July 2018 Newsletter
What we’re talking about in July:
- Stay tuned for Sage’s CRE roadmap and investment communication
- Ruth S. says Summer is the time for process improvements
- Frenemies for life? Making marketing and IT work together
- Awesome ‘Tips and Tricks’ for Sage 300 CRE | Sage 100 CON | Sage Estimating
Sage Business Partners (that’s us at LAI) received a notification that Sage will be sending out a letter to current users (that’s you) with the Construction and Real Estate (CRE) roadmap and investment story.
Why is it exciting for you? Three hints: SQL, mobility, and cloud. The letter you will receive will include screenshots and commentary that will lay out the future of CRE, and the furthering development of industry leading ERP solutions for the construction/accounting industry.
In the meantime…
Did you know that ProCore is officially a Project Management integration partner with Sage? They’ve partnered with a development partner, hh2 Cloud Services to connect Sage 300 CRE with core features like Cost Types, Estimates, and Subcontracts. ProCore’s Prime Contracts and Prime Contract Change Orders are already in beta. There are also plans to integrate with Sage 100 Contractor. Read about it HERE.
Summer’s the season for improvements
Seeing your processes and procedures through ‘new’ eyes
The middle of summer is here, and we generally see a pattern. Office staff may be on vacations, while the workload continues to be heavy. Although it is important to focus on just getting the work done, this may be a good opportunity to see where your processes need improvement.
Key things to look for:
- Find out if job instructions are adequate. Instructions that make sense to someone who wrote them may not make sense to someone unfamiliar with the job. Whether you are stepping in for your staff, or someone else is substituting, you will quickly find out if there is a need for improved instructions.
- Consider whether a change in process would be good. People who do tasks routinely can do them quickly because of familiarity, and they usually know what data problems to look for. But there may be ways the process can be more efficient, faster or more accurate—ways that you only notice with a less experienced person handling the job. This could mean a minor change in workflow, a use of some automated feature, or an additional Report/Query that helps verify data entered.
- Consider whether additional training is needed. The process may be sound and the instructions good, but your staff may need more thorough or targeted cross training.
Save it for later!
Will you have the time to write new instructions, design a report or query, or do some quick training? Probably not—at least not during the vacation season. Just make some quick notes and be sure to refer to them later when you can arrange to do those things.
As always, let us know if we can help. And be sure to take a vacation yourself!
Making marketing and IT work together
by Joanie Hollabaugh, Sr. Director of Marketing
Frenemies for life?
Let’s make a broad assumption that many construction executives have never worked in marketing or IT services. Yet, the leadership team needs to hire to both roles. Based on my experience in construction, technology, and software industries (and on executive teams), I will caution “hirer beware!”
At the most basic level, you are co-mingling left- and right-brained skill sets. Which works fine in the human brain, but can be an opportunity for success or failure within your organization.
Why it fails
Being on the marketing side, I speak from personal experiences that IT can be quite dismissive of marketing personnel, considering it a “fluff” role. Marketing can be set at a low priority for IT support, favoring accounting and operations demands. Which is quite ironic, as marketing is an early adopter for technology, making it a potential advocate for IT’s potential growth, i.e., budgetary increases.
Another synergy is that marketing understands the importance of code and technology — having conquered html, server issues, ISPs, plugins and widgets, etc., via website management. While no near the complexity of what IT deals with, the premise that “code never lies” gives marketing a healthy respect for the super powers developers have. And IT should understand that marketing ‘gets it’ because they execute on SaaS and web tools almost exclusively.
If that mutual respect is NOT acknowledged or promoted by upper management, silos between the departments can occur.
When it succeeds
I had the opportunity to sit with one software development team as they planned feature enhancements and planned roadmaps. My contributions regarding buyer/user/influencer personas, GUI suggestions and user experience helped bring the outcome to the market sooner, and with less friction. The team environment unified us during product launches, much to the exec’s satisfaction.
