December 2020 Newsletter
What do we fa-la-love this month? Click on topics to jump to the article.
- FAVORITES for 2020: Some positive picks for 2020 – yup, some exist!
- CONSTRUCTION NEWS: Is the pandemic helping fuel construction to adapt remotely? – from the Procore Jobsite blog
- NOT (YEAR-END) BUSINESS AS USUAL: Blame 2020! Changes to government compliance RE: 1099S
- COVID/HR NEWS: From Challenge to Opportunity: How SMBs Can Reshape HR for the Future – Sage Intacct
- YEAR-END SAVINGS: Save up to 15% on new user licenses or modules – ends this month!
- YEAR-END ONLINE CLASSES: Sign up now – they fill up fast!
- UPCOMING WEBINARS: Snap AI for Estimating
- TIPS + TRICKS: For Accounting, Sage 100 Contractor, Sage 300 CRE, and Estimating
These are a few of our favorite things
by Joanie Hollabaugh, Sr. Director of Marketing
In an attempt to end the year on a high note, we’ve made a list of our favorite industry resources and projects for 2020.
- Buildr Tech emails. Funny, hip, and always construction-relevant with an obscure metaphor (they had me at Schrödinger’s cat). Sign up here!
- A nod to the more serious side, Ken Simonson, Chief Economist for AGC, will send you weekly emails (the “Data Digest”) with more words than you have consumed in all your emails combined. News of construction rises and falls, unemployment stats, construction costs, and more. Warning: no images, acronyms, or GIFs. Very SFW! Get it here.
- For the cool ‘tool guy’ – ForConstructionPros.com reviews construction equipment, projects, and industry events. And yes, thank you very much, an annual Construction Christmas Gift Guide from which Mrs. Claus has purportedly perused and purchased for her portly partner. Subscribe to the newsletter here.
- Best construction video (and new Guinness World Record for the tallest building demolished by explosives) posted by Construction Junkie. Also an awesome account to follow on twitter: @ConstrJunkie.
- And the most ‘boring’ project goes to…Elon Musk! His tunnel project (done by The Boring Company, get it?) under the Las Vegas Convention Center is anything but! They already have two tunnels completed. Scroll down to the video at the bottom of the article.
Is the Pandemic Helping Fuel the Remote Construction Market?
NOVEMBER 9, 2020 BY JOHN BIGGS | Reprinted with permission of Procore Jobsite | Original article here.
As major industries go, construction is both very hands-on and facetime heavy. So, when the pandemic hit and remote and socially distanced workplaces became the norm, C&E firms had to move quickly. This meant adapting both the jobsite and the office. It was required not just to ensure the health and safety of workers but for work to actually continue with minimal interruption.
To achieve this, firms of all sizes had to lean heavily on technological solutions that allow many operations and management tasks to be performed remotely. This includes technology that’s already widespread like phones, tablets and the cloud, as well as the adoption of more up-and-coming technologies like AI and machine learning.
Remote Construction Market to Quadruple by 2030
The rapid shift to remote construction has kicked off something of a renaissance for the sector. A new analysis conducted by Future Market Analysis (FMI) estimates annual growth of the market to be over 14% per year, and it’s expected to quadruple its value by 2030.
If COVID-19 taught the construction industry anything, it’s that even near-total disruption of all projects and processes is a possibility. As a result, more companies have increased their use of technologies like AI and machine learning to anticipate potential project disruptions better. This can include everything: taking a deeper dive into project data like schedules and materials stock levels to look for red flags or using AI to monitor weather patterns.
According to FMI’s analysis, demand for remote construction tools and software will continue to spike, further feeding the need for more AI and machine learning technology to improve analytics capabilities.
“The pace of implementation of remote construction technologies is expected to surge considerably in the coming years. Several construction companies have already started using Building Information Modelling (BIM) tools for the representation of physical and functional characteristics of a project for help in decision-making,” a lead FMI analyst wrote.
The COVID Effect on Remote Construction
The pandemic changed many everyday job site realities, but it’s also had a catalyzing effect on technology adoption in construction, mostly out of necessity. Most of the technologies that have been seeing a renewed interest of late have been around for years, some for over a decade. While the near-total ubiquity of smartphones and tablets laid the groundwork for broader tech adoption in the industry, other technologies have recently noted an uptick in adoption. Experts think this trend is set to continue.
