Archive for August, 2012
Here’s an interesting and controversial article on technology in construction. There seems to be a lot of debate around the question of just how useful new mobile technologies will be in the industry. Will tablets replace paper plans in construction? What do you think?
Even with all of the power of Sage Timberline Office (now Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate) reporting, sometimes you just need to have the data in an Excel worksheet. Depending on your role within your company, you may need to periodically send information to benefits providers, auditors, banks, finance companies, government agencies, or even potential clients. Many times the recipient wants the information in Excel and often in a particular format.
Knowing this simple trick can save time when you need to compile that employee census or payroll information, those job lists with contract, estimate and job cost totals, lists of open receivables or payables invoices, equipment lists, and so on.
You begin by choosing the Sage 300/Timberline report that contains the information you need. The best reports to use are those that present the data in a columnar format. Instead of printing the report to paper, print the report as a .txt file to a location where you can easily retrieve it (such as your desktop).
“Print” Timberline Reports to Excel:
- In the Print Selection window, click on “Printer Setup”
- Check the box “Print to file”
- Click “Ok” and then click “Start”
- In the “Save in” window, navigate to the location where you want to save the .txt file
- Enter a name for your file in the “File name” window
- In the “Save as type” window, select “Plain text (*.txt)” from the dropdown
- Click “Save”
- Open a new Excel worksheet and then “Open” the text file from the “File” menu. The Text Import Wizard will appear.
- Follow the instructions on each of the three Wizard screens and click “Finish.”
When defining columns on the second screen, you’ll want to ignore page headings and create column breaks according to the size of the data in the report columns. If your report contains numeric totals, it helps to scroll all the way to the bottom of the report and use the totals to create column breaks.
To finish your new worksheet, you will want to clean up the report headers, remove page breaks, and possibly rearrange or reformat columns.
Don’t forget to save your Excel workbook and happy reporting!
Submitted by Ledgerwood Associates Consultant, Kyle Zeigler. For information on this and other topics contact Ledgerwood Associates.
Review this IRS checklist to shore up weak spots and improve your documentation in preparation for that unforeseen IRS audit. The list comes from the actual Audit Techniques Guide that the IRS uses to examine construction companies.
IRS Auditor’s Checklist of Items to Examine
- Accounting manual or instructions providing guidelines as to what accounts are debited or credited, for contract transactions, and under what circumstances
- General ledgers and journals by entity
- Revenue journals or reports
- Schedule of contracts in process at year-end
- Detail of work in process by job number
- Detail of year-end prepaid expenses, accounts payable, and deferred income
- Contract manager’s file, or cost and income summaries, for select contracts
- Index of internal audit reports. Scan titles to identify those with audit potential
IRS Techniques When Auditing a Construction Company
Auditors will determine if
- A contract qualifies as long-term
- The taxpayer considered all contracts that commenced during the year. They may elect to defer contracts that are less than 10 percent complete
- The contract price is correct
- The costs to date and estimated costs to complete projects are correct
- There are contingency reserves included in the estimated costs to complete a contract
- The taxpayer has adjusted the percent of completion by any risk factors because of some potential risk involved in certain phases of construction. The terms of the contract should be reviewed to identify contract price revisions, such as change orders, options and additions.
- A contract is completed and accepted for purposes of the taxpayer’s normal method of accounting.
Adapted from the audit guide Construction Industry, under the IRS Market Segment Specialization Program
Construction controllers and CFOs might be curious about the technology behind Sage Construction Anywhere, (SCA) the new cloud offering from Sage Construction and Real Estate. In this article I look at the platform on which SCA is built, Microsoft Windows Azure.
On the Sage Construction Anywhere website I found this description:
“Sage Construction Anywhere is an easy-to-use, cloud-based service that gives you instant access to real-time project information anytime, anywhere from web-enabled tablets, smart phones and other mobile devices.”
On the same site Sage also says a little about the technological foundation of the product:
“Sage Construction Anywhere is built upon Microsoft’s industry-leading cloud services platform, Microsoft® Windows Azure™. As the industry standard application hosting platform, it ensures the highest available levels of data integrity and confidentiality.”
I was curious about Windows Azure, so I did a little research. I found that there are three major players offering cloud services platforms. The platforms are Amazon AWS, Google App Engine and Microsoft Windows Azure. Microsoft’s Azure seems to be an excellent match for Sage Construction Anywhere.
Microsoft says, “Windows Azure is an open and flexible cloud platform that enables you to quickly build, deploy and manage applications across a global network of Microsoft-managed datacenters… And you can integrate your public cloud applications with your existing IT environment. Azure’s messaging capabilities enable hybrid solutions that run across a cloud and on-premises enterprise environment.”
Sage takes advantage of those capabilities to integrate Sage Construction Anywhere with your existing IT environment and your Sage Timberline Office application and data. That means that SCA gives you cloud-based operational functionality without scrapping your existing back-office systems, a big plus for Sage CRE customers.
Azure is scalable, which means that as demand for Sage Construction Anywhere services changes, the computing resources needed to support the application can be easily adjusted accordingly. That means you get rapid response times regardless of the time of day or year. Windows Azure promises 99.95% uptime.
Azure has less complexity to manage than Amazon AWS or Google App Engine, which gives Sage more time to work on newer versions of Sage Construction Anywhere software instead of managing cloud infrastructure. You get more features sooner.
Azure integrates more tightly with Microsoft technologies than the other platforms, making it a good fit for a Windows based product like Sage Timberline. It all works together.
The technology blogs I searched agree that Azure is a more managed environment. Amazon AWS is more open and complex. They confirm that Azure includes a secure bridge to on-premise applications and is better suited for integration with MS technologies. The price is similar. From what I can see, Sage CRE chose the right cloud services platform.