Archive for the ‘Kent Sorensen’ tag
(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.
(See check fraud prevention technology live and up close at Ledgerwood Associates’ first annual Technology Day, April 4th in Scottsdale, AZ.)
Stay one step ahead of the criminals by understanding check fraud and the fraud prevention technology available today. Your organization’s bottom line can be negatively impacted by this still prevalent crime.
Check fraud is on the rise even though check volume is declining. Checks remain the most vulnerable payment mechanism targeted by fraudsters. The reality is that without preventive measures in place to deter criminals, your firm is extremely susceptible to check fraud.
Am I Personally at Risk?
Recent changes in the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) have placed the burden on the party who is most negligent in the process. This could be you. Historically, financial institutions were on the hook when criminals took advantage of an unsuspecting business. This is no longer the case.
Losses Are Substantial
The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners estimates that organizations in the US lose about 7% of their revenue to fraud. The American Bankers Association and FBI have estimated between 5.5 and 13 billion dollars are lost yearly due to check fraud.
Three ways criminals use checks fraudulently:
- Lost, stolen, or counterfeit employee paychecks
- Counterfeit checks showing one company’s MICR line with another company’s name
- Payee name is altered on the issued checks
Fraud Prevention Measures
Implementing preventative measures will significantly reduce your firm’s liability related to these crimes. Here are some safeguards you can put in place to limit your exposure:
- Eliminate preprinted check stock. It’s easy for criminals and employees to take checks without notice when several different checks with preprinted information are lying around.
a. Purchase software to print checks on blank check stock from your computer.
b. Use a single type of check stock to print checks from different bank accounts on behalf of multiple clients.
- Add security features to your checks. Security features empower the payee to verify that their check has not been tampered with.
a. Heat sensitive ink that will cause a symbol to fade then reappear when you rub between two fingers
b. A microprint border that, when photocopied, will appear as an obvious broken line
c. Chemical reactive paper that will appear to be stained if a chemical alteration is attempted
d. Watermarks that cannot be photocopied
- Close the payment loop. Standard Positive Pay and the new Payee Positive Pay electronically send your bank the information that should be on the check they are cashing. If the dollar amount, payee name, date, check number, or routing code are changed the bank will refuse payment.
- Implement the proper internal controls. Set up the appropriate structure in your organization to ensure that the correct people in firm have approved payments when they are made.
Technology to Prevent Check Fraud
When you realize what is at stake, taking action becomes a necessity. Fortunately there are solutions that address these measures.
Piracle has created a software package, Create-A-Check, that seamlessly integrates with your current accounting application. For many years they have worked constantly to stay one step ahead of the people whose goal is to defraud your company. Their software and security enhanced blank check stock address all of these issues and more.
Learn more about check fraud prevention technology at Ledgerwood Associates’ first annual Technology Day, April 4th in Scottsdale, AZ.
(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).
Amid predictions of a long-awaited housing industry recovery, NAHB launches its 2013 International Builders Show in Las Vegas later this month (January 22-24, Las Vegas, NV). Everyone associated with the homebuilding industry will be there, from suppliers of building materials, mechanical systems, fixtures and trucks, to mortgage lenders, insurance brokers and technology vendors.
If you attend the show, please stop by and say hello to Ledgerwood Associates and the Sage Construction and Real Estate team. Take a few minutes for a demo of Sage Construction Anywhere. Ed Ledgerwood will be there as part of the Sage contingent in booth C3049. As a long-time Sage Business Partner and industry expert, Ed can help you successfully navigate the construction industry technology marketplace.
This year’s show has a kind-of rising-from-the-ashes feeling to it, like the name of our fair city, Phoenix. Appropriately, Michael Eisner, past Chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, is the keynote speaker. In the 80’s he revived Disney from a near coma to become an entertainment powerhouse. He hopes to inspire attendees to “Build your team, build your company and build your community”.
We all know that homebuilding today is challenging. According to the show website, “Everything has changed.” In the Day Two keynote session, a panel of rising homebuilders “will discuss how successful private builders are responding to these changes, and how they are defining new ways to operate profitably.” In our experience, change means opportunities, and we are eager to help our clients capitalize on the ones that come along.
A 90-minute preview of “disruptive technologies” by the New York Times’ tech reviewer, David Pogue, promises to be one of the more entertaining sessions. Attendees will “see samples and demonstrations of the newest gadgets and platforms in the tech world that can help your business grow.” Helping customers sort through the technology hype is a big part of what we do at Ledgerwood Associates.
Educational opportunities are varied. Attendees can choose from all-day “Master” sessions – basic topics or advanced, and “speed learning” classes, presumably for builders to fast track through many sessions.
At $450 for NAHB members, registration fees are moderate. And, there is one terrific bargain that you shouldn’t pass up – the $20 Spouse Registration. That’s right, for $20 your spouse can get $50,000 worth of remodeling ideas. Even if you’re already well settled in your homestead, it’s still inexpensive entertainment.
How to wrap up such an event? NAHB supporters will be treated to a concert from the power-pop rock band, Cheap Trick. And that just about sums up what the housing industry economy may have felt like for years.
At least this year there’s hope!
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.
I like this practical advice from CBIZ and MHM about how to work well with your auditors:
We are often asked how construction companies can work with their auditor to ensure important deadlines are met. Adhering to deadlines is a priority for construction companies because relationships with banks and sureties depend on accurate and timely reports. Although final adjustments and issues are always possible, there are things that can be done to reduce the risk of surprises occurring: Read More >>
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.
Sage 300 CRE/Timberline Office users love the software, but often grumble about the stacks of paper that print out after clicking the “Finish” button at the end of common tasks. These entry and posting journals document the changes that were made in the current module and each interfacing application. Even the simple entry of a few invoices can result in several pages that chronicle the effects on Accounts Payable, Job Cost, General Ledger, Billing, etc.
Some users review the journals and then store or shred them, while others print them to an online “junk” file, never to give them a second thought. With Sage Timberline Office version 9.8 you can maintain easy access to your journals and never print them again!
Store journals in a way that fits the needs of your company with the Automatically Print Journal to File feature in Sage Timberline Office version 9.8. The setup is relatively simple and you can specify folders and assign the naming conventions you prefer. Do you want separate journal folders for each task within each application? How about for each user, or just each date? Would you like the files named by user, or by the task and date? It’s entirely up to you!
To access the feature to Automatically Print Journal to File:
- Go to the “Tools” menu of any Sage Timberline Office application.
- Select “Options”.
- Then click on the “Journals” tab.
- Click on the Help menu to get step-by-step instructions.
An additional tip: If you want to eliminate the possibility of overwriting journal files, add the date and time to the journal file name. Example: