November 2017 Newsletter
Happy Thanksgiving from Ledgerwood Associates!
What we’re talking about in November:
- Rawr! Are you a technology dinosaur?
- Nuggets from ConstructConnect’s “2018 Design & Construction Outlook: Cheery or Dreary?”
- Up your game! How to design reports that meet your goals
- Online Event: Introducing Core Cloud Systems (CCS)
- Stuck in the well and off plan? Come home to the Sage family!
- Awesome ‘Tips and Tricks’ for Sage 300 CRE | Sage 100 CON | Sage Estimating
Are you a construction technology dinosaur?
Haven’t updated your core accounting software in eons? No worries! We can take you from extinct to exceptional!
Now that you’re ready to take your construction business to the next technology level, Sage is offering some great discounts until the end of the year. You can always take advantage of the Section 179 allowance before the New Year!
25% OFF Sage Paperless Construction
One of the most affordable document management systems for construction, now both NEW and EXISTING clients can save up to 25% for on-premise solutions!
Sage Paperless Construction (SPC) is a content management and workflow automation solution that integrates with Sage 100 Contractor and Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate.
The SPC solution centralizes and electronically stores your vital business and project-related information in one secure location for fast, easy, multi-user access and distribution.
Up to 20% OFF Mobile: Sage Service Operations and Construction Project Center
First time users get 10% off monthly subscription, and 20% off annual subscription. One year incentive.
Sage Construction Project Center is a web-based, mobile-friendly project management platform that helps project team members collaborate effectively.
Sage Service Operations bridges the gap between the field and office staff by bringing Service Management to the field. Core functionality provides Work Order (WO) processing, service site history, sales opportunity creation, and mobile Purchase Order (PO) creation.
The more Users/Modules you buy, the more you save!
Mix and match additional user licenses, modules, and integrated operation solutions to save big.*
- Save 5% with 1 user license or module.
- Save 10% with 2 user licenses or modules.
- Save 15% with 3 or more user licenses or modules.
2018 Design & Construction Outlook: Cheery or Dreary?
Presented by ConstrucConnect, AIA, AND AGC
Employment and revenues for architecture, engineering and construction have grown modestly for most of 2017. But the signals for the next 12 months are mixed. Architectural billings are positive, but construction project starts uneven. Contractors are hiring, but concerned about finding qualified workers. Meanwhile, uncertainty about the impact of changes in tax, infrastructure, immigration and other policies looms over investment decisions. How will these cross-cutting influences play out?
Thanks to ConstructConnect for allowing us to share some nuggets from the live web event! View the synchronized archive HERE.* Follow them on twitter: @ConstructConnx.
*ConstructConnect recently moved to a new webcaster who, unfortunately had technical difficulties due to the large volume of attendees, and they apologize for the issues.
First up, Alex Carrick
Chief Economist, ConstructConnect
Mr. Carrick (@Alex_Carrick) started with a high-level of overview of his top “considerations” of the construction economy:
Followed by some encouraging stats that showed residential starts that are slightly higher than the “boom” of 2005:
New road construction is a harbinger to expansion and growth; Mr. Carrick predicts that there will be growth in this sector of construction. Plus, both sides of the political aisle are supporting infrastructure spending.
Next up, AIA’s Kermit Baker, Ph.D.
Chief Economist, American Institute of Architects (AIA)
Dr. Baker focused on four areas, summarily:
- Tax reform –if enacted –likely to have only modest impact on construction sector
- Recent hurricanes cause short-term dislocations, but present regional construction opportunities that are likely to be felt over several years
- Resolving construction labor problem likely to require more extraordinary measures than simply rebuilding traditional training programs
- Design firms see improving business conditions; construction activity expected to remain strong through 2018
At this time, let’s dive into the issues construction labor is facing.
Ending on a high note: an uptick in architectural billings as well as growth in new design contracts (not shown).
Bringing it home – Ken Simonson
AGC Chief Economist
Continuing with the labor shortage topic, Mr. Simonson (@KenSimonson) shared specifically which job positions are hardest to fill (according to survey respondents):
And, how owners are “fixing” the problem:
Cheery — oh!
Lastly, here’ is the summary slide of 2016 Actuals, along with 2017 and 18 forecasts. All in all, the trends have been favorable in starts and general construction growth, with the discernible negative being the labor shortage. Still, for me — more “cheery” than “dreary!”
