April 2020 Newsletter
By Joanie Hollabaugh, Senior Director of Marketing, ETHOSystems
As the Exec Team was discussing content for this month’s newsletter, we were all sharing personal stories about how we were coping, and funny anecdotes from our new normal (there are dogs being walked on my block that haven’t been on a leash in 11 years). Someone suggested an article on ‘Lessons Learned from Cabin Fever.’ I hope you enjoy a little break from the truly serious issues the world is experiencing right now.
What I’ve learned from working remotely
Pandemic. Social distancing. Self-quarantine. Shelter in place. The year 2020 was supposed to be BETTER than last year. While we advocate staying at home and healthy, here are some random musings on how to deal with the disruption and working from home.
We’ve all seen a LOT of emails from everybody on policies, trends, and predictions. But BUILDR’s eblast was THE BEST THING WE’VE READ so far. This was a delightful diversion that just kept giving. Relevant construction news, a (fundraising) jump in a freezing lake, an Instagram concert — we laughed, we cried. we want the t-shirt!
Working from home is not new for me — on Fridays. But being home the other four days has been challenging. Luckily for me, 99% of my work is web-based so I only need to adjust mentally, and not logistically (needing physical files, printers, etc.). Even so, I am out of my routine and office (and shower schedule)! I had to call on an old Italian friend of mine.
‘Pomodoros’ is a technique I learned a long time ago for staying focused for meeting creative content deadlines. Named after Italian kitchen timers shaped like tomatoes (pomodoros) – you set a timer for 25 minutes of work, and then around 5 minutes of, well for me, distractions (email, anyone?). What works better for me is a 45/15 minute ratio; very helpful for focusing and discipline when you’re out of your normal work environment.
And of course, there is an App for it. Totally vegan time management, prego!
If you’re remotely human (or humanly remote in this case), you’re probably burnt out from the information overload from news channels, emails, YouTube videos, Facebook memes — everyone has advice and loads of information (yes, I get the irony here). How to escape the warnings (and unfortunate political agendas) while you’re cooped up in the cabin with kids and pets and GoToMeeting calls?
If you want just the daily headlines and not the full content, there’s a free App called “The Skimm“ which is a non-partisan recap of major news in snippets (caveat: there are sponsors and ads, but it’s pretty non-intrusive. The free version is cleverly headlined daily emails, there’s also a free podcast, and the Premium App adds a Calendar feature and push notification. Even Oprah is a ‘Skimm’r”.
Unplug while you work. Turn on your favorite music station on Pandora or Spotify, or better yet break out some old albums or CDs. Ones that evoke happy memories. When I met my husband he was constantly playing Bruce Hornsby. Bruce Hornsby makes me instantly happy and nostalgic — I start my mornings now with BH and The Range and it’s my audio cue to be intentional. Create a new station for when you work. These are new times, after all.
Downtime bonus tips
If you don’t know about the Thrillist, you are missing out! They rate everything. Literally. Don’t know what to watch on Netflix? They got you. Best TV shows of 2020? Same. Easy pasta recipes? Done and done. Armchair shopping? They find the coolest stuff. You’re welcome.
This is totally personal, obviously. I am going to recommend a single educational and entertaining podcast about nature: KUOW’s The Wild. The host Chris Morgan is British (easy on the ears), loves bears, and makes you think you are trekking the forests in the Pacific Northwest with him. Terrific storytelling, and terrific guests. Appropriate for work and little ears.
No one is going to the gym, obviously. You can take advantage of free workout and yoga videos on YouTube, of course. I just found out the other week that Peloton App has a free 30-day trial and when I revisited the site, they have EXTENDED the free trial to 90 days! Way to go, Peloton!
I swear I am going to sign up on my next Pomodoro break! Keep it healthy in the ‘Cabin’, all!
If you need some more ‘serious’ help for working remotely click here.