“Even prior to the current pandemic, we were beginning to see wider adoption of digital tools on job sites, including those that enable remote work, like photo documentation,” Jeevan Kalanithi, CEO of OpenSpace told ZDNet. “It’s likely that the situation we’re in now will lead to an acceleration in the adoption of these types of technologies, but this is the direction that the industry was heading in regardless.”
“It’s likely that the situation we’re in now will lead to an acceleration in the adoption of these types of technologies, but this is the direction that the industry was heading in regardless.”
– Jeevan Kalanithi, CEO of OpenSpace
Suddenly, with no more big meetings or groups huddled around a drafting table to look at plans, digitization and remote collaboration became the solution of choice. Cloud-based remote construction solutions make it easy (and socially distant) to pass key messages and changes across the organization.
One advantage of these platforms is they can be accessed by smartphones and tablets, allowing everyone involved to view the same information no matter where they are. The technology itself isn’t new, but it’s a natural fit when keeping distance from coworkers and working remotely have become the norm.
Challenges of Sudden Shift to Remote Construction
Since COVID-19 mitigation best practices swept the industry, the job site has vastly changed. Schedules have become more carefully managed to avoid overcrowding, workers line up every morning for temperature screenings, and most unannounced site drop-ins have become a thing of the past.
Even before the pandemic, construction’s distaste for rapid process changes was a serious sticking point slowing tech adoption. However, the difference now is that many companies are faced with a very real choice between closing up shop or embracing new ways of working, new technologies included. In most cases, the desire to stay in business trumps the reluctance to change.
Typically, large companies take the most time to alter their course dramatically. However, in an environment like this, it’s predominantly the big names that have robust enough IT budgets to make the necessary capital investment. While smaller firms usually hold a nimbleness advantage over their larger competitors, they may have fewer options when it comes to an unexpected cash outlay.
During the pandemic, we’ve seen many companies alter policies permanently, although they often intended the solutions to be temporary, such as working from home. With construction firms now looking to remote technologies as a lifeline, the industry’s relationship with technology could be very different going forward.
This is NOT the usual Year-End for Sage 300 CRE and Sage 100 Contractor!
End of support for older versions of Sage software and changes to government compliance make 2020 year-end updates more complex – especially for those who use 1099 / 1099 NEC.
- Government compliance reporting for 2020 4th quarter (Payroll) and year-end (AP + Payroll) will ONLY be supported in Sage 300 CRE Version 20.3 or higher or Sage 100 Contractor Version 22 or higher.
- This requires a FULL SYSTEM UPGRADE
From Sage University on YouTube:
Watch Sage 300 CRE V20.1 Release Highlights V20.1
Watch Sage 300 CRE Year-End: 2020 Year-End Release Highlights
Watch Sage 100 Contractor What’s New V22.3
Need help with your upgrade?
Contact to schedule time with our Sage Certified Consultants.
Click below to schedule with ETHOSystems support.
Bonus! ETHOSystems Sage 300 CRE free online YE training class recording
<< Click graphic to watch
*More Year-End Training classes, below, in the Upcoming Events section! These will be recorded as well.
DECEMBER 2, 2020 BY LAURIE McCABE, SMB GROUP | Reprinted with permission of Sage Intacct | Original article here
Businesses of all sizes have been confronted by daunting challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but small and medium businesses (SMBs) have arguably borne the brunt of the damage.
In SMB Group’s July 2020 survey, SMBs: Navigating a Path Forward, co-sponsored by Sage Intacct, an overwhelming 78% of SMB respondents said that COVID-19 was negatively impacting their business. That’s in stark contrast to our 2019 SMB Digital Transformation Study, in which 64% of SMBs said they were forecasting increased revenue growth.
The pandemic is testing SMB resilience across all functional areas, including of course, human resources and talent management. Many are dealing with extreme staffing volatility: 59% of SMBs have taken one or more actions to trim payroll, and 58% are now planning to bring workers back, hire new workers, increase hours, or increase employee pay. SMBs are facing similar turbulence in contractor/1099 staffing as well.
Amidst this unpredictability, businesses cite operating under new social distancing and safety requirements, supporting employees in new, virtual work conditions, and improving employee productivity among their top business challenges.
