Job costing – How do you strike the right balance between data entry and business intelligence?

Yum! Bacon and business intelligence — it’s a contractor’s dream.

Are you going to the Intuit/QuickBooks Scaling New Heights “Epic Practice” Conference in the Bahamas May 21-25th? Scaling New Heights “Epic Practice” Conference in the Bahamas May 21-25th? If you are, let’s meet at the Knowify QB Integrated Apps breakfast Tuesday, May 25th at 7am for bacon, eggs, and a deep dive into the “Many Different Flavors of Job Costing,” or “How-to strike the right balance between boring data entry and essential business intelligence.”

The difference between profit and…
Preciseness matters. As a contractor or subcontractor, you know how slim the margins are between installing a door that swings shut easily and a door that sticks

Your business — its profitability, or lack thereof requires equally precise data. How well you specify that doorjamb, how carefully you measure — whether it’s to the nearest 1/8-inch, or 1/16th-inch, or depends on the end result desired and the acceptable margin of error. Such is also true when it comes to job costing. How granular, how detailed, how deep you dive depends on the scope of each job and its margins.

Join me, Dan de Roulet, co-founder of Knowify for contractors, a QuickBooks Integrated App, for an overview of job costing over coffee where we’ll discuss:

• The different “flavors” of Job Costing, from the very simple to the very complex;
• Evaluating the upside and downside of each job costing approach;
• How-to develop a framework for selecting the right approach to match your client;
• How QuickBooks Online + the right job costing solution can help you manage and address complex business intelligence / accounting challenges in a way that QuickBooks Desktop cannot; and
• Why you need to KNOW your business to GROW your business.

We’ll also cover the three levels of “job costing:”

• Basic: How much did I make (am I making) on a given job?
• Advanced: How much did I make for each piece of work I performed on a given job?
• Professional: How did I perform against my phase-specific budgets? Where was the slippage? Where can I do better next time?

Knowledge is power, BUT…How do you know whether it’s worth the effort?
Join us at the Knowify for Contractor’s Scaling New Heights breakfast and we’ll chew over how to evaluate each job by complexity, which in turn will inform how much data you’ll need to accumulate to be efficient and profitable. We’ll review, for example:

Job Complexity: Complex jobs are often multi-layered, difficult to track, often opaque. Inputting and accessing numbers can help you cut through the fog so you can see and understand where you and financially on that job.
Job Size: It’s always preferable to know where you stand on a job, what’s on track and when a job is running off the rails. When it’s a big job, there’s more at stake. So, the earlier you know when things are getting off track, the more likely you are to save lot of $$$. Timeliness matters — especially when it comes to how you’re doing!
Future Benefit: Will what we did not this job help you do a better job in the future? The more useful the information will be in the future – this is a function of repeatability – the greater the value in capturing it.

Smart operations matter
QuickBooks is good! But the right job-costing add-on can make QuickBooks even better. Knowledge is power. Are you bidding accurately? Allocating time and materials appropriately? Do you know where your people are and what they’re doing? You should. Accessing tools to deliver real transparency into hours, job assignments, client management, and productivity to ensure projects stay on schedule and on budget can make the difference between eking out a living and making real money. And maybe cut down the back office cleanup you do nights and weekends. Win. Win. Win!

So how do you get there? Do your research. Knowify, for one, can help. We’re already helping contractors integrate their business management needs with accounting systems like QuickBooks from an easy-to-use interface accessible from any device — in the field and in the office.

If you have any questions or wish to share your feedback, you can find us at support@knowify.com.

Knowify. Built for the real world.

Knowify for contractors takes admin to the cloud (Electrical Business)

By Renée Francoeur – Knowify, a cloud-based software designed to help manage the online functions for executing electrical business, is available in Canada. Knowify handles tasks like converting bids into contracts, estimating contracts, job management, dispatch/service ticket management, time keeping, purchasing, invoicing, scheduling and job-costing.

A Patrina Corporation subsidiary, Knowify was founded in 2012 and specializes in providing services for contractors. It is based out of New York City.

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Knowify (https://www.knowify.com/) represents the best in modern technology and business practices adapted for small to medium contractors. Knowify delivers a new set of powerful tools to manage such time- and paper-intensive administrative tasks as estimating, purchasing, time tracking, resource scheduling, and bill paying (accounts payable), and contract management, as well as accounts receivables and payables –and aggregates them into a single, secure, easy-to-use, always accessible online platform.