When customer satisfaction results were shared from marketing back to development, it led to market-driven feature development. Hearing directly from clients on what worked and/or what was lacking saved huge budget spend on PAYING for market research. Win for all.
It’s an Elton John — Bernie Taupin thing
One of the biggest challenges for marketing is qualifying spends through results. You know I love a good web analytics spreadsheet, but I had one Director of PSG/IT whip up a beautiful Marketing Cost per Customer Acquisition (MCAC) formula that made me weep with gratitude. He was able to produce mathematic evidence to support what I knew instinctively. To be dramatic, he scored the soundtrack to my lyrics.
Relating to Construction
So how does this relate to your construction business? Your IT department is probably mostly concerned with supporting your software and maintaining hardware. They may even help you evaluate and select your business solution software.
Meanwhile, your marketing team is working on lead development, social media strategies, and brochure websites. How to connect these disparate entities?
Connect them on a project
Maybe your CRM data is a bit of a mess. Marketing is overwhelmed at the prospect of manually updating records for segmentation that is necessary for targeted marketing. Perhaps your IT staff could write a macro or a report that can fill in some of those missing data fields (finding and filling common email conventions, updating SIC codes, etc.). Maybe neither of them dreamed it was possible.
Or maybe your maintenance or field crew is behind in response times/projects – yet the conversations or emails might be sitting right in your CRM system. Chances are, your marketer could automate alerts that would exponentially increase your response times, and ultimately, customer satisfaction.
Plan an offsite coffee, beer, or pizza event
Call an informal meeting away from the office distractions, and let your teams bond over lunch or Happy Hour. Taking people out of their assigned roles goes a long way for debunking presumptions and uniting opposing sides. Assign a notetaker, of bring a whiteboard for each department to create a wishlist from each side, and see what germinates.
Assign actionable items, timelines, and an incentive to reach a goal. You all may be pleasantly surprised!
Follow LAI on Social Media for current construction and technology news!
Upcoming LAI Online Training and Networking Events:
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GL vs. Job Costs Reconciliation
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Can growth be financed?
Submitted by Bryan Eto, CPA BeachFleischman
If you find your company gaining a large influx of projects, the biggest problem will be the boost in the amount of capital you will need in comparison with your cash flow.
A jump in new jobs can strain your company’s resources, challenging the company’s capacity to hire field crews, manage technology infrastructure, and effectively handle cash flow. The upside, of course, is that a large backlog of incoming projects means more income and a lead time that lets your management team meet increasing cash flow demands. The more backlog of construction-in-progress the bigger payrolls, more benefits going out, larger materials bill. And of course, everyone wants to be paid in cash.
This demand for cash can make it hard to ramp up to meet growth opportunities, but you can effectively manage it by using existing credit efficiently and taking out new strategic lines of credit.
Wary of Financing Costs
The capacity of credit lines and credit cards often isn’t being used to its fullest by many construction companies. Many executives avoid using credit because they are wary about interest and financing costs. This is understandable. Credit card annual percentage rates are high and debt can quickly become problematic if left unchecked.
Nevertheless, there are financing companies that work with groups of banks and specialize in obtaining credit for small-to mid-sized companies. They are often a good choice, although they charge relatively high fees, because those charges are often offset by the lower, promotional interest rates they can acquire for you and the larger credit capacity they are often able to procure.
The cash flow obstacle to serious revenue growth can lead you to the logical first important step in using credit effectively — determining which costs or expenses must be paid only in cash. For example, payroll obviously needs to be paid only in cash. But many expenses typically thought of as cash payments can be paid with credit cards or disbursements from credit lines.
The nature of construction projects is that they break even for cash flows after a relatively short time. Capital outlays such as initial material drops, insurance payments, vehicle lease payments, and office bills pile up long before the first draw comes in from the general contractor or the owner.
Project cash outflows continue to outweigh inflows until that break-even point. A break-even analysis is helpful in determining how much credit you will need until a project reaches the point where it brings in enough cash to pay for itself.