SMBs must plan for today and tomorrow
If you’re like most SMB decision-makers, you’re already making or planning to make changes to handle these unprecedented human resource and workforce management challenges. In our study, 62% of respondents said they were changing the layouts of physical locations, such as offices, factories, and stores.
In addition, two-thirds had instituted or expanded work-from-home (WFM) programs, and slightly 57% of these companies plan to increase spending to better equip remote workers.
But to both survive through continuing uncertainty, and to come out stronger on the other side, businesses need to think beyond these types of immediate challenges. With the economy in flux, the entire concept of the workplace changing, and employees’ work style needs and preferences shifting, your business needs to be ready to proactively adjust and adapt.
The pandemic also exacerbates problems SMBs have always faced in the human resources domain. Before COVID-19, SMBs were already at a disadvantage when competing for talent against larger firms that typically provide better salaries, benefits, and opportunities for career advancement. SMBs also often lack the expertise and solutions needed to build strong recruitment and retention programs.
At this critical juncture, SMB decision-makers can continue to react and let external forces control the situation. Or they can decide to be proactive and put the expertise and solutions in place that can provide the business with the agility and insights necessary to adapt workplace and workforce strategies to prosper.
Planning a new way to work for your business
While all businesses must adapt to this dynamic environment, no two businesses are the same. Yet, some strategic considerations are universal.
- The tectonic shift to remote work has caused many businesses and employees to question whether they will ever go back to a traditional office or work site environment. Of course, businesses that do need or want to send all employees back must ensure that employees have a safe physical environment to return to. But many businesses will shift to a hybrid or even all-remote work environment. Consider which jobs can be done offsite and which ones can’t, both now and in the future. Think about how to better enable remote work and collaboration and physical requirements to facilitate new, more flexible work styles—from more meeting space and less individual space in company offices, to providing remote workers with stipends or equipment to create productive WFM offices.
- Businesses that decide to continue with a more flexible, hybrid workplace approach also need to assess how this impacts employee experience. For example, if you have employees working in different time zones, it may make sense to designate a specific block of hours for real-time, collaborative work—such as virtual meetings—and then allow employees to decide when to get the rest of the work done. Consider the implications for everything from onboarding to career advancement to exit interviews and create policies that help improve employee engagement and retention.
- As conditions change, companies need to identify the skills employees need to meet new requirements. Retailers, for instance, may need a lot less people in physical stores and a lot more with skills to build and manage ecommerce storefronts and provide service via chat and phone. Categorizing and inventorying jobs and skills, identify gaps, reskilling existing employees for new roles, and recruiting additional talent will be key to business sustainability.
Enabling data-driven execution with cloud-based HR solutions
As evidenced in our study, cloud computing has been a lifesaver for SMBs during the pandemic. It has enabled them to keep operations going, adapt to new workplace requirements and remote working programs, and keep up with changing customer requirements. Across all application categories, 83% or more of respondents said cloud-based business applications have been valuable in sustaining their businesses—and 37% noted that the pandemic has made them more likely to choose a cloud solution for new application investments.
Clearly, the cloud has been essential in helping people to get their jobs done from home and collaborating with colleagues. But the value of cloud-based technology extends beyond this. In companies using cloud-based business applications, employees could immediately access cloud-based business applications—from HR to finance to CRM—from home when lockdowns suddenly went into effect. People could update and share data and workflows in real-time, giving everyone a consistent, accurate, and up-to-date view of the business—from purchasing to payroll.
Before the pandemic, integrated, cloud-based solutions were already relieving HR from mundane tasks so they could take on more proactive, advisory roles. With less administrative duties, HR can focus on helping management make better decisions about personnel and processes, enabling them to build more resiliency and flexibility in the workforce to cope with the shifting landscape.
The real-time, data-driven cloud-based business solutions also make more holistic, cross-organizational collaboration and insights possible. For instance, companies using integrated financial and human resources solutions, such as Sage People and Sage Intacct, can more readily identify trends, risks, and opportunities that can provide insights and new approaches to adapt as the “next normal” evolves.
Investing in new technology solutions in a downturn may seem counter-intuitive during a downturn. But having access to the information you need to make the best HR and talent decisions can help ensure that your business has the people, policies, and programs in place for a successful future.
