February 2015 Newsletter
What We’re Talking About In February…
“Juno where my car is?” (Guess I’ll stop whining that it always rains in Phoenix for the Waste Management Open.) And Punxsutawney Phil says six more weeks of winter (at least he lived this year)! Brrrr.
Worst Superbowl coaching call. Ever.
YEAH! The Year End is almost over! Just in case you’re still looking for resources, we’ve repeated the resources for Sage help in this Newsletter.
The recession is “officially” over, the recovery has begun, but labor workers are nowhere to be found. Not to worry, we’ve got some “creative” ideas for finding prospective help.
Need to ramp up for more work and manage your pipeline? You may be tempted to spend money on “sexy” things like equipment, but you may getter a better ROI on CRM software.
Are you freaking about the software changes needed for the ACA? January 1, 2015 marked the beginning of the Employer Shared Responsibility Provisions and associated mandated reporting for employers that meet various criteria. Kyle Zeigler gives Sage 300 some great tips and a video link to help you figure it all out!
Creatively Coping with the Construction Worker Shortage
We’ve been judiciously warned over the last two years that there is a severe shortage of construction workers. Understandably, laid off workers found new careers in different industries and some attrition can be attributed to the plethora of near-retirement baby boomers who simply decided to not return to the work force.
ForConstructionPros.com reports that 290,000 construction jobs were created last year, and 48,000 were added to payroll just in December of 2014. That’s the biggest surge in nine years! As great as the uptick sounds, For Construction Pros reports that 2.2 million jobs were wiped out during the recession, and only a third of them have been recovered.
Where to Find Young Workers
In the new normal, advertising in the local Want Ads is certainly not going to cut it. Nor are job boards like Monster or LinkedIn. Let’s get creative for attracting young construction workers!
Tap your Local Colleges
When’s the last time you thought about recruiting workers fresh out of college? As the Baby Boomers start to retire, there’s a whole pool of tech savvy, fresh-faced graduates who want to play with BIM and drones, and altered reality! Many of these schools have taken advantage of free software licenses offered by software publishers in the hope that their future employers will adopt the software.
There’s bound to be specialists emerging from your company’s construction niche. At Arizona State University, there is an excellent construction management school, the Del E. Webb School of Construction that offers five disciplines:
• Commercial building (general)
• Heavy construction (roads, bridges, dams)
• Specialty construction (mechanical and electrical)
• Concrete Industry
Of course there are scores of other great schools for attracting young workers. Every year the Associated Schools of Construction (ASC) ranks the top construction schools in a national competition. The students compete in a broad spectrum of 13 different categories; for example, Design Build, Marine Construction, Determining Project Risk, and more. Here are the competition rules:
“Several construction companies sponsor different categories for the students to compete in and act as the project owner looking for bids on a project. Student teams of up to six people are given a Request for Proposal, which includes a set of plans, specifications, and category-specific rules. The students are given up to 16 hours to prepare a project bid which includes an estimate, schedule, and presentation. Once the time deadline is up, the sponsoring company opens the bid package from each school and reads the estimate price out loud and makes sure that the bid package is complete. If any information is missing, the team either loses points or is disqualified. The teams are then given a time slot for the following day to present their estimate and answer questions from the sponsoring company in a bid review format.”
Research your state’s “Top Construction Management School” on this great reference site. Then contact the dean of your local college and see if there’s a (college) job board you can post to, a job fair that you can exhibit at, or an event you can sponsor; use your companies’ culture to differentiate to the Gen Y and Z’ers. Emerging job-seekers are very culture and community conscious!
Use Social Media
Recent college grads are not likely to use email, so you have to reach them where they consume information. This means Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, texting and other emerging streams. Post job openings to FB and twitter with links, because this demographic wants information online or preferably from videos. Why not grab your iPhone and record the greatest things about your company and upload it to YouTube? Give them a call-to-action to request the job description by text, with a link.
Where to Find Experienced Workers
Hire a Vet
What better way to say ‘thank you’ to personnel who have served in our country’s military than reward them with full time employment? And think about the skill set they will bring to the table – discipline, teamwork, and leadership! With a little research, I’ve found these sites that help you find vets:
The Workforce Investment Act (WIA) of 1998 is a federal law designed to improve the quality of the workforce, enhance the competitiveness of the nation, and reduce welfare dependency. Signed into law by President Clinton, the bill shifted the responsibility and accountability of programs to the state level.
