Archive for the ‘Sage Timberline Software’ Category
Building information modeling (BIM) has been around for about 40 years now. Yes! You read that right – 40 years. Though in the 1970s when the concept was developed, BIM (as we know it today) wasn’t really implemented until the late 1980s. So I guess we can say, it has been a little slow taking hold. However, as time has zipped on and technology has improved, BIM implementation has rapidly increased.
Building information modeling started as a production of 3D design models to help catch architectural system variances and clashes. Since then, it has become an effective tool in project management and ever more prominent in job cost estimating.
Traditionally, estimators begin their process by doing manual take-offs or digitizing architectural construction drawings. Or possibly, they may be importing CAD plans into an estimating software package. The thing about these processes is that they all have higher risk of error by way of unknowingly incurring an omission or duplication. This has the potential to logarithmically propagate cost errors throughout the estimating process.
Using a BIM solution can significantly reduce (though not completely deny) human error. As the project experiences changes, as they always do, the model can be updated. If properly configured, the BIM should update the takeoffs, schedule, and costing data for the project as the changes occur.
After the BIM is established, pricing information is the next critical set of data which needs to be considered. Estimators can extract the quantities provided by the building information modeling solution and output the information via linking it to a product such as Sage 300 CRE. From here, an estimator may generate estimates based on historical data.
Some of the most critical tasks in estimating are having accurate and current takeoff information, and applying that to accurate pricing and scheduling data. BIM solutions can help to make the quantification tasks easier and more accurate. The integration of this data into an estimating solution can mean that estimators are more accurate and can spend their time and knowledge doing higher value activities.
Ah, the annual software upgrade! Sage typically releases the latest version of Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate (Timberline) at the end of the year, right when the accounting personnel of many companies are gearing up for closing the year, preparing tax filings, and surviving audits. It’s no wonder so many of our clients wait until late spring or even summer to begin thinking about installing the upgrade. This year’s release, version 12.1, is packed with lots of exciting new features, and a few tricky changes to the structure of the software as well. As with all software upgrades, making sure you’re adequately prepared before you begin the upgrade will save you lots of headaches, and potentially lots of time and unnecessary expense, if things don’t go well.
Here are some tips to prepare for an upgrade:
Read, read, read! Each new release comes with a .pdf file of Release Notes. These notes not only explain what changes you’ll see in the use of the software, but also provide essential notes on installation and a link to the latest update of the User’s Guide for step-by-step instructions.
Verify your system requirements. It’s a sad thing when customers spend hours attempting to upgrade their software, only to discover that the newer version wouldn’t run efficiently on their old system or wouldn’t run at all on their new system. Be aware: Sage 300 CRE is not yet supported on Microsoft Server 2012 or Windows 8 on workstations.
Make a plan. After thoroughly reading the Release Notes and the latest User’s Guide, create a checklist of the steps to be taken and the critical aspects of the upgrade process. For instance, if you use Estimating, at what point will you uninstall and reinstall the Estimating program? Do you use other Sage 300 applications that require special treatment during the upgrade, such as with Purchasing and Inventory?
The best tip of all! For the smoothest, most worry-free upgrade, contact Ledgerwood Associates, your Sage 300 CRE business partner, and schedule a consultant at least a week in advance to handle the upgrade for you. Then if an unexpected issue arises during the upgrade, you’ll have the best preparation tactic already in place!
-Guest post by Kyle Zeigler, LAI Certified Consultant
Welcome to the Ledgerwood Associates, Inc. Blog!
Here you can find information related to Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate (formerly known as Sage Timberline Office), Sage 100 Contractor; Sage Construction Anywhere, Hard Dollar Project Cost Management, IPM Global Project Management Software, and other construction management solutions; updates, complementary products, tips, success stories, as well as training and event announcements.
Ledgerwood Associates, Inc, (LAI) is the #1 Sage Construction and Real Estate Business Partner in the West with more than 1,900 clients in the Southwest and Rocky Mountain regions including Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, and Colorado. Over 30,000 customers worldwide use the Sage CRE products we represent.
Please feel free to post a question, comment or item of interest, or send us an email.
Q1 ‘Sage Break’ 300 CRE Users Group Meeting on January 10, 2013
Want to join us for April’s breakfast meeting? Click here for details!
The session theme was on Year End issues, and CPA and Sage Certified Consultant, Michelle Jardine, was there to moderate and advise the group. She started with whiteboarding issues and solutions. A couple of the issues raised appear below. But the question is – what would YOU suggest or share with the group?
Q: How do I access prior years’ (2 years back or more) financial statements and transactions after closing the current year? Or, in other words, I’m losing access to the previous prior year’s detail because I closed the year. How can I still access it after the close?
A: The solution, most users agreed, is properly archiving your data.
