July 2017 Newsletter

“We all scream!”  There’s so many new flavors to choose from this month — product launches,  updated GUI’s, version updates,  SQL upgrades, and “cool” new releases!

What we’re talking about in July:

  • Advice from LAI’s head of PSG on when to upgrade to the new Sage releases
  • Sage X3 for Construction was born from necessity
  • TimberScan releases Sage 100 Contractor CMS product
  • Six critical reporting features for Property Management
  • Webinar: Quickbooks CAN’T but Sage 100 Contractor CAN!
  • Awesome ‘Tips and Tricks’ for Sage 300 CRE | Sage 100 CON | Sage Estimating


Before you take the plunge!

by Ruth Stockdale, Ledgerwood Associates Director of Professional Services Group (PSG)

When is the best time to upgrade your software?

Companies like Sage continually offer new versions of software for a few reasons. Some changes are dictated, such as tax changes. Some are required because of interactions with components like Microsoft’s operating system. Others are more exciting for users because they bring interesting new features and capabilities.

This year Sage CRE is continuing with several major releases. Sage 100 has already released version 20 for SQL, Sage 300 is starting a phased release of SQL migrations starting with version 17.1, and Sage has recently released the biggest Estimating release in a decade (with SQL features in version 17. 11). Read about it HERE.

Nine things to know before you commit:

After a release is announced, though, how do you know when to implement it for your company? Here are some points to consider for all software releases before scheduling the upgrade.

  1. Review the initial release notes and scan for key feature changes. Is there something being added that is urgent for you to implement?
  2. Find out how big the release is. Will it be best to have someone do the upgrade for you? Or is it a minor tax update that you can do yourself?
  3. Look at the prerequisites. For some releases, the prerequisites are more important than others, but you never want to install an updated version without verifying the requirements first.
  4. Consider planning for releases as a part of annual business IT planning and budgeting. This will help you view your IT needs, including hardware, with a long-term plan in mind. Research the options for both on-premise hardware and off-premise solutions, such as hosted servers. When a new release is announced you will know how it fits into your plan.
  5. Know your software suite. You may have many add-ons or third-party applications in addition to your core Sage software. This would include software such as Microsoft Office. It is helpful to verify ahead of time how those will interact with the new release.
  6. See if the release includes any changes to security. You should discuss possible changes to your operator or role settings before the upgrade.
  7. Know your staff and your workflow schedule. Plan for the release installation at a non-critical time and make sure you have staff resources available.
  8. Is your company an early adopter? Every release is thoroughly tested, but there can be unanticipated issues. Would you prefer to wait until more users have installed the released version?
  9. Check with your consultant. They can help you decide when to upgrade with a new release and schedule time for it if you need or want their assistance.

With careful planning, you can enjoy the features in a new release and minimize stress that can come with the upgrade process.

Need help with your Sage software upgrade? Click to send an email to our Professional Services group! 


Bridging the Gap

by Robert Rock, {SAW} Software Mill

When the market asks…

In a world of escalating complexity in construction projects, it has become increasingly difficult for builders to have a firm grasp on all of the elements of their projects. Specialized Application Workshop ({SAW}) and Software Mill LLC identified this gap in the market and set out to help them do that, with software that allows managers better insight to their projects.

McKinsey research shows with mega projects:

  • Cost 30% more than plan on budget
  • 77% of these projects run late by 40%

This devastates the profit margin for construction companies, and exposes liability risks.

The birth of Sage X3 for Construction (X3FC)

Chris Wiener and Abel Lineberger co-founded the Asheville, N.C.-based company two years ago. They both lived through the frustration and lack of tools necessary, when they worked on building Khalifa Port in Abu Dhabi.

Multiple firms were involved in building the port and were focused on both onshore systems and nautical based systems within the project. Chris worked for the special system integrator that tied these third-party systems together. While working on this, he notes that it was challenging to estimate, control contract changes and documentation flow.

The creation of Sage X3 Construction (X3FC) was aimed at eliminating such complexities.

One of the first things we identified was that there was a big gap between project lifecycle management tools that run construction, and the financial management systems that run the companies,” Wiener recalls.

Built on Sage X3 platform

Working off the Sage X3 platform, changes were made, including the addition of project management modules that understand project flow. In addition, modules were added to focus on cash flow analysis and treasury. These modules were aimed at understanding the relationship of a project within the company.