In Phoenix, we have Arizona Workforce Connection. Here, employers and job seekers alike can find free resources. As an employer, you can post jobs, find job fairs to participate in, and access “unique” underutilized segments like disabled or mature workers. From the Workforce Connection webpage, “To satisfy WIA requirements, Arizona also created more than 50 One-Stop Service Centers to serve the employment and training needs of job seekers, businesses, and communities located throughout the state. These centers offer a variety of programs to employers, job seekers, youth, mature workers, new entrants to the workforce, veterans, and persons with disabilities.”
Tap into your local, state, and federal agencies to reach the people who are actively seeking!
There are a plethora of organizations that would benefit from your company’s goodwill. Your current employees will like it, and believe it or not, it’s a great recruiting tool! Encourage your employees’ participation and/or poll them for favorite causes. Spread the bonhomie on social media. People love a great give-back story, and the word-of-mouth buzz you can create is great publicity for the cause.
Support for Year End
Supported Versions for Year-End 2014
For the 2014 Year-End, we will be supporting Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate versions 13.1 and 14.1 (summer 2014). For up-to-date information on the supported Year-End versions log in to the Knowledgebase and search for article ID 33168.
Reminder on Microsoft Windows XP and Server 2003 Retirement
Microsoft stopped providing mainstream support for Microsoft Windows XP in 2009 and has only provided “extended” support since. Extended support for Microsoft Windows XP was discontinued in April 2014. Microsoft also announced that they will discontinue extended support for Microsoft Windows Server 2003 in July 2015.
End of Microsoft support for these operating systems prevents Sage from receiving support from Microsoft Development. Consequently, Sage will not continue to develop or test new versions of our software on Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 platforms.
For more information on the Microsoft Windows XP and Server 2003 support retirement log in to the Knowledgebase and search for article ID 33176.
Sage 100 Contractor
Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate
When you need assistance, refer to the following articles to determine which support service works best for you:
Bulldozers and Shoes? No, It’s CRM for Construction!
Construction companies purchasing software solution reminds me of women reluctantly buying tires. We know we need them, they’re obviously critical – but we would much rather spend money on something else. ANYTHING else (like shoes, lots of shoes)! So while you may be yearning to purchase a shiny new bulldozer for your company, you should really be thinking about buying business-critical software.
Your company has most likely invested in a digital takeoff system, estimating software, job costing and project management software, and of course an accounting solution. These systems are very “visible” to project success; however, it may be time to consider a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system.
Let’s make another assumption that you’ve reduced staff and resources during the recession. You’ve been hanging on for dear life, and are cautiously optimistic now that the construction industry is recovering. How do you do business differently now? How can you manage your pipeline without costly overhead?
Back in the good old days, most companies kept track of RFPs, bids, and sales progress on a homemade spreadsheet. Most likely, that information was not shared between departments, and there could potentially be a huge disconnect between departments.
Customer Relationship Management, (or as Sage likes to re-brand it “Construction Relationship Management”) can be a game changer in the new NOW. CRM is much more than a contact library or a lead tracker; it’s a business development tool that standardizes the progress from the first bid to long-time loyalty.
For construction companies, it’s just like job progress. You want to know what stage the job is in, who’s working on it, and what comes next. When will it close, and when will you profit from it? CRM can do that for you, by managing your relationships with prospects and clients, giving you visibility into your pipeline (what stage it’s in, who’s working on it and what comes next). CRM establishes a measurable marketing and sales methodology, just like your run on your jobs. Nice, right?
Sage CRM is affordable, easy to install, and ‘talks’ to your Sage 300 CRE software. No surprises, just efficiency from the start. See how Sage CRM helped RAM Construction Services capture historical data in this video.
Ready to learn more about CRM? Talk to Ed Ledgerwood (Ed@LedgerwoodAssociatesUSA.com or phone 480-423-8300.) Let LAI help you plan your company’s growth and complete your Sage business suite.
Upcoming LAI Online Training and Networking Events:
Estimating Reports Webinar
Join us for an informative presentation of the top reporting tool available for Sage Estimating, SQL Edition.
Learn how to:
- Create itemized proposals in Excel
- Explore your spreadsheet
- Create a summary of your group cost codes
- Drill into the details including subcontractor and supplier details
- View interactive estimate
- Excel-based view of the estimate sheet for Sage Estimating
- Utilize Excel capability for functions, filter, sort, subtotal, copy/paste and more
In addition to the reports on the Liberty Reports LaunchPad, learn how you can design your own Excel-based report.
