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Quick Cash Flow Analysis for Construction Companies

Cash flow is the lifeblood of your construction business. Watch this video to learn how you can quickly get the information you need to stay on top of your cash flow with Sage 300 Construction & Real Estate Excel-Based Reporting. 

Transcript

Healthy cash flow is like oxygen to a company, and staying on top of changes to your cash flow trend can help you make corrections before trends turn into problems. With a Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate Excel based report, we can get a big picture view of the overall cash flow trend from jobs over the past 12 months. The overall trend is made up of the individual contributions from each job month to month. Trends in the cash flow for individual jobs or groups of jobs may identify billing issues, collection issues, or spending issues that with little analysis can be identified and addressed. This provides us with a 12 month window showing how our jobs have been affecting the company's cash flow each month. By filtering the data a little further, we can see the same trend analysis for a specific job, a specific customer, or a specific project manager.

Identifying the specific causes for increases or decreases requires quick access to live data. Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate Excel based reporting enables us to drill down into a specific value to see the supporting information. The amount by which the job increased or decreased cash is broken down by types of cash receipts and disbursements. By observing cash receipts we can quickly confirm that payments are being received from the customer on a timely basis. By drilling into disbursements we can review the usage of company credit cards or burden incurred from payroll. Ultimately, a review of this information may help in decision making processes pertaining to things like billing processes, payment collection, usage of company credit cards, costs not associated with sub-contracts or purchase orders, or the use of overtime.

For more information about cash flow analysis using Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate, contact us by phone or email, or  learn more about Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate on our website.

3 Ways Analytics Can Improve Your Construction Business

analytics reportsAre you skeptical of data driven decision making? If so, you are not alone. Many construction business owners wonder if using analytics can provide better answers to their business questions - such as which types of projects should our company avoid? Sometimes, the more experience we have in the field, the less inclined we are to rely on analytcis in our decision making.

However, it's been shown time and again that analytics-based decisions can help organizations gain a competitive edge.

Here are 3 ways you can use analytics to improve your construction business:

1. Analytics Help Improve Profits

The right analysis tools can help you spot patterns and trends in your work. For example, an HVAC contractor might determine that installing a certain type of air conditioning unit for a certain type of customer in a specific region has an outsized effect on profitability. Armed with that information, the company’s executives might discontinue sales of less profitable systems, step up marketing in that region, or develop new strategies.

2. Analytics Help Prevent Repeated Mistakes

Nothing holds back a construction firm like a mistake that’s repeated project after project, year after year. This is especially true when you start looking at costs like labor, materials, equipment, and energy consumption. How much would the same bad labor decision cost a general contractor over a period of 20 years? Analyzing your operations across all projects can help you pinpoint these trouble areas and make changes.

3. Analytics Help Manage Workforce Better

For nearly any construction firm, nothing causes the profit and loss statement to swing one direction or the other like labor. Thus, a company that understands its workforce needs better than its competitors can gain an edge in the labor market. Analyzing productivity both at an enterprise level and down to the individual worker will help you determine what exactly needs to change in order to get the right level of productivity from your labor.

If you'd like to learn more about applying analytics-based decision making in your company, contact us for a free consultation.

What Is Sage Construction Project Center?
sage-project-center
sage-project-center

Construction Project Center is a web-based, mobile-friendly project management platform from Sage Software. The platform helps everyone on the project team collaborate effectively by making it easy to share and track all of the information and communications about your project - documents, budgets, punch lists, change orders, photos, files, emails, notes, etc.

Project Center is web-based, making it accessible from anywhere you have access to a browser, including your mobile phone. With Project Center, you have access to the project information you need, when you need it.

Integrate with Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate

Sage Construction Project Center works with Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate to give you seamless integration with Job Cost. This feature saves times and prevents input errors by sharing basic information such as cost codes, and categories as well as project information including estimates, commitments, costs, and revenue.

Is Construction Project Center Right For You?

Contact Us and we'll be happy to answer your specific questions about Sage Construction Project Center.

Webinar - Affordable Care Act (ACA) Reporting

form-1095-c  

Recent polls show that over 50% of companies are either slightly, or not at all, prepared to manage the complexity of the annual ACA reporting for 2015.  Your company can avoid potential fines of “up to” $750.00 per employee by learning your responsibilities and how to implement within Sage 100 Contractor.

wright-solutionsJoin our webinar with ACA expert, Attorney John J. Wilson of Wilson Rode, PLLC, to get answers to these questions and more.

