January 2016 Newsletter
What we’re talking about in January:
- Is Sage CEO, Stephen Kelly, about to reinvent Sage?
- It’s here! The 2015 Construction Technology Report from JBKnowledge
- ACA training for S300CRE in January
- Free webinar on electronic payment process for Sage 300CRE
- Tips and Tricks for Sage 100 & 300CRE, CON, Estimating and Accounting
Will Stephen Kelly Change Sage’s Colors?
by Joanie Hollabaugh (All opinions are my own, and may not reflect those of LAI.)
Sage has been on a transformational journey.
Back in 2011, when they brought on Sage North American CEO, Pascal Houillon, Sage was on a branding mission. The “Sage” brand to be exact. Out with “Timberline” and “MasterBuilder” – paragons of software accounting brands – and in with the genericized “SAGE 300 CRE” (Construction and Real Estate) and SAGE 100 CON (Contractor), respectively. Houillon championed the re-branding, and was (unfairly?) reviled for it. Regardless of the industry pushback – he had a valid business case: no one knew that Timberline/MasterBuilder were Sage assets. And then he denounced the former names in a very “French” manner, forbidding their very utterance.
Defragmenting the Business
From the onset, Houillon had major roadblocks. At his career start with Sage NA, there were 11 product lines, and he whittled it down to four. He sold off ACT and SalesLogix and a few other product lines, and focused on market size segments, in lieu of product lines. To be honest, as a channel partner aligned with a specific vertical product (construction software), we were a little worried. To make it worse, communication from Sage to the partners was mostly simultaneous with clients’ notification; no forewarning made us feel cut off from the Mother Ship.
Perhaps because his was the face of change, or maybe his accent was difficult for American ears, but Houillon seemed unpopular at Sage Summit with both the channel partners and the customers. (He had a spectacular R-rated gaffe with the pronunciation of “focus” one year at Sage, and never seemed to recover or gain rapport with live audiences.) The progress Houillon made was internal, and not channel- or customer-facing, IMHO.
Four short years later, it’s au revoir to Houillon, and enter new Sage Group CEO, Stephen Kelly. While not in parallel CEO positions (divisional versus global), each has had held the role of Sage figurehead at Sage Summit. And the change couldn’t appear (or sound) more disparate. Yet, I believe the missions are quite similar – to become an agent for change at Sage.
Bob’s Your Uncle
Part David Bowie, part David Beckham, and a tad Richard Branson, Stephen Kelly seems to have it all – looks, business acumen, and a charming accent. At Sage Summit 2015 Partners Day, he acknowledged the channel’s struggles and apologized for the lack of communication between entities.
The following day, addressing the general audience, he banned the use of “ERP,” he lit up the twitterverse with quotable soundbits; he announced Sage’s partnership with Microsoft and Salesforce. He promised the end of legacy software and the emergence of a competitive business solution provider.
Stephen Kelly. Wants. Sage. To be a Player.
Treading Lightly – in the US
The message to SMBs at Sage Summit was clear: you have options. While the rest of the business universe is eagerly embracing SaaS, and mobile, OUR industry (construction accounting) likes servers, on-premise, and status quo. Sage and Kelly get it, and they won’t “force” you to change (the only negative phrasing I didn’t care for) – but boy, are they ready for when you do! The Sage/Salesforce alliance is the perfect storm for a captive user base meets the cloud infrastructure platform. “Sage Live” (a new cloud accounting product) is already chipping away at the accounting vertical, and it’s going to keep Salesforce CRM very relevant with seamless integration compatiblity.
While Timberline and MasterBuilder are the dominators in a small but lucrative American construction segment, Sage is not well known in the US for its “ERP” (oops), CRM, or HRMS solutions. The reverse is true for Europe – there Sage has the presence of an Oracle or SAP.
The good news for Sage is that Salesforce is multi-lingual and multi-device. Sage wants to tap the SME (small and medium-sized enterprise) market in America, and Salesforce gets the largest accounting software company in the world’s Rolodex and dev team. Nice, right? (Sage has six million customers and is the number one accounting program in France, Spain, Germany, UK, as well as Brazil. (Source: https://www.digitalfirst.com/real-story-behind-sage-live/)
Economy of Scale
Kelly’s gambling that even though he is now revenue sharing with Salesforce, the collaboration between the two techno-giants will scale their combined growth, ergo enough revenue to go all around. And according to Sholto Macpherson in his Digital First article, The Real Story Behind Sage Live: Sage Summit, there’s an established trust bond: “Another important element in this deal is personal. Sage CEO Stephen Kelly and SF Marc Benioff worked together at Oracle many years ago. These people go back. There’s a level of shared history and trust there which will push the deal along.”