Estimating Buyout Webinar
Sage is excited to announce “Buyout for SQL Estimating.”
See how the new Buyout module works allowing you to “buyout” your estimate to different vendors and then create Purchase Orders and Subcontracts for those items.
The construction season is fast approaching!
Join us for this informative presentation and learn how you can gain greater control over your projects, better communication between the field and office and higher confidence from your Surety by creating integrated project cost forecasting that backs up your Work in Progress reporting using Sage Office Connector.
Current Version (19.5) Information
Submitted by Walt Mathieson, Certified Sage 100 Consultant
The latest and greatest version of Sage 100 Contractor is version 19.5.34, the release of which was announced on January 23, 2015. This version was released to update state income tax withholding tables for states that were tardy in publishing their withholding tables. It also contains some fixes for problems discovered in version 19.5.27. The 19.5.27 version was announced in the middle of December 2014 with the caveat that it should not be installed before the payroll of 2014 (based on check date) is processed and posted to the general ledger and the 2014 Payroll Year is closed. This version includes the latest Federal and State withholding tax tables for 2015 available at that time and enhancements for helping employers collect and report employee benefit information to comply with the Affordable Care Act.
Tips for Outside Accountants and Auditors of Sage 100 Contractor Clients
I get calls from clients asking for assistance with entering Adjusting Entries provided by their outside accountants and auditors, only to find out that the entries are written without consideration of the functionality of Sage 100 Contractor. I sometimes find that outside accountants don’t understand how the program works and what effect certain built-in controls have on the accounting processes of the company. In an effort to help clients with communicate with their accountants, I suggest the following tips be provided to your accountants:
- Understand what General Ledger (“GL”) accounts serve as control accounts and have specific requirements. Control accounts are specified in menu 1-8 General Ledger Setup. Most control accounts have specific requirements:
- Accounts Receivable entries require that a job be specified and, where appropriate, specific invoice numbers.
- Service Receivable entries require that a client be specified and, where appropriate, specific invoice numbers.
- Accounts Payable entries require that a vendor be specified and, where appropriate, specific invoice numbers.
- Journal transactions cannot be posted directly as such to receivable and payable control accounts but such entries can be made by entering debit and credit memos to these accounts.
- Sage 100 Contractor vigorously enforces job costing in specific ranges of accounts. Any entry to GL accounts in the WIP Assets or Direct Expenses ranges of accounts must have a job, cost code and cost type! If you are going to propose an adjusting entry to accounts in these ranges, expect to provide a job number, cost code and cost type. Don’t suggest that the client create a junk job number just for adjusting entries. It just trashes up important reports like the bonding report. If you have an entry that can’t be attributed to a specific job, post it to a GL account in the Overhead or Administrative ranges of accounts.
- Sage 100 Contractor vigorously enforces equipment costing in specific ranges of accounts. Any entry to GL accounts in the Equipment/Shop Expense range of accounts must have a specific equipment number, cost code and cost type! If you are going to propose an adjusting entry to accounts in this range, expect to provide an equipment number, cost code and cost type. Don’t suggest that the client create a junk equipment number just for adjusting entries. It just trashes up the equipment database and encourages clients to subvert the enforced equipment costing. If you have an entry that can’t be attributed to a specific equipment number, post it to a GL account in the Overhead or Administrative ranges of accounts.
- Control accounts for the Equipment Management system are specified in menu 1-8 General Ledger Setup. Single GL accounts for Equipment Cost, Equipment Accumulated Depreciation, and Equipment Loans are defined there, and any postings to these GL accounts require subaccounts that correspond to Equipment defined in menu 8-3 Equipment. If you propose an adjusting entry to one of these control accounts, be prepared to identify what equipment number should specified.
- Be aware of defined departments and subaccounts when proposing adjusting entries. If a GL Account is set up for Subaccounts or Departments, please provide that information for your entries. Subaccounts and Departments are important control and information points, and are required for any entry to GL Accounts that are defined for such.
- When adjusting journal entries are provided to the client, help them by identifying which entries are merely reclassifying entries (for presentation purposes only) and do not need to be posted to the client’s books, and which entries are accruals that should be reversed in the next fiscal year.