  • What should I know and who needs to file?
  • Do you know whether or not you are an “ALE”, Applicable Large Employer and how to determine if you are?
  • Have you established measurement periods for your variable hour employees or your seasonal hires?
  • Are your employee’s participants in your plan or a multi-employer union sponsored plan?
  • What and where should I be recording information in Sage 100 Contractor?
  • What information do I need to report and with what forms?
  • When do I need to report by and to whom?

Cost:  $150.00 for a single attendee or $225.00 for a group of attendees from the same company (each attendee will need to complete a registration form).  At the end of the registration process you will be redirected to a payment page.

You have 3 opportunities to choose from to attend this webinar.  Space is limited, so register today!

NOTE:  Times below are listed in PACIFIC DAYLIGHT TIME.  Select “Show Time in My Time Zone” under the registration link for presentation time in your area.

Questions?  Please contact Wright Office Solutions – (517) 580-3717

We look forward to “seeing” you at the webinar!

Register for a session now by clicking a date below:

Wednesday, October 21, 2015 7:00 AM - 9:00 AM PST

Tuesday, October 27, 2015 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM PST

Thursday, November 5, 2015 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM PST

Once registration is complete you will be directed to our payment site.  Once payment is received, an email confirming your registration with information you need to join the Webinar will be sent within 24 hours. The actual invitation goes out within 24 hours of the scheduled Webinar.

Hold Off On That Windows 10 Upgrade

hand handinnenfläche stopDon't Upgrade to Windows 10 yet.

If you are using:

  • Sage 100 Contractor
  • Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate  OR
  • Sage Estimating
To run your construction business, please wait to upgrade to Windows 10.

Sage is still testing these products on Windows 10, so they are not officially supported yet.

While there have not been any major issues reported yet, we strongly recommend waiting. We'll let you know (here and via our newsletter) when Windows 10 is officially supported by Sage.

If you would like to learn more, here is the official link to the Sage Knowledgebase article on this subject.

In the meantime, feel free to contact us with any questions you may have.

What is Sage Bid Management?

bid-managementSage Bid Management is cloud-based bid software. It works with both Sage 100 Contractor (formerly MasterBuilder) and Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate (formerly Timberline).

How It Helps Your Business

Sage Bid Management helps address the challenges of building and managing your bidder lists. It also helps you put bids together quickly and efficiently - so you won't struggle to submit your proposals on time.

Sage Bid Management enables true collaboration with everyone on your project team, including estimators, subcontractors, and material suppliers. With your bid process automated and streamlined, your, estimators will have more time for vendor/subcontractor pre-qualification, selection and negotiating the best contract terms.

Finally, you can have a single, convenient, and secure online location where information can be viewed, accessed, and shared with bidders. You’ll gain better control throughout the pre-construction phase of every project—laying the foundation for successful and profitable projects.

Want to Learn More?

Contact us if you have any questions or if you'd like to receive a copy of the Sage Bid Management fact sheet.

The State of Construction Hiring

construction-hiringAre you having trouble finding qualified workers for your construction business? If so, you are not alone, according to our friends at Sage Software. They recently compiled some statistics about the state of hiring in construction. They found that 76% of construction firms report having a hard time finding qualified craft workers. 62% are finding it difficult to fill key professional positions.

Looking at the projected growth for the construction industry, it looks like these hiring issues may be with us for a while. According to Sage:

  • More than 4 out of 5 firms expect the construction market to grow through 2016.
  • 44% plan to grow outside of current geographic area.
  • The construction industry will need 7.2 million workers by 2022.

That growth, along with the construction industry's aging work force is certain to present challenges to our industry. The ability to hire, train, and retain top talent may be the key ingredient to giving your firm a strategic edge in the future.

For more information about the growth and hiring in the construction industry, check out the infographic from Sage Software below (click the image for an expanded view):

State-of-Construction_Hiring

Which Reports Come With Sage 100 Contractor Reporting Intelligence?

featuredReports As I mentioned in our last post, Sage 100 Contractor Reporting Intelligence comes with a number of standard report templates that you can use out of the box or modify to suit your needs.

A few people have asked about the templates that are provided,  so I thought I would like them (along with a brief description) here.

AP Invoice Aging

This report allows you to view the amounts payable to vendors within the aging groups; it’s aged at run time by a selected date.

AR Invoice Aging

This reports lets you easily see your expected receivables from the various aging groups.It is aged at run time by a selected date.

Bonding Report

This report allows you to view your financial standing for all jobs. You can select the year and period you want to report on at run time, and the relevant information for all jobs will be extracted from Sage 100 Contractor.

Committed Budget Cost Variance

This report allows you to easily see the cost status and variance of each job at a cost code level. It also has a dashboard which gives you a visual overview of job costs and variances.

