July 2015 Newsletter
…is the future of construction swimming in the sea?
The answer to surviving “anthropocene” (the extinction and degradation of the planet due to the human footprint) may be pond scum and jellyfish?? Read more, below!
What we’re talking about in July:
- The jingle that is now stuck in our head! Sorry, Charlie.
- CMD Group says we’re up over 30% in non-res building starts for May.
- It’s official! Meet the Sage Construction Project Center and Sage Bid Management.
- AboutTime FREE webinar
- Sage Estimating special
- Tips and Tricks for Sage 100 CON, Sage 300 CRE and Sage Estimating
HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY, EVERYONE! HAVE A SAFE & HAPPY HOLIDAY.
Green is the new “green?”
Sorry, Charlie. Only good tasting algae can be infrastructure!
Medical doctor and architect Rachel Armstrong believes algae and jellyfish may be the future of “living architecture.”
The Metro News website from Canada published an article covering Armstrong’s position that buildings will become organic, and will heal themselves, be self-heating, and potentially produce food! She says, ““Our homes are not just part of our well-being, but a resource. Imagine your house could feed you and clean your water.”
Excerpted from the Metro article, “Jellyfish as a building material? ‘Living architecture’ could be the future,” describing Armstrong’s vision:
“Architects,” she explains, “have to start thinking about buildings as new natural systems.”
But what about the built environment that already exists: Is it just abandoned and left to die? Or can it be brought back to life?
Armstrong’s answer begins in Venice, the historic city built on wooden piles sunk into a lagoon. These supports, which are slowly rotting, can be coated in limestone – “petrified” – through a process she calls “protocell technology.” It would allow the
footings to be sheathed in limestone and whole artificial reefs to be formed underwater. Armstrong is quick to point out that these techniques are still 15 to 20 years from implementation, but she insists the potential is enormous.
She also imagines using living organisms such as bacteria, algae and jellyfish as building materials. If that sounds far-fetched, consider the BIQ (Bio Intelligent Quotient) Building in Hamburg. Its windows are filled with water in which there is live algae that’s fed nutrients. When the sun comes out, the micro-organisms reproduce, raising the temperature of the water. BIQ residents say they love their new digs. It helps that they have no heating bills.
Armstrong then described how objects can be made of plastic dredged from the oceans. It could, she suggested, be a new source of material as well as a way to clean degraded waterways. Her basic desire is to make machinery more biological and unravel the machinery behind the biological. That means figuring out how bacteria talks to bacteria, how algae “communicate.” This isn’t new, of course, but this fusion draws closer all the time.
As that happens, she argues, “consumers can become producers.” In the meantime, the search for “evidence-based truth-seeking systems” continues.
What would this mean to the industry? How would you regulate, create specifications for, and rate organic building materials? With construction already adopting drone and robotic technology, where is the human element left in the picture? Like Rachel Armstrong, will future architects have a second degree, maybe in Organic Chemistry? The possibilities make our industry even more fascinating, and hopefully ‘living architecture’ will help convert the anthropogenic era into one where humans improve the world through construction.
Great News for Non-Residential Construction
Our friends at the CMD Group (formerly Reed Construction Data) were kind enough to provide us with some good news for last month. The typical April-to-May gain for non-residential construction starts averages +8.0% — but this year it soared to 30.3%!
For Sage 100 Contractor Users – Intelligence Reporting
Connect to Sage 100 and other ODBC compliant databases, manage security and viewer/writer privileges and more. Customize and manipulate reports for full flexibility to match your business’s needs. Save TONS of time and money by automating the reports and eliminating spreadsheet chaos!
Get better data and make better decisions using Sage Intelligence. For more info, shoot Mark Jensen an email by clicking here.
Meet Sage CRE’s Newest Offerings
Sage Construction Project Center and Sage Bid Management
This is the third year that Sage has conducted the Sage Construction Technology Survey. Sage surveyed over 600 construction professional (and Sage software users), mostly comprised of CFO, VP of Operations, some IT, C-level type people.
