January 2017 Newsletter
“After the year of the monkey comes the year of the rooster, which begins January 28, 2017. The Rooster being the sign of dawn and awakening, triumph and success can only be achieved at the price of hard work and patience in 2017.” — karmaweather.com
What we’re talking about in January:
- Highlights from the JBKnowledge 2016 Construction Technology Report
- Quickbooks CAN”T but Sage 100 Contractor CAN! Free webinar this month
- 10 critical upgrade mistakes via TechRepublic
- Best two tradeshows of the year: IBS and WOC! Registration links below — there’s still time…
- Final online YE classes; plus FREE Year End checklist recording
- Awesome ‘Tips and Tricks’ for Sage 300 CRE | Sage 100 CON | Sage Estimating
JBKnowledge 2016 Construction Technology Report
by Joanie Hollabaugh. Excerpts republished with permission from JBKnowledge. Download the full report here.
For the fifth year JBKnowledge (of SmartBid, SmartReality, SmartInsight, and SlightCompliance) surveyed AEC companies to compile information “to map that trajectory” and share trends and insights across the industry. This year, JBKnowledge collaborated with Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA), the Construction Financial Management
Association (CFMA), and Texas A&M University’s Department of Construction Science. The survey was distributed to over 50,000 industry professionals.
I’ll skip a deep drill-down on the 2,600+ respondents’ demographics, and just share that nearly 72% were commercial construction companies (17% residential), and 58% identified their company type as Contractor/General Manager. Remarkably 75% of the companies responding have been in business for 20+ years!
IT spend push back
Construction, as an industry, seems reluctant to budget for technology; in fact 70.8% spend less than $500k on it. From the survey: “The percentage of companies spending 1% or Less than 1% of annual sales volume on IT continues to grow, from 45% in 2015 to 70% in 2016.”
But the good news…
And as construction technology advances on the hardware side (drones, wearables, robotics, etc.), the industry is becoming more positive regarding “new” technology. This is a positive shift from the “laggard” label that we have cited in previous years. JBKnowledge reports:
Nearly 62% of builders say on a scale of 1-10, 10 being “Very Comfortable” with new technology, that they are at least an 8. It appears the construction industry is embracing new technology, as the top four responses by percentage were between 7 and 10. It seems that embracing new technology isn’t the issue in this industry, as much as the strategy for how to implement it, who will own the process and how to calculate the return in order to get budget approval.
This graphic shows the about-face in mobile adoption, which JBKnowledge dubs…
The construction industry is entering the “Mobile Revolution,” in which apps are becoming an accepted means for workflows. A majority of workers have a mobile device, yet many companies still do not comprehend how to build a corporate strategy around leveraging mobile technology. There has been a drastic change in the importance of mobile capabilities shown in the survey since 2012. The 20% increase in participants who now see mobile as Very Important or Important appears to signal a recognition that participants are seeing real benefit from early investments in mobile tech and are embracing mobile as a force multiplier.
Mobile time entry
Time entry (management) would seem to be a slam-dunk for mobile strategy. JBKnowledge discovered ample room for improvement in this application, however. Syncing complex job codes and legacy accounting systems is a barrier to universal adoption, as shown by the graph below. Respondents indicated that current mobile solutions are not “mature” enough to integrate and create collaboration across business units. We’ll see what next year brings in regards to development partners stepping up their game!
As a VAR for primarily Sage construction accounting software, LAI offers many third-party integration solutions (document management, mobile, payment, project management, etc.). It’s always interesting to us to see how businesses “connect” disparate systems — because it’s our “job” to make systems perform optimally, not just “connect.”
Interestingly, LESS systems integrate YOY over the last five years of the JBK survey!
In 2012 and 2013, this report revealed that most builders were using over six software applications in their construction roles. In 2016, two software applications was the most common answer and fewer builders are using 4 or more software solutions. However, participants using one software application saw an increase of nearly 5%.
Current software in use
The following images are quick ‘snaps’ of what the industry is using. There’s not many surprises here, other than disappointment over the continued use of spreadsheets (sigh) for estimating.