Committed Costs with Costs to Complete

This report displays a dashboard and three layouts reflecting the values per Job, by Cost Code, where the values include Open Changes, Subcontracts and Purchase Orders, Subcontracts Only, and Purchase Orders Only.

Committed Costs with Costs to Complete

This report displays a dashboard and three layouts reflecting the values per Job, by Cost Code, where the values include Open Changes, Subcontracts and Purchase Orders, Subcontracts Only, and Purchase Orders Only.

Job Billing Summary

View billing and job costs to date by cost code, based on progress billings.

Job Cost Summary

This report displays Budgets, Costs, and Balance per job, by Cost Code. The values can be broken down further into phases, or grouped by Division and Department.

Job Status Report

The Job Status report provides a view of contract, costs and billings per job.

Over/Under Billing Report

View actual earnings along with estimated earnings for forecasting projects. You can also estimate the profitability of work orders.

Service Invoice Aging

This report shows you the receivables due from service invoices. The Service Invoice Aging report is aged at run time by a selected date.

Other Free Report Templates

You can also find and download free report templates in the Sage Intelligence Community.

Sage Summit 2015

Sage Summit will be held in New Orleans later this month, between July 27 - 30, 2015. This years summit features an impressive line up of speakers including:

  • Colin Powell
  • Deepak Chopra
  • Matthew Weiner
  • Trevor Noah
  • Tony Hawk
  • Chad Hurley
  • Jane Seymour
  • Baroness Karren Brady
  • Brandi Temple

and many more.

There will also be plenty of great info about product updates, demos, networking events and opportunities to experience the history and culture of New Orleans.

For more information, including hotel and registration discounts, visit the Sage Summit 2015 website.

How Contractors Can Use YouTube Cards
YouTube-logo
YouTube-logo

Video can be a great way to showcase your projects and market your contracting business. One of the easiest ways to share your videos is to post them to YouTube. With the addition of YouTube cards, it's now easier to turn your viewers of your videos into customers.

What Are YouTube Cards?

YouTube Cards are interactive cards you can add to your videos. They can include an image, title, link and a call to action.

Cards give you the ability to provide and easy to find, easy to follow call to action for your videos. You no longer need to hope that people watching your video will remember your website address from your video. They don't have to look in the video description for your link. Your card can include a clickable link that allows viewers to take the action you want them to take.

How to use YouTube Cards in Your Marketing

There are many ways to use cards to market your contracting business, here are a few examples to get you started:

  1. Drive traffic to your website - Use your cards to link to your website. You can also use this strategy to drive traffic wherever you showcase your work - Facebook, Houzz, etc.
  2. Share testimonials - Do you have testimonials from happy customers? Use cards to link to those testimonials and let your customers tell the world how great you are.
  3. Build your email list - Does your website include free downloads or other resources that you use to build your email list? YouTube cards can be a great way to get more people to opt-in to your list.
  4. Build your social networks - you can also use cards to send people to your social media of choice. If you spend most of your time on Facebook, use cards to get encourage people to like your business page.

Those are just a few examples of how you can use YouTube cards to market your contracting business.

Are you already using cards in your video marketing? Let us know your favorite tips in the comments below.

Latest Numbers Show Momentum in Housing Market

housing-starts-aprilThe Wall Street Journal recently reported that home building in U.S. in April was at the highest level since before the recession officially began. According to the Department of Commerce, U.S. housing starts rose 20.2% from a month earlier, bringing the seasonally adjusted annual rate in April to 1.135 million. That marks the highest reading since November 2007, and the biggest percentage increase since February 1991. New applications for building permits, increased 10.1%.

As everyone in our industry knows, home-construction figures are often revised. While the past several months have seen mixed reports related to housing data, the WSJ article reports that several economists believe the housing market is rebounding after a dismal first quarter.

For more information and analysis on the U.S. housing market, check out the Wall Street Journal article and their U.S. Housing Market Tracker.

image credit - WSJ  U.S. Housing Market Tracker

Sage Paperless Construction FAQs

While going paperless provides a number of advantages for your construction business, we understand that selecting a paperless solution isn't always an easy decision. You most likely have a lot of questions about the different solutions available and which one is the best fit for your business. Below you will find answers the most common questions we hear when helping business owners decide whether Sage Paperless Construction is the right solution for them. If you have a question that isn't answered below, please leave a comment or contact us.

Frequently Asked Questions About Sage Paperless Construction

Q. What is Sage Paperless Construction? A. 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 solution centralizes and electronically stores your vital business and project-related information in one secure location for fast, easy, multi-user access and distribution.

