June 2019 Newsletter
Cloud – auditing & risks | 2019 TUG highlights | New role? ‘Construction Technologist’
- From Sage Intacct: Talking cloud strategy + auditing
- Add Users + Modules and save up to 20% — ends this month
- Ruth S. shares ‘the buzz’ from the TUG 2019 National Users Conference (more reviews Tips + Tricks)
- GREAT Procore article: “Rise of the Construction Technologist”
- Awesome ‘Tips + Tricks’ for Accounting | Sage 300 CRE | Sage 100 CON | Sage Estimating
For the Non-IT Auditor: Talking ‘Cloud’
Reprinted with permission from Sage Intacct – original post HERE.
BY KARALEE BRITT, DIRECTOR, CROSSCOUNTRY CONSULTING | JUNE 3, 2019
As internal auditors, whether we have IT in our educational background or not, we have learned the basics around IT General Controls because so much of the control environment resides in systems. Many of us are familiar with COBIT, which outlines the key IT control objectives in terms non-IT auditors understand. But, if asked by our Audit Committees to explain what part of the IT environment resides in the Cloud and how does Internal Audit’s risk assessment and audit plan address Cloud-related risks, how many of us could answer that question completely?
Your company has likely moved at least one key system to the Cloud and significant attention was paid to carefully assessing vendor credibility and impact to internal controls. However, with the ease of moving systems to the Cloud, there are likely other systems and components of the IT environment that have been moved to the Cloud that did not receive the proper risk and control analysis.
In today’s world where companies are moving most, if not all, of the IT environment to the Cloud, internal auditors need to comprehensively understand: 1) your organization’s Cloud strategy, 2) how the company manages Cloud risks, and 3) Internal Audit’s role in providing assurance around Cloud controls.
If you haven’t spent time broadly understanding your organization’s Cloud footprint, here are [a] few starting points:
Become Versed in the Basics
There are three service delivery models. Many companies use a combination of the three to construct the most efficient and effective IT environment:
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): Provides online processing or data storage capacity.
- Platform as a Service (PaaS): Provides the application development sandbox in the Cloud.
- Software as a Service (SaaS): Provides a business application used by many individuals or enterprises simultaneously. This is the most commonly understood form of Cloud service.
- Private Cloud: Has one enterprise as its user.
- Public Cloud: An offering from one Cloud Service Provider (CSP) to many clients who share the Cloud processing power simultaneously.
- Community Cloud: A private-public Cloud with users having a common connection or affiliation, such as same industry or common locality.
- Hybrid Cloud: A combination of two or more of the previously mentioned deployment models.
Understanding the basics will provide the foundation for effectively evaluating the different risks posed by the service delivery and Cloud deployment models.
Understand Your Company’s Cloud Strategy
The level of documentation underlying IT environments varies. Work with your CTO to review and understand the IT environment, including what parts reside in the Cloud and what remain[s] “on premise”.
If there is no documentation, or outdated documentation, host a whiteboard session and have the CTO map it out with you.
Once you understand the current state of IT – an important question to ask is: what are the company’s plans to migrate more to Cloud and when?
Perform a Cloud Risk Assessment
Now that you can talk Cloud and understand your company’s IT environment, performing a Cloud Risk Assessment is the next step to further understanding what the “Cloud” means to your organization.
With most Cloud solutions, the organization has less direct control of the solution and consequently a higher level of inherent risk. Common risks areas include:
- 3rd party risk
- Reliability and Availability
When evaluating significance and likelihood of risks, consider:
- Formality of the Governance and Oversight structure
- Clear articulation of a Cloud strategy
- In-house skills, talent and ongoing training
- Maturity of security protocols
- Regulatory compliance implications
- What areas of the IT environment have not received recent independent audit attention
Identify and Map your Cloud Controls
Cloud Control Frameworks: Once you have a clear understanding of the risks, inventory the controls that Management has in place to manage those risks. Control frameworks are evolving, but some popular ones include ISACA’s COBIT 4.1 and Cloud Security Alliance’s Cloud Security Matrix.