The US Commerce Department says residential construction spending was up in March…

So, how are you doing?

According to Engineering News Record Washington, DC Bureau Chief Tom Ichniowski, the latest Commerce Department’s US Census Bureau monthly report on completed construction just released this week says that residential construction is up percentage wise more than other categories. The Census reports that the estimated value of projects “put in place” in March was better than the expected, up 1.5 percent month-to-month towards a $441.8 billion annual rate — assuming everything stays on track. Better yet, the Census figures are up 7.6 percent over March 2015.

Good news, right?

Maybe…The answer depends on your area of focus.

According to Ken Simonson, The Associate General Contractors of America’s Chief Economist, spending on multifamily residential construction jumped 5.6 percent for the month and 34.6 percent year-over-year. But the bad news is that single-family construction spending this March was flat compared to February 2016. It’s still up 13.4 percent compared to last March, but is that someone trying to make lemonade out of lemons?

Anirban Basu, chief economist for the Associated Builders and Contractors which focus on nonresidential sectors, hedged his comments a bit, saying, “While the last several months have failed to deliver significant spending growth, many contractors indicate that they remain busy and that backlog levels are satisfactory.” However, he added, given the uptick in employment and foreign investment in the US, plus low interest rates, even stronger results could have been expected.

Uptick or downturn smart operations matter

Regardless of the economy, you know that doing good work is not enough if you’re not turning a profit. Are you? Are you bidding accurately? Allocating time and materials appropriately? Do you know where your people are and what they’re doing?

You should. If knowledge is power, accessing tools to deliver real transparency into hours, job assignments, client management, and productivity to ensure projects stay on schedule and on budget can make the difference between eking out a living and making real money. And maybe cut down the back office cleanup you do nights and weekends. Win. Win. Win!

So how do you get there? Do your research. Knowify, for one, can help. We’re already helping contractors integrate their business management needs with accounting systems like QuickBooks from an easy-to-use interface accessible from any device — in the field and in the office. If you have any questions or wish to share your feedback, you can find us at support@knowify.com.

Knowify. Built for the real world.

Knowify 2.9: Release Notes

Dear Knowify Community,

Over the last few days we have introduced a bunch of feature enhancements based on feedback we’ve received from you, especially on the mobile app side. As a result, this update introduces some important upgrades and improvements that should make your Knowify experience even better.

Mobile App

1) Find a Job / Check-in: Knowify now offers a Find function workers can use to find a job and check in, even if they’re not scheduled for that job. This means that you no longer have to schedule a worker first for the Knowify check in / checkout tab of the mobile app to function. (For workers you do schedule, the experience remains unchanged).

FindJobs Knowify 2.9: Release Notes

2) Switch Jobs: Workers no longer have to check out of one job to check into another. They can just use “Switch” at the top right of their screen.

SwitchJob Knowify 2.9: Release Notes

Web App

1) Edit POs: POs are now editable! Note: Only admins and users with unlimited purchasing authority will be able to access this feature.

2) Email Templates: You can now create account-level default email templates in the Admin Sections’s ‘Customize’ tab. Create standard verbiage, signatures, etc., that will populate on every email you create for specific types of transactions (i.e., proposal, invoice, etc.). Don’t worry – you will still be able to edit the emails each time you’re about to send one out.

3) Work Order Outputs: Now, when jobs go live, Knowify lets you create a printable work order PDF. All you need to do is click the “Work Order” link at the top-left of the Plan and Track screen.

WorkOrder Knowify 2.9: Release Notes

Tweaks & Other Improvements

1) Knowify now offers a unit price option on the Bills processing table.

2) You can now preview PDFs of POs prior to sending them.

3) Deliverables in “Other Agreements” are now sortable.

Of course, there’s always more to come! So, keep sharing your feedback, and keep watching for updates.

The Knowify Team

Moderate growth projected in home remodeling

How are you doing?

With warmer weather coming, a seasonal uptick in ground-up construction is always to be expected. But if you are a home remodeler, what’s going on in your world?