Up your report design game!
by Ruth Stockdale, Director of Professional Services
Old principles and new options
Design with your goal in mind
Someone has asked you for a report. It could be a list of jobs, or a detailed analysis of vendor payments. How do you proceed? One of the first things to clarify is what is meant by “report.” Our traditional definition would be data that is displayed on a printed document, but our expectations and capabilities have moved far beyond that.
- An Inquiry or Query is generally a way to pull data from your database without creating a printed report; perhaps a subset of targeted or specific information.
- A Dashboard is a digital display of information that is usually based on the same contents as a printed report (which can often be customizable according to user profile).
- Reports are generally lengthy or detailed data that contain some type of business intelligence or actionable statuses. They are often delivered in formats for use in Excel, or as .pdf files. And there are now multiple design tools to use!
All of these report styles share the same fundamental goal—to deliver information to a specific audience in a meaningful format. Because of that, there are some basic principles that will always apply to the design process. Check out the list below. If you have designed reports before, you can see some recommendations that we have always made. But we also updated the list to help plan for new options.
Basic steps for design
Identify the overall layout
Define the content and column layouts, subtotal and total placement, and any calculations that are needed. You can use Excel to mock-up a version, or just make a sketch on paper. You can also take an existing report and make notations on it.
Make detailed notes on the mock-up
List the source of the information – employee record, PR check record, Property/Unit, for example. Show any graphics that might be needed, including color coding. Define any prompts on the report that would help condition or filter the data. Date Range, Job Status, Zip Codes for Vendors are examples. If the viewer will need to add their own information, plan for the best way to deliver the core data in the format they can add to—usually Excel. If the mock-up shows too much data to view easily, consider an initial summary page with the ability to drill into more details.
Determine who will run the report and when
If the intended audience does not have access to the reports menu, you might also need to push the report to them, rather than having them pull it. This would also lead to a more standard format, such as Excel or .pdf. If the report is only used one time, that might lead to a less polished and time-consuming design. If the report is recurring, you will want to make it as easy to deliver as possible. If it is on a dashboard, you need to know if the data will need to refresh automatically or on-demand.
Options for creating the report
Use an existing report
This could be a canned report or one that was already customized for you. Minor modifications could be made, but you need to weigh the work to change the design compared to starting fresh.
Design the report yourself or contact a consultant
You may have the skills or training to work with report design tools. You may have some skills but need some assistance or direction. Or you may not have experience with any of the reporting options. In any case you can contact us to advise you on the options, including Webinars on report designing. Also, check out previous articles on reporting in our newsletter. Your preparation of the mock-up and notes ahead of time will help, whether you design the report yourself or not.
Select the design tool
Your mock-up and notes will also help with this selection. Requirements for the delivery mode, drill-down detail or other specifications may determine the best option. Regardless of whether you are using Sage 100 or Sage 300 CRE, you have canned reports, built in report writing tools, and access to outside tools.
Reminder: bookmark your Upgrading resource page!
Don’t forget to use your Year End resources that we have created and collected for you!
Introducing Core Cloud Systems!
Webinar December 6th 11am – Noon MST
Join LAI and Core Associates for a 1 hour webinar to learn about TimberScan’s suite of cloud-based solutions!
What is Core Cloud Systems (CCS)
Core Cloud Systems (formerly TimberScan eForms) is a powerful, mobile development platform for creating forms and applications. With Core Cloud ystems, or CCS, companies get a single environment for all their corporate processing. Forms and applications can be created for accounting, project management, operations, payroll, human resources, and other corporate services. And best of all, CCS integrates seamlessly with Sage 300 CRE and Sage 100 Contractor.
Are you off plan (stuck in the well, Timmy)?
Sage wants you to Come Home!
When the recession hit, it may have been a matter of survival to let your Business Care plan with Sage lapse. Now, with the economy looking brighter and business picking up — you should take advantage of all of the new features and functionality in the latest upgrades in Sage 100 CON, Sage 300 CRE, and Sage Estimating!
Unfortunately after 3 or more years, you need to repurchase the software, as the changes are too great to leap frog to the next versions (especially with the new SQL versions).
Four business reasons to purchase a Business (support) plan :
- Actually, two words could sum it up: YEAR. END.