There are several out there, some are industry specific, so select one that works for your organization. And in some cases, leverage the best concepts of a few frameworks and tailor a control framework for your organization.
Update Traditional IT Controls to Cloud Controls: With a broad understanding of what parts of the IT environment are in the Cloud and what parts are planned to move to the Cloud, ensure your organization’s Risk & Controls Matrices (RCMs) are updated to reflect Clouds-specific risks and controls. In many cases, citing traditional IT controls is not sufficient or accurate.
Controls beyond Vendor Management controls: Many equate “Cloud control audits” to third-party vendor audits. However, when partnered with a Cloud SME, Internal Audit can add much more value by ensuring the Cloud infrastructure has been effectively implemented and that the Governance model and Cloud Strategy is well designed for the organization.
Performing the above steps is the foundation Internal Audit needs to ensuring your organization is positioned well to assess other related risks such as Cybersecurity and Data Governance risks.
Now, when you hear that your organization is moving everything to the Cloud, or when your Audit Committee asks you to explain Internal Audit’s approach to auditing the Cloud, you have a road map that will yield an answer that non-IT business colleagues will understand.
The more you add, the more you save on Sage user licenses or modules – up to 20% off.
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The Buzz from TUG National Conference
by Ruth Stockdale, LAI Director of PSG
Anyone attending the TUG Conference generally leaves with ideas, additional knowledge, and plans for improvements at work.
It was exciting to be there and experience the energy in the crowd. If you didn’t attend, here are what your fellow Sage users are thinking about. This is based on my own observation and conversations with users throughout the week.
Training for new employees or expanded training for current ones
- Many user companies have had Sage 300 CRE or Sage 100 con for years but have newer employees with less experience. The lab sessions for accounting basics—AR, AP, GL—are always full. And this year “full” meant 35 – 70 workstations in each of about 20 session rooms. Topics in the variety of tracks covered basics through advanced information, with many of them presented as panels or lecture-only.
Maximizing the impact of reporting
- Reports, in this case, include online views or queries, as well as printed traditional reports. There was a large interest in the use of My Assistant, Office Connector, Crystal Reports and Liberty Reports, along with the built-in report designer tools in both Sage 300 CRE and 100 Contractor.
An increased interest in hosted servers
- More users consider this every year and the options continue to improve.
Ongoing interest in paperless options
- Many users have already implemented a paperless product and are looking for suggestion regarding best practices. Others are evaluating products. Keep in mind that “paperless” rarely means the complete elimination of paper. When well implemented, the focus is on improved workflow, communications, and information retrieval.
The 2020 TUG National Conference will be in New Orleans, LA, and the TUG Fall Workshop will be in Denver.
Let us know if we can help! It’s No Big Deal.
Rise of the Construction Technologist
Reprinted with permission from Procore Jobsite
By Jeff Wing | May 27, 2019 | Original article link here
Mason. Superintendent. Plumber. Architect. Glazier. Owner. HVAC. Engineer. Construction Technologist (CT)?
Yeah. Here comes tomorrow. Construction roles are on the move. The loud arrival of construction management software (CMS) in the construction sector has been dominating headlines for a while now. The cultural sea-change in construction has been attended by a bit of turbulence, from the “if it ain’t broke” philosophy, to a healthy wariness of trends that may or may not represent meaningful change. It is safe to say that digital construction management solutions are here to stay.
A 2018 survey of construction industry professionals showed that 87% of those surveyed embrace the model of cloud-based CMS. Construction management technology is proving its value in the field, and in the office, every day. Today, technology solutions heatedly clamor for construction business. How can a construction outfit be sure it is making the most informed budgeting and purchasing decisions in this increasingly vital technology category?
Boomer Exodus and the Construction Technologist
Hitesh Dewan, director of technology integration at Roebbelen Contracting, Inc., is one of a vanguard of construction tech experts beginning to populate the construction sector. These men and women are hacking a path through the technology jungle, bringing desperately-needed clarity and guidance to a construction space that wants to keep informed pace with progress.