Once all the cash-only disbursements have been identified, which are primarily payroll and payroll-related costs, all other job and office expenses should be paid for by credit until cash receipts are sufficient to sustain expenditures.
Credit card payments aren’t typically the preferred method for vendors because they have to pay transaction fees or they don’t have a merchant account. Nevertheless, many of them can be convinced that accepting credit cards is preferable to having to wait for payment, possibly for a long time.
If some vendors still will not accept credit cards, you can still use the cards by paying them with a cash advance. Although the fees are significant, they are manageable when you take into account the large backlog of contracts.
One contractor went from $100,000 in revenue one year to $11 million in revenue the next. The two choices to finance such massive growth were either for the chief executive to pay for everything in cash out of his own pocket or use credit to finance the growth.
Ask your accounting professional to produce a break-even analysis on your current projects and to train your bookkeeping and accounting staff on how to produce these analyses. Your accountant can also give you tips on the controlled use of credit to finance revenue growth.
Beach Fleischman 2201 E. Camelback Rd. Phoenix, AZ 85016 | 602.265.7011 | http://beachfleischman.com | twitter: @BeachFleischman
What’s new in Sage 100 CON Version 21
by Pam Schulz, Sage Certified Consultant
Lots of enhancements and improvements, to start!
Sage 100 Contractor 2018 (version 21) is here, and there are SO many enhancements and improvements! Summer just got a lot HOTTER with this new release.
Start with the Release Notes
Start by reviewing the Release Notes with each version. You can access these from the main screen, under the “Home and Resources” tab. Click the “What’s New” option to view Release Notes. Note the items listed in the “We’ve Been Listening to You!” section to see the many Customer Product Enhancement Requests that have been included in the new version. (This is a reminder to submit your own Product Ideas — in the same Home and Resources tab there is a selection for this.)
THIS VERSION IN PARTICULAR REQUIRES THAT YOU RE-ENTER YOUR LICENSE INFORMATION AFTER UPDATING.
This release has enhancements for almost everyone! Here are some highlights:
Sage Bank Feeds
This new feature will allow the downloading and matching of bank transactions with your Sage data. This will make the bank reconciliation SO much easier!
Streamlined log ins
Logging in and getting exclusive access has been streamlined. Users can now be granted the ability to log in exclusively, or NOT, and users without options like “Administrative rights do not see the options.”
“Looking up” is now easier; from finding Employees by Last Names, to new features that make finding a PO or Subcontract while entering an AP invoice.
Payroll will be easier with new ways to create timecards for Salaried employees, as well as better export from Daily Payroll into timecards. New tracking for Employee Raise History and updated Sick Leave Accrual features for US Federal jobs are included in the update.
- Some of the “pesky” printing issues have been resolved
- Reports exported to Excel will now be exported as “unprotected”
- On Project Management reports, the Default Accounting Period will no longer automatically populate
- Zero balance Inactive GL accounts will no longer cause unnecessary clutter on Financial Reports
- Emailing Direct Deposit pay stubs can now be done at a selected time
- For those wishing to balance their Direct Expense General Ledger accounts and specific Cost Types, there is a new option to validate entries and ensure that the correct accounts and types are used
- The Takeoff screen has another enhancement (Row Tags were very cool last release)- now the Searching function has been expanded to allow more than one grid at a time
As always, it is important to review the instructions when downloading and installing updates. REMEMBER: THIS VERSION IN PARTICULAR REQUIRES THAT YOU RE-ENTER YOUR LICENSE INFORMATION AFTER UPDATING.
If you would need help with the new features, or training on how to get the most from your software, use the form below to request an appointment with a consultant.
We all love shortcuts
by Kyle Zeigler, Sage Senior Certified Consultant
Don’t you wish there were shortcuts to fame and fortune? Well, we can’t help you with that, but we can help you save time and keystrokes with some handy shortcuts in Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate,
Sage 300 CRE Shortcuts and Function Keys (in most applications):
- [TAB/ENTER] Go to the next field.