That’s what the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) asked more than 500 of its members. Based on responses of those surveyed (nearly 30 percent), NARI’s 4th quarter Remodeling Business Pulse points to a moderate rate of remodeling growth in the 4th quarter of 2015 and 1st quarter 2016. This represents a slight uptick with December ratings for current conditions slightly higher than those reported in September. Based on a scale of 1-9 (1 being the least positive), responses tallied 6.05 overall, which the Association notes still reflects growth (because it is above a neutral 5 point rating). Nonetheless, NARI reports the rating is still one of the lowest it has seen in the 16 waves of its study.

Modest gains demand smarter business practices

According to NARI remodelers responding, “All the sub-components of current conditions except one were down in December. None,” the survey reports, “were statistically significant, but two were almost at that level. The two changing the most were the declines in ‘Number of inquiries’ and ‘Requests for bids’.”

This is noteworthy to us as inquiries and bidding are key components of keeping one’s pipeline full. Here’s how the numbers and the change from NARI’s September 2015 study panned out:

– The Number of Inquiries tallied 5.73, down 4.8%;

– Requests for Bids came in at 5.77, down 4.6 %l

– The rate of Conversion of Bids to Jobs was 5.75, down a minute 1.0% from September 2015; but

– The Value of Jobs racked up 6.21 points — a 0.3% increase.

The “good-ish” news is that “conversion of bids to jobs” appears to have recovered from its previous rank as home remodeling’s weakest link. Looking at the current quarter, remodelers surveyed are more positive. A majority of those surveyed (58%) expect growth, compared to 14% who see some level of decline. The balance (28%) see sales remaining the same as last year. This good news is still less “good” than last year, according to NARI, when more remodelers projected better conditions through the year end.

Improved home prices and a plusher economy are expected to drive growth in 2016, as people take on a project they’d previously postponed. Overall design and core kitchen and bath remodeling are leading the charge, followed by energy savings initiatives and higher end products.

What kind of practices?

Operational efficiency is going to be key for most home remodelers this year. This means, smarter bids, tighter estimates, sharper margins, an efficiently allocated workforce, and better tracking/billing for time and materials.

For remodelers tracking this data on spreadsheets, this level of attention to detail can make the difference between a profitable year and something else. But it also means working more nights and weekends just to keep up with the paperwork. It’s an ugly reality unless one looks ahead and takes advantage of the many accounting and business management solutions currently on the market. Which makes sense…when’s the last time you pounded a nail into drywall using your shoe instead of an electric drill?

Technology matters

Technology (the right technology) can help contractors maximize the ROI of the inquiries received and bids produced. If knowledge is power, accessing tools to deliver real transparency into hours, job assignments, client management, and productivity to ensure projects stay on schedule and on budget can make the difference between eking out a living and making real money. And maybe cut down the back office cleanup you do nights and weekends. Win. Win. Win!

So how do you get there? Do your research. Knowify, for one, can help. We’re already helping contractors integrate their business management needs with accounting systems like QuickBooks from an easy-to-use interface accessible from any device — in the field and in the office. If you have any questions or wish to share your feedback, you can find us at support@knowify.com.

Knowify. Built for the real world.

Get automated! Your accountant is doing it and so should you

Afraid to try new business management technologies?

HourlyWageAutomation Get automated! Your accountant is doing it and so should you

You may be putting yourself at a competitive disadvantage. According to a recent report from McKinsey & Company job automation is only going to increase. Whether you like it or not. Unless you are the kind of guy to avoid electric drills and only use a manual screwdriver, it may be time for you to look into the powerful solutions available to you to help you run your business. Automating some of your time-intensive administrative functions is a logical first step.

According to AccountingWeb Contributor Morton Brogger, CEO of Huddle, the McKinsey report finds that up to 45 percent of activities individuals are paid to do now, representing nearly $2 trillion in annual wages, can be automated, just by adapting technology that already exists. Imagine that.

What does tech automation mean for your accountant?

Your accountant will spend less time actually crunching your numbers. Many already are running the information you give them through various software systems to give you the information you need to make strategic business decisions. But how are you giving them that data?

What does tech automation mean for you?

Smarter business operations. If you’re still running your business on white boards and Post-its and spreadsheets, you’re likely losing ground and losing money. Your competitors are going digital — both in their back office and in the field. What if you could enter a customer’s job specs right from the job to your estimator? What if your estimator could call up all the necessary data and compile a client-ready bid in 24 hours…or less and send it out for client review and signature? And then a few clicks later, bam!: out go your materials POs.