Q. Is it an on premise solution or a subscription-based model? A. Sage Paperless Construction is an on premise solution.

Q. Does Sage have other document management solutions for construction? A. Yes, we actually have several other solutions that help you solve your document management needs, including: Sage 300 Construction Document Management, Sage 100 Contractor Doc Control, as well as other third-party products. Additionally, Sage Construction Anywhere offers cloud-based access to project files. Depending on your needs, you have a choice to help you create a paperless office.

Q. How does SPC differ from Sage 300 Construction Document Management? A. Sage Paperless Construction offers a more deeply integrated method for handling the invoice approval process. For example, once an invoice is approved (a simple checkbox), the circular routing sends it back to the AP processor which in turns releases the document to accounting.

Q. How does SPC differ from Sage 100 Contractor Doc Control? A. Sage 100 Contractor Doc Control allows you to create attachments to records and track project documents, such as, RFI’s and transmittals. Unlike Doc Control, SPC provides a complete document management system with automated routing and an invoice approval processes.

Q. How do documents get added to the system? A. In addition to scanning paper documents, you can also drag and drop items from your desktop directly into SPC.

Q. Can I set up multiple vaults for our different company locations and/or departments? A. Yes, you can but many contractors like you have found SPC to be very flexible in setting user access to the level you need it.

Q. How sophisticated are the routing and approval capabilities? A. The system is extremely intuitive and easy to use but also has powerful built-in routing and invoice approval capabilities. You can automate scanning documents, sorting and distributing them, routing them to specified individuals or groups, tracking approvals or rejections and (in the case of an invoice) final payment in Sage 100 Contractor or Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate.

Q. If pre-defined routing/approval rules are set up, how difficult is it to make changes on-the-fly?

A. The process is as simple and very similar to adding or deleting an individual from an email if you have administrator rights.

Q. Once a document has been approved by a particular reviewer and forwarded on to the next reviewer, is there any way to go back and “unapprove” the document? A. Yes, you can pull back a document after being approved, if the document has not been released to accounting.

Q. Is there an audit trail that documents all the processes/stages a file has gone through? A. Yes, The system has a complete audit trail to show you who has done what to which documents. This information can be accessed from within the system or detailed in reports out of the system. Q. What if I have a document that I want to store and route that has nothing to do with Accounts Payable? A. The SPC Quick Route process enables you to store and route “everyday” documents (contracts or invoices to people outside of Accounts Payable). The process is very similar to the AP routing system including customizing distribution lists and sequence of approvals.

Q. How does our CEO get access to the all the details he’s used to seeing before signing a check? We currently attach everything he needs to the back of the check. A. There’s a paperless check review process within the system. He/she can electronically walk through all the invoices, delivery tickets, and approvals related to the invoice before signing a check.

Q. Is there a way to burn files onto a CD or share with another person that doesn’t have access to Sage Paperless Construction? A. Yes, you can copy files to a CD or to your laptop for zipping and emailing to others. It also includes a built-in player for viewing, annotating or printing the files.

Q. I’m a TimberScan/Construction Imaging customer, can I migrate my data to SPC? A. Yes, there is a utility available that can be used to map data from these solutions to SPC, with the help of a consultant.

Q. Is there a limit to how much we can store in SPC?

A. No, there is no limit to the number of documents you can store in SPC. The only factors that would limit how much you could store would be the disk space on your server. 100GB will store approximately 1 million pages. Another possible limiting factor would be if the customer is using the free SQL Express database which has a 10GB file size limit.

Q. We have thousands of documents. How easy is it to find a document in SPC? A. You can easily conduct a search using multiple parameters (e.g. search for all subcontracts, invoices within a range, all documents for job number xyz) as well as setup a folder directory tree which provides a familiar folder view to make it easier to find documents.

Still have questions about Sage Paperless Construction?

Contact us for a free consultation or demo.

Family Owned Construction Business

family-ownedAre you discounting the fact that you have a family owned business? You shouldn't be. At least according to this research report by EY that was recently highlighted in this Harvard Business Review article.

The study found that many clients prefer family based construction companies. They feel these companies will be around for the long haul -  they don't feel like family owned businesses will try to grow too fast or suddenly sell off their business.

Employees around the globe often prefer family owned businesses as well.

In addition to marketing and branding themselves as family owned businesses, the study found these additional keys to success in the businesses they studied:

  • 90% have a board of directors
  • 90% have regular family or shareholder meetings to discuss business issues
  • 81% engage in philanthropic activities
  • 76% refer to themselves as a family business in their branding

The study and article mentioned above also explored issues related to business succession - an importance and sometimes delicate issue for family businesses. Among their findings were:

  • 87% have clearly identified who is responsible for succession
  • 70% are considering a woman for their next CEO
  • 44% of the time, the board of directors is responsible for succession

The study contains plenty of other facts and insights about family owned businesses - you can download a copy for yourself here.