“I’m an internal consultant who works for everybody within the company,” Hitesh explains. “I bring to the table solutions that people are asking for but not seeing.” He sees the construction discipline as a collection of many complementary parts. “Every person that’s a part of this machine of ours, front to back, they know their process and they know the tool that they use. What they don’t know is the full breadth of tools available to them.”
Baby boomers are retiring from the construction sector at a rate of about 10,000 a day, and will continue to for the next 12 years. The issue isn’t a population of construction workers who are largely unfamiliar with technology—that balance is changing daily. The issue is knowing which of the countless CMS solutions are the best ones for your construction business. Even someone with broad familiarity of the tech environment is going to be lost in that marketplace, and the stakes are high. This is exactly where Hitesh and his Construction Technologist colleagues come sweeping in to save the day.
“Everybody needs to be able to utilize the tools they have in the best way possible. At the same time, they don’t know what others are using, so they don’t know how to choose the most appropriate tools going forward. You need somebody who can look at it from all aspects.” All aspects, of course, means a knowledge base that supports both construction and technology. So, is the Construction Technologist a construction expert immersed in technology, or a tech person immersed in construction? Yes.
“In a sense, it does have to be both,” says Hitesh. “It could be a lifelong career builder who is now starting to realize, ‘Hey, I’ve been swinging this hammer the same way for 35 years’, and now sees a better way to do it. They start embracing technology and advocating for it.”
“Alternately, there are those folks who are sitting on a heap of process and automation knowledge, which can be applied to anything. A process engineer can brilliantly move the widget from point A to point B to point C. In that case, all they need is to really understand building and then apply that process expertise to construction.”
Rising Army of Techsperts
At the end of the day the Construction Technologist is a construction company’s technology insider; a sort of family tech guru who is intimately acquainted with an outfit’s construction processes. The CT is able to clearly see, in the landscape of options, the best technology fit for the company—considering price point and plausible ROI. Is there any sense in which the CT needs to be an ongoing advocate for technology in the construction space? Hitesh explains the strange metric that answers this question.
It is a daily practice, like Lean. You can’t get Lean if you don’t have a Lean mindset, or you can’t provide Lean culture if it’s not a pervasive culture. So it is with technology.“That’s actually almost a bit scary,” he says with a laugh. “A construction technologist is working to eliminate their own role, really. Not literally, of course. But you’re not there to just provide solutions. You’re there to build a mindset. Once that mindset is established, you don’t need to harp on it again and again. Now, that may take 1 to 5 years or 10 years, or it could be a lifelong need for a company. But you are building a mindset. It is a daily practice, like Lean. You can’t get Lean if you don’t have a Lean mindset, or you can’t provide Lean culture if it’s not a pervasive culture. So it is with technology. And that is part of the Construction Technologist’s role.”
From a certain perspective, it could be said that never before in history has the workforce’s need for a particular expertise synced so perfectly with the lifestyle of an emerging generational cohort of workers. In this post-industrial epoch, young people across a range of academic and vocational disciplines are surrounded and infused by day-to-day technology practically (if not literally) from birth. Is this a rising army of prospective Construction Technologists? And can these young people have any real idea how vitally important and central they can be to tomorrow’s global built environment?
“I think if I have one message to STEM students—to ALL students—and to the industry in general, it’s this; the construction sector may have always had this image of being about hard work, manual work, something not necessarily tailored to those with technology expertise. And construction is indeed hard, manual work, and genuinely noble work. But if you’re paying attention to the industry today, you also see how much automation, how much digitization, how much cloud-based ingenuity and process change is happening in construction.” Hitesh pauses.
“Look, even if you don’t know how to build and you’ve never swung a hammer in your life, you’d be surprised at how many opportunities for advancement there are in this trade.”
Follow LAI on Social Media for current construction and technology news!
What is IRS audit guidance?
