Archive for the ‘Cloud Computing’ Category
Yes, this is our last plug for the annual Technology Day event this week - April 4th, and we are very excited to see everyone! Have you registered yet? If not…
…so you can join us at the beautiful Double Tree Resort in Scottsdale Arizona. Bring your smartphone, tablets and other devices and plug-in to the future of construction technology.
Keynote speaker Joseph Granneman, CIO of Rockford Orthopedic, will kick things off with a presentation focused on information security and compliance.
Representing Sage, our co-hosts, Todd Juhnke, Regional Sales Manager-Construction and Real-Estate Division, and Diane Haines, Sr. Director, Product Management, Construction & Real Estate will be presenting the powerful cloud based construction technology solution – Sage Construction Anywhere.
There will then be afternoon sessions with multiple tracks for learning about specific topics. Head over to the registration page to learn more about all of the Tech Day Tracks.
And make sure you bring your old cell phones too! Ledgerwood Associates will be collecting them for Cell Phones For Soldiers, a non-profit dedicated to helping our troops stay in contact with their families here at home.
Don’t miss out on all of the fun and information this year. We look forward to seeing and talking to you all!
(Test drive iPads and other mobile devices on April 4th at Ledgerwood Associates’ Technology Day, in Scottsdale, AZ).
It’s no surprise that when the Engineering News Record polled its readers last year, Apple’s iPad and iPhone were among the top 10 technology and software products contractors are interested in using most. We talked about that in our blog last March -Contractors Pick Apple iPad, iPhone and iCloud.
With so many contractors interested in using iPads and iPhones, here are five great ways to use mobile technology to expand the capabilities of your construction office in a truck.
1. Record Time and Attendance
“Time,” the IOS or Android App in Sage Construction Anywhere, enables employees and supervisors to:
- Replace paper timesheets with a smartphone or tablet
- Rapidly enter and submit employee time worked on their iPad or iPhone
- Link time-worked to project cost codes
- Review and approve employee hours worked
2. Read Project Documents
“Project Files” in Sage Construction Anywhere makes it easy to access the details you need to make sure the work is done right the first time!
- Access and share project documents on your iPad
- Pull up contracts and files immediately
- Retrieve the most recent version of documents or drawings
3. Check Subcontractor Compliance
Use “Project Reports” in Sage Construction Anywhere, or TimberCloud hosting to access compliance data through your iPad. Take action while the sub is standing right in front of you!
Compliance features in Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate help you to take a more proactive approach towards lien waivers, permits, punch list completion, and insurance.
4. Check Important Details on Photos and Plans
The New iPad’s Retina Display is 2048 x 1536 pixels, more than your HDTV at home! Apple’s iPad 3, Why do I Want One in Construction?
Field-friendly features on the new iPad:
- Photos and plans look much sharper
- Important details are harder to miss
- Zooming in reveals more
- Digital plans can be changed at the site (with iPad blueprint apps)
5. Analyze with Excel (Yes, Excel on your iPad)
With TimberCloud hosting, all of the features of your construction software, and anything else you do on your Windows desktop, are available on your iPad. And, since Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate lets you easily export an inquiry to Excel, you can easily click and copy your inquiry results, including headings, directly to Excel for analysis—on your iPad.
This list is not exhaustive. Innovators and early adopters always find ways to benefit from new technology that were not originally contemplated. 5 Reasons to be the First on the Block
What are some of the ways you use your iPad at the construction site? We’d like to know.
There’s currently a paradigm shift in confidence regarding the state of the construction industry, in my humble opinion. With the subtle rise in construction starts, there seems to be reticent optimism in the air. Do you believe we will experience another meteoric rise in residential and commercial building, or did the recession ‘school’ us to tread with extreme caution? Perhaps something in between: fits and starts based on regional markets, littered with economic (and political) road bumps? It almost feels like we need to hedge our business forecasts!
And how should we owners and employees navigate this bumpy road? Having buckled down beyond our bootstraps, how will we fill gaps in resources and infrastructure to cope with the next microburst of building starts?
