September 2014 Newsletter
No need to blame the dog. We’ve done your homework for you!
As technology advances, software solution choices multiply exponentially. From the construction industry viewpoint, which is generally conservative, you want information before investing in the latest soft or hardware! So just in time to go back to school, we’ve done some of your homework for you.
Ready to go mobile and can’t decide what hardware to use? We have researched three great options that you can explore.
Looking into going paperless, or digital, or SaaS? We got you covered!
Smart Devices: Fleet, COPE, or BYOD?
You have a decision to make whether to invest your own capital and purchase or lease a fleet of hardware/software device and apps, simply allow employees to bring their own smart devices – or perhaps a modified solution?
It basically comes down to a decision between security and complexity.
If financial outlay is not an issue, but security, compliance, and confidentiality are paramount, the answer may be Fleet devices. This model consists of a company-owned, company-configured, company-only communications device. This solution produces the highest amount of security as there are no personal activities or information (other than company profile). Total costs are absorbed by the company including hardware, software, maintenance, and training.
A compromise to the Fleet Policy would be to consider Company Owned, Personally Enabled (COPE) strategy. In a COPE environment, the company “owns” connectivity to their network (and the right to DISCONNECT), but may allow employees to download certain apps within reason. The company policy may also determine usage and costs, allowing employees to financially support extra storage and app costs. The downside to this policy is that it still poses the cumbersome burden of employees needing to manage both a business and personal device.
Let’s consider the third option – Bring Your Own Device. With a BYOD policy, there is no cash outlay or commitment. There’s no training or support, and no obligation towards maintenance or loss.
But, according to a Smart Market Report from McGrawHill Construction, there are inherent risks:
“The key concerns with a BYOD policy are security and confidentiality…Potential problems include allowing information to go from business to personal, such as placing a rendering or animation on a social platform without regard to copyright or the client’s wishes; accidentally sending a message from a personal rather than a business address; someone leaving the firm abruptly and downloading critical, confidential information; or loss/theft of the mobile device.”
The article continues on, saying that the risks are generally exaggerated, and the solutions are managerial – from comprehensive training to software apps that reduce risk (like find my iPhone and apps that wipe confidential data).
But buy-in from IT may be slow in coming, with the infinite variety of networks and platforms, hardware and software that they must connect to, support, and troubleshoot.
Top Dogs! Integration Partners for Sage Construction & Real Estate (S100 & S300)
While Sage hasn’t poured development dollars into the core CRE products lately, they do continue to form strategic alliances with third-party publishers that help to keep the Accounting package relevant and competitive. Here are LAI’s favorite three “weiners:”
#1 Paperless Environment – Document Management for Sage 100 and 300
Converting to a paperless environment no longer requires cutting-edge technology.
However, when Sage announces the addition of a development partner that integrates seamlessly with Sage 300 CRE and Sage 100 Contractor, that’s a game changer. Paperless Environments’ product, “pVault,” scans, routes, indexes, stores, retrieves, distributes, and archives — all in a secure environment.
The PREMISE of document management is an easy business process to understand and accept. The EXECUTION of it is another thing altogether. And for Accountants, going paperless may perhaps be harder still, with paper being tactile evidence of financial position.
Thomas Reuters published a great white paper with ten tips entitled, “Most Common Mistakes Accountants Make When Going Paperless.” (Download the complete document here.)
A few Thomas Reuters pointers for Accountants to avoid when going paperless:
- Trying to implement without a lead person. Select a champion to commit to the process and influence others
- Resistance and lack of participation from Senior Partners. Everyone must be on board.
- Dismissing the idea of backing up data. Your data is gold.
Ready to go paperless with Sage 100 (MasterBuilder) or Sage 300 (Timberline)? Let’s talk about YOUR strategy. LAI can help you configure a solution with the right amount of resources, licenses, and budget.