When Sage queried about the biggest IT challenge companies face, the most frequent response was surprisingly “communication between the field and the office.” With most of the construction world connected to mobiles, tablets, and PCs that answer is a bit surprising! Especially as another survey result revealed that Mobility is the #1 technology investment.
So, how are people using mobile?
Top Uses for Mobile Technology
- 48% – customer and job info
- 47% – daily and weekly employee time
- 38% – daily field reports
- 36% – job cost and project reports
- 30% – time capture and approval
Sage put their research dollars to good use, and have introduced two new solutions. LAI is excited to add these to our suite; the cloud and mobile access helps to round out the Project Lifecycle at both the beginning and the end!
Sage Bid Management (SBM)
The first solution is an additional offering in the preconstruction space. SBM allows you to speed up and improve the process of creating, organizing, and distributing bid packages to potential bidders. There are two primary components. The first is a tool that helps you keep your bid list current and manages how well work was performed, if they have the right certifications, and if they have been pre-qualified (with ratings).
The second component manages invitations-t0-bid by automatically and dynamically handling bid package data.
- Achieve a higher response rate from bidders by more efficiently managing all aspects of the bid process.
- Spend less time managing bid details and more time of choosing the best bid.
- Save money and ensure profitable projects by minimizing oversights throughout the bid management process.
- Reduce risk throughout the bidding process by monitoring all activities including vendor certifications and qualifications leaving more time for vendor/sub selections and negotiating the best terms.
Summarily, SBM is a great tool that helps you to reduce administration, better responses, speed up your process, and improve documentation!
Sage Construction Project Center (SCPC)
The second product is a cloud-based solution that allows for the control, organization, distribution and storage of a variety of different types of project documentation such as submittals, RFIs, specs, punch lists, as well as all the associated components of each. Now, when you get to the end of the job, a certain percentage of the digital assets can become part of the turnover process.
With SCPC, all project stakeholders have one destination for the most current information and instructions.
SCPC benefits include:
- Timely, convenient and mobile access to a variety of Contract Documents (RFIs, submittals, punch lists, meeting minutes, change orders, etc ) so internal and external project stakeholders can share, find, track, and take appropriate action whether they are in the office or at the jobsite.
- Become more organized and productive allowing project leaders to keep the project on time and on budget.
- Minimize the risk of litigation due to detailed document management and control
- Improve collaboration and drive efficiencies through anytime, anywhere access to project-related details.
Give LAI a call today or shoot us an email, to get a one-on-one demo of either of these products! Tell us you saw it in the Newsletter! 480-423-8300.
Simple in the field…Powerful in the Office!
Free web event with AboutTime Technology on July 15th
Join LAI and AboutTime for an hour-long, interactive, online session to learn how! We’ll show you how to:
- Collect and track employee time & data in real-time on mobile devices you already use today. Works disconnected!
- Deliver and receive time and data from the field real-time
- Seamless integration with Sage 100 and 300 accounting Solutions
Attend this web event to qualify for a 15% discount for new customers!
Sage Estimators Only!
Take advantage of the Sage estimating promotion for a half off discount to upgrade from Standard to Extended version! Call Tony Merry at 480.423.8300 and ask for the Newsletter Estimating discount.
Not sure if you need to upgrade? Find out at a FREE webinar specifically designed to show you. Join LAI’s Tony Merry as he demonstrates the differences. More details or register here.
Don’t forget to forward your newsletter to a friend, and follow us 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:
Archiving Best Practices
This 2-hour presentation will provide Sage 300 CRE users with step-by-step instructions and live demonstration of procedures used to archive data in all modules, including the creation of separate archive folders for GL and JC.
Archiving Company Fiscal Year Data
Submitted by Walt Mathieson, Certified Sage 100 Consultant
When Sage 100 Contractor Version 19 was released, there was great joy because the multi-year general ledger functionality drastically reduced the perceived pressure of having to archive the ending fiscal year before entering any data for the new fiscal year. Version 19 changed all of that by permitting several fiscal years to co-exist in the same database. The old fiscal year can be archived at your leisure, after all entries and adjustments have been made for that year. Because it can be done at one’s leisure, I find that archiving is sometimes forgotten and we start to see three or more fiscal years residing in the same database. While the system works fine with several fiscal years still resident in the database, you can expect to see processing times start to slow down and people will get annoyed with job lists that include jobs done two years earlier. The solution is to archive your oldest fiscal year soon after all of its data entry is complete and in agreement with your published financial statements and tax returns for that prior fiscal year.