Props from the PM
Even the Prime Minister is onboard the Kelly caboose. The Sage CEO was appointed to government’s “Business Ambassador” network, which promotes the UK in opportunities in overseas markets. Calling four new appointees, “the brightest business minds” is high praise, indeed (I raised my pinkie just quoting it). The article cites Kelly:
Stephen Kelly, CEO of Sage, said: “It is an honour to accept this invitation from the Prime Minister. As the CEO of the UK’s largest tech company, I am privileged to represent our thriving sector and to use this role to champion Entrepreneurs and Small & Medium businesses. These Businesses are the engine room for Britain’s prosperity and deserve a louder voice as they grow, export and create jobs and wealth for urban and rural communities.”
It’s a “Kelly Green” Koolaid!
Sage seems revitalized, even down to the trenches in Sage North America. While re-orgs, layoffs, and product strategy shifts are routine for Sage and the channel, this time it’s different. There’s optimism and praise from within. The prevalent Stepford attitude has cracked the botox mindset, and there’s genuine hope in the air. Hope of becoming a profitable, forward-thinking, technology-forward company. This means that for YOU, our Sage customers — you can look forward to your investment to continue being relevant, accessible however you prefer (server, cloud, mobile, etc.), and that Sage is partnering with LAI to keep you a customer for life.
If this is the direction of the “new” Sage – I’m hoisting a pinkie and toasting the Koolaid. Cheers, Mr. Kelly!
JBKnowledge 2015 Construction Technology Report
Every year, JBKnowledge releases its Annual Construction Technology Report. Founded in 2012, with 452 participating companies, the 2015 version has grown exponentially to include 2,044!
*Indented paragraphs (such as the following) are direct quotes from the report.
This year, the fourth annual Construction Technology Survey was conducted by JBKnowledge in conjunction with the Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA), the Texas A&M University Department of Construction Science and HCSS construction software. Between June 17, 2015, and July 8, 2015, the survey received over 2,000 responses.
We’re going to skip the surveyed companies demographics and IT budget and staff, etc., and jump to the construction software “nuggets.” It’s worth reviewing the entire report, however, download it here.
Good news: Sage still holds the market share here, and my favorite quote of the entire report is as amusing as it is accurate (our bolded text):
While only 5.2% of builders are still using spreadsheets or a manual process for accounting, anything over 0% is too many. Any accountant should be terrified of company financials stored in a static, non-encrypted spreadsheet.
The CTR (Construction Technology Report) stated that Estimating included a high amount of write-in software types, and also a 20% dependence on spreadsheets, again to JBKnowledge’s horror, “The only thing worse than company financials in a static, unencrypted spreadsheet are the quantities and costs of every estimated detail of your project.”
Wisely separating PM from scheduling this year, JBKnowledge noted there was no single market category owner. The best observation:
Project management is a heavily manual and spreadsheet ridden process, with Viewpoint and HCSS HeavyJob leading the way for those using a software solution. No solution seems to dominate in this space, which is interesting considering it tends to be one of the first software solutions companies buy.
A bit surprisingly, data collection from the field is lagging and not due to the lack of mobile devices or mobile apps. The Report surmises that connectivity, budget, resources, and the learning curve may be to blame.
My best guess is that this will ramp up rapidly, as the perceived value and low cost of entry (most are inexpensive monthly subscription solutions) boosts the slow adoption rate. I wonder what the 2016 report will say…
What I consider the most interesting part of the report is, “What’s coming next?” With drones, 3-D printing, augmented reality, robotic construction labor, and sustainable, food-producing buildings – most of which are past the proof-of-concept stage – the sky is the limit!
Alas, it seems like “Baxter” the robot will remain on the shelf for some time:
Next they were asked, if they could have any technology to implement tomorrow, what would they choose? The answers above ranged from indifferent to overzealous. Showing that no matter how comfortable builders claim they feel about new technology, the prospect of taking on another technology solution tomorrow doesn’t inspire innovation and excitement for all. Some builders would implement very practical solutions tomorrow if they could, or push change in current solutions. Most builders are still sorting through all of the software they use today that doesn’t integrate – and are not yet thinking about Baxter the Robot.
Ledgerwood Associates, Inc. would like to thank James Benham and Liz Welsh from JBKnowledge for their permission and assistance in reprinting portions of the report. You can follow JBKnowledge and Liz at: @JBKnowledge | @JamesMBenham | @LizTweetsTech.
Automate Your Payment Processes!
Ledgerwood Associates and AvidXchange have formed a strategic partnership to deliver an integrated electronic payment solution just for Sage 100 and Sage 300 customers.
