be moved to the production data folder where the PJ module in that folder is used to manage the project going forward.
Perks of using a bid company folder are:
- The ability to have a different job numbering sequence than is used in the “live” company folder. For instance, use a job number that incorporates the year and an incremental sequence starting with 1 each January to track the number of bids created each year. You’ll still want to use the same job number format as is used in your live company folder, but you can change how the elements of the job number are used.
- The ability to use the many features of the PJ application to manage the bid process and, in the end, to have a repository of all of the documents and correspondence that went into the creation of the bid.
- The ability to obtain analytical reporting on jobs bid, won and lost, including the estimates submitted with the bids.
The use of a bid folder is only one of the creative ways users adapt Sage 300 CRE to fit their needs. If you would like more information about how this might work in your organization, or would like to discuss other possible solutions for unique company needs, please don’t hesitate to contact Ledgerwood Associates.
Need help from a certified Sage 300 CRE Consultant? Just click, and we’ll contact you in a jiff! It’s no big deal, right?