Archive for the ‘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
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!
A challenge in running any construction company is to easily and seamlessly integrate technologies in order to increase efficiency and profitability. Project management, scheduling, estimating, accounting, etc., – all need to be inter-related and linked together under one combined solution. Sounds impossible, right? Oh, and implement that solution avoiding errors and time costs in multiple data entries. Then add to that the need for information at your fingertips, at any moment (whether you are in the boardroom or on a construction site) – and technology integration can indeed be a challenge!
Fortunately in the construction industry, there is an ever-growing trend of technology solutions which enable greater integration while adding mobility to the solution. Project information can be continuously (two-way) synced between field and office, all while senior staff and owners sit at a conference table accessing and discussing data.
Integration becomes even more critical for remote projects. Having technological integration and current data across virtual collaborating teams ensures more smoothly running projects, creating greater profitability.
Interconnectivity is not as easy as it sounds, though! Functionality differs, depending on the design intent of each software component. For example, you may have BIM project data which needs to be tied to costing software, which then needs to populate data in an accounting solution – now, you can see why seamless integration of the technologies is indispensable. Clearly, cross-platform connectivity along with flow-through data control are essential when choosing your construction management and financial software.
Construction firms continue to search for ways to beat out the competition by increasing efficiency, building better bids, and lowering overhead to get the next project. If you have questions about construction management software or accounting and estimating solutions to technology integration, then you should attend Ledgerwood Associates 1st Annual Technology Day event, co-sponsored by Sage. Join everyone on April 4th, 2013 and pick the brains of presenters such as Piracle, Timberscan, TimberCloud, Hard Dollar, and more, while they cover a range of the Future of Technology in Construction.
Here’s an announcement of interest to companies in the infrastructure; mining, oil & gas; shutdowns, turnarounds and outages (STO); power; and process industries.
FutureTech Reader Survey Reveals Hard Dollar as Leading Project Cost Management Solution
SCOTTSDALE, AZ–(Marketwire -03/22/12)- Hard Dollar Corporation, the category creator and worldwide leader in Project Cost Management software solutions for capital projects, announced the inclusion of Hard Dollar in the Engineering News-Record (ENR) FutureTech newsletter article “Hot Tech Topics” published March 12, 2012.
In the ENR reader survey, open-ended questions prompted readers to suggest which products they considered “the best new tech tools they use now as well as the tech tools they would like to see in the future.” Hard Dollar was the only Project Cost Management system recommended in the entire survey.
The group, comprised primarily of IT project managers, listed Hard Dollar as one of the 159 recommended software products that “they are now using with good results that have potential to improve their jobs, or even the entire industry.”
The inclusion as a top technology tool supports Hard Dollar’s consistent record growth, and mass adoption worldwide by owners, EPCM’s and contractors, as the single choice to build cost model estimates, cost and resource load schedules, measure progress, and forecast ompletion in capital projects.
About Hard Dollar
Founded in 1989, Hard Dollar Corporation is the category creator and leader for Project Cost Management (PCM) solutions. Over 800 Owner, EPC, and Contractor customers worldwide within infrastructure, mining, oil & gas, STO, power, and process industries utilize HD software. Hard Dollar’s PCM solution centralizes project cost and productivity — connecting estimates and budgets, schedule, progress, and forecasting. Customers routinely reduce project costs by 15 percent and increase salaried worker productivity up to 300 percent. HD software has been used to construct over $1 trillion in capital projects and is sold and implemented around the globe. For more information, visit www.harddollar.com or call 800.637.7496.
Ledgerwood Associates Achieves President’s Circle Business Partner Status
Scottsdale, AZ – January 9, 2012 – Ledgerwood Associates, Inc., a Sage North America business partner specializing in the sales, installation, and support of Sage Timberline and Sage Master Builder, has been named to the Sage America President’s Circle for the 2011 business year. President’s Circle award winners are the top performing business partners for Sage products. Sage recognizes Ledgerwood Associates and all President’s Circle winners for their outstanding contributions in 2011.
