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What Your Construction Firm Needs in an Employee Portal March 25, 2014

Posted by carolhagen in Construction Industry - Software, payroll.
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Paystubs and Earnings on an Employee Portal
Employee Portals are a way for construction companies to provide a self-service to their employees, providing access to weekly pay stubs and W-2s. This is especially helpful around tax time and frees up many requests to your Human Resources Department. This eliminates the need to encrypt files that you email to your employees and addresses more than the weekly electronic paystub for employee’s using direct deposit. Let’s look at what your construction firm should look for in an employee portal.

Employee Portal Integration to Your Construction Accounting Software and Intranet
Forget imports and exports, jury-rigging two disparate systems. Your Employee Portal needs seamless integration that delivers an experience where you remain in control. If your employee changes their last name, address, and number of dependents in the employee portal, your HR department should receive a notification to validate and control when an update occurs to an employee record inside your construction accounting software. There should be no rekeying of any data, and the HR department should have options to update payroll records only, update HR records only or both automatically. This should include standard fields as well as all the custom user-defined fields you may want your employees to update.

There should be no need to configure users or SQL accounts if it’s all tied right into your existing Employee Master. If your construction firm has an existing Intranet, you’ll want a solution that also has a web service API.

Access the Employee Portal from Android, iPhone or iPad Portal Access on Smartphones, iPads and tablets
Web-based employee portals are great as your team can access their information from any computer. It’s just as important to offer access in the field for mobile devices. Make sure your employee portal has access on both smartphones and tablets. Your project superintendents and project managers will appreciate the effort and will find it invaluable when on the job site or commuting home from the project on the weekends.

Paperwork Should Flow
If your employee is changing their number of dependents, your portal should generate an email to that employee with the appropriate forms and instructions attached(W-4, etc). Automating forms distribution and notifications can then tie back to the Payroll or HR records. This also applies to Paid Time Off (PTO). Employees should have access to when they have used their PTO including vacation, sick and holiday time. There should also be an automated procedure for them to electronically request time off. Employee requests that require forms streamline the approval process for the field and office. Let your portal improve your employee relations and reduce the mundane tasks in your HR or payroll departments simultaneously.

Ok, by now you’re wondering where can you find such a solution. Since becoming a Viewpoint Business Development Partner I’ve kept abreast of each new software development partner and Keystyle Data Solutions caught my eye. Reach out directly to the Founder, Kevin Fisher (you can email him here) and tell him I sent you.

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Construction Operations: Field and Office Silos February 6, 2013

Posted by carolhagen in BIM, construction accounting software, Construction Industry - Software, Document Imaging.
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Construction Technology has managed to move faster in the last 5 years than in the past 100 with innovation in Operations, communications and collaboration leading the way. This pace will continue as construction project managers find the tools they learned about in college are replaced within 10 years of graduation. There’s something new everyday that makes us work smarter but in this process, silos have crept in. This is particularly noticeable between preconstruction to operations and finance, and from field to office.

Construction Silo Solution
In an article from Construction Business Owner, “Silos: Great for Grain, Not so Great for Business” the solution was stated articulately “…business silos are not simple structures – they are supported by technology and processes. So the way to break down the business silos would seem straightforward – combine the technologies and link the processes that are used in the office and field silos.” So what have you been doing to combine your BIM, project management, collaboration, document management, mobile communications and the construction finance department together?

Construction Technology Challenges
Perhaps your vendors aren’t thinking strategically enough as your contracting firm prepares for the economic surge created by the pent up demand of the recession. Your systems may work well separately but have you found the integrations to be cumbersome or even lacking? Every disconnect causes inefficiencies and added costs. Lack of communications and access to up-to-date information can have a significant impact to your bottom line.

Integration Approach
Third Party integrations seem to have been popular in the 90s as software developers worked diligently to share data. As technology progressed, smart firms offered Software Development Kits (SDK) and introduced Applications Programming Interfeces (API) to help seamlessly share data across systems. The XML standard started gaining traction as the Associated General Contractors of America and COBie made a push for better collaborative solutions. Specializing and doing one thing well is great as you remain focused and innovative. Those that ventured out in developing their own solutions in areas with little or no expertise have paid the price as valuable resources and talent were robbed from their core competencies to create mediocre solutions in the chase to fulfill the needs of field operations, preconstruction and collaboration.

