May 2019 Newsletter
Springing up in May: risks, benefits, security, and business solutions
- From Intacct: 4 ways to help make your case for switching accounting software
- Ready to subscribe to cloud or mobile integrations for Sage Construction? Save big this month!
- Ruth S. explains how to leverage the security in your Sage construction solution
- Procore reprint: 6 project risks and how to prevent them
- Awesome ‘Tips and Tricks’ for Accounting | Sage 300 CRE | Sage 100 CON | Sage Estimating
How to Convince Your Exec Team It’s Time to Switch Accounting Software
Reprinted with permission from Sage Intacct – original post HERE.
BY NEHA TANDON | DECEMBER 20, 2018
It’s likely that when your company was started or founded that your executive team went with the easiest, quickest, and most cost-friendly solution to handle its accounting needs just to get things started. But the truth is that start-ups outgrow the tools that launched the company. Not only can your old system be outdated, but ability to handle higher volumes of work might even be inhibiting your ability to grow.
When you’re spending more time finagling your old system to work for your current needs than you are actually invoicing and bookkeeping, it’s likely time for a new system in place to do the work for you. Regardless of your company’s size, plenty of options exist for accounting systems in software.
If it’s fallen to you to make the case to management for an accounting platform update, there are key arguments to make that will help overcome sticker shock and resistance to change you may encounter along the way.
“The New System Will Save Time and Money.”
Manual invoicing consumes enormous time. By some estimates, 77 percent of invoices are received by the payor via mail, fax, or emailed PDFs.
If you are spending a lot of time running your accounting department on spreadsheets, it is likely your time could be better spent elsewhere. Software already exists to automate most of this handwork. Take the time to put some actual numbers to the costs of a given function like monthly invoicing. You and your co-workers will need to do some rudimentary time tracking, but your findings will be surprising. Bringing your executive team an objective view of the current workload and the tangible results they can expect to see if they bring new accounting software online will go far in getting a “Yes.”
“The New System Will Get Invoices Out On Time.”
“Time is money.” We keep saying it because it keeps being true. Perhaps nowhere is this more clear in presenting bills and receiving payment.
When it’s taking weeks to gather expenses, receipts, and other backup needed to run an invoice or close out the month’s billing cycle, something’s got to change.
Accounting solutions are far more capable than simply being number crunchers and organizers. Through powerful automations, modern accounting systems can automate handling of receipts and expenses, collect and organize time sheets, make sure work order itemizations are assigned correctly, and more.
Having done your research on how long your processes take, you’ll be able to make a convincing case that updating the system will allow your department to spend less time on important but repetitive tasks that can be more accurately handled automatically.
Additionally, newer accounting solutions are built from the ground up to seamlessly integrate with most standard customer relationship management systems. Integrating your accounting and CRM can eliminate many of the disconnects that can occur when your finance and sales or customer service operations can’t frictionlessly communicate with each other.
“The New System Will Help Us Be More Buttoned Up As We Pursue New Funding/Financing/Investors.”
Chances are that your executive team is trying to secure new funding, a new credit line, new investors, or attention from investors. When your company is out looking for the large dollars, you need to be able produce an accurate financial picture at the drop of a hat. Additionally, you may need to meet very strict audit requirements.
A newer, more powerful accounting solution can deliver an accurate picture of cash position, account aging, and more with just a few clicks. It’s a far quicker, and more accurate way to share the numbers than running endless spreadsheets.
“The New System Will Help Protect Our Books and Accounting History From Loss.”
By some estimates, up to 80 percent of data loss is due to hardware failure and human error. Depending on the size and age of your company, your accounting history could be massive, both in size and importance. Modern accounting platforms protect the financial data of your company and your customers through a comprehensive approach to both security and data backup to eliminate as many points of failure as possible. Increasingly, mission critical systems like accounting solutions are delivered as cloud-based software as a service solutions for precisely this reason.
When you consider such grim statistics as DTI/Price Waterhouse Coopers asserting that seven out of 10 ten small firms that experience a major data loss go out of business within a year, the protection argument takes on added urgency.
Upgrading your system won’t just help your accounting operations and team. It will help increase communication across all levels of your organization. Depending on the organization you are part of, accounting touches the job responsibilities of everyone in some capacity, especially in smaller companies. Investing in a top-quality system that really caters to your company’s unique needs is not only important, but vital for growing and established companies alike.