More suggestions made by the group:
- Use Timberline Tools to copy prior year’s data to a new archive folder
- Always roll back exactly 12 months when you are in the archive folder
- Go to Company Settings>General
- Use a naming convention that identifies the company folder by year and sorts it to the end like: ZZ(company name)Archive2009
Q: I’m closing late so I can’t generate financial statements because I’m waiting for adjusting journal entries (AJE).
A: The solution suggested is to close the year on time, enter the adjusting journal entries (AJE) as needed and reclose.
Lots of great whiteboarding tips!
And some users got down on their knees to explain archiving! Here’s Steve Mason in action.
The Sage 300 CRE Users Group meets quarterly in the Ledgerwood Associates Training Room.
Enhance your value to the company! Sign up for the next Sage 300 Users Group Meeting.
Still have questions about year end? Participate in the ongoing discussion! Join the LinkedIn Group: Sage 300 CRE Users Group – Ledgerwood Clients
Overlooked or delayed payables entries can mean incomplete or inaccurate job cost and general ledger information. The Recurring Invoices option in AP is a great way to manage these types of payables saving you time and money.
Most companies have at least some payments that are made to the same vendor for the same amount on some kind of scheduled basis. These are your monthly rent, loan and lease payments, quarterly and annual contract fees, and similar kinds of payables. You may not even receive an invoice for some of them and instead rely on lists and reminders to make sure they are paid.
Use Recurring Invoices to enter the payables once with the details, distributions and recurrence patterns, and then easily generate invoices for these payables. Add them to your open payables database according to their payment schedules and improve timeliness in posting distribution information to job cost and general ledger.
With Recurring Invoices you can:
- Create recurring payables for amortized or fixed amounts
- Specify joint payees at the invoice level or at the distribution level
- Assign payables to customized groups to easily report on them
- Set specific weekly, monthly and annual recurrence frequencies
- Create on-demand payables that don’t fit a fixed schedule
- Set limits on the number of invoices, total dollars, or date range
- Easily edit recurring invoices if amounts or other variables change.
Not sure how?
In AP, select Recurring Invoices from the Setup menu.
On the Setup Recurring Invoices screen, click the Help button.
Detailed information on setting up recurring invoices is available for you to view or print.
Submitted by Ledgerwood Associates Consultant, Kyle Zeigler.
When R&J Construction was looking for a way to reduce labor costs they became early adopters of an emerging, cost saving technology that would soon be requested by their peer organizations nationwide - “mobile data collection”.
Employees of R&J Construction recorded their time on paper timesheets that were unverifiable and required manual data entry into back office time/labor, payroll and accounting packages. Controller Paula Wiens decided to “tighten the ship” by eliminating the costly paper processes. She implemented a solution that allows employees to clock in and out of job sites using their mobile phones.
With the new mobile “apps”, R&J gained better insight into billable versus non-billable time and improved their management of mobile workers with real time GPS, time and job tracking. The solution allowed R&J to process payroll and bill clients more quickly and more accurately. It also turned the gathering of critical data for time and billing into a “paperless” process, reducing errors and saving time.
After a few weeks, Wiens began using the application’s reporting features to look for trends and to identify ways to manage job costs. If an employee took six hours to complete a job which should normally take three hours, Wiens checked in with the project superintendent to find out what happened to increase the labor hours.
An area where R&J saw immediate savings was in fuel costs. The mobile data collection application automatically captures GPS data and calculates miles driven. A mileage report allows Weins to audit and compare the employees’ fuel expenses with actual use to uncover any abuse or mistakes. R&J saved $6,000 the first month, when employees were notified that the GPS system was in place, and about $10,000 a month since.
Adding up the savings from paperless time reporting, jobs trends analysis and automatic mileage reporting, mobile data collection helps R&J save about $200,000 per year! The company also does more accurate job costing for clients. In addition, the data collected on mobile apps is seamlessly integrated into R&J’s Sage accounting application and their ADP payroll solution.
R&J Construction understands the power of mobile data collection to save time and money. It is. It does. It saves.
Contact us to see how you can integrate mobile technologies with your existing Sage Timberline applications.
How to Reduce Construction Labor Costs without Reducing Your Labor Force by Using Mobile Data Collection
According to Joseph Contomo, author of an American Payroll Association study on timekeeping – “The Incredible Time Machines: Taking Time Clocks Out of the Dark Ages, “ payroll clerks, timekeepers, department managers and millions of employees have viewed the recording of time as a constant source of error and problems almost since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.”
These problems equate to elevated labor costs as a result of manual timekeeping due to:
- The time it takes to manually compute hours worked per employee.
- Errors made in manually computing time.
- Lost time – also known as time theft.
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 a day’s pay – per week.
Advancements in mobile technology allow employees to record time either in real time or via after the fact allocation all-the-while tracking employee whereabouts with GPS. From standard feature phones to PDAs, iPads and Netbooks, these devices may be enabled as GPS enabled tamperproof timeclocks to collect data from the field such as employee arrival at job sites to job transfers, phases, codes, quantities and even equipment time tracking.