Employees are the greatest asset a company can have. Having data to guide your decisions will ensure that you can better align your workforce and employee experience with business goals and market realties now, and as the pandemic subsides and the business climate improves—and do so more expeditiously than those that don’t.
© SMB Group, 2020
It’s a great time to buy using Section 179
What is the Section 179 Deduction
Most people think the Section 179 deduction is some mysterious or complicated tax code. It really isn’t, as you will see below.
Essentially, Section 179 of the IRS tax code allows businesses to deduct the full purchase price of qualifying equipment and/or software purchased or financed during the tax year. That means that if you buy (or lease) a piece of qualifying equipment, you can deduct the FULL PURCHASE PRICE from your gross income. It’s an incentive created by the U.S. government to encourage businesses to buy equipment and invest in themselves.
2020 Deduction Limit = $1,040,000
This deduction is good on new and used equipment, as well as off-the-shelf software (including Sage 100 Contractor, Sage 300 CRE, and Sage Estimating). To take the deduction for tax year 2020, the equipment must be financed or purchased and put into service between January 1, 2020 and the end of the day on December 31, 2020.
2020 Spending Cap on equipment purchases = $2,590,000
This is the maximum amount that can be spent on equipment before the Section 179 Deduction available to your company begins to be reduced on a dollar for dollar basis. This spending cap makes Section 179 a true “small business tax incentive” (because larger businesses that spend more than $3,630,000 on equipment won’t get the deduction.)
Bonus Depreciation = 100% for 2020
The above is an overall, “birds-eye” view of the Section 179 Deduction for 2020. For more details on limits and qualifying equipment, as well as Section 179 Qualified Financing, please read this entire website carefully. We will also make sure to update this page if the limits change.
Save up to 15% on new user licenses or modules
Great year-end savings!
Make your business more efficient with Sage.
Choose from a wide range of Sage construction solutions to improve critical areas of your business including field operations, business intelligence, AP automation, and project management. Or add users to the solutions you already have.
Ends this month!
Save up to 15% when you add 3 or more user licenses or modules, and become more productive with Sage construction solutions. Save 10%* with 2 user licenses or modules.
Not sure what you need? Here’s a little ‘gift’ list!
- General Ledger
- Job Cost
- Project Management
- Equipment Management
- Service Receivables
CAN’T MAKE AN EVENT? SIGN UP ANYWAY, AND WE’LL SEND YOU A LINK TO THE RECORDING!
Save the dates! Upcoming FREE Year-end Online Classes
In this session, we cover topics that will assist users in preparing for year-end, the timing of year-end upgrade, download and update taxes, closing the year, archiving: employees and checks. Additionally, items to complete after the archiving has been completed. We will also review reconciling Accounts Payable Vendor 1099’s and take you through the 1099 forms preparation. As a bonus COVID – 19 tracking will also be reviewed.
Sage 100 Contractor:
- Payroll, Filing Reports: ACA & 1099s — December 17th – 9 am – 11 am MST / 10 am – 12 pm CT
Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate (Version 20)
Gear up for the new year with any one of our complimentary* online classes focused on year-end procedures! Clear up any of the mystery or confusion on closing your fiscal and calendar year ends.
These two-hour seminars will offer you the insight you need to seamlessly close out this year and find success in 2021. This webinar will cover closing the year in General Ledger and all other appropriate modules, W2 and 1099 processing, and Aatrix processing. We will also provide attendees with a yearend checklist to assist you in this process. A concise how-to for year-end.
Pick the date that works best for you! Can’t make ANY? Register anyway and we’ll send you a link to the recording.
- GL closing | 1099 processing | W2 processing | Closing Checklist — December 17th – 9 am-11 am MST / 10 am – 12 pm CT
- GL closing | 1099 processing | W2 processing | Closing Checklist — January 7th – 9 am-11 am MST / 10 am – 12 pm CT
We will be recording all of the events and posting them on YouTube. Please subscribe to our Channel if you like FREE resources.
NOTICE: There is a limit to two seats per company, as class size is limited by GoToTraining. If you need extra seats, contact firstname.lastname@example.org and we will add them according to availability.
Snap AI for Sage Estimating
January 19th – 10:30 MST | 11:30 am CT
Sage is introducing the next evolution in electronic 2D takeoff!