N95 and PPE Donation Drive
All lightheartedness aside, ETHOSystems is using our construction client database to reach out and ask for donations for healthcare workers. We’ve sent a press release and several emails out with the branded hashtag #MaskedGiving. You can drop off or we will arrange pickup. We have created safety guidelines and precautions. Please reach out by phone (below) or email (Ed.Ledgerwood@ETHOSystems.com) if you have inventory. Thanks for caring!
Here’s a link to the HFMA news coverage of the new coronavirus and its effects on healthcare finance.
Buy One, Get One — Half Off and empower your remote workers
Add Users and/or Modules to Sage Estimating | Sage 1oo Contractor | Sage CRE
In response to numerous requests from clients, Sage Construction and Real Estate has extended the expired promotion for the full month of April! Order by April 30th.
Get a quick quote when you fill out this short form:
By Bruce Vanderzyde, CPA, CA, President Anterra. Reprinted with permission.
Best Practices for tracking and reporting costs
Anterra provides Business Intelligence and reporting for Construction and Real Estate companies. They are helping clients determine the best practice to track and report on the cost of the COVID outbreak. There are several reasons you want to isolate these costs (no pun intended).
Reasons to isolate associated costs
- If there is a government relief program you can identify costs and get your application in early
- You are ready for an audit if you get program money
- You can report on your net income excluding these costs, then show COVID costs as an adjustment to net income for your board/bank/owners
- You can measure the cost impact objectively, the revenue and gross margin impacts are more subjective
Methods to track COVID costs:
- Set up a COVID job in Job Cost. You can set up one-time cost codes for:
- Management time
- Meeting time
- Turn away time – record staff time that is unable to work on a job site due to closure or if a service technician goes to inspect/repair a customer location and it is closed
- COVID idle time – staff unable to work **
- Doctor/hospital appointments
- COVID testing time
- Paid sick time
- Protective gear
- Facility cleaning
- Facility cleaning supplies
- Other COVID Costs
Set up GL accounts for COVID expenses:
GL accounts can be used for direct and indirect costs associated with the virus and lockdown:
- Salary Idle time (if not job-costed in ** above)
- Office/warehouse rent for idle facilities
- Health insurance costs for furloughed employees
- Other benefit costs
eFile Your Taxes Right in your Software with Aatrix
by Shantal Myers, Sage Certified Consultant
Aatrix is Sage’s third-party tax partner. Did you know that you can sign up for Aatrix to efile your monthly, quarterly and annual tax and returns and sign up for them to make your tax deposits?
Sign up at http://efile.aatrix.com
Pick the package that fits your business needs. Two employees or two thousand, Package Pricing is the best value. The package includes UNLIMITED eFiling for Fed and State Unemployment, New Hire, Withholding, and all associated payments for one year. Email or Fax in your eFile authorization. The eFile Authorization form is available under the Companies section of the website. The eFile Center is unable to process filings on your behalf until you sign and email or fax in your Authorization Form.
The eFile Center offers filings in all states. To determine if additional information is required for your filing state check the box next to the state(s) your company must report to in the Filing States section. (* Note: W2, 1099, 1095 Submissions do not require a signature authorization form.)
Enter any additional filing requirements
Some agencies require additional credentials to be specified when electronically filing on your behalf. In order to process your filings, the eFile Center must have these additional credentials on file as indicated in the Additional Agency Requirements section of the Companies section. The filings states selected for your company will determine which credentials are required.
Enter your bank account information (optional)
The eFile Center offers electronic payment options to federal and state agencies Your Bank Account Information and payment coupons can be eFiled from your Sage 100 Contractor Software. Bank Account Information is only required if you plan to have the eFile Center make any payments on your behalf when eFiling.
The eFile Center has a variety of Federal and State withholding, unemployment, new hire and payments available as well as the annual W2s and 1099s.
Check out the form list on the Aatrix eFile Center website and see how you can eliminate paper and file electronically.
Submit eFilings at least three (3) business days prior to their due date to avoid government fines or priority processing fees.
Look for the payroll reports menu in your Sage 100 Contractor Software. Select the form you want to file and it will be filled out automatically with information from your payroll data. After reviewing the form click submit and choose the eFile option.