In this 30 minute webinar, automation expert Jan Skinner, will address the 5 reasons construction companies are choosing to automate their payment process.
- Eliminate the signing, stuffing, and mailing of paper checks
- Reduce operating costs of 60% or more
- Improve control over your payment process
- Gain 24/7 visibility into payment status and approvals
- Have dedicated services teams to do the manual work you don’t want to do
Get rid of the paper already! Learn how your company can go paperless to increase efficiency and save money.
Are You Ready for the ACA and Year End?
Join us at our Scottsdale Training Center on January 21st for a gourmet breakfast at the LAI Corporate training center from 7:30 to 11:30 AM in Old Town Scottsdale.
LAI’s Sage Sr. Enterprise Management Consultant, Kathy Blakesley will show you how to implement ACA requirements and reporting in your Sage 300 CRE software. And Sage Sr. Enterprise Management Consultant Kyle Zeigler will share tips and tricks on payroll and archiving.
Limited seating. Sign up here to network with peers, consultants, and start your New Year off right. Only $99!
Follow LAI on Social Media for immediate construction and technology news!
Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn LAI Page | LAI Sage 300 CRE Users Group
Upcoming LAI Online Training and Networking Events:
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.
Backup Twice, Archive, Repeat.
Submitted by Walt Mathieson, Certified Sage 100 Consultant
Twice as Safe
The archiving process, whether for payroll closing or archiving the general ledger, is a destructive process. Every discussion of archiving starts with an admonition to back up (twice for safety) your data.
Most users have invested in significant backup systems and processes that they rely on to prevent catastrophic loss of critical data. Too many of these same users do not regularly test the backup process to ensure that their backups are effective and able to be restored easily and quickly.
Too often we find that users are relying on these overnight backups as their only backups when archiving their data. If they have a problem with their archiving process—and problems do occur—they must restore from backup and start the archiving process over again. And since they have relied on their outside networking consultant to administer the backup process, they must wait for the networking consultant to restore the data from the overnight backup, losing valuable time in the process. And this is NOT the time to find out that your overnight backups haven’t been working properly!
The easiest, and most expedient, way to make a quick and restorable backup is to use Windows Explorer to copy the current company data folder and paste it onto your workstation’s desktop or some other location in your network. To ensure that no one has any files open that may not copy properly, just log into the company with Sage 100 Contractor with Exclusive Access, and then log out to make your “copy and paste” backup. If the archiving process has any problems, you can easily recover by deleting the file folders affected by the failure and restoring the data folder from the “copy and paste” backup data folder.
Backups when archiving are important to cloud users also. Check with your cloud hosting provider to ensure that you can make a quick and easy “copy and paste” backup as well.
Archive Locally to Minimize Problems
While users can usually archive data across their network, running the program on their local workstation on the data folder located on the server, this involves pushing and pulling massive amounts of data over your local network, in thousands of operations and processes. This tends to require much more time to process since pushing and pulling that data over the network is inherently slow. Sometimes networks fail to make a connection reliably, and this can cause the archiving process to fail.
There are two ways to get around these potential problems:
- Perform the archiving process from the server’s desktop, rather than a workstation. This eliminates entirely the network’s effect on the process, or
- Copy the company data folder to your workstation’s C:\MB7 folder. Perform the archiving process on the copy of the company residing on your C: drive, and then copy the two resulting data folders – the cleaned up current company data folder and the new archive folder—back to the server.
Users working in a cloud configuration typically are not presented with network speed or reliability issues and can ignore this tip.
For assistance with archiving data, contact your friendly Sage 100 Contractor Certified Consultant.
Current Version Information
Sage released the 2016 Payroll Tax Table update on December 17, 2015. Version 19.7.28 contains all federal and state payroll tax table data available as of that date that will be effective in 2016. It also contains a few enhancements and fixes related to payroll processing. Install this update after all payroll to be paid in 2015 has been final computed, and before any 2016 payroll is processed
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 email@example.com.
Why is My Software So Slow?
One of the complaints that Sage 300 CRE users voice the loudest is slowness in the performance of the software. Here are some main causes for performance issues and the Knowledgebase articles that can help you address them:
- Antivirus or anti-malware security software actively scanning the data or software.
- See articles 32849 (Why is Sage Estimating or Sage 300 CRE so slow?) and 17258 (What Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate and Sage Estimating files and folders should I exclude from my antivirus software scan?).
- Malware or virus infections not caught by your antivirus or anti-malware applications.
- See article 24542 (Slow performance of Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate and Sage Estimating (virus or malware infections).