- You absolutely need the latest updates on forms, taxes, and legislation for Year End closing!
- Access to latest and greatest software versions
- This is year, Sage came out with SQL for Sage 100 CON, Estimating SQL, and SQL Replicator for Sage 300 CRE.
- Sage University and Sage Support
- Get the help you need — straight from the publisher!
- Sage Integration products
- If you’ve wanted Sage Paperless or Construction Project Center, they integrate with current version. That can’t happen if you’re four or five versions back!
Win Back Promotion
For Sage Construction customers who are off plan by three or more years, Sage is offering the following discounts:
On software license costs (only) when repurchasing Sage Accounting software.
On software license costs (only) when repurchasing Sage Estimating software, or Estimating + Accounting (combined).
*Offer applies until the end of 2017. Some exceptions and/or exclusions may apply. Speak with your LAI Account Executive to learn more.
Follow LAI on Social Media for current construction and technology news!
Upcoming LAI Online Training and Networking Events:
WOTC at Work
Submitted by Bryan Eto, CPA BeachFleischman
The WOTC (Work Opportunity Tax Credit) encourages businesses to hire from certain categories of workers who face significant barriers to employment. The allowable credit amount is based on a portion of wages paid to an eligible worker during the first year of employment or, in some cases, during the first two years.
Rules and restrictions
Businesses can claim the credit for eligible workers whose employment begins before January 1, 2020. But there are numerous rules and restrictions, including the following provisions:
- Minimum hours of work.
- No credit is available unless the worker completes at least 120 hours of work. The credit is reduced if the individual works at least 120 hours but less than 400 hours.
- Rehired workers.
- The credit is available only for new hires. Wages paid to an individual who was previously employed by your business and is rehired don’t qualify.
- Related parties.
- Wages paid to certain individuals who are related to the employer or business owner don’t qualify.In addition, a business can’t claim a compensation deduction for any portion of wages claimed as a WOTC. For instance, if the allowable credit for an employee is $2,400, you can’t deduct that amount of wages as a business expense. Wages above $2,400 can be deducted as employee compensation expense, however.
10 Targeted Groups
Current law provides the following categories of WOTC-eligible workers:
- Qualified IV-A Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients,
- Unemployed veterans, including disabled veterans,
- Designated community residents living in empowerment zones or rural renewal counties,
- Vocational rehabilitation referrals,
- Summer youth employees living in empowerment zones,
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients,
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients,
- Long-term family assistance recipients, and
- Qualified long-term unemployment recipients.
The last targeted group was added to the list under the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act of 2015. Since January 1, 2016, the WOTC has been available for hiring long-term unemployment recipients, defined as those who have been unemployed for a period of at least 27 weeks and who received state or federal unemployment benefits during all or part of that time.
Certifying Eligible Employees
Individuals who are members of a targeted group generally must be certified by a designated local agency by the day the individual begins work or shortly thereafter. In addition, employers should complete a pre-screening notice with the applicable local agency on or before the day an individual is offered employment to maintain eligibility for the WOTC if a new hire isn’t certified on or before the day he or she begins work.
The employer also must submit additional forms to the Department of Labor. The paperwork can be a little overwhelming, so it’s important to consult your tax professional for assistance.
Calculating the Credit
Calculating the Work Opportunity tax credit (WOTC) can be confusing. Here’s an example to illustrate how it works:
For 2017, your business is entitled to a WOTC of $1,600 ($4,000 x 40%). For 2018, your business is entitled to a WOTC of $3,200 ($8,000 x 40%).
Important note: The total amount of WOTC-eligible first-year wages is limited to $12,000. Your business would be eligible for a credit based on $4,000 of wages paid in 2017, leaving the remaining $8,000 of WOTC-eligible wages for 2018.
Beach Fleischman 2201 E. Camelback Rd. Phoenix, AZ 85016 602.265.7011 | http://beachfleischman.com | twitter: @BeachFleischman
Check out these “Can’t do without” features in v20.6
by Pam Schulz, Sage Certified Consultant
The temperatures are cooler, but the heat is on to get upgraded to version 20! Let’s get ‘er done!
The top reasons to upgrade NOW:
- Version 20 is the ONLY version that will be supported and have year end tax updates. DON’T WAIT UNTIL YEAR END RUSH- DO IT NOW.