Of the few big builders that survived the last five years, flexibility was a key factor, according to Builder Magazine1. Citing a “less is more,” policy (so tired of THAT one!), sustainable and energy-efficiency building features, modular solutions, etc., – I found the common denominator for all of these surviving businesses was a solution wrapped around technology.
So, what role will technology play in the future of construction? Sage says “100% of construction companies have employees in the field” and Nielsen2 reports that 46% percent of Americans own a smartphone (with 62% in the 25-34 age bracket) – how can companies manage devices to their advantage? Will software efficiencies replace headcount? How stable and secure is the cloud?
The answer to these and other emerging issues will be the center of Technology Day at Ledgerwood Associates. We’ve gathered vendors, customers, and Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to bandy this about for a full day. Based upon your role in technology (accounting, PM, owner, estimator) and the type of construction you perform (residential, trades, real estate management) – we are offering a FREE day of discovery and revelations!
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), bring your questions, bring your mama (not really, she’s busy) – but SHOW UP on April 4th for a great networking/brain-dump session at the Doubletree resort in beautiful Scottsdale. We invited the Sage Construction Anywhere experts; we have a device-agnostic broker, and a special keynote speaker who will lead a discussion on the risks and benefits of cloud hosting!
Joanie Hollabaugh, Sr. Director of Marketing
(See the mobile data capture capabilities of Sage Construction Anywhere live and up close at the Ledgerwood Associates Technology Day, April 4th, 2013 in Scottsdale, AZ).
Efficiency Required as the Industry Recovers
At a CFMA luncheon today, three local construction executives said they expect a shortage of qualified labor and supervisors as the industry improves. Contractors are also reluctant to hire additional staff in a more competitive market.
Using technology to improve productivity and reduce costs is an effective strategy to stay lean as your business grows.. By using mobile phones and tablet devices to collect timecard data in the field, your company can realize immediate benefits.
Benefits of automating time recording processes:
1. Increased Efficiency
a) Reduced supervisor and employee time to record hours worked
b) Elimination of lost, damaged, or destroyed time cards or timesheets
c) Faster delivery of data to the back office
d) Less time needed for adjustments and corrections
2. Improved Accuracy
a) Greatly reduced time stealing (over reporting and buddy punching*)
b) Less dependence on memory (weekly time card review, rounding, estimating)
3. Better Oversight
a) Faster corrective action
b) Consistent enforcement of policies and rules
*Note: Robert Half Associates conducts an annual survey of theft of time and estimates that the average worker “steals” four hours and 18 minutes of time–or more than one half day’s pay– per week.
With “Time”, the new mobile data capture capability in Sage Construction Anywhere, employees and supervisors use an iPhone or Android “app” to quickly and easily submit employee time worked on a project and link it to activities performed (cost codes). Submitted time can then be reviewed and approved using the mobile app or online within Sage Construction Anywhere.
Speeding up and tightening the time recording process generates the accurate and complete payroll information needed to spot potential labor issues and profit erosion sooner. Efficiencies gained by automating time collection and approval processes include reduced paperwork, faster payroll, fewer adjustments and corrections, and improved oversight.
(See Time mobile data capture in Sage Construction Anywhere demonstrated at the Ledgerwood Associates Technology Day, April 4th, 2013 in Scottsdale, AZ).
New Capabilities in Sage Construction Anywhere Strengthen Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate
Sage CRE recently announced that two critical Cloud features are being added to Sage Construction Anywhere (SCA) – Time and Project Files.
(See Sage Construction Anywhere live and up close at the Ledgerwood Associates Technology Day, April 4th, 2013 in Scottsdale, AZ).
The new iPhone or Android App Time, takes on labor costs – an area with the potential to significantly impact profits!
With new Time capabilities in Sage Construction Anywhere, employees and supervisors:
- Collect, review and approve employee timecard information
- Quickly and easily submit employee time worked on a project
- Review and approve submitted time using the mobile app or online
- Link time worked to activities performed (cost codes).
