January 2015 Newsletter

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Looking Backward and Forward at LAI

The New Year is that juxtaposition in time; a momentary suspension when you are looking back and forward at the same time. What have we learned upon reflection of the past twelve months? What will we resolve not to do in the New Year?  What was planned, what was unexpected, what was serendipitous or unfortunate?

2014 was a very good year for LAI. Ed Ledgerwood was honored at the Sage NA headquarters in recognition of 40 years in the Sage family; Director of Sales, Tony Merry, landed LAI’s biggest sale EVER ($1.25M); and we welcomed some new staff and said farewell to a few who moved on.

LAI also welcomed some new integration partners – IFS Core, AboutTime, AnterraDataCenter, and Liberty Reports (for Sage 100); and Sage brought some new integration products into the suite of solutions – eTakeoff, Paperless Environment, and Sage Payment Solutions.

In the spirit of looking both back and forward, LAI decided to add Sage CRM to our core offering. It’s a great product for our current Sage 300 construction clientele to add because it integrates with accounting. It will also open new doors for LAI outside of construction, diversifying the vertical reach for us.

And New Year would not be a split frame of time, if we did not look back and thank our wonderful clients who have supported us as we have supported them. Auld Lang Syne translates loosely into “times gone by” and is a reminder to remember friends from the past and not to forget them. So, thank you to YOU from last year, the last 40 years, and hopefully into the future 40 years!

Skimming the Experts

I’ve recently subscribed to a morning email subscription called “The Skimm.” The backstory of this service is that two news executives (and roommates) had so many friends and peers ask them what’s going on in the “news” that they decided to make a business out of it. They quit their “real” jobs and now send early morning “Daily Skimms” to their subscription base with synapses of what’s happened recently. It’s pretty neutral politically speaking, with clever headlines and a few sentences laid out in what I think of as “sound bites.”

With this model in mind, I have “Skimm’d” the CMD (formerly Reed Construction Data) 2014 Economic Forecast, “Is the Pace of Construction Investment Set to Quicken?” into nuggets of information for you. (Opinions are mine as the author, and do not reflect Ledgerwood Associates.)

Highlights from Alex Carrick (CMD Chief Economist) Datapoints

First, let’s start with Mr. Carrick’s research on construction unemployment. For the majority of us, the unemployment rate is a primary indicator of economic health. As shown below, unemployment rates have decreased from the recession spike of 2009 and 2010. Not represented is how many of the formerly unemployed stopped looking for work.

U.S. construction unemployment rate (not seasonally adjusted)

Data source: Household Survey, Bureau of Labor Statistics (U.S. Department of Labor)/Chart: CMD.

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At first glance, this next chart is rather busy, but the data is a great snapshot of the present (A), the peak of construction (B), and a comparison of now to the recession average (C). (CMD has coded “hot” growth in red, “cool” growth in blue, and separated out residential in green highlights.) It appears that all the stimulus types of construction has stalled (blue), and discretionary income construction (shopping, sports/convention) sectors are growing along with manufacturing and warehouses; which again leads me to believe that consumer spending has gained confidence.

Q3 year-to-date U.S. construction starts ‒CMD historical comparisons

Ranking Based on $ Volume in Column (A)

Color Coding: Red is hot; Blue is cool; Green separates out residential.

cxn-starts-2014

A second way to look at this information was to rank based on the percentage of change in Column C, comparing Q3 (latest data at the time) of this year (A), peak years (B) and recession years (c). (The color coding is consistent from the previous chart.) As shown, the rental (multi-family) peak – due to short sales and foreclosures has driven growth the most. The same sectors from the previous chart are again the “hot” markets for construction starts; but that is to me, a readjustment from the recession dive. What is interesting is that Power Infrastructure is in the basement, with 84% and 85% downturns and no indication of returning to pre-recession “normal.”