- New features- on top of everything that has been added so far, VERSION 20.6 ALONE has:
- Inactivate unused records (like jobs, cost codes, ledger accounts etc) so no one can use them
- Refresh a report on your screen- don’t need to “re-run it”
- More information buttons on jobs and clients
- New vacation accrual max-outs
- These features join others from version 20.5
- Larger field sizes
- Unlimited custom fields on many screens
- And more!
Now let’s upgrade!
Want more great reasons? Check out this video:
Creative Uses of GL Units Accounts
by Kyle Zeigler, Sage Senior Certified Consultant
Track metrics that matter to you
When we think of general ledger financial statements in Sage 300 CRE, the traditional balance sheet, income statement and statement of cash flows come to mind. These reports provide information about the company’s long-term stability, present-day profitability, and use of cash in its daily operations. However, your general ledger can be used for more than finance-related dollar amounts. The use of Units accounts can be used to track all sorts of metrics, and the metrics you choose to track are entirely up to you!
In General Ledger, when setting up a new base account, an account type is assigned. One of the selections for account type is Units. Unit accounts are similar to other GL accounts, but there are some differences in how they process: Entries are made using GL > Tasks > Record Entries or GL > Tools > Import Transactions, but entries to unit accounts are not required to balance in order to be posted. Closing entries are not created for unit accounts when GL > Tasks > Close Fiscal Year is run. Budgets can be entered, updated, and used for reporting for unit accounts. Financial Statement Designer (FS) can be used to produce “financial statement” reports using the balance and activity fields of these accounts.
More great uses!
Beyond the obvious tracking of inventory units in and inventory units out, some other possible uses of unit accounts include:
Employee headcount reporting
- Create one unit-type account for employees hired and another unit-type account for employees terminated.
- In the account for employees hired, enter the number of active employees as of the first date of the fiscal year – the “beginning balance” for the account.
- Record a monthly entry for new hires and terminations in the designated accounts.
- Use the FS application to create a statement that shows the monthly activity and year-to-date total. Add the report to a Statement Group to print automatically with other financial statements.
- Create a FS accumulator to store the headcounts. Add a column to your favorite income statement that uses an expression to calculate income and costs per employee.
Projects bid versus projects won
- Create one unit-type account to track the number of projects bid each month and another for the number of projects awarded.
- Create a FS design to show the monthly activity and year-to-date totals. Add percentage calculations to show the number of bids won as a percentage of the total bid.
- Even better, create a report using the Crystal Reports program to add colorful charts and graphs and your company’s logo in the header.
Calculate dollars per square foot
- Use FS to open your favorite income statement and “save as” to a new FS design name.
- Create an accumulator in which both the From Account and To Account are the unit accounts that hold the square footage or number of units.
- In the FS design, add an expression column to calculate the cost or income per square foot or per unit.
- Create an Expression that divides the activity or balance field to use from the cost or income accounts, such as Current Activity or YTD Activity, is divided by the Accumulator you created to store the square footage or units. Select the Add then calculate option as the Calculation method.
- Save and test the new version of the financial statement.
Many other types of metrics and units in and out can be tracked in General Ledger – get creative! If you need some brushing up on your Financial Statement Designer skills or would like a custom Crystal Report designed for your unit-based metrics, give us a call at Ledgerwood Associates.
How do I copy a Sage Estimating assembly?
by Renee Mullen, Sage Marketing Manager
Have an Assembly that you would love to be able to copy to save yourself some time by avoiding the tedious task of repeating the Assembly Takeoff process? Great news! In this article we will go over the steps you can take to copy Assemblies within your Estimate.
- Open Sage Estimating.
- Click Database, Assembly, Smart Assemblies.
- In the next window, click the Add button. Click the Copy button.
- In the next window, expand the assembly group folders and select the assembly you wish to copy. Click OK to accept.
- Change the Description and the Assembly fields to unique values.
- Modify the assembly as you wish, and click OK to save changes.
Note: You cannot copy an Assembly from one Estimating Database to another.
If you follow the above listed steps you will be able to copy your Assemblies within your Estimate and save yourself a lot of time!
Questions? Chat with Sage Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET.
Also, join the conversation at Sage City, available 24/7, the online community is your gateway to many Sage resources.