Use the tools you’ve got better

Surely you’ve got a computer, or a laptop, or a tablet, and hopefully a smartphone. So you’re already operating in at least the early 21st Century. Now is the time to make all those instruments work harder for you.

Automation is not going to replace your laborers (see the McKinsey chart). It might, however, streamline the functioning of your back office (even if that back office is you!).

Someone needs to lay the tile; install the drywall, shingle the roof. But how you sell the work, bid those jobs, buy materials and assign teams to the field…that’s going to change for you if it hasn’t already. If you’re running an accounting package like QuickBooks, you are halfway there. You’re already tracking bank balances online, maybe even doing direct deposit for your teams, and writing checks. You may, at the end of the year, even be sending a copy of your financials via email to your accountant, or even giving them remote access to your computer.

Now take the next logical step

Invest in the right technology — whether you are an accountant or a contractor. You’ve already got the basics — the hardware, and likely some of the software. Technology (the right technology) can deliver enhanced cost-efficiencies — accurate AIA bids, faster standard bids, better management of estimates, jobs, worker assignments, purchasing, client management, and productivity to ensure your projects stay on schedule and on budget. Imagine, running your business efficiently, cost-effectively, and profitably. Imagine how happy your accountant will be when your business/project management system syncs so easily with your accounting package. Win. Win. Win!

So how do you get there? Do your research. Knowify, for one, can help. We’re already helping contractors and their advisors/accountants integrate their business management needs with their accounting systems from an easy-to-use interface accessible from any device — in the field and in the office. If you have any questions or wish to share your feedback, you can find us at support@knowify.com.

Knowify. Built for the real world.

Knowify 2.8: Release Notes

We are pleased to announce the release of version 2.8, which brings with it important changes to make Knowify both easier to use and more robust. We would encourage you to watch the following video tutorial as a way to familiarize yourself with the changes:

Watch video tutorial (4min)

Here is a list of the most relevant changes:

1. Job Costing Modes: When you create a job, you’ll now be able to select from among three different job costing modes – simple, advanced, and professional. Simple is the easiest, enabling you to track all labor and materials against a high-level “labor and materials” budget item for the job; advanced will let you track costs against budget items that match you bid line items; and professional will be the traditional Knowify experience, with custom project plans for project budgeting/tracking. You can set a default Job Costing Mode in the Admin panel (Customize section).

JobCostingMode Knowify 2.8: Release Notes

2. Service Templates + Unit-based budgeting: In the Knowify Catalog, you’ll now be able to create service templates with associated materials/labor requirements that can be used for quick estimating. For example, for an interior painting service you can define the unit as 100 square feet, and then specify that per 100 square feet you need .25 gal of topcoat, .5 gal of primer, and 30 minutes of tradesman time. When you bring up that service in plan and track, Knowify will ask you how many 100 square feet of wall you’ll be painting, and once you provide an input Knowify will scale the materials and labor budget items automatically.

3. Bill of Materials: You will now be able to break down bid and/or change order line items into specific sub-items using our bill of materials feature. Note that this is mostly an aesthetic feature, designed to let you (optionally) give your client more resolution on the service you’re bidding.

BOM Knowify 2.8: Release Notes

4. Job Colors: You may now give you job a color, which can be helpful for differentiating between jobs in the corporate calendar.

5. We have added a Profit and Loss (P&L) Report in Plan and Track.

6. We have added a workorder feature to Plan and Track that will automatically populate the work order area of the mobile app. Default work orders can be specified for the service template mentioned in (2) above.

7. We have revamped the “Add New” area of invoicing to make it easier to select a job to bill. We have also made invoicing for retainage much more intuitive.

8. You can now bulk-import items into the Schedule of Values for a GC (AIA-billing) job. Click the lightning bolt when editing the Schedule of Values.

SOVImport Knowify 2.8: Release Notes

9. Invoicing: In order to simplify the invoicing process, now you get to select the job before starting the process. This will send you to the appropriate section of Knowify based on the type of billing for the client.

10. Plan And Track Enhancements: Now, from the Plan And Track section, you can order materials, start the PO process or create a new bill. Also, you will be able to sort your phases.