Q3 year-to-date U.S. construction starts ‒CMD ‒ historical comparisons

Ranking Based on $ Volume in Column (C)

Color Coding: Red is hot; Blue is cool; Green separates out residential.

ytd-cxn-starts-q3

 

Highlights from Kermit Baker, Chief Economist, AIA

Residential Stats

Mr. Baker opened his section with data supporting how construction (in)activity has become a declining share of the economy, as it pertains to the GDP.

He illustrated how painfully slow the construction recovery has been, and compared trends of several past decades. The GOOD news he shared was the recovery in value for single-family prices. Also on a positive note, was the prediction that housing starts will begin to rise sharply, but are not expected to hit historical highs for a long time.

“House Prices Continue to Recover, Having Gained Back More than 60% of Their Losses”

Single-family house price index (Jan. 2000=100)

Source: CoreLogic National House Price Index (HPI), Single family attached and detached structures as of July, 2014

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Non-Residential Trends

Mr. Baker showed several charts proving the modest incline in non-residential construction. Some of the sluggishness in building new office spaces may be due to the decrease of vacant buildings. The long game, is of course, that occupation of the buildings will eventually lead to shortages and force new buildings. It’s still positive that so many buildings are no longer abandoned, and are recovering some losses with new occupancies.

Architectural Billing

Used to predict Building Starts, architectural billing is a herald for business to come. The graph shows how volatile the trends have been; but the increase is clearly on the rise:

“Though Volatile Recently, Architecture Billings Are in the Midst of a Strong Upturn…”

 Diffusion index: 50 = no change from previous month, seasonally adjusted

Source: AIA Architecture Billings Index

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“…And the Volume of New Design Contracts Indicates That Billings Will Continue to Accelerate”

Source: AIA Architecture Billings Index

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And lastly, good news across the board:

“Recent Upturn Has Lifted Business Conditions For Firms Serving All the Major Construction Sectors”

Billings scores since 2008; index: 50 = no change from previous month

Billings scores since 2008; index: 50 = no change from previous month

comp-billing-types

Also presenting was Ken Simonson, Chief Economist for The Associated General Contractors of America. In the interest of brevity of this newsletter, we did not include his in-depth report.  However, we highly recommend that you view his take on the Construction economy and  download the ENTIRE “Is the Pace of Construction set to Quicken?” webcast at:  http://www.cmdgroup.com/webcasts.

Sage Support for Year End

Supported Versions for Year-End 2014question-mark-gears-300x300

For the upcoming 2014 Year-End, we will be supporting Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate versions 13.1 and 14.1 (coming 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 will be 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

U.S. Edition: Get Ready for 2014 Year End

Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate

U.S. Edition: Get Ready for 2014 Year End

Technical Assistance

When you need assistance, refer to the following articles to determine which support service works best for you:

How do I get technical support for Sage 100 Contractor?

How do I get technical support for Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate?

IMPORTANT: YE Update Payroll Patch for Certified Reports

If you enter pays with a Pay Type of Reimbursement, Accrual or Other to a certified job after applying the 2014 Year End Update for Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate 13.1 or 14.1, those pays will be written to the Daily Distribution record and will be included on the Certified Report and Bi-Weekly Certified Report.

The DOL WH-347 report under Tasks, Federal eFile and Reporting and state specific certified reports under Tasks, State eFile and Reporting are not affected.

Resolution

A Payroll update is available that stops pays with a type of Reimbursement, Accrual or Other from being written to the Daily Distribution record. The Payroll update also modifies the Certified Report and Bi-Weekly Certified Report so they only show daily detail for pays with a Pay Type of Regular and Overtime.

The PR Certified Report.rpt and PR Bi-Weekly Certified Report.rpt will be overwritten when installing the Payroll Update. If you have customized these reports we recommend backing them up prior to installing the Payroll Update.