- Network issues (network adapter duplex/link speed settings, latency issues caused by faulty hardware or software).
- See articles 33869 (Slow performance in Sage products (incorrect network adapter duplex settings) and 31213 (How do I use the PING command to troubleshoot network connectivity?).
- Hard drive failure or imminent failure (i.e. hard drive going bad). Symptoms generally include Windows Explorer lagging, not responding, icons and files/folders taking a long time to display, corrupt files (CRC errors), Windows complaining about SMART errors, BIOS or POST SMART errors.
- Contact your IT professional for assistance. See article 61349 (Slow Performance in Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate or Sage Estimating (hard drive failure imminent))
- The server or workstation not meeting minimum requirements, or meeting minimum requirements but having the additional load of performing many other tasks. For example, your server or workstation meets the minimum requirements, but you install dozens of other applications that tax the processor, RAM or hard disks, and the minimum requirements will no longer apply. Keep in mind the minimum requirements are just the bare minimum. If the server or workstation is intended to perform other tasks, you must have computers that meet or exceed the recommended specifications.
- See article 61353 (Slow performance for Sage products (Sage 100, Sage 300, Sage Estimating – computer does not meet requirements)) and requirements set forth in the installation or user guides.
- Incorrect workflow used during the Sage 300 server migration, incorrect workflow used to delete company folders, or the server crashed prior to a migration.
- See article 25496 (Slow performance of Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate after migration (company folder list takes a long time to load)).
- Your Sage log viewer is large (2GB+ in size), you are running Sage MyAssistant, and you have tasks that are set to run “At the conclusion of a Sage 300 CRE program“, such as the option for “Run the task each time this Sage 300 CRE process completes“.
- See article 19542 (Starting the MyAssistant ISDAdminTaskService slows entire server).
- If only one or a few reports are affected, the way the report was designed (how it accesses and sorts data) may be the cause.
- Contact the person who originally wrote or customized the report for assistance troubleshooting the report design.
- The Sage Event Log may not be functioning correctly. You can access through the Windows Event Viewer to verify if there are recent entries. Background Tasks and other Sage processes may not function well or at all if this log isn’t updating correctly.
- See article 34486 (Sage System Verifier fails on Windows Event Log sources).
If you need help applying a solution recommended in any of the above articles, or need help accessing the Sage knowledgebase, please contact Ledgerwood Associates at 480.423.8300.
IRS Extends ACA Filing Deadlines
Submitted by Bryan Eto, CPA
Do you have 50 or more full time equivalent employees? If so, you may be required to file Forms 1094 and 1095 related to your health insurance coverage for employees as mandated by the Affordable Care Act. The Internal Revenue Service has given some temporary relief for the New Year. The IRS issued Notice 2016-4 on 12/28/15. The Notice officially extends the due date for furnishing Forms 1095 and 1094.
Notice 2016-4 extends the due date for:
- Furnishing to individuals/employees:
- The 2015 Form 1095-B, Health Coverage
- The 2015 Form 1095-C, Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage
from February 1, 2016, to March 31, 2016.
- Filing with the IRS:
- The 2015 Form 1094-B, Transmittal of Health Coverage Information Returns
- The 2015 Form 1095-B, Health Coverage
- The 2015 Form 1094-C, Transmittal of Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage Information Returns, and
- The 2015 Form 1095-C, Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage
Top 3 Estimating Database Questions
What estimating database do I have?
To identify the database, perform these steps:
- Launch Sage Estimating.
- Click Database, Database Settings.
- Press Ctrl + F12. A window titled Database Information should appear, giving you the serial number. A serial number of DB1-00 means this is a customized database, created by someone there or perhaps a Sage consultant. A serial number with values other than zeros generally mean this is a database created by Sage. You can compare this serial number with your sales documents showing purchased products from Sage.
How do I merge Estimating databases?
Use Estimating Tools to merge databases
- Back up the database you want to merge.
- In Estimating Tools, click File, Merge Databases.
- In the New database path box, enter the full path of the folder (for example, C:\new folder) where you want to store the new database created by the merge operation.
- Click Add.
- In the Choose Database window, select the pei.dat files that you want to merge, click Open.
- Answer the question, “Do you want to Replace duplicate records?”
- To start the merge, click OK.
How do I modify an estimating database?
Database Editor is a powerful tool that allows you to make advanced modifications to your Sage Estimating database.
Use Database Editor. Check with your IT professional or with your Sage consultant to confirm if your company purchased a use for this module or not.
When using Database Editor, the help topics automatically appear on the right hand side, explaining details about the current screen you are on. The side help will automatically update to match your screen in real-time.