All of the filings you submit will be saved in the history or existing reports section of your Sage 100 Contractor software and all eFile status information is available under the Filings tab of your Aatrix eFile Center website account.
Features and Resources
- Free how-to videos for processing year end and tax forms
- The eFile Center can send you text/SMS reminders about important events such as filing rejection alerts and tax compliance calendar reminders
- 1800+ electronic forms for State and Federal payroll reports and payments
- Unemployment, Withholding, & New Hire reports for all states
- Comprehensive W-2/1099 printing & eFiling solution
- Electronic W-2 delivery option
- Replica of the actual form displayed onscreen
- Reports can be edited & recalculated onscreen
- Reports can be printed on plain paper, signature-ready
- All reports can be eFiled to an exclusive Single-point Payroll eFile Center
Timing Your Successful Software Implementation
by Kyle Ziegler, Sage Certified Senior Consultant
Congratulations! You’ve completed your research, seen countless demos, and finally decided to purchase the Sage product that will help carry your company to the next level of profitability.
You may be planning a full implementation of Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate or simply the addition of one or more new modules. Or you may be adding an integrated product to Sage 300 CRE, such as MyAssistant, Sage Paperless, or Sage Fixed Assets. Regardless of the software, timing can be critical to the success of your implementation.
Strategical questions for planning
Who are the key players?
- The implementation of any Sage software will most likely involve your accounting staff. With that in mind, year-end is probably not the best time to start this project. Your accounting personnel will thank you for not having to juggle a software implementation along with preparing year-end financial statements, responding to auditors, and processing W2s and 1099s.
What time commitment is involved?
- This is a two-fold question: How long will the implementation last, and how much time will each key player need to dedicate to the project on a daily basis? The answers to these questions may help you further determine not only the best time to start the project, but also whether you may need to hire temporary help.
How much data is involved?
- If your software implementation will require you to load data from a legacy system, you will need time to prepare the data, clean it up, and load it to your Sage product while working through any unanticipated issues with the data. This process can be tedious, time-consuming and often frustrating. Try to identify a period in your fiscal year that allows you enough preparation time, but limits the quantity of data to load. The end of the first quarter often fits well with providing data prep time and means you only have 3 months of detail to load for the current fiscal year (as opposed to the end of the 2nd or 3rd quarters). A quarter-end or even month-end target date also provides a clean cut-off for reconciliation purposes.
Besides timing considerations, successful software implementations are those where the expectations for the project have been well-communicated to employees from the top down. Even the most change-resistant employees can be won over when told that the goal is not only to increase profitability but also to improve processes and make their jobs easier.
Well thought out timing and firm guidance, support and motivation from company leaders go a long way to make any software implementation smooth and successful. At ETHOSystems, we specialize in helping our clients get their software up and running. Please let us know if we can help you with your next software purchase.
Reprinted with permission from the TUG website.
SQL Estimating – Crews – Multiple Rate Tables
You can assign multiple rate tables to an estimate. For example, if part of your labor is done with shop labor and part with field labor you can assign the shop labor rate table to the shop items and the field labor rate table to the field items. You do this by assigning different rate tables to the estimate items. There are a couple of ways to do this:
- First: adjust labor rate table on the estimate cover page – takeoff associated items for the shop labor. Once all shop items are taken-off, change the labor rate table to the field labor and take off associated items for the field labor.
- Secondly (if items are already taken-off): turn on the Labor (or Equipment) Rate Table Column on the spreadsheet. Scroll to the items that need to be adjusted and select the correct rate table from the pulldown list.
Extra Time on Your Hands for Learning?
Sign up for some free Sage Construction webinars!
This may be a great time to sharpen your software skills. Take advantage of these Sage Construction complimentary webcasts during the month of April!
Register today for FREE Sage upcoming webinars and learn how key add-on modules enable you to extend the use of your product. Also discover even more capabilities to help you work more efficiently with Sage 100 Contractor, Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate, and Sage Estimating. Use the register link to sign up for ANY of these sessions.
Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate
Sage Service Operations