#2 eTakeoff – Digital Viewer and Takeoff for Sage Estimating
Who knows Sage better than a former Sage CEO? Former Timberline President/CEO, Curtis Peltz, joined eTakeoff in 2012, bringing with him his domain knowledge of cost estimating.
eTakeoff is a complete electronic viewer and takeoff solution for construction estimators. In tried-and-true software tier versioning, eTakeoff is offered to the market in Basic, Advanced, and Premier models. From simple view-only to advanced Excel integration, eTakeoff is a powerful tool for Sage Standard or Extended Estimating. View the comparisons between Basic, Advanced, and Premier versions here.
Want to try eTakeoff for 15 days for FREE? Email us for the free link!
#3 Integrated Field Solutions – IFS | Core for Service Management
One of the challenges of using Sage CRE is the disconnect between the field technicians, managers, and office staff. While the SaaS model has become ubiquitous, finding a software integration partner that fits into the Service Management’s business needs is challenging. Furthermore, seamlessly integrating that solution into core Sage systems is critical.
One of Sage’s newest Development Partners, IFS brings Service Management to the field for Sage 100 and Sage 300. Work Order processing, Service Site history, sales opportunities, and mobile Purchase Order creation bridges the gap between the field and back office.
The Tech Tool in IFS has three distinct functions:
- The Self Service Center Customer Portal – in this portal, your customers can monitor, review, and submit requests for service in real time.
- Employee Center — in here, employees can access and print pay history and company documents, like the Employee Handbooks health insurance forms, and expense reports. This results in cost-savings for the company on items like envelopes, paper, postage, and time.
- Document Management for Service — here you can store contracts and service management data, allowing for quick review of Service Level Agreements. Additional files may be attached, like site photos for review by staff and clients.
Ledgerwood Associates is really excited to have such a highly-functional tool for the Service Management module for CRE. Providing a tool that strengthens the relationship between customers, the field, and management without a software download is extremely valuable. Anyone with an internet connection can use this service, and the learning curve is immediate for all skill levels.
Ed Ledgerwood is the resident Service Management ninja at LAI! Email Ed and ask how he can help you maximize the potential for your Sage Service Management module.
Upcoming LAI Online Training and Networking Events:
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.
Reports – Windows into Your Business
Submitted by Walt Mathieson
Sage 100 Contractor comes right out of the box with nearly 1,200 system reports, yet some of our most frequent questions are about tweaking or customizing reports!
Most of the system reports were written with the report writer module that comes with the program, but some of the more complex reports rely on special programming to collect data or control the appearance of the report. Most of report questions seem to be about these complex reports, ranging from adding or deleting data to changing the report selection criteria to rearranging how the data appears on the page. Too often, we have to inform the client that the complex report they want to have modified cannot be changed because of the special programming in the report. The only way to determine if a report is locked and cannot be modified is by looking for the Modify Report button on the report printing screen when the report is selected. If the Modify Report button is present, the report can be modified. If the Modify Report button is not present when the report is selected, that report is locked and cannot be modified.
If a report that has most of the data you want appears to be locked, don’t despair! Depending on the changes sought and one’s tolerance for slower report generating speed, we may be able to create a new custom report that can collect and present the requested data. Flesh out what your report should look like, perhaps in Excel, and send it to your Certified Consultant for an opinion as to whether it can be done with the Sage 100 Contractor report writer.
If the report cannot be generated with the included report writer, we have had great success using a third party reporting program to create quite complex reports that can solve almost any reporting problem. If the data is available in Sage 100 Contractor, we can extract the data and present it in a format that meets users’ needs, usually at a very reasonable cost.
Consider also the ability to export system and custom reports from Sage 100 Contractor into Excel, where data can be added or removed and formats can be tweaked to meet one-time requests. This is not an ideal solution for reports that may be needed regularly, but for random requests, this can be a viable and affordable option.
Current Version: The latest and greatest version of Sage 100 Contractor at the time of this posting is version 19.4.52. We bring you this as a public service, so that you may keep your program up to date and take advantage of the most recent features and functions.