Sage will be releasing a new eTakeoff Dimension release in the near future. However, they are previewing one of the coolest features in the release.
The new Snap AI functionality in eTakeoff will be a game-changer! It will provide significant increases in productivity and accuracy for Estimators
New on the ETHOSystems YouTube channel
Access to webinars, demos, and thought leadership topics! View them here, and don’t forget to subscribe while you’re there — we need at least 100 followers to get a ‘vanity’ url with our name in it!
New this month:
IRS audit rates are historically low, according to the latest data, but that’s little consolation if your return is among those selected to be examined. But with proper preparation and planning, you should fare well.
In fiscal year 2019, the IRS audited approximately 0.4% of individuals. Businesses, large corporations and high-income individuals are more likely to be audited but, overall, all types of audits are being conducted less frequently than they were a decade ago.
There’s no 100% guarantee that you won’t be picked for an audit, because some tax returns are chosen randomly. However, the best way to survive an IRS audit is to prepare for one in advance. On an ongoing basis you should systematically maintain documentation — invoices, bills, cancelled checks, receipts, or other proof — for all items to be reported on your tax returns. Keep all your records in one place. And it helps to know what might catch the attention of the IRS.
Audit hot spots
Certain types of tax-return entries are known to the IRS to involve inaccuracies so they may lead to an audit. Here are a few examples:
- Significant inconsistencies between tax returns filed in the past and your most current tax return,
- Gross profit margin or expenses markedly different from those of other businesses in your industry, and
- Miscalculated or unusually high deductions.
Certain types of deductions may be questioned by the IRS because there are strict recordkeeping requirements for them — for example, auto and travel expense deductions. In addition, an owner-employee salary that’s inordinately higher or lower than those in similar companies in his or her location can catch the IRS’s eye, especially if the business is structured as a corporation.
Responding to a letter
If you’re selected for an audit, you’ll be notified by letter. Generally, the IRS doesn’t make initial contact by phone. But if there’s no response to the letter, the agency may follow up with a call.
Many audits simply request that you mail in documentation to support certain deductions you’ve taken. Others may ask you to take receipts and other documents to a local IRS office. Only the harshest version, the field audit, requires meeting with one or more IRS auditors. (Note: Ignore unsolicited email messages about an audit. The IRS doesn’t contact people in this manner. These are scams.)
Keep in mind that the tax agency won’t demand an immediate response to a mailed notice. You’ll be informed of the discrepancies in question and given time to prepare. You’ll need to collect and organize all relevant income and expense records. If any records are missing, you’ll have to reconstruct the information as accurately as possible based on other documentation.
If the IRS chooses you for an audit, our firm can help you:
- Understand what the IRS is disputing (it’s not always clear),
- Gather the specific documents and information needed, and
Respond to the auditor’s inquiries in the most expedient and effective manner.
The IRS normally has three years within which to conduct an audit, and often an audit doesn’t begin until a year or more after you file a return. Don’t panic if you’re contacted by the IRS. Many audits are routine. By taking a meticulous, proactive approach to how you track, document and file your company’s tax-related information, you’ll make an audit much less painful and even decrease the chances that one will happen in the first place.
Beach Fleischman 2201 E. Camelback Rd. Phoenix, AZ 85016 | 602.265.7011 | http://beachfleischman.com | twitter: @BeachFleischman
Some Cool Enhancements to Check Out Before Year End
by Pam Schulz, Sage Senior Certified Consultant
ICYMI — In Case You Missed It
The year-end tax update will be out soon- and will have the updates needed for new 1099 and COVID reporting requirements. But before then you should check out these existing recent enhancements- maybe you missed something BIG!
1. Ability to “un-do” a Bank Reconciliation
- Previously saved Bank Reconciliations can be re-opened, and if needed, the Final Reconciliation can be “un-done.” Access Previous Reconciliations using the command at the top of the Bank reconciliation screen.
2. Command Level (button) security
- Restrict access to the drill down or Command buttons on a screen using this new addition to the security setup.
- Log in with Administrative rights.
- Under options, hover over the “command” you wish to restrict and press the F7 key on your keyboard.
- This opens the Security window. Checking boxes will restrict access to the selected groups the same way as in other security setup menus.
- This example would restrict the users allowed to post a Progress Billing. The same option exists in other screens where the button menus and commands exist.