- [SHIFT + TAB] Go to a previous field.
- [CTRL + TAB] Within a record – go to the next tab.
- [F1] Displays a Help window.
- [F2] Accept entered information (Save and Exit).
- [F3] Exits a window or command.
- [F4] Displays a list of choices.
- [F5] Displays selection criteria/conditions for an operation (within reports and inquiries).*
- [F6] Select a range of records (within reports and inquiries).*
- [F7] Go to the previous record or window.
- [F8] Go to the next record or window.
- [F9] Add a note or link a file to a record.
*In the Purchasing and Inventory modules, these apply:
- [F5] Displays an item tree search when in the item code field.
- [F6] Brings up Additional Information detail, where available.
- [F11] Creates a new requisition, order, change order, return authority, receipt or invoice.
- On any date field requiring input, when using the calendar, you can click on the year or month to select a different date.
- PO Shortcut: From the Inquiry menu, select Order. On the Orders tab, you can double-click in any field on the grid that appears in the right pane to bring up Purchase Order Detail information for viewing.
- IV Shortcut: From the Tasks menu, select Enter Stock Receipts, Enter Stock Issues, or Enter Stock Transfers, right-click anywhere in the window and select Edit Batch Header. Change the Header information for the Batch Date, Accounting Date, or Description fields. In
- Enter Stock Transfers, the Operator, Batch Value, or Number of Entries Header information can also be changed.
- Windows Key + E
- Opens a new Explorer Window. Probably one of the hottest Windows keyboard shortcuts. This one gets a lot of hoorahs!
- Windows Key
- Displays the Start Menu.
- Windows Key + D
- Minimizes all windows and shows the Desktop.
- Maximizes all windows to how they were before you Minimized them.
- Windows Key + F
- Displays the Find all files dialog box.
- Windows Key + L
- Lock your Windows computer.
- Windows Key + M
- Minimizes all open windows.
- Windows Key + Shift + M
- Restores all windows to how they were before you Minimized them.
- Windows Key + R
- Displays the Run command.
- Windows Key + F1
- Displays the Windows Help menu.
- Windows Key + Pause/Break
- Displays the Systems Properties dialog box.
- Windows Key + Tab
- Cycle through the buttons on the Task Bar.
- Windows Key + U
- Displays the Utility Manager with accessibility options; Magnifier, Narrator and On-Screen Keyboard.
- Alt + Tab
- Toggle (switch) between open windows.
How to archive SQL Estimates
by Renee Mullen, Sage Marketing Manager
Give your SQL instance some elbow room
Do you have too many old estimates (SQL) taking up space? Would you like to back them up and move them out of the SQL instance? We can Archive the estimates (SQL) outside of the SQL instance and if you need the estimate later, we can restore the estimate.
To archive estimates:
- Select the estimate or folder containing estimates that you want to archive and right-click. Select Create Export File and the “Create Export File” window appears.
- Click Browse and select a location that the archive folder will be created. You can also add a description in the dialogue box directly below. Verify that the boxes estimates you want to archive are checked at the bottom and click OK.
- Right click on the estimate or folder containing estimates that you want to remove from the live database and select Delete.
To restore archived estimates:
- Select or create a new Branch folder in which to restore the Estimates. You can right click on the Estimate database and select New, Branch.
- Right click on the folder where the estimates will be restored and select Import File and the “Import File” window appears.
- Browse to the .ZIP archive that was previously created click Open. The estimates contained in the .ZIP folder will now display in the “Available Estimates” list.
- Check the box for each estimate that will be restored, select the correct database and click OK. The estimates will now be back and available to open in Estimating.
There you have it! You can archive or restore an archive in just a few steps using the Estimating Management Console.
Questions? Chat with Sage Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m.–8 p.m. ET.
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