Contact Walt Mathieson, firstname.lastname@example.org, Sage 100 Consultant
Lien Waivers for Secondary Vendors
Submitted by Kyle Zeigler, Sage Senior Certified Consultant
The relatively new Subcontractor Compliance Management (SCM) task in Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate (Sage 300 CRE) provides a big boost to risk management for construction companies who hire subcontractors to work on their job sites. Among the four facets of SCM – Lien Waivers, Certified Reports, Insurances, and Miscellaneous Compliance Items – lien waivers spark a number of questions. Here are some tips regarding lien waivers in SCM:
- Lien waivers printed from the SCM task must use a report design created with Crystal Reports.
- Lien waivers can be printed from within the SCM task or from a reports menu in one or more of the Sage 300 CRE modules. Separate report designs are required for task printing versus report menu printing.
- Depending on your settings, the system will notify you when you have not received an expected lien waiver from a subcontractor or supplier.
- Lien waiver records can be created for secondary vendors (subs of your subs or suppliers to your subs).
- To create lien waiver records for secondary vendors, the setup of a commitment is required in Job Cost or Project Management.
- When a secondary vendor is added to an AP invoice or invoice distribution as a joint payee, a lien waiver record is created for the secondary vendor according to your SCM settings.
- Secondary vendor lien waiver records are created with no amount. You can copy and paste the amount from the primary vendor lien waiver record to the secondary vendor record or from the Amount Paid via Joint column in the Manage Secondary Vendors sub-task, or you can manually enter an amount.
- Managing the receipt of lien waivers can be easily incorporated into your present workflow in a variety of ways.
- Lien waiver status information is available at your fingertips in Inquiries and Reports.
- There is no long a need to track lien waivers outside of your Sage 300 CRE database!
For more information on lien waivers or on the Subcontractor Compliance Management task in general, contact your local Sage Business Partner. Also, if you are just starting to implement SCM, please see the Training & Events link on our website to register for a 2-hour interactive Subcontractor Compliance Management online training at www.LedgerwoodAssociatesUSA.com.
For more information on these new features or for assistance in completing your upgrade, contact Ledgerwood Associates at 480-423-8300.
Arizona Sales Tax Reform
Effective January 1, 2015, there will be some changes in the manner in which contractors calculate and pay sales taxes (also known as transaction privilege taxes), while some of the methodology will remain the same. The changes are due to the sales tax reform that Governor Jan Brewer pushed for during 2013. The reform was intended to simplify the way sales taxes are calculated and remitted.
Currently in Arizona, contractors are not required to pay sales taxes on building materials at the time they are purchased for use in construction projects, as is required in most other states. Instead, contractors are subject to prime contracting sales tax on 65% of the gross receipts generated from performing construction activities as a prime contractor. Also, in addition to the state of Arizona, the contractor must report and remit the sales tax to the municipality in which the construction project took place.
Under the reform, beginning January 1, 2015, there will not be any change in the way sales taxes are calculated for prime contracting for new construction. Sales taxes will still be due on 65% of the gross receipts generated. However, there will be a change in the manner in which the taxes are calculated by contractors who enter into contracts with property owners to maintain, repair, replace or alter existing property. Contractors will now pay sales taxes on the materials when they are purchased for use in these construction projects and will not be subject to the prime contracting sales taxes. The reform will make a significant difference to trade contractors that perform many small jobs in various municipalities, while it adds complications for contractors that perform both new construction and construction on existing property.
Also as part of the reform, beginning January 1, 2015, taxes will be remitted to the Arizona Department of Revenue for both state and municipality sales taxes. Currently sales taxes are remitted with a state sales tax return to the Arizona Department of Revenue for state sales taxes and certain program municipalities, with separate sales tax returns being remitted to non-program municipalities.
Overall, there will be some simplification as a result of the sales tax reform, namely having a centralized agency to remit sales taxes to, and more complication if you are a contractor that performs both new construction and construction for property owners on existing property.
Submitted by Laureen Song, CPA
Pittman & Murdough, CPAs | 602-265-6590
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