Download the Update

If you have installed the Year-End Update (13.1 Accounting Update 9 or 14.1 Accounting Update 2), OR uou have installed the Year-End Update and the last Payroll Update (13.1 Accounting Update 9 with Payroll Update 4 or 14.1 Accounting Update 2 with Payroll Update 1) follow the steps below to download and install the latest Payroll Update.

  1. Create a complete backup of all Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate data and program files.
  2. Click the link below to download the Payroll Update for your version:

o    14.1 Payroll Update 2

o    13.1 Payroll Update 5

  1. Install the Payroll Update on the server.
  2. Install the Payroll Update on each workstation.

If you have not installed the Year-End Update and are using a version prior to 13.1 Accounting Update 9 or 14.1 Accounting Update 2, follow the steps below to download and install the Accounting and Payroll updates.

  1. Create a complete backup of all Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate data and program files.
  2. Click the link below to download the Accounting Update for your version:

o    14.1 Accounting Update 2

o    13.1 Accounting Update 9

  1. Install the Accounting Update on the server.
  2. Install the Accounting Update on each workstation.
  3. Upgrade files on the server.
  4. Click the link below to download the Payroll Update for your version:

o    14.1 Payroll Update 2

o    13.1 Payroll Update 5

  1. Install the Payroll Update on the server.
  2. Install the Payroll Update on each workstation.

Custom Certified Reports

If you use custom certified reports and are affected by this issue, follow the steps in the knowledgebase article:

How do I remove Reimbursement, Accrual or Other pays from my certified report?

 


 Is Your Business Growing? It’s Time to Manage Your Pipeline!

PGC_Pipeline_Data-300x246All indicators in the reports above point to more estimates, more RFPs, more proposals and more sales!! You need a CRM solution that can adapt to your changing needs and grow with your business needs.

Sage CRM is specifically designed to help small and medium sized businesses like yours. It is easy to deploy, install, manage, learn and maintain for companies who want to focus on their business and not on their software.

With Sage CRM, you can be up and running in just days. Most importantly, it’s affordable—so you can be assured that you’re getting the best possible value for your money. With Sage CRM, you can:

  • Track your sales opportunities effectively from lead generation to close
  • Exceed your customers’ expectations with outstanding customer service and support
  • Connect the different parts of your business with joined-up CRM and Sage 300 solutions
  • Enable your workforce to access critical customer information anytime, anywhere
  • Send targeted email campaigns to the right people at the right time

Call us at 480-423-8300 for a consultation on how to grow your Construction business with Sage CRM! 480-423-8300

 


2015 Online “LiveWire” Training Classesshutterstock_192044156-300x200

Plan to learn all year long! We’ve published the whole year for LAI’s Online Training Calendar.

January will finish up the Year End training. In February, we will start the “Take the Fear Out of…Reports” – with a 3-session Sage Report Designer and a 5-session Crystal Reports course.

Sage Certified Consultants lead these interactive, homework accountable, fun, affordable sessions.

 

Nov
29
Thu
Sage 300 CRE Payroll Year End Preparation and Forms @ GoToTraining
Nov 29 @ 9:00 am – 11:00 am

Including W2s and Aatrix

This 2-hour class will include tips for reconciling the Payroll module to itself and to GL, step-by-step instructions for using Aatrix to prepare and print W2s, and what you should know about tracking and reporting ACA Compliance in Sage 300 CRE.

Dec
13
Thu
Sage 300 CRE Accounting Year End Preparation @ GoToTraining
Dec 13 @ 9:00 am – 11:00 am

Closing procedures and 1099 forms

This 2-hour presentation will provide Sage 300 CRE users with step-by-step instructions and live demonstration of closing procedures for all modules except Payroll, including 1099 forms preparation.

Dec
27
Thu
Sage 100 CON Year-End Payroll
Dec 27 @ 3:00 pm – 3:30 pm

Covers payroll archiving to prepare for the new year. In this webinar you will be able the instructor will walk through the screens for this process and allow for Q&A time. You can run through the process on your own system during the webinar. The session is repeated multiple times—sign up for the one that is best for your schedule.