Upgrading to Sage Contractor Version 19

old-computer Is it time to update your older version of Sage 100 Contractor/Master Builder to version 19?

Depending upon the version you are starting from, upgrading to the current version may be a multi-step process.

The chart below outlines the steps needed to upgrade from older versions of Sage 100 Contractor/Master Builder to version 19.

 

Before You Upgrade

Always create a backup of your data before updating your software.  If you have any questions or hesitations about upgrading, please contact us before you begin the upgrade process.

Determining Your Current Version

If you are not sure which version you are currently using, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Home & Resources tab. (or resources button if tabs have been disabled)
  2. Click About Sage 100 Contractor

The version will be displayed on the top line.

Note - You can also find your Sage Client ID number on this page

Upgrade Paths

To determine the steps in your upgrade path, find your software version in the left hand column in the table below and then follow the steps in the "Upgrade Path" column.

Upgrade From Upgrade Path
18.x Upgrade directly to 19. (all 19 versions are full installs with the exception of software notice 15-B)
17.x Upgrade to 18.1, reindex your data, and then upgrade to 19.
16.x Upgrade to 18.1, reindex your data, and then upgrade to 19.
15.x Upgrade to 18.1, reindex your data, and then upgrade to 19.
14.x Upgrade to 18.1, reindex your data, and then upgrade to 19.
13.x Upgrade to 14 and update data by re-indexing. Then upgrade to 18 and update data by re-indexing.Then upgrade to 19.
12.x Upgrade to 13 and update data by re-indexing. Then upgrade to 14 and update data by re-indexing. Then upgrade to 18 and update data by re-indexing.Then upgrade to 19.
11.x Upgrade to 12 and update data by re-indexing. Then upgrade to 14 and update data by re-indexing. Then upgrade to 18 and update data by re-indexing.Then upgrade to 19.
10.x Upgrade to 12 and update data by re-indexing. Then upgrade to 14 and update data by re-indexing. Then upgrade to 19.

 

Satisfaction Surveys for Construction Companies

home-builder-surveySatisfaction surveys, as well as other types of customer surveys, are a powerful tool for marketing your construction business. Surveys can help you spot (and fix) customer service issues before they become a big problem and lead to negative word of mouth. Surveys are also a great way to collect testimonials without having to directly ask for them. When someone leaves a compliment on your survey, simply thank them and ask for their permission to use their statement as a testimonial.

There are a lot of tools that make it easy to create and share a survey online. Below are a few suggestions to help you get started.

Survey Monkey - Is an easy to use, online survey tool. Their free plan gives you 10 questions and 100 responses. If you've ever taken an online survey, there's a good chance it was powered by Survey Monkey.

Survey Planet - Is another easy to use, online survey tools. They offer unlimited surveys and responses in their free version, as well as the ability to share surveys via Facebook and Twitter.

Gravity Forms Survey Add On - Gravity Forms is a popular plugin for adding forms to Wordpress websites. If you have a Wordpress based website, take a look at Gravity Forms. It's a powerful, easy to use tool and gives you a lot of options for integrating your website forms with other tools such as credit card processing, email marketing, and accounting programs.

Google Docs - If you are a Google Docs user, you can create a survey using a Google Sheet with a form. Here is one article on how to set this up.

Getting Started

Surveys are great tools for improving and growing your business. The key is to get in the habit of using them to ask for feedback and then acting on that feedback.

Luckily, the process for creating and sharing surveys is much easier than it used to be, thanks to the types of tools mentioned above.

Do you  you have a favorite survey tool that is not listed above? Please share it in the comments below.

Image credit - Chris Potter on Flickr.

2015 Sage Construction Technology Survey

Our friends at Sage software recently surveyed over 600 construction professionals from small and midsized firms to understand their view of the economy, their top business issues, and their use of technology. Here are some highlights from the survey:

  • Over half of the survey respondents are optimistic that the economy will have a positive impact on their business in 2015.
  • The top three business concerns reported are:
    • Getting new customers (39%)
    • Cost of materials (38%)
    • Labor shortage (26%)
  • The top three actions construction and real estate companies plan to take to address these challenges are:
    • Hire more employees (39%)
    • Cut expenses (33%)
    • Invest more in new technology (23%)
  • The top areas where survey respondents plan to invest their IT dollars are mobile and estimating/bidding technology.

This infographic from Sage provides more information about the results of the survey (click to enlarge) :

2015-sage-technology-survey-infographic

The full report from Sage is expected to be published in April, you can sign up to receive the report here.