X3FC also understands contractual relationships. Weiner adds:

When I was a project manager, that would have been nice to be able to do change management and understand those changes within the financial management system.”

The X3FC platform not only provides procurement but also performs sales across multiple currencies, unit of measures, and legislative reporting requirements for its users.

X3FC users include construction project managers, site supervisors, and construction and quality field team leads who will use it to cost, plan and report construction progress. Vendors and subcontractors will also use the product to submit estimates, review scheduling and submit change requests.

In addition, back-office account managers, A/R, A/P and payroll clerks will use the product to account for income and expenses against projects over time, and report on the profitability of the works. Project managers, senior management and potentially clients will use the X3FC to view the status of ongoing projects and compare them against planned values and view the status of potential projects and model them against historic data.

Want more info on Sage X3FC? Click to get started!


The 2017 Construction Technology report is live

Take the survey, and get the report for free!

Every year, the survey provides incredible insight and data on the latest trends and solutions in construction technology. Construction companies around the world use the resulting report to benchmark their technology efforts every year. By completing the survey, you’ll receive a complimentary copy of the full 2017 Construction Tech Report when it’s released this fall. (See past reports here.)

Complete the survey here and get the statistics and insight to improve the IT strategy for your company and your everyday workflows.


TimberScan for Sage 100 Contractor

The favorite Sage 300CRE content management system is now available for Sage 100CON!

Make it easy to manage construction documents and automate AP invoice processing with TimberScan 100 all while staying connected to your Sage 100 Contractor system. Content management and invoice routing is made simple using a browser-based application that’s user friendly and ready-to-go. With TimberScan 100, your construction business can:

  • Automate AP invoice approvals with precision routing rules
  • Gain tighter control of document management
  • Get a simple, real-time status view of invoices and documents
  • Enjoy a single point of entry for data – no need to rekey information
  • Customize workflows, security, and more!

LAI clients LOVE TimberScan. We think 100 Contractor users will too! Join a one-hour, live overview demo on July 13th or 27th to see it in action (click dates to reserve your spot)!


Six reporting features every commercial property software should have

Reprinted with permission from RealPage. Written by Guy Lyman, May 26, 2017.

As a measure of how critical reporting is in property management, consider this: from 25% to 30% of all implementation efforts center around reporting. That’s because commercial property management professionals are only as good as the data they use to make decisions. If the data is difficult or impossible to retrieve, they’re hamstrung in their jobs. And having to go through extra steps or turn to the accounting department every time they want to look at data a different way sharply limits their effectiveness.
Standard and optional reporting features vary greatly between property management systems, and you can’t always depend on their ability to grow with your needs. In many cases, expanding reporting capabilities involves expensive add-ons and customization – and even after they’re in place, these bolted on tools suffer from a lack of tight integration with the base property management system.
With these things in mind, here are the six reporting features to look for in a commercial property management system:

1. Filterable standard reports

All property management systems have standard reports, but not all standard reports are the same. Though they’re called standard for a reason (they come pre-created with the solution), not everyone wants to look at the data they contain in the same way. Asset managers and property managers, for example, view the business through different lenses. You need the ability to apply filtering, sorting, totaling and grouping criteria – and to save these criteria for future sorts and searches, so you don’t have to re-specify them every time you want to look at data in the same way.

2. User-configurable grids and queries

Let’s say you’re looking for leases that share a certain characteristic: leases by property, or leases by type, or expiring during a certain period. When you pull up a screen showing all your leases, it’s important for you to be able to apply filters, sorts and views to isolate theses subsets of information without having to run a report or analytic. And you should be able to save these “favorite” searches for later use.

3. Integrated financial report writer

Make sure a financial report writer is integrated into the core of your commercial property management solution – not a bolt-on. This is important for reasons of reporting capability (for complex financial reports) as well as visual appearance and ease of use.

4. Integrated, configurable dashboards

You don’t want your dashboards to be add-ons – you want them built right into the core software. And they should be configurable by role and user to display the exact information each person wants to see at a glance, whether operational or financial. Note that some property software vendors force you to buy a separate BI (business intelligence) system to enjoy this dashboard functionality.