PREQUISITES — Make sure you have Database Administrator access and that you have backed up your files. Details will be provided after you enroll in the class. LENGTH — Approximately 30 minutes but may run longer due to the number of questions.

Dec
28
Fri
Sage 100 CON Year-End Payroll
Dec 28 @ 10:00 am – 10:30 am

Covers payroll archiving to prepare for the new year. In this webinar you will be able the instructor will walk through the screens for this process and allow for Q&A time. You can run through the process on your own system during the webinar. The session is repeated multiple times—sign up for the one that is best for your schedule.

PREQUISITES — Make sure you have Database Administrator access and that you have backed up your files. Details will be provided after you enroll in the class. LENGTH — Approximately 30 minutes but may run longer due to the number of questions.

Dec
31
Mon
Sage 100 CON Year-End Payroll
Dec 31 @ 11:00 am – 11:30 am

Covers payroll archiving to prepare for the new year. In this webinar you will be able the instructor will walk through the screens for this process and allow for Q&A time. You can run through the process on your own system during the webinar. The session is repeated multiple times—sign up for the one that is best for your schedule.

PREQUISITES — Make sure you have Database Administrator access and that you have backed up your files. Details will be provided after you enroll in the class. LENGTH — Approximately 30 minutes but may run longer due to the number of questions.

Jan
2
Wed
Sage 100 CON Year-End Payroll
Jan 2 @ 8:30 am – 9:00 am

Covers payroll archiving to prepare for the new year. In this webinar you will be able the instructor will walk through the screens for this process and allow for Q&A time. You can run through the process on your own system during the webinar. The session is repeated multiple times—sign up for the one that is best for your schedule.

PREQUISITES — Make sure you have Database Administrator access and that you have backed up your files. Details will be provided after you enroll in the class. LENGTH — Approximately 30 minutes but may run longer due to the number of questions.

Jan
3
Thu
Sage 100 CON Year-End Payroll
Jan 3 @ 2:00 pm – 2:30 pm

Covers payroll archiving to prepare for the new year. In this webinar you will be able the instructor will walk through the screens for this process and allow for Q&A time. You can run through the process on your own system during the webinar. The session is repeated multiple times—sign up for the one that is best for your schedule.

PREQUISITES — Make sure you have Database Administrator access and that you have backed up your files. Details will be provided after you enroll in the class. LENGTH — Approximately 30 minutes but may run longer due to the number of questions.

Jan
4
Fri
Sage 100 CON Year-End Payroll
Jan 4 @ 2:00 pm – 2:30 pm

Covers payroll archiving to prepare for the new year. In this webinar you will be able the instructor will walk through the screens for this process and allow for Q&A time. You can run through the process on your own system during the webinar. The session is repeated multiple times—sign up for the one that is best for your schedule.

PREQUISITES — Make sure you have Database Administrator access and that you have backed up your files. Details will be provided after you enroll in the class. LENGTH — Approximately 30 minutes but may run longer due to the number of questions.

Jan
10
Thu
Sage 100 CON Year-End Filing Reports W-2s
Jan 10 @ 10:00 am – 10:30 am

Lecture/demo of steps involved with filing using AAtrix.

PREREQUISITES — None. LENGTH — Approximately 30 minutes but may run longer due to the number of questions.


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Current Version (19.5) Information

Submitted by Walt Mathieson, Certified Sage 100 Consultant

The latest and greatest version of Sage 100 Contractor is version 19.5.27. This 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 and enhancements for helping employers collect and report employee benefit information to comply with the Affordable Care Act.