- When adjusting journal entries are provided to the client, it helps to also provide a copy of your working trial balance as well. This can help resolve questions about the entries, and provides a means of confirming that the client’s books are in agreement with published financial statements and tax returns.
This list is not exhaustive, but it can go a long way to improving the service you receive from your outside accountants and auditors.
If your outside accountants and auditors have questions that you cannot answer satisfactorily, consider having them contact your friendly Sage Certified Consultant.
Submitted by Kyle Zeigler, Sage Senior Certified Consultant
You may not have noticed yet, but the Year-End Update (Accounting Update 9) for Sage 300 CRE installed some new Payroll settings, tasks, data fields and reports to help you manage the 2015 requirements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Deciphering the reforms of the ACA (aka Obamacare) has been daunting, to say the least, for employers. The implementation of the Act began in 2013, but January 1, 2015 marked the beginning of the Employer Shared Responsibility Provisions and associated mandated reporting for employers that meet various criteria. While the first information reports are not due until early 2016, it is important to review these changes to you system now.
The Affordable Care Act changes include:
- New settings in PR Settings (“ACA Settings”)
- A new PR Task: ACA Compliance
- A new Tab in Employee Setup: ACA Coverage
- A new checkbox on the Pay setup: Include in ACA hours
- The three new reports in your system Report folder (typically found in \\[Servername]\Timberline Office\9.5\Accounting). These reports will need to be added to your desired report menu using the application’s Reports Manager.
- ACA Employee Coverage
- ACA Dependent Coverage
- ACA Hours Allocated
- New Aatrix reports that will be available later in the year in one of the Aatrix updates (as soon as the IRS forms are finalized)
To help you understand the ACA requirements and how these system changes benefit you, Sage has prepared a YouTube video that provides an overview:
For even more information, go to Sage Service & Support in Desktop > Web Resources and log into your Sage customer account. In the Knowledgebase search field, enter Article 52204 and click Search. In the list of articles, locate the article, “What do I need to know about the Affordable Care Act (ACA)?”
Everything you need to keep up with ACA requirements is at your fingertips!
Details, Details, Details
Submitted by Richard Camp, CPA
The little details in your business can end up costing you a lot of money if you’re not paying attention. If you haven’t had a tax audit, a work comp audit, or any of those audits that dig into the minutia of your business – consider yourself lucky! If you’ve had one of those audits where everything is under the microscope, you know how important it is to pay attention to the “little things.”
One of the details that I’ve seen time and again provide an unwelcome surprise (read, “money”) is subcontractor compliance. One client had a subcontractor on a job that backed his truck into another subcontractor’s truck! No big deal, right? Wrong! The first subcontractor didn’t have insurance on the truck, so the other subcontractor went after the GM for coverage and the GM had to pay.
Another true story is about the company who does blasting without ANY workers comp or liability. Why should he? He’s a sole proprietor; and, of course he knows what he’s doing! Wrong again! No indemnity statement that he signs will cover you if something goes wrong. (By the way, that’s why his rates are so low.)
Subcontractor (non-)compliance may seem like no big deal – but until you have a problem, or an auditor wants to see insurance certificates and you don’t have them? Get out your checkbook!
Sorting Tips for Better Searching
Submitted by Jim Hoeppner, Certified Sage Consultant
Many users of software are not aware of the way that computers sort. This is an especially important point to understand when it comes to organizing your database or searching for items. Have you ever had the frustration of trying to find a document in a Windows Explorer folder that has many documents? If you are aware of the North American standard ASCII computer sorting rules, then you can always find what you want. The vertical sorting rules are as follows:
- Spaces (come first at the top of any list)
- Special characters !# etc
- Numeric characters
- Upper case A,B,C, etc.
- Lower case a,b,c, etc.
When you are in a Windows Explorer window, you can use Detail mode to create the list, then sort by name (clicking on the name column header) and find what you are looking for with the ASCII rules above. Also, in Sage Timberline Estimating, you can find the Help topic “Sorting,” which has very good examples to further explain the vertical sorting. Or you could google ASCII computer sorting rules.
As for horizontal sorting, alpha characters go to the left in a field, numeric go to the right. That is easy to remember if you just think of the phrase alpha-numeric. Alpha is on the left, numeric on the right. Happy hunting for documents and hopefully you have a better understanding of how a database can be structured.
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