Sage continues to own the market share when it comes to accounting at 16.5%. With the promise of a huge investment for Sage 300 CRE and Sage 100 Contractor already getting a SQL makeover, Sage should continue to beat the competition (as other systems become legacy software).
Although the proof is in on the danger of spreadsheets, respondents defend the increase in using manual methods, thusly:
Since 2014, the number of builders relying on manual entry for data transfer continues to rise, along with the use of spreadsheets and CSV files. Survey participant comments reinforce the lack
of integration efforts on the part of technology providers and the difficulties with integrating not only internal solutions, but data transferred to and from clients and project partners.
Again, manual processes increased from 2015:
Project Management remains a highly manual and spreadsheet ridden process, with Viewpoint leading the way for those using a software solution. Manual processes jumped 5% from 2015, however Procore also made a 5% jump to bypass several other solutions that were ahead of them in last year’s survey. Since project management revolves around pricing quotes, product submittals, RFI’s and change orders, less sophisticated trades will opt for a more manual process – fax, mail, courier, etc. In fact, even many project owners will not accept digital documents, requiring paper workflows.
Predictably, customer relationship management software has not even nudged the needle for adoption by the construction industry. JBKnowledge reports that it is typically a category to suffer low adoption across ALL industries. IMHO, the construction industry didn’t NEED business development via marketing during the boom, and as we keep saying, they are slow adopters of ALL technology. I predict the first to the table to use this valuable tool not only for prospecting and customer satisfaction – but as a bidding tool will be the BIG winner. Read 5 reasons why here; and about bids, subs, and service here; and as a competitive edge here.
Conclusion (by JBKnowledge)
Did builders advance their technology deployments in 2016? Yes. Did builders remain stagnant, clinging to manual workflows instead of introducing technology in 2016? Yes, again. Unfortunately, there is no overarching metric to show the progress of an entire industry across the board. In this report are the aggregate experiences of as many companies as would share them, from large companies to small companies, developers to mechanical subcontractors. In those experiences, can be found important averages, benchmarks and outliers that help construction professionals better understand where they and their company stand among technology adopters and optimizers.
It’s hard to predict in what year of this survey there will be a significant decrease in the amount of spreadsheets and manual process utilization rates, if ever. This year’s survey revealed that companies are not allotting budget for technology and staff to support it, but also many still don’t believe the right technology is available. One comment noted that their company only uses “30% of what the software was built for” and so it’s hard to justify the investment year after year.
The increase of subcontractor respondents this year helped highlight the challenge of integration across internal systems and interoperability across job sites with multiple GCs, contractors and suppliers. Investments and efficiencies in a particular technology are lost when internal systems cannot integrate, or owners/general contractors mandate the use of their system. It’s not enough to purchase and optimize the technology, streamlining the data with other project participants is what makes or breaks the value of the software. Builders believe the easiest solution for transferring data is a spreadsheet and manual process, especially for workflows during construction (i.e. on the job site) – so technology providers have a lot of work to do to challenge that standard.
A special thank you
Many thanks to James Benham, for repeatedly allowing us to share nuggets from his annual report. Mad props to Liz Welch, for always making it happen (even last minute). Follow James on twitter @JBKnowledge, and @JamesMBenham; and Liz @LizTweetsTech. Visit the website: http://jbknowledge.com/.
Quickbooks CAN’T — but Sage 100 Contractor CAN!
Outgrown QB and need Accounting software based on the JOB??
Let’s face it, QuickBooks Contractor is great for a small startup company; it shows the expected financials and has an easy learning curve. However, it was NOT designed with job-specific financial information that contractors, specialty contractors, subcontractors, GCs and commercial or residential builders need most. The focus of Sage 100 Contractor (formerly MasterBuilder) is based around the JOB.
The Sage 100 CON dashboard shows all of the same financials that QB does. However, it takes functionality to the next level with critical information of the JOB: cash flow by job, under/over billings by job, job contract budget and cost to date, job uncommitted billing, etc.