5. Real time excel integration

Your property management system should be truly integrated with the Excel desktop so many managers still use – and not just “compatible.” This means, for example, that Excel runs within your security framework so you’re not bypassing your core security when you use it. You should be able to access all data within the property management system, whether operational or financial; create superfunctions and supercalculations that are storable, reusable and can be shared with others; and package and broadcast your reports to other stakeholders. You should be able to pull data directly from the property management system and drop it into Excel, and drill down into the underlying data and pivot tables.

6. On-demand analytics

Most commercial property management systems ignore the needs of a critically important stakeholder: the asset manager. They’re geared towards back-office accounting and property management staff. Look for the on-demand analytics and reporting that asset managers need, rather than forcing them to rely on the accounting department to feed the data to them in order to do their jobs – often in a form that’s not ideal for their analysis and decision-making. They’re business people, not techies, and they need the right data at their fingertips rather than have to wrangle it and shape it into the form they need.

Check off these six characteristics of commercial property management software and you can be sure you’re at the head of the pack when it comes to empowering your people to maximize their time and talents!

Ready to see RealPage, live? Click the button to request a demo!


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, July 20th from 2:00 – 3:00 PM



 Follow LAI on Social Media for current construction and technology news!



Upcoming LAI Online Training and Networking Events:

Excel-based project forecasting and WIP Reporting @ Online
Nov 12 @ 10:00 am – 11:00 am

Online Webinar

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.




Understanding the “tax gap”

Submitted by Bryan Eto, CPA BeachFleischman

The IRS continues to zero in on what it calls the “tax gap” — the amount between the taxes that are voluntarily paid and the amount the tax agency believes is actually due.

To this end, the IRS has issued a series of documents to provide better understanding of the tax code. One example is specifically directed at the construction industry.

The tax agency emphasizes instances where taxpayers failed to report, or under-reported, income from construction activities. This applies to individual workers as well as contractors and subcontractors. Following are the highlights:

Accounting Methods

Generally, income and expenses are based on either the cash method or the accrual method of accounting (including Percentage Complete and Completed Contract methods). “Either method must clearly reflect a consistent treatment of income and expenses from year to year,” the IRS notes.

Many construction businesses use two different tax accounting methods: one for long-term contracts and an overall method for all other items, which is often the accrual method.

Accrual accounting

This method requires reporting income in the year earned and expenses in the year incurred. The purpose of an accrual method of accounting is to match income and expenses in the correct year.

Two most commonly-used accrual methods are used in the construction industry:

  1. Under the “completed contract method,” all income and expenses from a contract are reported when the project is completed and accepted by the customer.
  2. With the “percentage of completion method,” income is reported proportionate to the costs incurred to date as compared to total estimated costs for the contract.

Cash accounting

As the name implies, cash receipts are reported as income when received and expenses are reported when paid. For this purpose, “receipt” occurs when a contractor has unrestricted access to income. Contractors who are able to receive money in one year, but chose to defer receipt, must include the cash as income in the earlier year.

Note that a C corporation, or a partnership with a C corporation as a partner with average annual gross receipts exceeding $5 million, may not be allowed to use the cash accounting method.

Deductible Expenses

It is well-established that a construction business can deduct its “ordinary and necessary” business expenses. An “ordinary” expense is one that is common and accepted in the construction business. A “necessary” expense is one that is helpful and appropriate for the construction business.

Note: The expense does not have to be indispensable to be considered necessary.

Several common business expenses that may be deducted in the year they are incurred are:

  • Utilities;
  • Car and truck expenses;
  • Advertising;
  • Employee salaries;
  • Trade association dues;
  • Rent expense;
  • Supplies;
  • Continuing education;
  • Small tools expected to last one year or less;
  • Steel toe work boots; and
  • Business licenses.

On the other hand, expenses for business assets that are expected to last more than a year must be capitalized and depreciated over their useful lives. Some examples of these assets include:

  • Cement mixers;
  • Compressors;
  • Ladders;
  • Other heavy machinery; and
  • Buildings and real property.

Be aware that personal expenses such as clothing that can be worn off the job site, fines and penalties, and the non-business use of vehicles or computers, can’t be deducted. Other expenses, including certain meal and entertainment expenses, may be deductible in part or only if certain conditions are met.

Reminder: The burden is on you to comply with the prevailing tax laws and regulations. If you have any questions regarding your responsibilities, consult with your tax advisor.