Submitted by Bryan Eto, CPA BeachFleischman
IRS examiners usually do their homework before meeting with taxpayers and their professional representatives. This includes reviewing any relevant Audit Techniques Guides (ATGs) that typically focus on a specific industry or audit-prone business transaction.
Though designed to help IRS examiners prepare for audits, ATGs are available to the public. So, small business taxpayers can review them, too — and gain valuable insights into issues that might surface during audits.
In the past, IRS examiners were randomly assigned to audit taxpayers from all walks of life, with no real continuity or common thread. For example, after an examiner audited a dentist, the next assignment he or she received might have been a fishing boat captain or a convenience store owner. Therefore, there was little chance to develop expertise within a particular niche.
To remedy this, the IRS created its Market Segment Specialization Program (MSSP), which expanded rapidly during the 1990s. The MSSP allowed IRS auditors to focus on specific sectors. Through education and experience, examiners became better equipped to identify and detect noncompliance with the tax code.
The IRS started publishing ATGs as an offshoot of the MSSP. Most ATGs target major industries, such as construction, manufacturing and professional practices (including physicians, attorneys, and accountants). Other ATGs address issues that frequently arise in audits, such as executive compensation and fringe benefits.
The IRS periodically revises and updates the ATGs and adds new ones to the list.
A closer look at ATGs
What does an ATG cover? The IRS compiles information obtained from past examinations of taxpayers and publishes its findings in ATGs. Typically, these publications explain:
- The nature of the industry or issue,
- Accounting methods commonly used in an industry,
- Relevant audit examination techniques,
- Common and industry-specific compliance issues,
- Business practices,
- Industry terminology, and
- Sample interview questions.
The main goal of ATGs is to improve examiner proficiency. By using a specific ATG, an examiner may, for example, be able to reconcile discrepancies when reported income or expenses aren’t consistent with what’s normal for the industry or to identify anomalies within the geographic area in which the taxpayer resides. The guides also help examiners plan their audit strategies and streamline the audit process.
Over time, the information and experience gained about a particular market segment can help examiners conduct future audits with greater efficiency. Some of this information is incorporated into periodic ATG updates. Furthermore, IRS examiners are routinely advised about industry changes through trade publications, trade seminars and information sharing with other personnel.
Site visits and interviews
ATGs also identify the types of documentation that taxpayers should provide and information that might be uncovered during a tour of the business premises. These guides may be able to identify potential sources of income that could otherwise slip through the cracks.
For example, the ATG for the legal profession identifies revenue streams derived from outside the general practice, such as serving on a board of directors, speaking engagements, and book writing or editing. The guide encourages IRS examiners to inquire about potential revenue sources during the initial interview with the taxpayer.
Other issues that ATGs might instruct examiners to inquire about include:
- Internal controls (or lack of controls),
- The sources of funds used to start the business,
- A list of suppliers and vendors,
- The availability of business records,
- Names of individual(s) responsible for maintaining business records,
- Nature of business operations (for example, hours and days open),
- Names and responsibilities of employees,
- Names of individual(s) with control over inventory, and
- Personal expenses paid with business funds.
For example, one ATG focuses specifically on cash-intensive businesses, such as liquor stores, salons, check-cashing operations, gas stations, auto repair shops, restaurants, and bars. It highlights the importance of reviewing cash receipts and cash register tapes for these types of businesses.
Cash-intensive businesses may be tempted to underreport their cash receipts, but franchised operations may have internal controls in place to deter such “skimming.” For instance, a franchisee may be required to purchase products or goods from the franchisor, which provides a paper trail that can be used to verify sales records.
Likewise, when auditing a liquor store owner, examiners are taught to search for off-book wholesalers and check cashers. For gas stations, examiners must check the methods of determining income, rebates, and other incentives. Restaurants and bars should be asked about net profits compared to the industry average, spillage, pouring averages and tipping.
During an audit, IRS examiners focus on those aspects that are unique to the industry, as well as ferreting out common means of hiding income and inflating deductions. ATGs are instrumental to that process.