For example, the Job Contract, Budget and Cost to Date Status report in Sage 100 CON shows the contract, change orders to the budget, percent complete, and estimated profit on a job. Another exclusive feature in Sage 100 CON is the Committed Costs snapshot that lists standard Cost Codes separate from the parts list. QB combines those codes and locks them into one item category.
FREE Webinar: Thursday, January 19th at 11 am
Upgrading your software?
TechRepublic’s list of 10 critical mistakes
With major releases from both Sage 100 CON or 300 CRE software we hope you’ve done advanced planning! If you haven’t don’t worry, we have some help via on TechRepublic’s list of “10 critical ERP upgrade mistakes” (by a guest contributor). You can find the full article here.
TechRepublic has great advice of what NOT to do:
- Not explaining what a new system means to users before starting the project
- Not load testing the system with scripts and end users
- Not performing a mock Go Live
- Not taking change management and testing seriously
- Assigning an internal resource as the only project manager
- Not communicating changes before they happen
- Delivering Training 1.0 in a Training 2.0 World
- Not moving proprietary components to open business standards
- Not addressing security and archiving before upgrading
- Assuming your internal tech people can pick up 15 years of experience in a couple of weeks
This is actually a functional blueprint for most software upgrades, not just ERP solutions. Here are some additional “NOTs” that LAI consultants have encountered over the years…
LAI Consultants’ list of NOT to do’s:
- NOT READING THE RELEASE NOTES – Sage does a good job here detailing any changes in file or database structures. However, we have clients that just blindly install the upgrade without perusing any critical issues outlined in the Release Notes, and put their company data at risk. We cannot emphasize how important this is!!
- NOT ALLOWING ADEQUATE TIME FOR TROUBLESHOOTING HELP —many companies assign a resource to manage the upgrade, but don’t plan extra time for support calls or help research. This escalates the overall stress level within the organization and may result in extra costs for rush consulting. Put some “padding” in your upgrade implementation!
- NOT CONSIDERING USING A CERTIFIED CONSULTANT — would you rather pay a few hundred up front for a trained consultant to install an upgrade correctly, or pay thousands of dollars later to find the problem and apply a fix to it? It’s the ‘penny wise, pound foolish’ strategy that you can easily avoid.
Ledgerwood Associates’ Professional Services Group (PSG) is always on the stand-by if you need some help. Reach us at 480-423-8300 to click below to send an email!
January 2017 Tradeshows:
Pssst…dont’ forget to ask for the “show specials” when you visit the booths.
When: January 10, 2017 @ 8:00 am – January 12, 2017 @ 5:00 pm
Where: OCCC, Orlando, FL | twitter: @IBSOrlando
Click logo to register >>>
Join Sage CRE and Ledgerwood Associates in Booth W5353!
NFL legend, Payton Manning, is the keynote speaker for the Opening Ceremonies on January 10th!
The NAHB International Builders’ Show® (IBS) is your best opportunity to get all the tools you need to improve your business in just three days. You get access to the latest products, gain industry knowledge and have the chance to network with like-minded professionals. Once again, IBS has made a lot of exciting changes for 2017. Check out all of the new and exciting things happening at this year’s show.
When: January 17, 2017 @ 9:30 am – January 20, 2017 @ 5:00 pm
Where: Las Vegas Convention Center | twitter: @World of Concrete
Click logo to register >>>
Join Sage CRE and Ledgerwood Associates in Booth C4057!
This is World of Concrete—a firm foundation for the entire concrete and masonry industries and the first and most important annual international event of the year. It’s everything you need and nothing you don’t. Put in four high-efficiency, low-cost, smart-work days at WOC 2017 and you’ll see your bang/buck ratio go through the roof.
Last Chance: The “End” of the End!
Sage 300 CRE Year End Training
FEE – $149. In this 2-hour online training, Kyle will address the sequence and processes for closing applications, how to verify vendor totals, and step-by-step process for preparing 1099s in Aatrix.