A New Year Resolution

The Times Square ball has dropped, the 2014 calendar has been replaced with a 2015 version, and it is traditionally time to resolve to do things better in the New Year. With that in mind, consider adopting the following New Year Resolution:

“I resolve to help all of my fellow Sage 100 Contractor users customize their program workspaces so that they can work more efficiently and effectively with the program.  I will learn how to:”

  • Change what Activity Centers (the tabs across the top of the desktop) are shown and available to a user for their daily work tasks.
  • Modify what menu items show on an Activity Center and how those menu items are arranged on the screen, whether there are lines corresponding to work flows between the menu items, and whether there are boxes drawn around like menu items. This is all intended to make it possible to arrange the desktop in a manner that is most helpful to a specific user and his or her role in the organization.
  • Place links to specific reports on the activity center workspaces that are most likely to be useful to a user during their typical workday. Report links can be integrated into the work flow diagrams or grouped to suit the user’s needs.
  • Place links to other programs (like Excel, Word, Outlook, DataLink Viewer, or whatever one might need) on the Activity Center workspace so that the user doesn’t have to get out of Sage 100 Contractor to use other tools that are important to their work and role in the organization.
  • Teach users how to hide unneeded columns in work grids throughout the program so that they aren’t burdened by viewing and entering through columns that don’t apply to the way the user should work.

Helping users use Sage 100 Contractor more efficiently will help the organization achieve its goals in the New Year.

If you are unsure how to take advantage of these features, give your Sage 100 Contractor Certified Consultant a call for assistance.
More about Sage 100 Contractor here. Call Ledgerwood Associates at 877-918-8301 today and we’ll match your needs to the best solution. Email Walt at walt@mathiesonconsulting.com.

job-ready-300-tips1
Getting Help for Sage 300 – 24/7

Submitted by Kyle Zeigler, Sage Senior Certified Consultant

Happy New Year! While we look forward to all the promise and prosperity that 2015 has to offer, many of us are still finishing all of the tasks involved with closing out 2014. For companies that end their fiscal year on December 31, January is often the busiest time of year for the accounting department. And for those that end their fiscal year at other times, there are still year-end activities required to close payroll and accounts payable so that W2s and 1099s can be prepared and mailed while also managing the routine month-end activities of closing December. No matter your situation, you’re just busy!Whether during this hectic time of year or any other time, sometimes you need help with your Sage 300 CRE software. You might just need some instruction on running a task that is unfamiliar to you or help troubleshooting an incorrect transaction, or you might be concerned over sudden error messages. Whatever the issue, it never happens at a convenient time. Never fear! Sage has been busy, too, building support resources just for you, available at your fingertips, and many of them available 24/7. Some of these you may not know about and others you may not have taken the time to explore. We want you have all of the advantages of help when you need it, so we’ve prepared the list below to help guide you when the time comes.

Online Help: Always use this first. Search the Help page within the specific application or click Help button in a task window to get detailed how-to information on running tasks and troubleshooting errors.

Knowledgebase: Launch Sage Service & Support and log in to your Sage customer account to search the literally thousands of articles available 24/7. Don’t have a customer account? Look for the “Sign up for an Account” link in the top right corner of the page. This is free to you with an active Sage Customer Care plan.

Sage City (sagecity.na.sage.com) is the newest option for getting information, tips and help. On the Sage City web page, click on Support Communities and then on the Sage Construction and Real Estate community to find a variety of articles and resources, including the Year-End Center.

Live Chat: Log in to your Sage customer account to chat with a Sage analyst available during extended hours. During peak seasons, such as December and January, this is most often a faster route to help than calling Sage Support on the phone.

Sage Support Phone Call: The number is 800-551-8307. Be forewarned — wait times can be lengthy! Also, depending on which customer care plan you have, there may be a fee for the call.

Sage Certified Consultant: Consulting assistance is fee-based, so the Sage resources described above should always be your first choices for seeking support in how to use and troubleshoot your software. However, when it comes to more technical needs, such as installing an upgrade, migrating your system to a new server, obtaining new custom reports, getting tailored training for your users, or other more involved projects, scheduling time in advance with your local consultant is the way to go.

