Friday, October 26, 2012

Featured Enhancements for Sage Estimating (SQL) 2013

Sage Estimating customers who are current on their Sage Business Care plan are able to benefit from the new management and security features in the newest release of Sage Estimating (SQL) 2013 coming soon this fall.  Keep a look out for an availability notice and download instructions emailed in the next few weeks.

With the analysis and productivity capabilities necessary to be competitive in today's market, the improvements in this release include:
  • Role-based and estimate level security for better management of your estimating data.
  • Personalized and shared spreadsheet templates saving yourself and team members valuable time. 
  • Estimate management capabilities from within Sage Estimating provides easy access to summarized or detailed information for better analysis on individual or groups of estimates.
  • and more....

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Construction and Manufacturing Software Are Not Created Equal

As a provider of business software solutions for the construction and manufacturing industries, we come across many contractors that manufacture most, if not all of their products they install and/or service for their customers.  Those businesses shopping around for an integrated accounting solution are often baffled by which direction to go.  Finding construction accounting software that covers both facets of the business is not as easy as it sounds.  I came across a great article recently that points out the issues those companies should consider when making a purchasing decision:

Construction Software Is Not The Same As Manufacturing Software
by David Kraft

In today's world, it is fairly common to come across a contractor that also manufactures some or all of the products that they install for their customers. Custom cabinets are a common example, as are some structural steel and low voltage products. Companies that fall in to this category that are looking for new software often have assembly job shops that design custom pieces and a separate installation department that installs the products at a customer's site. These companies especially can benefit from new construction software that allows for the most accurate estimating and quoting capabilities.

Unfortunately, finding a piece of construction accounting software that covers both sides of the business is not as easily done as it is said. Although both sides of the business deal with job cost, there are several issues that arise when trying to integrate the two sides with one piece of software.

For example, manufacturing jobs involve a separate set of constraints than construction jobs. In manufacturing, you often deal with work centers, machinery, and individuals that carry out the manufacturing process. These job shops often have to rush jobs, change schedules, or make other changes on the fly based on priority shifts. Having software that is flexible enough to deal with these sudden changes is imperative in a manufacturing situation. However, this is not the case with construction jobs. Construction projects generally involve longer lead times and have to consider variables such as subcontractor scheduling that make quick and extreme changes in plans very difficult, if not impossible to pull off.

Second, manufacturing and construction differ in the way that cost accounting works. Manufacturing projects track direct labor, materials, and a set overhead allocation when calculating job cost. These job costs are accumulated as the project moves forward from one work center to another. These costs are tracked on the balance sheet as assets until the job is shipped off, meaning that inventory costs constantly change as projects move along. Manufacturers also need to know the current progress of a job to tell customers when the project will be complete and delivered.

Construction projects, on the other hand, recognize revenue and costs on a percentage complete or job complete basis.

Most contractors do not record costs until they are actually billed for them, regardless of whether or not the labor has been completed. They are concerned with the cost to date of a project in relation to the estimated budget for the project and monitor under or over billing based on the percentage of the job complete and the percentage of the estimated cost incurred to date. This kind of cost break down simply does not work in a manufacturing environment.

Construction software will record costs in a linear fashion as the job moves along. These costs can be captured and tracked in real time with the right combination of software and processes.

Another difference between construction and manufacturing sides of a business is that the construction side often has to deal with project management issues such as RFIs, change orders, and submittals. These things are simply not relevant in manufacturing but must be accounted for in a construction accounting package. Construction software also allows for progress billing, which is not necessary in manufacturing.

Last of all, manufacturing jobs require quotes that involve a bill of materials which is not usually done in a construction job. Manufacturers like to use software to keep track of things such as change orders, revision histories, and drawings that are not covered by construction software.

Therefore, although manufacturing and construction companies both deal with 'job cost,' the term refers to different things in the two companies. As a result, it is necessary to separate construction software and manufacturing software. 

About the Author:  David Kraft writes articles to help companies in construction, manufacturing, medical, and accounting industries select new software. Learn more about construction software at