Neha Tandon is a writer for TechnologyAdvice. She has a Masters of Arts in Journalism from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School. With a background in marketing, public relations, and advertising, her true passion is for business journalism.
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How to leverage security in your Sage software
by Ruth Stockdale, LAI Director of PSG
Beyond the human touch
Security — we touch on this topic so often it seems it should be a settled issue for everyone. But a recent anecdote leads me to remind everyone again.
A company received a request to change vendor ACH payment information. The request came via e-mail from a legitimate sender with ACH codes for a valid bank account. However, the vendor’s system had been compromised using phishing or social engineering techniques and the request was not initiated by them.
How did they know it was a scam? The company determined this before sending payments to the fraudulent account because of their human intervention policy. Company procedures specified that any vendor change information had to be confirmed with a phone call to a senior contact at the vendor.
Add/check these security steps
How does this relate to your Sage software? No program can substitute for the person in this story—the person who followed the procedure. But your software can control security and increase the likelihood that only the right person has access to critical changes. Your software can also alert you to changes that have been made.
Verify your security setup
Make sure there are limitations on who has permissions to make setup changes regarding things like vendor information. You can increase the likelihood that your own staff follows appropriate procedures.
Look for permission “creep”
As roles and personnel change, it is possible for someone to inadvertently inherit permissions that are not appropriate for them.
Consider the vulnerable points
Any setup function should be controlled and monitored, the most likely ones involving AP and AR.
Create alerts and/or exception reports
These can let you know when specific data records have been changed, or system log entries show changes made.
The specific permission and report options will vary based on whether you are using Sage 100 CON or Sage 300 CRE. Of course, you should also check with your IT group about additional protections against other risks.
Let us know if we can help! It’s No Big Deal.
Top 6 Project Risks and How to Prevent Them
Reprinted with permission from Procore Jobsite
Flaws lurk within every construction project. By themselves, they cause delays and cost overruns. When a series of flaws occurs, however, your project is set up for failure. Here’s what’s behind a fatal flaw or critical issues analysis, what to consider, and how to pull it off.
1. Start Early To End Well
The best time for a fatal flaw or critical issues analysis is as early in a project’s lifecycle as possible. No doubt, your owner will do one, but they don’t have your perspective. That’s why it’s crucial you have your own analysis.
Here are the major categories that often pop up on construction projects:
- Resource Risks which include changes in resource availability or cost.
- Timing Risks arising from missing the deadlines.
- Regulatory Risks that come from government action and inaction.
- Environmental Risks that arise from known and unknown environmental issues.
- Financial Risks that come with changes in economic conditions, such as rising interest rates.
- Safety Risks which increase when people do unfamiliar tasks or the site has unusual dangers.
- Business Risks posed by actions not in line with your business plan or business goals.
- The factors behind each of these risk categories are the bell ringers. They’re the events, decisions, delays in decisions, incorrect information, and unknowns that will move any of these categories into the red.
2. Know What You’re Up Against
A starting point for your critical issues analysis is making a list of the potential critical issues that might arise. On projects with multiple parties performing the work, it’s wise to include all of them in the analysis. All you need to do is to give them a template with a list of all the risk categories and ask them to tell you any critical issues they foresee.
Another approach is to get project partners in a room with a whiteboard and start brainstorming. A solid hour, regardless of the project size or complexity, should reveal the larger critical issues to focus on. Then, start the really hard work.
A solid hour, regardless of the project size or complexity, should reveal the larger critical issues to focus on. Then, start the really hard work.
3. Consider the Likelihood
Deciding the likelihood of each risk comes next. Here, you’re considering the likelihood the critical issue will arise, and its degree of impact on the schedule, cost, quality aspect or project objectives. You can do it by framing the impacts in percentages. For example, if a component built off-site is seriously at risk of not arriving when needed, mark it as 90 percent likely to occur.
4. Consider the Impact
Then, consider the effect on the project in case the issue occurs. Will it cause serious delays or cost overruns? If so, it means the impact is so serious you’ll need to plan on how to eliminate the risk or insure against it. Address each risk in the same way until you’re satisfied that you’ve identified and ranked all of the major risks.