- Improve field-to-office communication
Eliminate paper timesheets and exchanging Excel spreadsheets between the field and the accounting office. With Time, payroll administrators can:
- Share the approved time with Payroll and Job Cost modules
- Automate time collection and approval
- Speed up their access to accurate, complete payroll information
- Spot potential labor issues sooner
Pull up plans at the site on your iPad with Project Files
- Access and share project documents, photos and drawings online
- Store all files, photos and drawings in one central location
- Pull up drawings and files immediately at the site
- Locate the last document or drawing received
- Retrieve the latest information available when making decisions
With Project Files foremen and superintendents have the details they need to make sure the work is done correctly the first time!
The existing Project Reports service in Sage Construction Anywhere allows users to access Sage 300 project reports through any mobile device or PC, allowing customers to use the cloud to improve productivity.
Take a look at this Dean Crowder Construction video to see how Sage Construction Anywhere makes a difference.
- A company-level rate to access Project Reports, Project Files and Time services
- A user-level rate based on number of users and type
(Apparently, customers will no longer pay separately for the Sage Construction Anywhere Connector.)
See Sage Construction Anywhere live and up close at the Ledgerwood Associates Technology Day, April 4th, 2013 in Scottsdale, AZ.
For two years we have seen firsthand the benefits construction companies realize from adopting cloud technologies. Here are five benefits of cloud technology that your company can realize with very little up-front pain and expense.
1. Integration– For decades we’ve been hearing of the benefits of integrated accounting, financial, and operational applications. Efficiency is usually mentioned as the main benefit along with greater project visibility and control. Cloud technologies extend the benefits of integration into the field, home office, airplane, or even onto the beach.
The cross-platform capabilities of the Cloud integrate field operations with the back office and allow everyone to be on the same page regardless of their iPad, Android, Mac or Windows device. New technologies at the cloud server level also facilitate integration with CRM and other applications that go beyond the usual third-party vendor offerings such as TimberScan and Create-A-Check.
2. Efficiency– Cloud technology increases efficiency in all departments of construction and real estate companies. The primary driver of increased efficiency is greatly expanded access. Employees are more productive with faster response times and remote access. More people have access to company data and action can be taken more quickly.
Operational efficiencies, particularly in the IT department result from outsourcing IT infrastructure to the Cloud. Hosting services like TimberCloud reduce the initial investment in IT, total cost of ownership (TCO) and IT headaches. IT staff are freed from countless infrastructure problems, updates and fixes. New applications are implemented more rapidly and at lower cost. IT can more productively use their time on initiatives directly supporting company objectives.
3. Agility – Today’s construction environment demands that companies respond and adapt quickly. Planning for IT requirements 3-5 years in the future can be wasteful and futile as conditions change. Rapid, inexpensive, turnkey application implementation is facilitated by cloud hosting services such as TimberCloud. The speed of implementation and scalability of TimberCloud’s IT infrastructure fit today’s rapidly changing construction industry. Aging, on-site construction applications also get new life in the cloud.
4. Collaboration – Collaboration between internal and external project constituents is made easier with cloud-based technologies like Sage Construction Anywhere and hosting services like TimberCloud. New field applications to manage projects and personnel link on-site management to owners, vendors, architects and subcontractors, as well as HR and accounting departments. Hosting existing applications promotes collaboration with anytime, anywhere access for single and multi-site operations.
5. Security– Recently, a design-build company owner ran into his burning building to rescue his server. Emerging from the building unhurt with the company’s data in hand, his rescue mission ultimately failed when his IT manager later scrubbed the server and took the tapes.
The fact is that data is more secure and access is more reliable in the cloud than on-site. Controlled physical and virtual access, disaster recovery, redundant backups and 99.5% up-time mean there is no safer place to park your company’s critical data and to safeguard its future.
Ledgerwood Associates is an industry leader in cloud technology for the construction industry. For more information about our game-changing cloud technologies and consulting services please contact us.
Adapted from “Cloud Computing and the Construction Industry” by Sage Construction and Real Estate Solutions
The construction industry balances back office functions—billing, paying invoices, running financial reports, payroll, planning logistics—with the physical presence needed on the job site or in a client’s office. Today’s technological solutions must be able to serve users in both work settings.
As a result, making mission critical business applications available remotely is a hot topic these days. Remote access allows staff to work from any location without being tied to a specific physical location.