Archiving – February 2
FEE – $149. This 2-hour online class will give you all the tips you need for proper archiving. You will learn practices that will help reduce processing time for reports and Sage 300 CRE tasks, as well as protect your data against risk of loss.
Missed the free Cheatsheet class? View it on YouTube: https://youtu.be/qsE7Chg6cX8
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:
Paperless Approval for Sage 300 CRE
Timberscan is the ONLY Enterprise Content Management (ECM) System designed specifically for Sage 300 CRE (formerly Timberline)!
Join us for a live online webinar and learn how you can automate and simplify your A/P approval process. Here’s an example of what construction companies are saying about Timberscan:
It streamlines the invoice approval process, and ensures proper coding of all invoices, eliminates lost invoices, and improves payment terms.
Tom – Model Group
This session will show you how your company can benefit from a highly automated paper-free approval system that is easy to use and designed specifically for Sage 300 CRE.
How to fight internal fraud
Submitted by Bryan Eto, CPA BeachFleischman
Quarter million (plus) in losses!
Internal fraud drains more than $3.7 trillion annually from global businesses, according to an estimate by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE). The median loss from internal fraud at companies in the construction industry is $259,000, according to ACFE’s latest Report to the Nations.
Although companies can experience pilferage from customers, vendors and other sources, employees account for the highest losses, when taking into account offenses such as fraudulent insurance claims, unauthorized time off and theft of proprietary information. Crimes can be as simple as stealing company supplies or as complex as sophisticated financial statement fraud.
More specifically, fraud by managers and key executives generates the highest dollar losses because these employees are in a good position to falsify financial, credential, work-related or test-related documents for personal gain.
Construction companies are more susceptible to corrupt business practices than other industries. This can include bribery and state capture.
Eight ways to fight fraud
What can your company do to prevent theft? The ACFE Report found these measures are effective:
- Improve internal controls. For example, do not allow the same employee to keep books, collect funds, write checks and reconcile bank accounts. Arrange for monthly bank statements to be delivered unopened to the company owner, who should review them for unusual transactions, such as declining deposits and checks to unfamiliar parties.
- Conduct background checks on new employees.
- Arrange for fraud audits by the company’s outside accountants or an internal audit department. CPAs can conduct regular independent internal control studies of cash accounts, bank statements and other items to detect criminal activity. Surprise audits are an effective, yet underutilized, tool in the fight against fraud.
- Be willing to prosecute perpetrators. Some organizations that are victimized by fraud don’t report the cases to law enforcement because they were afraid of bad publicity; reached a private settlement; wanted closure; or considered internal punishment sufficient.
- Provide ethics training for employees. Educate staff members about the possible sources of fraud and consequences, such as the loss of jobs, raises and profits.
- Institute anonymous fraud reporting mechanisms, such as hotlines. Fraud is commonly discovered through tips from employees, vendors, customers or other sources. These people are frequently in a position to see violations of company policies or excessive personal spending by colleagues.
- Install workplace surveillance devices. For example, a video camera monitoring a loading dock where theft is suspected.
- Look for behavioral red flags including the perpetrator living beyond his or her means and having financial difficulties. They can also involve an unwillingness to share duties, a “wheeler-dealer” attitude, divorce or family issues, addiction problems, refusal to take vacations and an unusually close association with vendors or customers.
Take a zero tolerance stand on fraud. With a few basic procedures in place, internal business theft can be significantly reduced — or even eliminated — so your construction business can flourish. Ask your CPA or accounting firm for more information.
Beach Fleischman 2201 E. Camelback Rd. Phoenix, AZ 85016 602.265.7011 | http://beachfleischman.com | twitter: @BeachFleischman
Are you listening?
by Pam Schulz, Sage Certified Consultant
5 things you MUST do for Year End
Several years ago I read a book focusing on how women could “better communicate in the workforce” (OK, it was maybe more than “several” years ago). Seriously, though- one of the best “takeaways” for me was a chapter discussing the idea that “Men only listen to the first five words of a sentence- then…” (I don’t think this is limited to “men.”)