Minor risks, on the other hand, are items that are unlikely to occur. Nevertheless, if they do occur, they shouldn’t pose threats to the schedule, budget or quality. Still, having these in a list will allow you to consider their impact when taken together. For instance, a minor risk coming from a new subcontractor who is unfamiliar with a construction method could fuel a risk in safety as workers learn the new method. Taken together those minor risks could add up to a major risk.
5. Decide Your Response
Once you know what risks you are facing, it’s time to decide how to deal with them or manage them. Consider each risk and think of ways to eliminate them or avoid them all together. In the example above, you might organize some mandatory training to get all the workers up to speed on the new method.
When you can’t eliminate or avoid a risk, you might consider transferring the risk to insurers, another party who is better equipped to handle the risk, or contracting with a specialist to manage the risk. Mitigation is another option you might consider. Here, you examine what you can do to lower the impact of the risk.
Finally, if there is nothing to be done, there’s acceptance. This is a plausible option when the risk is unlikely to happen but has a high impact in case it does. However, just because you accept them doesn’t mean you ignore them. Track these risks, and if they start to manifest, choose a response based on the most recent project information.
6. Monitor The Outcomes
The last aspect of your critical analysis is monitoring. You should document all the risks and responses, and assign responsible parties to monitor and respond to them accordingly. You should also have a reconciliation process for people to follow when known risks aren’t responding to the strategies you established for dealing with them. It’s also a good idea to monitor the project for new risks so you can manage them in a timely fashion.
Reporting is also important because it allows people to see how well the risk management program is working. Reports serve you after the project as well, by showing what worked and what didn’t work. You can use that information on future projects to improve your overall risk management process.
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Find Profit by Analyzing Your Corporate Leases
Submitted by Bryan Eto, CPA BeachFleischman
The power of negotiation
If you negotiate your office rental agreement effectively, you’ll save the cost of relocating every time your company changes size or direction. For that matter, you can use your lease to generate extra income.
That’s why it’s a good idea to periodically audit all leases, including those of your company’s branches or divisions. Check for modifications you might need when it’s time to renew the contracts.
Here are some quick ideas:
- When you renew your lease, ask the landlord to provide extra improvements or several months free rent, in the same way a new tenant is provided with extra benefits. This makes good sense in markets where office space is plentiful.
- If your company is growing, calculate the growth rate, and then rent enough space to accommodate future expansion. Negotiate a clause that allows you to sublet the space you aren’t using yet or rent out space periodically for a one-time fee.
- For that matter, check your offices once a year for efficient use of space. For instance, you might be able to consolidate staff and equipment. Then you can allow your customers to use any space you have left over for seminars or employee training in return for a fee.
- Always measure your floor space to ensure that you’re getting the full amount of space provided by the contract.
Beach Fleischman 2201 E. Camelback Rd. Phoenix, AZ 85016 | 602.265.7011 | http://beachfleischman.com | twitter: @BeachFleischman
Beyond the Income Statement
by Pam Schulz, Sage Certified Consultant
5 things to know about your numbers
Smart owners and managers use standard financial reports to study profitability and organizational health. But going a little beyond the usual look at the same reports can provide information to improve Estimating and Project Management.
Every company has unique needs; here are a few popular ideas:
1. What is my Margin (Gross Profit)? How does this relate to my Markup?
Knowing your Margin is important! Your MARGIN is the Job Profit divided by the Sales Price (contract amount). Margin and Gross Profit are sometimes used interchangeably. A $100 job with 30 percent Gross Profit will contribute $30 to cover Company Overhead and contribute to Profit.
It is important to know the difference between MARGIN and MARKUP. Markup is the Profit divided by the COST. So, on any given project, the MARKUP percentage will be higher than the MARGIN (Gross Profit) percentage.
A classic example:
- Job Budget – $67
- Markup – $33
- Contract – $100
- The MARKUP is 50% ($33/$67)
- The MARGIN is 33% ($33/$100)
Having a clear understanding of Markup and Margin is important for a couple of reasons:
- Many companies have a “target” margin for jobs to achieve
- Knowing the bottom line helps determine if a job is worth taking
- Clearly, a misunderstanding of Markup vs Margin could cause costly estimating mistakes
2. What is my Labor Burden?
Labor is expensive. And the burden on labor is truly a heavy burden. It is important for everyone involved to understand and agree on what is included in the Labor Burden. Payroll costs in Sage 100 Contractor are posted as “burdened,” but do you know what that means?