With the amount of consolidation, decentralization of offices, travel-based positions, and project work being done in different regions of the country or even internationally, being able to offer solid remote access technology to employees is critical for a construction company’s success. For many companies, solving this challenge means moving some of its applications to the cloud.
Collaboration between contractors, owners/clients
As a recent Constructech IT survey notes, “today’s construction professional also needs to be highly collaborative. The word ‘team’ has taken on a whole new meaning in the construction industry. Every team needs to obtain a high level of transparency and accountability for the property owner. Overall, construction companies will be more collaborative, using technology to connect all project team members- from subs to general contractors to owners- in one central location.”
Yet, it is highly unlikely that each of the project team members utilizes the same back office business management applications. So, as general contractors, subcontractors and owners individually look to the web to leverage its capabilities, it will be critical to look at ways that technology can ensure the secure and timely exchange of project information between them.
As noted in the survey, contractors will then take project information “out to the jobsite with mobile devices as well as applying a host of applications on these mobile devices.” As the survey reports, construction companies are reporting from the field as well as “carrying out project management, scheduling, punchlists, and time tracking tasks in the field today.”
This is evidenced by the growing momentum in the use of mobile technologies in the construction industry. Given the advances in and adoption of tablets such as Apple’s iPad, strong growth is anticipated in the use of these devices.
Given the fast moving area of mobility, today’s business management solutions need to support the highly mobile workforce of the construction industry today and into the future.
Does that mean that your construction company needs to scrap everything it’s using today for new cloud-based applications? In today’s economy, many companies are looking more towards extending the applications that they are using today into the cloud where it makes the most sense.
For a number of years Sage has provided field reporting, time tracking, and other web-based or mobile services through extensions to its Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate (formerly Sage Timberline Office) and Sage 100 Contractor (formerly Sage Master Builder) products.
With the release of Sage Construction Anywhere in 2012, Sage has further extended its cloud-based offering with web-based tools to help construction companies better manage their projects, communicate between team members and vendors, and deliver information whenever and wherever it’s needed—in the office, on the jobsite, at a client’s office.
With web-based tools for time capture, project management and service management, Sage Construction Anywhere delivers a comprehensive cloud –based solution to address the evolving construction management needs of customers. This new cloud-based offering is available now to the more than 20,000 construction and real estate companies who are using Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate today.
In the near future these tools will be available to Sage 100 Contractor users as well as those utilizing a non-Sage back-office business application but needing the operations management tools that construction companies need to meet today’s industry demands.
You have repeatedly told us in surveys of Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate users, (formerly Sage Timberline Office), that receiving timely and accurate time and attendance information from the field is a problem. This significant addition to the product should be well received.
The remote time entry capabilities in Sage Construction Anywhere will be rolled out in two phases with the first phase coming in January, 2013 and Phase Two to follow 3-4 months later.
Phase one will include a remote time entry app that facilitates both employee and job-centric entry of payroll data. Here are the details of both methods:
Employees enter their own time
- Automatic project recognition
- Displays only employee’s cost codes
- Supervisor or payroll manager review
- Data sent to the Payroll module
- Time sheets stored in Sage Construction Anywhere
- Employee access through a future employee portal
Job-centric data entry
- can enter a group of employees
- Project Manager reviews and submits to Sage 300 CRE
The above capabilities will be accessible from a smartphone or tablet but the app will actually be a browser wrapper that requires an active Internet connection (Wi-Fi or 3g/4g).
- Project Manager review
- Expense Tracking
- Equipment Time Tracking
- Productivity or Production Units
- Percentage Complete
If you can’t wait until January, we were told that companies could sign up for the Beta version and get three months free!
This is all great news for Sage 300 CRE users who have been waiting patiently for more cloud-based construction accounting capabilities. What’s coming further down the road? Pricing and forecasting were mentioned, but Sage is still gathering input. It may be a while (later next year?) before we see them.
Not familiar with Sage Construction Anywhere? Check out these posts:
For additional information on this and other topics contact Ledgerwood Associates.