We hope you will take advantage of these great resources as issues arise and wish you a very Happy and Prosperous New Year!

accounting-tips

Don’t Let it Pass!

Submitted by Bryan Eto, CPA

In late December, the President signed the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014 (TIPA) that renewed/extended a long list of business federal income tax breaks that had been allowed to expire at the end of 2013. Two of the major extensions were the 50% bonus depreciation and the $500,000 Section 179 deduction. The use of these deductions can have a major financial impact if you are an owner of commercial property.

If you own commercial property, you’re probably depreciating it over 39 years. That means that every year, you deduct 1/39th of the property’s value (excluding land) from your taxes. Depending on the value of your property, you could generate a million dollars or more in depreciation deductions over the 39 years.

Wouldn’t you like to get your hands on some of the money sooner?

By conducting a “cost segregation study,” you can dramatically speed up the depreciation process so you get your deductions faster. Depending on the building type, a cost segregation study takes 15 to 60 percent of the building cost out of 39-year depreciation and puts it into five, seven or 15-year depreciation recovery periods.

Items that may qualify for faster depreciation include electrical wiring, kitchen or laboratory plumbing, landscaping, parking lot improvements, site lighting, underground utilities, decorative millwork, built-in audio visual projectors and screens. In general, any property used to operate your business might be eligible for a faster write-off.

And there’s more. The depreciation on indirect construction costs, such as construction interest and architecture and engineering fees can also be accelerated.

By maximizing your depreciation in the early years of ownership, you increase your cash flow since you pay less income tax.

The Savings Can Be Significant

In one case, a fast-food chain built 10 new restaurants from 1992 to 1994. The average cost per store was $600,000, excluding the equipment. A cost segregation study was conducted. The results:

  • Without the study. The chain must generally depreciate 100 percent of the building cost over 39 years.
  • With the study. The chain can depreciate 20 percent of the building cost over 15 years and 25 percent over five years. For all 10 buildings, the total taxes deferred over a cumulative five-year period exceed $700,000. That means the owners have $700,000 they can use now to run the business, pay off debt or invest as they see fit. It’s almost like getting an interest-free loan from the government.

Caution: The IRS has made it clear that experienced professionals should conduct cost segregation studies. Property owners, or professionals without the proper experience who try to do this themselves, are likely to have trouble withstanding IRS scrutiny.

To learn more about the specifics of your situation, talk to your tax adviser.

 

Bryan Eto, CPA

BeachFleischman

http://beachfleischman.com

1985 E River Road, Suite 201
Tucson, AZ 85718
1 (520) 321-4600
1 (520) 321-4040 [fax]

estimating-tips

How to Move Around in the Spreadsheet and Display More Info

Submitted by Jim Hoeppner, Certified Sage Consultant

Users of the Estimating product may want to move around a large spreadsheet quickly, both vertically and horizontally. In large estimates, rather than scrolling continuously and developing carpal tunnel syndrome, you can quickly collapse everything vertically to a compressed view with the ‘Collapse’ option under ‘View’ or by using the toolbar icon. Then you can jump to and expand the specific collapsed scope of work with a left double-click. You can also use the short cut key strokes found in Help>Help topics>Shortcuts>Navigation keys to move horizontally. There are many similar key strokes to what is used in Excel.

When the spreadsheet is fully expanded (not collapsed), summary information at the overline levels of columns with like units such as dollars and hours are not seen, but can be displayed. (It used to be that the summing of those overline amounts took a lot of computational power, so this option had not been set as a default.) To turn this option on in the Estimating Pervasive SQL versions you can go to Edit>Options and on the first tab, turn on the checkbox on the left side, Display ‘Overline Totals When Expanded.’ This option is also not a default in the newer MS SQL 14.12 Estimating version (go to File>Options).

Would you like a copy of our newsletter in PDF format? Email Joanie@ledgerwoodassociatesusa.com and we will email it to you!