Look at the Payroll Calculation setup in menu option 5-3-1. Payroll calculations with a type of “Employer Costs” and a General Ledger account in the “Direct Expenses” range for the “Job Account” will be included in the Labor Burden when payroll is posted. Does this agree with what is being used in Estimating? If not, then reports comparing Budgeted Costs to Actual Costs may be inaccurate because of an “apples to oranges” comparison.
Identify items that are considered Labor Burden versus those that may be viewed as overhead and make sure the Budgeted amounts and the Posted amounts use the same assumptions. (Make sure Estimating and Accounting agree.)
You can create a fairly simple report to compare the “wages” and the “total costs” on job cost journals to test the labor burden that is being posted. Adding a field to one of the reports at menu option 6-1-2 (Job Cost Journal) can provide a quick look at the posted difference.
3. What are my Estimating “hit ratios”?
- Are you bidding enough work?
- Are you getting the “right” size/type of jobs?
- Do some clients have you bid LOTS of jobs and award very few?
- Are some estimators more successful than others?
Knowing these answers can help you spend your estimating resources more wisely and help plan future workloads. Reports are easy to create using the date fields in the job setup (menu option 3-5) screen.
4. What is the average time to collect receivable invoices?
This information can help plan cash flow, and is also good to know when planning the Schedule of Values. It is not uncommon to pay for (your) labor that you are not paid for (by the client) until 45-60 days later.
Some clients are slower to pay than others and reviewing the average days to pay can help identify them. You can create a custom report to analyze this- this type of report would require some intermediate Report Writing skills, but could provide valuable cash flow information.
5. What are the profitability ratios of some Job Types/Supervisors/Clients compared with others?
This is easy — in fact, many of the Sage job reports are already available sorted by these criteria.
Perhaps not every type of job should be measured in the same way. Knowing who and what is most profitable can help channel scarce resources. It is also beneficial to identify types of work that should NOT be pursued.
Of course, there are countless metrics that can help you manage more profitably and effectively. Identify what would be most useful to YOU and create Sage Report Writer reports to keep you informed beyond the income statement.
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?
by Kyle Zeigler, Sage Senior Certified Consultant
Another alternative for getting help…
Nearly all Sage 300 CRE users encounter this scenario at some point: You have a somewhat urgent issue with your Sage 300 CRE software and your Sage consultant is not immediately available to help. You’ve tried searching the Sage knowledgebase, but can’t find the right solution for your issue. You called Sage Support, but received the message that “call volumes are high and wait times are longer than usual.” With frustration mounting, what to do?!
Can we talk?
Have you tried the Sage Live Chat feature? Available in Sage Desktop, Live Chat gives you access to a Sage technical analyst who will review your question and work one-on-one with you to help you find a solution. Some helpful points about Live Chat:
- Hours for Sage 300 CRE are Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time (that’s 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time)
- You’ll want to have your Sage 300 CRE customer account number handy. You can find that in Desktop > Help > About Desktop.
- You’ll provide your email address and will receive a transcript of the chat session after the session is ended.
- When you type your question, be as detailed as you like! While it looks like you can only enter about 40 characters, you can actually type a whole paragraph.
- Once you have clicked the “Chat with Analyst” button, you are put into the chat queue. You can see your position in the queue and watch your position move up through the queue.
- Response time for chat sessions is very often faster than response times for Sage Support phone calls – and there’s no annoying hold music or messages while you wait!
- If the analyst is unable to resolve your issue through chat, the chat analyst will arrange to have phone support analyst call you to further troubleshoot the issue. If this next step is needed, you’ll want to stay by your phone so you don’t miss the call!
- Live Chat does require an internet connection and uses Internet Explorer when accessed from Sage Desktop.
The busiest times of the year for accounting professionals are also the busiest times of the year for Sage Support and your Sage consultant. Your best bet for getting help quickly for any Sage 300 CRE issues that arise is to know all of your options. Live Chat is another great tool for your Sage Help toolbox!
If you would like additional information about any of the Sage Help tools, including Sage City, the Sage Knowledgebase, or SageU.com, please contact Ledgerwood Associates.
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?