The Sage North America President’s Circle is awarded to the leading performers among Sage business partners representing a host of segment-leading brands, including Sage ERP Accpac, Sage ERP X3, Sage Timberline, Sage ERP MAS 90 and 200, Sage SalesLogix, Sage Fund Accounting, Sage Abra HRMS (human resource management system), Sage FAS Fixed Assets and others.
“We honor Ledgerwood Associates for their hard work and their focus on our mutual customers, which has earned them the Sage North America President’s Circle Award,” said Tom Miller, VP of Channel Management for Sage. “Congratulations to the entire team Ledgerwood Associates for this accomplishment, and we wish them continued success in the coming years.”
President’s Circle award recipients for 2011 will receive further recognition from Sage at an exclusive executive retreat to be held in Nashville, Tennessee in August, in conjunction with the 2012 Sage Summit conference, where they will be celebrated among thousands of their peers and Sage customers attending the event.
“We are pleased to represent Sage to the construction industry here in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada and the West,” said Ed Ledgerwood, President, Ledgerwood Associates. “We’d like to thank our customers who made this achievement possible.”
About Ledgerwood Associates, Inc.
Ledgerwood Associates, Inc. (LAI) provides construction cost management services to over 1,000 construction and real estate industry customers throughout the western United States. LAI’s experienced professionals apply best practices in finance, workflow management and software to improve business performance. LAI is one of the largest Value Added Resellers of Sage Construction and Real Estate software products and services. www.ledgerwoodassociatesusa.com
Service and specialty contractors have complex and highly specialized business needs. Examples of these types of contractors include: electrical, HVAC, plumbing, roofing, siding and sheet metal, landscaping, painting, carpentry, concrete, excavation, drywall, masonry and flooring.
In contrast to general contractors, who typically focus on longer term, large-scale jobs, service and specialty-oriented companies have many more specialized jobs to bid, manage, and execute. They have to juggle customer requests, coordinate service schedules, track parts, and manage a fleet of trucks; all of which must be done as effectively and efficiently as possible to ensure quality service while maintaining maximum profitability.
In a tough economy, service and specialty contractors are intently focused on reducing costs by maximizing their team’s efficiency. They want to take advantage of the newest technologies so they can streamline their operations and optimize customer service. The leaner their business processes, the more productive their teams can be. So, they’re looking to simplify operations by employing tools that enforce accountability while tracking business performance.
Service and specialty contractors looking to identify potential cost reductions and productivity improvements should first examine their information systems and related business processes. Many contractors experience difficulty with one or more of the following in their systems and processes:
Lack of Integration – Using multiple applications or manual processes
Error prone multiple data entry points
Tedious Workflow due to high volume and complexity of jobs and agreements
Difficulty managing complex inventory (e.g. parts, multiple locations)
Purchasing of equipment, parts coordinated with inventory, accounting and service
Poor equipment tracking and management
Communication breakdowns between staff, dispatch and back office teams
Dispatching the right technician with the right skills for the right amount of time
Difficulty making billing adjustments, and billing schedule
How new technology can solve these problems
Software is currently available that provides integration across purchasing, inventory, service management, accounting and other functional disciplines. Benefits include improved access to data, improved workflow and accuracy, and better inter-team communication. Here’s what you should look for in a top notch software package for service and specialty contractors:
- Complicated importing and exporting of data and bouncing back and forth from one software application to another are eliminated.
- Applications improve customer service by allowing dispatch to respond to incoming service calls, manage field technicians and process work orders and bills from a single work space.
- Modern, easy-to-use interfaces are intuitive and flexible. Layouts can be customized. Navigation is accomplished using process maps and Outlook-style menus.
- Work spaces provide interactive inquiries so users can easily work with their data. An example might be to examine a client site, edit trip data, and drill down to associated purchase orders or invoices within that work space.
- Information is stored in a centralized database providing the flexibility for remote access and add-on application integration. Automated and web-deployed updates help IT departments save time and cut costs.
- Process maps provide a visual representation of everyday role or department processes that simplify training.
- Critical financial and cost information is easy to access so users can quickly make important decisions and manage the bottom line.
iPad and Mobile Technology
Mobile technology is improving communication between service technicians, office and dispatcher with on-line real-time access to schedule changes and GPS location data. As a result, technicians always know where to go and what to do. Techs are also capturing more business opportunities in the field.