Usually around this time of year, we see that financial statements and tax returns for the prior fiscal year have been completed. Make sure that your outside accountant has provided any adjusting entries that they want posted to your books. Post them to the correct prior fiscal year. After the adjusting entries are recorded, run a Trial Balance (report 2-1-0-21) for Period 12 of the prior fiscal year and compare it to your published financial statements for that year (or send it to your outside accountants and ask them to confirm that this trial balance agrees with their work papers). When your adjusted trial balance is deemed in agreement, that prior fiscal year can be archived.
Archiving must be done by the Supervisor user, with Exclusive Access. Larger and busier companies find that archiving is best done very late in the day or on weekends when Exclusive Access doesn’t prevent other users from doing their own work in the system. Decide whether you wish to, during the archiving process, remove: (1) jobs with a status of Closed or Refused, (2) paid or void payable invoices not related to a job, (3) service receivables records with a status of Paid, Completed, or Void dated prior to a specific date of your choosing and (4) closed purchase orders dated prior to a specific date of your choosing that are not related to a job. Purging can add significant time to the archiving process so you may elect to perform the purging of this data from the current company at a later, more convenient time.
Other preparation should include running a general ledger audit in menu 1-6, searching for and resolving Ledger Transactions (menu 1-3) with a transaction number of 0000, usually the result of not completing the printing of GL Checks (menu 1-1), and deciding what you want to name the archive company data folder. It could be something like [Company Name] 123114 GL. Just make sure that it’s descriptive and unique. Have available a paper copy of your Trial Balance (report 2-1-0-21) for Period 12 of the year you will be archiving for reference purposes. Finally, create two backup copies of the current company data folders before starting the actual archiving process.
Now the easy part – as Supervisor with Exclusive Access, go to menu 1-6, select Archive Fiscal Year 20xx. That selection button will display the oldest fiscal year available in your current company. Follow all the instructions therein, reading and understanding each of the prompts.
Current Version Information
The latest version of Sage 100 Contractor is version 19.6.41, the release of which was announced on May 28, 2015.
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.
Fun with Sales Taxes?!
Submitted by Kyle Zeigler, Sage Senior Certified Consultant
Fun with Sales Taxes
Yes, I know, the words “fun” and “sales taxes” don’t belong in the same sentence together. Still, if sales taxes are a necessary part of your accounting concerns, Sage 300 CRE has the capabilities to help with accurate tracking and reporting.
Flexibility – one of the hallmarks of Sage 300 CRE – does not always translate into easily understood or implemented. This is true with the various Sage 300 CRE options for setting up AP and/or AR for tracking sales taxes, as well as for retrieving sales tax data in a report that is meaningful and useful in completing sales tax forms. Even if you have been tracking sales taxes in your system for years, there’s a good chance improvements can be made if you take the time to review your settings and better understand how the system processes and tracks sales tax data.
The ability to track sales taxes in Sage 300 CRE all starts with a checkbox in AR Settings. Marking the “Tracking taxes” checkbox enables AR > Setup > Taxes and various fields in Setup > Tax Rates and Setup > Tax Groups, depending on whether you also mark the “Tracking tax retainage” checkbox. These fields are maintained in one location in AR, but are used by all interfacing applications where the Tax Group list is available for selection – AP, BL, CN, JC, PJ, PO and SM.
In Accounts Payable, the options are to track actual sales taxes invoiced by your vendors, to track tax liability when the amount invoiced includes taxes and you will be remitting those taxes to the taxing authority, or to track both. The options you choose enable different settings and fields elsewhere in the software. You can choose to track taxes in AP and not in AR, but the tax setups are still maintained in AR.