Furthermore, data may be automatically exchanged via TimberCloud or a pre-built server connector which allows administrators to enter data once – into Timberline – and make it viewable and accessible without dual entry via the mobile app.
Contact us to see how you can integrate mobile technologies with your existing Sage Timberlline applications.
Apple announced its iPad 3 (or just “New iPad”) today. In construction we like our trucks and our tech toys so it’s natural to want this new and improved gadget. But, what can it do for me every day in the office and at the job site? Here are some thoughts.
The new iPad’s Retina display is 2048 X 1536 pixels, twice the resolution of the iPad 2 and more pixels than your HDTV at home. I see all kinds of ways to use the iPad that just got better.
- Jobsite photos look much sharper making details harder to miss.
- The same goes for blueprints and specs. Digital, customizable plans that can be
changed on the job site and stored on the cloud with iPad blueprint apps will be easier to read.
- Pulling a report from the back-office accounting system? You’ll see more columns at once and will find yourself guessing less often at numbers and descriptions.
- Contracts and other documents will be easier to read.
- Presentations to clients will be more impressive.
If you happen to have your software on the cloud, the higher screen resolution makes the iPad a more practical replacement for your laptop. (Some companies, like Ledgerwood Associates, can put your existing Sage Timberline and third party applications on the cloud today. They already support Timberline on Macs on the Cloud so the iPad is a logical next step.)
The new iPad’s faster processor supports the higher screen resolution and makes web apps run faster so you get more done.
Another new feature found on the new iPad is 4G LTE network capability. This is essential to do what we’re talking about above without getting frustrated. With 4G network speed, accessing high resolution media and home office applications can be more than a novelty. You’ve got the speed and the power to do some heavy lifting.
Two other improvements can prove useful to you on the jobsite. The upgraded camera now has 1080p video. High def. video on your iPad can be a useful tool when reviewing jobsite problems or details.
And finally, with the right option from your wireless carrier, you can also use the new iPad as a wireless hotspot for up to five other users just like with some smartphones. Three guys in a truck or five guys in a conference room can share your internet.
The new iPad is not revolutionary but its improvements make it a more useful, convenient and powerful tool for construction companies. Industry experts say tablets will transform the construction industry. Enhanced communication, “paperless” workers and increased efficiency are some of the anticipated results. And then there’s the cool factor of the iPad. Like a cool truck, who’s not going to want one.
How do you use your iPad in the office or on the jobsite?
Underestimating a project or losing bids by overestimating can seriously erode profits. Too often these problems are caused by errors in spreadsheets. A 2004 PricewaterhouseCoopers study shows that up to 91 percent of sophisticated spreadsheets contain errors. A 2007 study concludes the error rate is 94%.
That sounds about right considering how often I find errors in my own spreadsheets. We’d all like to be error free. Knowing the sources of spreadsheet errors may be helpful in eliminating them.
Ten common errors or problems with estimating spreadsheets:
- Hardcoding your values in the spreadsheet formulas resulting in right this month and wrong forever
- Adding rows or columns that don’t get included in the range of the sum, subtotal and average functions
- Losing unsaved changes due to interruptions
- Data entry errors such as skipped entries or transposed numbers
- Saving “what if” changes over the Excel worksheet you want to keep
- Formula errors like parentheses errors in a mathematical formula; formulas pasted over with constants; or formulas no longer calculating properly when you delete an item
- A bad query copied into a spreadsheet
- A bad sort that destroys the integrity of a row
- Old spreadsheet errors copied over and over again
- Maintaining a number of templates for specific types of projects, which multiplies the risks of data entry errors, omissions, transposed numbers, and outdated pricing
One way to reduce the number of spreadsheet errors is to limit access to files or locking certain cells. You may also want to implement quality-control procedures for catching data entry errors in spreadsheets, including input controls, validation, and cross-footing.
An example of an input control is reconciling the data entered into the spreadsheet to the source records. A common sense suggestion is to separate the data entry and formula areas on a spreadsheet.
Finally, it’s a good idea to have the logic of the formulas within the spreadsheet inspected by someone other than the user or developer of the spreadsheet.
Call Ledgerwood Associates today for a free consultation on how to improve your estimating speed and accuracy. 877-918-8301
INCONSISTENCY: Our estimators take great pride in their work and like to do things their own way. Unfortunately, when everyone is using different tools and methods for estimating, it makes final review and the ability to reuse historical estimates for new projects we’re bidding difficult – not to mention risky.
LOSS OF EXPERTISE, KNOWLEDGE: If we were to lose an estimator, the loss of their expertise and knowledge would put us at a considerable risk because we have no method for capturing and documenting what they know and use in their estimating processes.
Adopting a construction-specific estimating tool will streamline and automate the entire process and also help to build historical information that can be used again and again in future estimates.
By having all your estimators using the same tool, you will have consistency across your estimating team.
What is your experience with estimators using their own preferred tools?
For additional information about this and other topics visit www.ledgerwoodassociatesusa.com