How to find the right technology and Solution Provider
You want a company with deep industry and business process expertise and a proven track record; one that can focus on creating a long-term relationship to create knowledge and usability of their systems. They can assign the right people, skills and technologies to help you improve your performance.
Before you decide on a solution provider look for the following:
Superior Implementation Methods
Refined methods for implementation, training and support services must include conducting a needs analysis to determine the solution and critical path schedule for a successful implementation while communicating progress at every step. Pre-built standard implementation methods reduce the time and resources needed for a successful software migration. You want a company with proven experience in specialty and service business operations, one that can provide:
- Software implementation, training and support services focused on the construction industry.
- Specialized material and resource database development for estimating and procurement.
- Hardware and network integration.
- Outsourcing with third parties or applications that specialize in your trade for creating maximum value to core competencies.
Experienced professionals deliver innovative solutions to assist in transforming your organization’s finance function, using best practice in finance management to achieve improved business performance.
The ideal company will help you define roles for each employee within the office workflow for increasing productivity and eliminating unnecessary costs.
Trust and Value
The lowest price is not always the best value. Look for a company you can trust to be there over the long haul; a company providing services that add value to your solution:
- Personalized Service – A company that wants to know you and your capabilities and resources for getting your business where you want it to go.
- Real-Time Answers – If your system needs attention yesterday, the ability to log into your systems and give you a helping hand.
- Reports You Need and Use – Consultants skilled at creating customized reports.
- Local and Regional Training and Seminars – Face-to-face and online skills improvement.
- Communication –Publishes an email newsletter or blog with technical tips and schedules of upcoming classes and software enhancements.
- Users Groups – Has local and/or national users group to learn from other users and create informal learning chains.
- Hardware and Network Support –Works with local and national Information Technology companies to share resources and knowledge of customer’s technology environments and recommend reputable companies.
Backed by Software Industry Leaders –Represents only the best in class software for the service and specialty contractors industry.
The ideal solution provider will work closely with you to develop the scope and standards of the services you require. They will incorporate substantial capability improvements and cost reductions into an innovative solution that meets your needs. They will apply pioneering process improvements and standardized leading-edge technologies to create and sustain business value.
What can you expect for your service and specialty contracting business? Finding the right technology and the right solution provider will likely result in streamlined financial operations coupled with substantial and sustained operating cost savings; transformational business outcomes with less risk, less capital and faster timelines.
All this month you can save on Sage Timberline Office and Sage Master Builder when buying additional uses or modules.
Buy one additional module or use and get 10% off!
Buy two additional modules or uses and get 15% off!
Buy three or more additional modules or uses and get 20% off!
Estimators – we didn’t forget about you on this deal! John Fredley’s Advanced Databases are ALSO included.
Don’t forget to use the promo code C-0325 for Sage Timberline Office and C-0326 for Sage Master Builder.
Timberline’s new version 9.6 doesn’t share common application files with Maxwell Systems Estimation. Don’t put these 2 applications on the same computer until both software companies figure a way to resolve the problem. Programmers at Maxwell Systems have been working on a fix for at least a month.
As of today, both applications still don’t work together. Sage Timberline and Maxwell compete for the same market share so they don’t normally help each other fix problems. Eventually, both will find a way to work together. It will just take some time.
Timberline just released new Advanced Assembly Databases that have current manufacturing prices and items. These databases are comprehensive with 51000 items and 7400 formulas. John Fredley of Advanced Assemblies Database Inc. spent 10 years creating these databases to fit a variety of estimating styles.
95% of the assemblies support both “man-hour,” and “unit-pricing,” estimating. You can take off self-performed and sub-contract work. It makes it easy to produce “quantity,” and well as “bill of materials.” Included are Work Breakdown Codes (WBS) for every construction trade.
These databases have an incredible amount of knowledge built in. If you need a good estimating system up and running fast, you should check it out.
Here is the list of new Advanced Assembly Databases: Composite includes all of the following individual databases: Residential, Sitework, Concrete and Masonry and a Starter database.