Enterprise Resource Planning
Most ERP solutions today have grown up in a general business environment and added modules to address construction across department and divisions. So what’s a growning innovative construction firm to do when they have a mix of legacy or disconnected systems? I’ll admit I’m biased. As a Business Development Partner for Viewpoint Construction Software I’ve watch strategic acquisitions occur that not only bring teams of focused talent but leverage economies of scale. The approach has been when a critical mass of customers needs a solution that would take years to develop, find the best solution with the best talent and a culture match and either partner or acquire.

Document Management
Last year Viewpoint acquired Construction Imaging (CI) addressing the needs of document control, imaging, capture, workflow, and records retention. CI has integrations with many of the top construction accounting and project management software vendors and it is still providing solutions to contractors wanting to achieve a paperless office while leveraging existing in place systems.

Mobility and Partnerships
Recently Viewpoint acquired ACS Connect to address the needs of the Mobile Field Manager while also welcoming eSub to the Software Development Partners Program. They join a growing community of construction industry focused solutions including: AboutTime, BirdDog, ComData, Cosential, Eathwave Technologies, MJobTime, and SmartBidNet. Integrations are important for specialized solutions but sometime acquisitions can vault a firm into the lead.

Strategic Aquisition
Today, the big announcement at Viewpoint was another acquisition, 4Projects, which brings project controls, procurement, Construction design Management and BIM in a browser all in a SAAS model (cloud computing purity for scalable deployment for one project or many). In time, the integration of Viewpoint V6 and 4Projects will blend. Watch what 4Projects does now and come back to see what Viewpoint will do next.

If your construction system has silos and you’re tired of duplication of effort, Email Me Now!

Construction Accounting Software Selection is Strategic May 2, 2012

Posted by carolhagen in construction accounting software, Construction Industry - Software, Document Imaging.
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Construction Software shouldn't be a 3 card monte decision

Is this Your Construction Accounting Software Selection Process? – Three_Card_Monte, taken in Jaffa, Israel – Author ZioDave

Choosing a Construction Accounting Software Solution can be a daunting task. Whether you’re a general contractor, highway heavy or specialty trade contracting firm it’s not just features or functions that drive your decision. It’s the vision of where you are going, recognizing that today’s construction accounting software impacts more than the finance department.

Construction Accounting systems are key to operations with integrated project management. They offer Business Intelligence and Dashboard insight to owners. These solutions touch every business record with document management becoming a “must have” function. Decisions on accounting software are no longer left up to just the controller or CFO. The entire “C” level management team is heavily involved and asks, “Can this system handle it for our 10 year growth plans?”. No one wants to experience the hassle or expense of changing again and the software provider must share the vision and have the leadership, development and support teams that deliver a continuous improvement value.

The landscape is also changing on how technology is deployed. Cloud computing, mobility, virtualization and big data are challenges for your IT department. Collaborating with internal and external project teams add complexity and security worries. Outsourcing and managed services are becoming common place. Standardization offers advantages and working with an all Microsoft or all Oracle-based system minimizes security holes, reduces software development time and eases support complexities. That alignment converts to long-term relationships and exceptional outcomes.

In the world of software, like construction, the economic downturn has impacted many. Mergers, acquisitions and growth for some, while others remain in survival mode. The commitment to strategic planning and execution makes the difference. Press releases can give you valuable insight into where a construction accounting vendor is positioned. A headquarters visit is also telling. Talking with a handful of existing customers is no longer enough to make an informed decision. Know where the industry leaders are flocking as they’ve done their homework.

Having recently become a Viewpoint Business Development Partner covering Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico, it was a strategic decision for me as well. Serving the construction industry here since 1996 Hagen Business Systems, Inc. has grown  from a construction accounting reseller to the construction solutions “go-to” resource in the Southwest.  We sell construction software for a living (Viewpoint, Bluebeam, Construction Imaging and Corecon) and also speak at industry conferences on mobile apps, tecnology tips and emerging innovation impacting the construction industry.

If you have questions on how to manage electronic documents, need to replace your existing accounting software or want to learn more about construction technology trends, I invite you to connect with me on LinkedIn, follow me on Twitter or visit the Hagen Business Systems website.

Here are other articles and news you may be interested in:

Customer Collaboration Contributes to Exceptional 2011 Success for Viewpoint Construction Software

The Construction Office Imperative: Digitize, Go Mobile

Construction Photography Best Practices

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