3. Ability to include a record’s attachments when emailing forms
- You can easily include a record’s attachments in the email of a record like an AR invoice. When the Outlook button is pressed in a print screen a window opens that allows the naming of the “report being attached.” At the bottom of the window is a command to open the Attachments window for that record. Check boxes to include the attachments that should be included in the email.
4. Ability to merge clients and merge vendors
- Cleaning up duplicate vendor and client records is easy with the new ability to Merge these records.
- Log in with Exclusive access and Administrative rights. On the desired menu under “Options” select the “merge vendors” or “merge clients” option. Complete the merge from/to information and press the Merge button.
- All records will be transferred from one account to the other, allowing the deletion of the old account.
5. Ability to create timecards for certain individuals in Daily Payroll AND the Ability to easily create timecards for Salaried employees
- Two enhancements here- both make payroll easier to process.
- In Daily Payroll (menu option 5-5-1) timecards can now be created for selected employees. This is handy when employees are on different pay cycles, or if someone needs to be paid before the normal pay cycle. Note the Employee “pick list” option now available when creating timecards:
- Another enhancement designed to make payroll processing easier is the ability to create pay records for multiple salaried employees at one time. In the Payroll Records screen (option 5-2-2); Click Options, then Salaried Employees, then Create Salaried Employees records.
- Complete the popup window and select the employees to pay. Payroll records will be created for these salaried employees:
Where to find more enhancements
Of course, this is not a complete list of all of the recent enhancements. You can easily review the enhancements in each new update under the “Home & Resources” tab, then click “What’s New.” And don’t forget to submit your own Product Enhancement Suggestions!
Until the year-end update, you can choose a few of these timesavers!
Need help with Sage CRE software? Click below.
Year-End Help for Sage 300 CRE
by Kyle Zeigler, Sage Senior Certified Consultant
Your ‘to-do’ list
The beginning of the holiday season is fast approaching! Being prepared for year-end activities in your Sage 300 CRE software can help make your holidays the happiest. Some items for your “to-do” list might include:
1. Version upgrade
The only version supported at year-end will be Version 20 and this should be installed prior to 12/31/2020. Schedule with your consultant early!
2. Year-end update
Watch for an email from Sage during the last couple of weeks in December. Identify who receives those emails in your organization. Install only after upgrading to version 18.3.
3. Order 1099 and W2 forms if printing in-house
Be familiar with the correct forms to order — there are limitations (only 4-up for both, blank on the front; W2s must be pre-perforated). Or let Aatrix print and send your 1099 and W2 forms so you have more time for holiday shopping!
4. 1099 prep in Accounts Payable
Check the 1099 year in AP Settings to assess whether corrections will need to be made to 1099 totals for 2019 forms. Review and modify Vendor 1099 settings as needed.
Plan when to prepare and post your last payroll for 2019, including any bonus or supplemental checks that will be dated in 2019 and will use 2019 tax tables, when to download and update taxes, and when to begin processing the first payroll of 2020 with the new tax tables. Also, plan when to prepare and finalize W2s.
2. Accounts Payable
Plan when to prepare and finalize 1099s.
3. All other modules
Plan the timing for reconciling to GL, printing year-end reports, and closing the year for modules that have a Close Month and Close Year task. GL is typically closed last.
ETHOSystems is hosting FREE online classes! Scroll up on this page for details!
Where to get more help:
- Sage City – Year End Center https://www.sagecity.com/support_communities/sage_construction_and_real_estate/sage300cre-yearend/
- Sage Knowledgebase (accessible from Sage Desktop)
- Sage Support – 800-551-8307
- ETHOSystems – 866-482-3400
As always, please let us know if we can assist you in any way.
Need help with Sage CRE software? Click below.
Four reasons why you need Sage Estimating Buyout
Buyout saves time and reduces effort by automating the bid solicitation and selection process. You can quickly and accurately turn detailed estimates into a set of purchase orders and subcontracts so you can buy out the material and subcontract items for a project.
Top features of Buyout:
- Jump-start bid solicitation and vendor selection
- Simplify supplier and subcontractor quote evaluation
- Eliminate duplicate entry in the buyout process
- Automate purchase order generation and job cost tracking
FREE WEBINAR, FEBRUARY 3rd – 10 am MST | 11 am CT