In Contracts and Billing, the decision to allow the system to calculate sales taxes or to use a work-around to handle sales taxes is critical to sales tax reporting. In Contracts, one or more contract items can be set up for the sole purpose of tracking sales taxes contracted and billed. In Billing, adding sales taxes can be a manual calculation entered on a Quick Bill line item, with or without a Standard Item. How you set up the contract item or create the Quick Bill line item can help provide a foundation for sales tax reporting, particularly if your protocol for setting up Tax Rates and Tax Groups supports logical grouping. For instance, Tax Groups represent taxing authorities and Tax Rates are always linked into the Tax Groups in the same sequence (State first, then County, then City, etc.).
As always, if you have trouble understanding how Sage 300 CRE handles sales taxes, or would like help reviewing or implementing sales tax processing in your system, the built-in Help, Sage Knowledgebase, Sage City, and your local business partner are ready resources for assistance. Improving your sales tax tracking and reporting may not put the word “fun” in the same sentence with “sales taxes,” but it might make sales tax reporting time a little more enjoyable for you.
Get an Edge on Financing
Submitted by Bryan Eto, CPA
Sooner or later, most construction companies need financing to grow, for new equipment or a new facility. The process of approaching a lender can be daunting, but with a few well-planned steps, you can boost your chances of successfully finding the money you need.
Lenders generally follow a rigid process of assessing applicants, their companies and their current finances. Typically, lenders look for the same things. The closer you meet their expectations, the more likely you’ll walk away with the money.
So, before you approach a commercial bank, credit union, etc., be prepared to persuade the lending officer that you represent a reasonable risk. Be prepared to discuss these issues and have these documents available:
Your plan should include:
- An industry overview of trends and estimated sales in the sector. Describe your company’s place within the industry, the competition and how you plan to meet it.
- An operating plan that outlines your location, current employees and required staffing, facilities, equipment, and current and necessary inventory.
- A market evaluation that assesses the extent of demand for your services – and how you plan to meet it.
- Management structure, including legal, management resources and personnel needs.
- A financial plan that elaborates on your borrowing requirements. Include your financial status and list personal assets and liabilities.
Financial statements that show the historical performance of your company
- It is very important to understand your financial statements and what they are saying. The presentation is also very important. CPA prepared statements can give the lender some additional confidence.
Cash flow projections
- Indicate how you’ll be able to repay the loan. Cash flow is a major tool that lenders use to assess risk and is likely to be one of the first questions they ask.
Business tax returns
- It isn’t necessary to bring a credit rating report, because it’s easy for the lender to check. However, be sure you have established a rating. Your repayment history will be used to assess your risk so check your credit report before applying.
- The lender may not take a thorough look at these documents while you are there. But you generally have to answer these key questions during the interview:
- How will you use the money? Be completely familiar with the details of your business plan and indicate the relevant information that shows how much you need, why you need it, and how you will spend it.
- How do you evaluate your risk potential? Explain how much you are personally willing to invest in the business or expansion. And describe the collateral that can be used to secure the loan. These assets include equipment, property and automobiles.
- What kind of experience do you have? Be prepared to answer questions about your background, expertise, and goals.
- Before applying for a small business loan, make sure your personal financial house is in order. Think of the process as a presentation for an important customer. Getting a loan, like winning business from customers, depends on how you present yourself.
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Superior Selection with Item and Formula Tables
Submitted by Jim Hoeppner, Sage Senior Enterprise Managing Consultant
One of the strengths of Sage Timberline Estimating is to quickly select from a great variety of options. This can be done in the item tables and formula tables. These two features are available in the assemblies and are of special interest for self-perform contractors.
Since an assembly’s main purpose is to select and quantify, the item table and formula table allow the user to do this rapidly. An item table allows the user to select among multiple characteristics such as color, size, material type, resistance, gauge, etc. Meanwhile, the formula table can provide multiple options in values or formulas to be returned to quantify those items. The combination of both of these featues allows the user to select easily from many options, to cost and quantify exactly to the desired specifications. These features are found in both the Estimating standard and Estimating extended version.
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