Although ATGs were created to benefit IRS employees, they also help small businesses ensure they aren’t engaging in practices that could raise red flags. To access the complete list of ATGs, visit the IRS website. And for more information on hot tax issues that may affect your business, contact your tax advisor.
Beach Fleischman 2201 E. Camelback Rd. Phoenix, AZ 85016 | 602.265.7011 | http://beachfleischman.com | twitter: @BeachFleischman
TUG highlights for Sage 100 Contractor
by Pam Schulz, Sage Certified Consultant
Sage 100 Contractor attendees at this year’s TUG National Conference had 28 software specific classes, roundtables and labs to choose from covering every module in the program. In addition, there were one-on-one booth sessions available as well as IT and Industry Topic tracks and Vendor (including Sage) presentations and booths. There were over one hundred Sage 100 Contractor users in attendance joining over eight hundred Sage 300 Contractor and Sage Estimating users for four action-packed days in beautiful San Antonio.
One highlight of specific interest to Sage 100 Contractor users during this conference was the announcement of an expanded “OEM” relationship between Liberty Reports and Sage, to expand to Sage 100 Contractor and Sage Estimating. For you, this will mean easier access to qualified Liberty Report help. Watch for upcoming training and information opportunities for all of your reporting needs.
Attendance at TUG was a reminder of the importance of “community” and idea sharing, and that one should never stop learning. Join TUG and take advantage of monthly webinars, newsletters, and these conferences!
The TUG 2019 Fall Workshop will be held on October 14 -15 in Denver, Colorado. Plans are already underway for another information-packed conference (where I will be one of the Sage 100 Contractor class presenters).
Need help from a certified Sage 100 Contractor Consultant? Just click, and we’ll contact you in a jiff! It’s no big deal, right?
TUG highlights for Sage 300 CRE
by Kyle Zeigler, Sage Senior Certified Consultant
Over 900 Sage 300 CRE, Sage 100 Contractor, and Sage Estimating users recently attended the 2019 TUG National Conference at the lovely JW Marriott Hill Country Resort and Spa in San Antonio, TX.
For Sage 300 CRE users, the conference offered 4 days of classes, labs, and roundtables in the following impressive array of educational choices:
- 67 Sage 300 CRE-specific sessions with topics in the following categories: Basic Accounting, Advanced Accounting, Payroll, Contracts and Billing (including AR), Project Management, Property Management, and Service Contractor
- 58 sessions for Sage 300 CRE reporting, including Report Designer, Crystal Reports, MyAssistant, Microsoft SQL Server, and ODBC/Microsoft applications such as Excel and Access
- 26 sessions presented by Sage and other vendors on products that interface with Sage 300 CRE to enhance workflow, improve productivity, expand functionality, and provide mobile solutions for project management
- 26 sessions on information technology and industry management topics
General sessions, one-on-one booths, and the vendor trade floor added to the experience. Keynote speaker Dustin Anderson, Sage VP of Construction and Real Estate, revealed several exciting developments in the arena of expanding customer choice, including Sage’s integration partnership with Procore, the announcement of Sage Intacct as a future accounting option for construction companies, and upcoming innovations for smartphone apps to connect field operations with back-office software.
The conference was topped off with coveted raffle prizes and fabulous food and live music at the fiesta-themed TUG party.
Don’t miss out on next year’s TUG National Conference scheduled for May 12 – 15, 2020, in New Orleans, LA! For information about TUG and the power of users helping users, visit www.tugweb.com.
Need help from a certified Sage 300 CRE Consultant? Just click, and we’ll contact you in a jiff! It’s no big deal, right?
Totals Page (Sage SQL Estimating): Adjust the Job Unit Total
Looking for more tips & tricks or training on Sage Estimating? Become a member of TUG, The Users Group for Sage 300 CRE, Sage Estimating, and Sage 100 Contractor, so you can join the Estimating User Community! The TUG Estimating User Community provides user education through training webinars, educational articles, and the opportunity to discuss software-relevant open forum topics and questions. TUG welcomes all users of the software to join us the last Wednesday of each month!