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Construction Management and Quickbooks February 18, 2013

Posted by carolhagen in Construction Industry - Software, project management software.
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Whether you are a residential or commercial general contractor, Quickbooks is the most popular accounting software serving the construction industry in the United States. The challenge is achieving an integrated solution with estimating, scheduling and project management capabilities while addressing detailed job costing. As your contracting firm grows your needs typically outgrow what you can do with Microsoft Office so where’s a GC to turn?

If integration is important, and you really want to avoid silos between finance, estimating and operations you’ll want to look at Corecon. They were the first to embrace the API’s available with Intuit and have managed to address everything but BIM and CAD needs for the small to mid-sized construction company.

Construction Project Management and Quickbooks

Corecon is a Software as a Service solution all based in the cloud and works with the popular browsers so there’s no need to install software of worry about upgrades and backups. It’s all done for you. What really separates this solution with others (I’m disclosing that I do sell this software) is the depth of integration and the capabilities.

Estimating, Bid Requests, Preconstruction, Purchasing, Safety, Submittals, Correspondence, Progress Billings, etc. It’s all there. It even has a mobile login for accessing your contacts, viewing you To do List, receiving Alerts, tracking project leads and reviewing all your project’s Correspondence, documentation, schedule, Time Entry, Miscellaneous Expenses, Procurement and Financials. There’s even handy charts to visually see your construction project’s financial health.
Corecon Project Management

For additional information visit Corecon.com and tell them Carol Hagen sent you in the comments.

If you have time take a peak of the mobile operations in this video:

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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 Photos and Long Term Records Retention January 14, 2013

Posted by carolhagen in archiving, Construction Industry - Software, records retention.
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Construction photographs are collected on every one of your projects. For years we’ve taken pics with our digital cameras and smartphones, but the challenge has been how to organized these. A file of jpeg1, jpeg2, etc taken at jobsite X on a given date really doesn’t help if a legal claim crops up a few years from now. Sometimes making heads or tails of what and where on the jobsite a photo was taken renders the photo practically useless unless…

You know about Threshold from 383 Studio, a better way to document, photograph, organize and send photos right from the jobsite. Here’s a quick video overview:

What makes this app unique isn’t that it’s easy to use, quick to annotate photos or even that it has a mobile App. What get’s me excited is that there’s a way to export you photos to you content management system for long term storage. All the other Apps I’ve seen lock you into an annual contract for you to have access to your photos once the project is completed. While Threshold has this Archiving option they also offer, as Google likes to call it “data liberation”.

As a long-time proponent of a paperless office, The export function allows you to download the photos with some of the meta data into file folders. What this allows me to do is generate a deliverable of all construction documents and photos to the project owner in a neat as-built package. The Content Archive function of Construction Imaging can consume folder structures into its enterprise content management system effortlessly making these two solutions a great fit.

To be upfront on disclosure, I have business relationships with both Threshold and Construction Imaging. This unique pairing really can deliver the goods and I’d be happy to discuss just how this marriage can work in your construction firm.

If you think you want to take Threshold for a spin, use “Hagen383” to get a 10% discount www.thresholdcm.com

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

Construction Plan and 3D Model Markups will Never Be the Same March 27, 2012

Posted by carolhagen in BIM, Construction Industry - Software.
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The official release date for Bluebeam Revu 10 has arrived and they’ve again managed to blow the competition away again. If you are using a PDF editor and you work in the Architecture, Engineering or Construction Industry it’s time you see Bluebeam Revu. Revu combines an intuitive PDF editor, viewer, markup and collaboration technology with reliable file creation. Revu goes beyond PDF and takes paperless workflows to a whole new level. The flexible interface is designed to provide the necessary tools for accessing and managing the documents that you need, when you need them, especially Construction Plans and drawings.

Bluebeam is best way to share Construction Plan Markups with your team and the project owner, period. Let’s listen to what your construction peers are saying about Bluebeam:

Construction Plan Markups for Revit and Navisworks®:
Create 3D PDFs with just one-click from Revit and Navisworks®, and markup 3D PDF views. Use Links to easily create and
update hyperlinked documents, and create zone awareness for markups with Spaces. Here’s how to create a 3D PDF out of Navisworks. In this video you can see the flexibility and power tools to add markups and comments into your 3D model that are easily noticed and opened by those who later view the model.

With Revu, you can achieve a paperless workflow with powerful PDF creation, markup, editing and collaboration features. Create high quality PDFs with one-click from MS Office, digitally redline PDF drawings with industry standard markups and measurements, and save custom markups in the Tool Chest™ for easy reuse. Automatically compare drawings, integrate with SharePoint® or ProjectWise®, go mobile on a tablet PC and collaborate in real time with Bluebeam Studio™. Take collaboration further with Studio projects, giving you more flexibility when sharing and storing files in the cloud.

View Your Construction Plan Markups on Your iPad:
For management on the go, mobility and access drives productivity Bluebeam Vu for the iPad grants you access to your markups for review directly out of Dropbox cloud storage.

If you’ve ever used Bluebeam, share your experience with our readers in the comments. If you’d like to try it, download a 30 day free trial , or Email Me Here.

We’ve talked about PDF editing before (I am a reseller of Bluebeam) and you may also be in these posts:

Construction Collaboration: PDF Secrets Part 1 – Estimating Takeoff
Construction Collaboration: PDF Secrets Part 2 – On-line Meeting for PDF Changes Now or Later
Construction Collaboration: PDF Secrets Part 3 – Large Format Drawings and Markups

Tucson Contractors Soak Up IT Knowledge February 4, 2011

Posted by carolhagen in Construction Industry - Software, estimating, project management software.
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Tucson contractors have already put my presentation to good use on “All things Information Technology (IT)” at the Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA) luncheon yesterday. Excel Mechanical’s Carrie Stone emailed me her results this morning and I can only hope everyone in attendance will also share their success.

Topics during my 45 minute chat included: Search, Backups, Data Storage, Cloud Computing, and construction project management. Sound’s boring right? Guess again. Humorous videos, made light of heavy topics and kept the pace moving…ever see storage take a ride down a pool slide? Questions popped up while audience members confessed to being email hoarders and a few still used tape for backups. Thank you Sundt’s Kevin Burnett who was the example for how to think Lean and taking it on the chin when I explained why small firms are often more nimble than large.

There was great interest in how to get your company to show on a local search, what Removable Disk Cartridges (RDX) offer as advantages over tape and regular hard drives, and how estimating, project management and job costing can effectively be done in the cloud. I’m beginning to think that Corecon might become my top selling construction software solution here in Arizona.

Questions after the lunch were as involved as during. I don’t recall who I was speaking to, but one contractor had an iPhone so I suggested he try the CardMunch app which lets you suck in all the business cards you collect when networking with general contractors, service providers and subcontractors at CFMA events. It’s owned by LinkedIn and the service is free.

For those that didn’t take notes or can’t recall the name of a particular product or service mentioned during the presentation, I am willing to share the powerpoint, just drop me a line. Hope to hear from you soon!

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