So, here goes: YEAR END for those who don’t like to read year end notices —while I can’t guarantee to say it in “5 words or less” this is the SHORT “5 Things You MUST Do” list.
I have listed these items in the “order” they would typically need to be done.
The basic list:
- Close/Archive 2016 payroll Year
- Roll into next “accounting” period
- Prepare Payroll Related Tax Forms
- Prepare/Send 2016 Form 1099
- Get Ready For the CPA
1. Close/archive 2016 payroll year
- Process all 2016 pay records.
- Remember “special” entries
- “Shareholder health insurance,” etc.
- Employer Health Insurance (if required for ACA)
- Remember “special” entries
- Payroll audit at option 5-3-7.
- Try “repair” first
- Fix errors
- Get help as needed
- Close Payroll Year at 5-3-8
- Archive 2016 Payroll Records
- Delete employees if desired
- Creates new 2017 Payroll Files
- Update Payroll Calcs at 5-3-1
- Update>Employees>Update Rates and Maximums>All Employees
- Maybe NOT Update Rates
- Example: 401k- new max not rates
- Maybe NOT Update all employees
- Example: Multi-state not all employees
- New Maximums:
- FICA- $127,200
- CO unemployment- $12,500
- NV unemployment- $29,500
- New Maximums:
- Example: 401k- new max not rates
- Load software update (19.8/20.4)
- Download update
- Sage email dated December 21, 2016
- 19.8 if on version 19
- 20.4 if on version 20
- After last 2016 payroll; before first 2017 payroll
- Not end of the world if timing varies a little
- Sage email dated December 21, 2016
- Download update
2. Roll into next “accounting” period
- Option 1-6; Change Period
- Calendar Year
- Period 1 of new year available when in period 12
- All new year’s periods available when in period 1
- Fiscal Year
- Simply change period as normal
3. Prepare payroll related tax forms
- Prepare from Payroll Archive File
- Aatrix forms
- Federal Form 5-4-1
- State Form 5-4-2
- Quarterly Reports
- State Quarterly
- Local forms?
- W2 and related forms
- File electronically with Aatrix
- Print or use Aatrix “Full” service
- NEW DUE DATES!- January 31
- ACA Compliance
- Update employee information at 5-2-1
- Run forms at option 5-4-1
- Aatrix forms
Prepare/send 2016 Form 1099
- Initial Report
- Run/Check Forms
- Making Corrections
- New Filing Dates – January 31
Get ready for the CPA
- Bank Reconciliations
- Clean UP accounts
- Special Reports/Entries
- Journal Entries
- Over/Under Report and Entry
- Trial Balance – Option 2-1
- Balance Sheet – Option 2-2
- Income Statement – Option 2-3
- Ledgers – Option 2-4
- Aging reports
- AR – Option 3-1-3
- AP – Option 4-1-3
- Lock the period
- Option 1-6; Manage Period Availability
- Unlock for Final CPA entries
- Relock for good
Of course, this does not cover EVERY detail —it is meant to guide you with the BASIC list of what needs to be done.
A final thought- did anyone notice that I used 5 words/steps or less above in almost every step? If you did, you are working too hard! Get some sleep, or fresh air- and have HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Need help with your Sage 100 CON reports? Pam and Kelcie can help! Click below to request an appointment.
Sink, swim, or miss the boat!
Submitted by Kyle Zeigler, Sage Senior Certified Consultant
Embracing change can be a little like trying to turn the Titanic – slow and awkward, but necessary to avoid obstacles toward continued smooth sailing. Accepting the changes that have been introduced in your Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate software, and those spied on the horizon, may be a little like that too. If you haven’t gotten the word yet, hang on to your life preservers! Sage intends to invest significantly over the next several years in the development of Sage 300 CRE, bringing it into the modern era. And the changes have already begun!
