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Contractors in Arizona, the New Sales Tax and Your Bottom Line May 21, 2010

Posted by carolhagen in budgeting, construction accounting software, Construction Industry - Software, Construction Industry Hardware, Document Imaging.
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Arizona Contractors In a Pickle?

Arizona’s economic recover has probably been deferred 6-8 months with the sales tax increase passed earlier this week by voters and sadly will put more strain on the construction industry. Mark Minter of the Arizona Builders Alliance (ABA) shared this with me to clarify when and how the tax will impact existing and future construction contracts, so I’m passing it onto my readers verbatim:

In yesterday’s election the voters of the State of Arizona overwhelmingly approved a temporary 1% increase in the sales tax rate. The higher rate goes into effect June 1st, 2010.

The ABA successfully lobbied a protection from increases such as this into state law several years ago. That statute reads:

ARS 42-5010 H. Any increase in the rate of tax that is imposed by this chapter and that is enacted by the legislature or by a vote of the people does not apply with respect to contracts entered into by prime contractors or pursuant to written bids made by prime contractors on or before the effective date of the legislation or the date of the election enacting the increase. To qualify for the exemption under this subsection, the prime contractor must maintain sufficient documentation, in a manner and form prescribed by the department, to verify the date of the contract or written bid.

Projects that are bid or contracted to prior May 18th are exempt from the sales tax increase.

What Impacts Your Bottom Line?
The sales tax increase ups the owner’s cost of building at a time where many contractors are still struggling to survive. As a construction company you will continue to keep your construction office overhead low. Recently I shared some ideas with ConstrucTech Magazine’s readers on what I’ve seen contractors do…some good ideas and a few things to avoid as it relates to computer systems and technology spending. Here’s a link to the May 2010 article “Technology Budgets in a Pickle”.

I’d love to hear what you’ve successfully implemented (click the comment option at the top of the blog) and feel free to share this with the construction industry as we all can use a little help.

Education Abounds at the Phoenix Tech Summit October 2, 2009

Posted by carolhagen in Construction Industry - Software, dedupe, virtualization, VOIP.
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I always am looking for education and found a variety of topics and vendors of value this week at the Tech Summit.  If you missed it, here is some of the wisdom that was shared by the speakers and vendors:

  • Virtualization is the best way to test your future IT deployments and improve efficiency.
  • Don’t sell virtualization on cost savings as training & licensing fees can creep up on you.
  • If you want to capture metadata /indexes, Kofax is the leader.  They’re also great for notifications during the workflow process.
  • IT Experiments Never Fail since there’s still progress…you need to ask more questions
  • Fully 85% of existing networks can’t handle VOIP traffic.  Analyze your IP infrastructure before deployment!
  • Your IT department needs to think more business-side and collaborate further.  The top 10% of IT leaders are noticeably different.  Where do you add value?

So here are a few gems I found at the vendor booths:

Able Information Technologies Inc had invited Elliptical Mobile Solutions to showcase the S.P.E.A.R.  (Self-propelled Electronic Armored Rack).  For the construction industry this is more than you need at a jobsite, but their R.A.S.E.R. (Relocateable Adaptive Suspension Equipment Rack) might be great for the large  jobsite.  These are available as fully air-conditioned, insulated, all-weather data centers that allow you to deploy your computer systems in the field without worrying about the harsh elements the  jobsite exposes us to “under construction” .  The R.A.S.E.R.s 3 layer of shock & vibration dampening to protect your sensitive servers. 

Data De-duplication is such a hot topic that I snagged a “Data De-duplication for Dummies” compliments of Quantum.  Speaking of deduping, EMC will be hosting a Data Domain Luncheon: Data Deduplication Strategies on October 21, 2009  at Flemings in Scottsdale.  To register go to http://www.emc.com/deduperroadshow

While Social Media is a buzz, most government agencies are using it just for notifications and postings of public information.   GITA has  incorporated a verification process with Twitter so you know that the source info is valid.  The e-policy for the state of Arizona will published in the next week or so.  I think this might be of value to all of us working on government projects.

For all those interested in IT Security, don’t miss out on the ISSA Phoenix 1/2 day education forum! Your registration includes lunch, snacks, door prize drawings, three hot security topics from industry experts, and 4 hours of CPE credit. It’s free to paid members who pre-register, and only $25 for guests and walk-ins. It will be held on Oct 6 11:30 AM- 5 PM Tempe, at ITT Technical Institute, 5005 S. Wendler Dr. Visit their site and register today at  http://phoenix.issa.org  

Where Does Your IT Budget Go? September 16, 2009

Posted by carolhagen in budgeting, Construction Industry - Software, Construction Industry Hardware.
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According to an MIT Sloan Center for Information Systems Research Study, the average firm spends 71% of their IT budget on running current systems and some blow as much as 80% of their budget keeping the status quo.  What if you could reduce this to 50-60% of the IT budget? 

That’s what can be achieved over time according to “IT Savvy” by Peter Weill & Jeanne W. Ross.  Being obsessed with Fixing What’s Broken, Building a Digitized Platform and Exploiting the Platform for Profitable Growth is how they describe the IT Savvy firm.  Within the book, they outline the journey of becoming IT savvy as having four stages:  Localizing, Standardizing, Optimizing  and Reusing.  

While only 2% surveyed have attained the Reusing stage, these firms enjoy a 20 % higher profit than their competitors and have an average IT budget that is 145% higher than the localized stage IT department.  What makes the Reusing stage distinct is that they continuously improve, are business agile and introduce product innovations.  They use IT strategically.   To tell where you are in the process, you’ll want to benchmark unit costs and compare yourself to competitors. The appendix of IT Savvy has a questionnaire to also help determine your current stage.  For construction firms metrics you may want to purchase CFMA’s Information Technology Survey, or peek at Intel’s performance measurements in their Information Technology 2008 Performance Report. 

You may also want to read a recent global CIO study which states that “half of CIOs are expecting to implement completely standardized, low-cost business processes [over the next five years]“.  Their visionary plans include business intelligence & analytics, virtualization, risk management & compliance,  and business process management.  The CIO pragmatist enables corporate vision, makes working together easy and concentrates on core competencies.  This all happens while 14% of the CIOs time is looking for ways to cut costs.  Where do you spend your money & your time?

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