The pace of Cloud adoption in the construction industry is accelerating. A 2012 survey found that 24% of construction companies planned some sort of cloud implementation this year. Indeed, we have seen a rapid increase in the number of companies implementing hosting for Timberline, or Sage 300 CRE, Sage 100 and other construction software on TimberCloud.
About one year ago, in a previous blog post on cloud computing, I talked about some of the commonly cited reasons to move to a hosted environment:
- Reduced investment – Someone else buys the servers
- Reduced IT costs – All you pay is a low monthly fee
- Reduced headaches – Someone else, the data center, does the backups and fixes problems
- Improved data security – It’s all encrypted and locked up
These are compelling reasons but, it gets better. We’ve been telling people that going on TimberCloud doesn’t change the way they work since applications look and operate just like before. Actually it does; it enhances the way they work, in at least two significant ways:
- Faster response times
- Vastly expanded access
Yes, you heard it here. Many TimberCloud hosting customers have seen response times improve from what they experienced on their own servers. That’s due to a couple of factors. First, the TimberCloud servers are up-to-date and very fast. Second, processing is more efficient than with the typical client-server setup. Occasionally, local bandwidth is a limiting factor but that can be corrected in most cases.
Secure access to your applications and data from anywhere with an Internet connection has always been a selling point for hosting, (if it’s done the right way). But the scope of remote access is continually expanding as more Internet-capable devices are used and as people think of more ways to use that access.
The “Freedom of the Cloud” is not just a metaphor. Use Timberline on a MAC? No problem. Run month-end reports from your iPad? Piece-of-cake. Check outstanding invoices on your new Microsoft Surface tablet? Let’s find out.
Hosting Timberline on TimberCloud helps you leverage the new technology to make you and your employees more productive. And there’s a great side benefit; it strengthens the argument for buying the latest device. Just tell your spouse, “Hey, I need it for work!”
Attend a TimberCloud webinar.
For more information on this and other topics contact Ledgerwood Associates.
We’re Starting Over on the Cloud? Yikes!
“Everyone is moving to the cloud,” you hear, and you are bombarded with arguments about why your construction accounting software should be cloud-based. Also, you have this nagging fear that implementing a cloud-based system is not going to be easy and you’re going to miss a few of the kids’ soccer games. You’re not alone! Here are some very real concerns about replacing your proven in-house construction accounting system with a cloud-based application:
Concerns about Replacing Your On-premise System
- Risk – Replacing a complex system includes financial, operational, and organizational uncertainties. A lot of things can go wrong potentially crippling the organization.
- Cost – The actual cost of the new system will include subscription fees, implementation costs, training, temporary loss of productivity, troubleshooting, and missed business opportunities.
- Resistance – Change is difficult and many employees will resist, even to the point of sabotaging the new system.
- Distraction – Attention and resources are focused on adapting to the new system instead of maximizing profit.
- Delays – It can take a long time to get the new system operational, adapting processes and personnel to the new way of doing things.
Your Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate (formerly Sage Timberline Office) system contains functionality not found in new cloud-based systems, and would be expensive to replace. It gets the job done. If you love your Sage system, here are three good reasons to keep it:
Reasons to Keep Your Existing System
- It fits – Your existing system may be highly customized to match the way you do business.
- No Time – With the slow construction economy, organizations are lean and employees have more to do. The implementation of a new system is a challenge even in the best of times.
- Room to Grow – There are many ways to enhance your existing system including upgrades, improving business processes, updating infrastructure, 3rd party solutions and reporting tools.
Sage Construction Anywhere Does Not Replace Your Existing System
One of the best ways to enhance your existing system is to add Sage Construction Anywhere.You get the advantages of the Cloud without throwing out what you have.
Sage Construction Anywhere improves decision-making in the field with secure remote access to back-office project data stored in your on-premise Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate system. Soon-to-be-added functionality, like remote time entry and daily field reports will extend the capabilities of your system on the cloud without starting over.
Adding Sage Construction Anywhere to your on-premise Sage system is like building a new airport near your city. Now you’ve got access from anywhere to the familiarity and comfort of home, without relocating.
For more information on this and other topics contact Ledgerwood Associates.