Beach Fleischman 2201 E. Camelback Rd. Phoenix, AZ 85016 602.265.7011 | http://beachfleischman.com | twitter: @BeachFleischman



Summertime, and the v 20.5 Update is SO cool!

by Pam Schulz, Sage Certified Consultant

If you have not downloaded and installed the version 20.5 update — aka Sage 100 Contractor 2017 (released June 8th), STOP whatever you are doing and get this update! (If you have not even upgraded to version 20 yet, you will find even more incentive in this article.)

There are too many great new features to list them all, so here are my top three favorites:

  1. Unlimited custom fields on many screens
  2. Increased field lengths on over 500 fields
  3. Filtering Cost Codes for a particular job and phase

The release notes describe the many enhancements to this version, AND now you can see who submitted the request (a new feature —MORE tracking of enhancement requests).

Unlimited custom fields on many screens

A new icon on many screens allows you to create UNLIMITED custom fields.

The custom fields can be defined with a type, name, and other properties -including security access – in the same way that all other fields can be modified. Once created the fields can be “pinned” to the screen, and will be available in report writing windows. This feature is available in many screens; jobs, clients, vendors, pay records, parts – SO many useful places. This ALONE is enough to upgrade for! I like these better than “notes”- they can be “passed out”- and if pinned, are visible like any other field.

Increased field lengths on over 500 fields

Anyone who has had to try and abbreviate a LONG name into a 30-character field will be happy to see that over 500 fields now have longer lengths (names, addresses, descriptions, more).

Filtering Cost Codes for a particular job and phase

The Cost Code list in a lookup window can now be filtered to display only codes for a particular job or job/phase, based on the job budget. No more issuing Subcontracts or Change Orders to a Cost Codes that should not exist for the budget. You can see ONLY the relevant codes.

If all of this isn’t enough — there is SO much more:

  • Easy fix for payroll records posted to the wrong period — seriously — a button click!
  • Ability to save “company specific” custom reports and form designs — for those with multiple companies who are always selecting the “wrong logo”
  • Customizable screen background colors for multiple company files — know which company you have open when they have a distinctive background
  • Tagging row for followup in the Takeoff Screen

Sage sent the update notice to customers on June 8th; the notice looks like this:

As a side note: if you did NOT get this notice, please check with the office regarding the Sage MAIN contact. It is possible that your contact information needs to be updated with Sage. Also, when you install your update, be sure to install the “Sage Advisor Update”- this will install an easy way to check on, download and install updates.

With the Advisor Update, you can be updated on your version even if you do not happen to read an update notice.

Bottom Line: If you are not running version 20.5 you need to update NOW!


Change is the only constant!

by Kyle Zeigler, Sage Senior Certified Consultant

“Change is the only constant” — the ancient philosopher Heraclitus wasn’t referring to Sage 300 CRE when he voiced this around 500 BC, but he may as well have been. In case you haven’t heard, Sage is “re-architecting” Sage 300 CRE. Developers have already begun preparing the software for the long-awaited move from a Pervasive database platform to a Microsoft SQL database platform. While this four-year transition to SQL is applauded by many, it’s unsettling to some. Information about what is changing in the software — and how users can prepare and adapt — will be key over the next several years.

Desktop gets a new GUI (graphical user interface)

The first changes in the software are evident in version 16.1 with the new look and feel of Desktop. Gone is the directory-style layout of folders and subfolders. The more modern and more user-friendly layout incorporates Applications and Favorites with nested links. Also, multiple Home Pages (reports, websites, etc.) can be open at once and refreshed on demand (no more waiting for a Home Page to load when you first log into Desktop).

Even bigger changes are available in version 17.1 with the option to begin replicating Sage 300 CRE data in SQL. This feature affords users access to exciting new mobility applications, such as Mobile Projects for managing field reports and RFIs from a smartphone or tablet — and more mobility features are in the works. The SQL data replication process is the first phase of a whole new level of reporting capabilities, too, laying the groundwork for faster, more complex reports throughout the system.

Users who are traditional TS Main users are encouraged to become comfortable working in Desktop beginning at least with version 16.1. TS Main is still accessible in this version, but only from within Desktop. Regarding version 17.1 — it’s still there, just harder to access (more on that later). Eventually, TS Main will be entirely removed!