For those of you who upgraded to version 15.1, you’re seeing the first splash of the new “look” in the JC Job setup window. If you’ve gone full steam ahead into version 16.1, you’ll revel in the clean lines and roomier deck of Sage Desktop. However, if you are one of those users who have sworn to go down with TS-Main clutched in your cold, dead hands, you may want to rethink your strategy. If the rumors are true, TS-Main will eventually be scuttled, and Desktop will be the only method available for navigating the depths of your Sage 300 CRE software.
Choosing to abandon the sinking TS-Main now and learning how to steer your course in Desktop may help keep you from feeling like you’ve fallen overboard later on. If you’re already a seasoned hand at Desktop, and have taken the time and effort to create a personalized My Tasks list, we congratulate you! Now it’s time to learn how to protect you investment from the frigid waters of future upgrades.
Your customized Desktop configuration is saved in the Default.dsk file on your workstation when you select File > Save Configuration. Also, it is the set of preferences stored in the Default.dsk file that are loaded when you launch the software. However, when a new version upgrade is installed, the Default.dsk file on your workstation is overwritten and your personalized Desktop configuration is lost. To protect your custom Desktop, we recommend you select File > Save Configuration As and save the file as any name other than Default (for instance, MyDesktop.dsk). As you make changes to your custom Desktop, save the changes to both the Default and custom-named files. Then, when a future upgrade is installed, use the custom-named file to import your personal preferences, and then save that configuration into the new Default.dsk file so that your personalized Desktop is opened every time you launch Sage 300 CRE.
By the way, if you haven’t yet seen version 16.1, My Tasks become Favorites, and the sometimes confusing and overwhelming array of Desktop folders and subfolders are gone. The waters may still be slightly choppy with the interface between version 16.1 and some third-party products, so proceed with caution before upgrading to this version. And as always, don’t hesitate to contact Ledgerwood Associates whenever you need a lifeline.
Want help from a Certified Sage Consultant with your Year End?
How to create estimates in half the time
Reprinted with permission from Sage | Written by Deb Carpenter Beck
It’s easy to hope for no construction-cost overruns, but much harder to achieve. Yet, that’s exactly what a growing number of construction and AEC companies are aiming to do. These firms are involving their estimators much earlier in the project planning process to inject a higher degree of cost analysis into critical decision-making discussions.
It’s a given that most estimating departments are super busy these days. The work is back but the competition for those jobs is still as strong as ever. How do you keep up with a greater volume of job opportunities while maintaining—even improving—your bid-hit ratio? In June, I wrote about the top five essentials of a winning bid strategy. A major essential, especially for contractors gearing up for more work, is to improve the accuracy and speed of the estimating process.
Here are what contractors say are three top ways they have improved their bid accuracy and cut their estimating time by 50% or more:
Most of today’s plans are delivered electronically, either uploaded to FTP sites or downloaded from online plan rooms or privately hosted plan services. Estimators who do electronic takeoff, rather than manual or digitizer takeoff, find they save a considerable amount of time. Not only is electronic takeoff much faster than traditional methods, it’s more accurate (getting down to measurements within thousandths of an inch).By using electronic takeoff tools to highlight what they’ve already taken off, estimators also avoid potential mistakes and unforeseen project costs due to omissions.
The “time drain” in building an estimate from scratch—one item at a time—is significant. Even if you maintain a number of spreadsheet templates, keeping them up-to-date with pricing and estimate details can be time intensive. Many contractors find it much more efficient to populate their estimates using a database that stores all items, pricing, productivity factors, formulas, and other estimating details. Databases that also store “assemblies” are an extra boost to productivity by allowing estimators to take off all the items of a wall, concrete slab, or other building component in one step.
Built-in error protection
I recently wrote about how 88% of spreadsheets have errors. Just by deleting an individual item from your estimating spreadsheet, you run the risk of an associated formula being lost or not calculating properly. Manual recalculation can also lead to a major error in an estimate. To increase accuracy, many contractors are using estimating software that offers safeguards against common spreadsheet errors.
Contractors who have found ways to reduce estimating mistakes and time-consuming tasks are now able to focus more on analyzing their estimates.