Before installing any Sage 300 CRE version upgrade, it’s best to review the Release Notes that explain in detail the changes that come with the new version. To access the Release Notes for version 16.1, click HERE.

Remember, Sage only issues a year-end update for the latest two versions of Sage 300 CRE, which will be versions 16.1 and 17.1 this year. If you need assistance upgrading to one of these versions, it’s best to schedule your upgrade long before December (the earlier, the better). If you’d like, your Ledgerwood Associates consultant can also provide training in the use of the new Desktop following the upgrade. Also remember, change is inevitable; stress is optional.

If you would like help upgrading or training on the new Desktop, please contact Ledgerwood Associates at 480-423-8300 or click below!



How to add alternates in the NEW RELEASE of Sage Estimating v17.11

by Renee Mullen, Sage Marketing Manager

The most impactful release in a decade! Sage Estimating v17.11 now includes a new feature that allows you to define Alternates. Defining these Alternates on your Estimate enables you to prepare Estimates that vary according to your customers’ preferences for materials, quality and price. Using this feature can certainly keep you on a competitive level with your bid process.
Alternates can be added to an Estimate in a number of ways to simplify your work flow. You have the options to assign an Alternate from the Item Detail window, directly to the spreadsheet utilizing the Alternates column, as well as from the Edit Alternates window which also allows you to import and export Alternates to a Microsoft Excel file. In this article we will cover adding, exporting, importing and removing Alternates.

Adding Alternates

Edit Alternates window:

  1. From the Sage Estimating Ribbon, click the Advanced tab.
  2. Click the Alternates button to launch the Edit Alternates window.
  3. Click Add.
  4. Enter a Name for your Alternate.
  5. Enter a Description for your Alternate. This field is not required but can help identify your Alternate if the name is not descriptive.
  6. Statuses do not have to be assigned at this point in time, but if you have already defined statuses that you would like to add to an Alternate, you can select a Status from the Status Drop-down.
  7. Units are optional as well and can be assigned by selecting a unit from the Unit Drop-down.
  8. If you would like to include any notes about the Alternate, Enter them into the Notes column.
  9. Click OK to complete the process and exit the Edit Alternates window.

Item Detail window:

  1. With an Estimate open, Select an Item on the spread sheet and Press CTRL+D to bring up the Item Detail window.
  2. In the Alternates field, Enter the Name of your new alternate. Additionally, you can select an existing Alternate from the drop down.
  3. Click Save to return to the Estimate.

Estimate Spreadsheet:

  1. On an Estimate, add the Alternates column to your spreadsheet layout by Right Clicking on a column header and select Insert. Check the box of the Alternate and click OK.
  2. On the item you want to specify an Alternate for, Enter the Name of the Alternate into the row under the Alternate column. Additionally, you can select an existing alternate from the drop down to assign it to the item.

Exporting Alternates

  1. From the Sage Estimating Ribbon, click the Advanced tab.
  2. Click the Alternates button to launch the Edit Alternate window.
  3. Click the Export button.
  4. The Export Data dialog box will appear. Browse to the path where you would like to save the export and then click OK.
  5. A process indication will appear. Once complete you can click View Log to view the log file, or else click Close to complete the process.

Importing Alternates

  1. From the Sage Estimating Ribbon, click the Advanced tab.
  2. Click the Alternates button to launch the Edit Alternate window.
  3. Click the Import button.
  4. Click Browse and select the Microsoft Excel file that contains the Alternates you wish to import. Once the file has been selected, click OK to continue.
  5. A process indication will appear. Once complete you can click View Log to view the log file, or else click Close to complete the process.
  6. Click OK to save all imported Alternates.

Removing Alternates

  1. From the Sage Estimating Ribbon, click the Advanced tab.
  2. Click the Alternates button to launch the Edit Alternates window.
  3. Highlight the rows you wish to remove and then click the Remove button.
  4. Click OK to commit the changes.

There is so much more to learn about Alternates but this should get you started on the path to efficient, competitive bids!

Questions? Chat with Sage Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET.

For more information on this topic visit Knowledgebase Article 34212. You can find this information and more in the Sage Knowledgebase.

Also, join the conversation at Sage City, available 24/7, the online community is your gateway to many Sage resources.