11. Check in/out Improvements: We have made a few improvements to our check in/out section so that if your techs forget to check out, Knowify will automatically check them out next time they check in.

12. Quick Markup: In Owner Contracts and GC Bids, you can apply the same markup to all the line items by simply clicking the lightning bolt after entering the first markup.

Although we usually don’t comment on upcoming release items, we wanted to quickly mention that we have a major enhancement to Knowify scheduling coming soon, as well as some important changes to the mobile app. Additionally, we will be dramatically expanding the number of reports (and the quality of our reports) in the next release. The next few months should be exciting ones for Knowify – stay tuned!

As always, please feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions about the release, or if you’d like to share your thoughts about what you’d like to see in the platform.

Thank you,

The Knowify Team

App integration problems? Maybe you’ve got the wrong app!

Do you think integrating third-party applications with your applications (like QuickBooks) is a problem? If so, perhaps, you are selecting the wrong applications…

According to AccountingWeb Contributor Seth Fineberg when it comes to integrating essential third-party applications with core platforms and software, “most users do not know what true integration is supposed to look like and are often disappointed…”

Choose the right applications

Seth interviewed Stacy Kildal, founder of Kildal Services, a bookkeeping, payroll, and technology consulting company who urges accounting firms and their clients to pay attention to the following:

– Does the application really sync? Or is it simply pulling information from your accounting software, or only updating select data?

– Is it solving a real problem and how does the data it delivers into the software or platform you are using?

– Is it taking advantage of the features available in your current accounting package?

– Can you access the tools you need to analyze the data entered into the app?

– Does it give you the tools and data to create the reports you need?

AppIntegration App integration problems? Maybe you've got the wrong app!

Take a test drive or demo

While Kildal recommends signing up for the app via the developer website and testing it without syncing, we’ve got a better recommendation. Check to see whether you can try the application before you buy it. Or ask the developer demo it for you.

“It’s not hard to test an app on live data,” she told Accounting Web. She advised accountants to “start a trial, test it with your data or your clients’. If you don’t like the app, just disconnect it and cancel the subscription. Do a few test transactions so you don’t have to edit or delete a bunch.” At Knowify, we recommend contractors to do the same.

Get it all right; not half right

Stop wasting time creating workarounds to get accounting software to work better. If you are an accounting firm recommending QuickBooks Pro or equivalent to your clients; or a QuickBooks Pro Advisor helping clients get the most of this application, simply recommend the right software.

If you’re a contractor using accounting software to help you run your business, make sure it’s designed for your business…not a manufacturer, or medical office, or…

Invest in the right technology

Really. Because technology (the right technology), can help you institute best practices and deliver complete transparency into hours, job assignments, client management, and productivity to ensure your projects stay on schedule and on budget? Imagine, running your business (or having clients running their businesses) efficiently, cost-effectively, and profitably. Win. Win. Win!

So how do you get there? Do your research. Knowify, for one, can help. We’re already helping accounting firms, advisors, and contractors integrate their business management needs with their accounting systems from an easy-to-use interface accessible from any device — in the field and in the office. If you have any questions or wish to share your feedback, you can find us at support@knowify.com.

Knowify. Built for the real world.

How’s your Market doing?

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has released its Multifamily Production Index (MPI) for 2015. The good news is that this study turned in its 16th consecutive reading of 50 or above. The so-so news is that this 0 to 100 measure of builder and developer sentiment about current conditions in the apartment and condominium did decline 4 points to 52 in fourth quarter 2015.

According to the NAHB, this index and all of its components are scaled so that a number above 50 indicates that more respondents report conditions are improving than report conditions are getting worse. Whew!

In releasing the MPI, which provides a composite measure of three key, multifamily housing market elements: construction of low-rent units, market-rate rental units and “for-sale” units, or condominiums, NAHB Chief Economist David Crow said. “Demand for multifamily housing remains strong, which is reflected in the fourth quarter Multifamily Vacancy Index (MVI). And while demand is strong, it’s natural that the MPI would move closer to the break-even point of 50 now that new multifamily housing has largely recovered from the downturn and reached a long-run sustainable rate of production.”

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Are you a tech wimp?

In the February issue of Contractor Magazine, Matthew Cowan, co-founder and CEO of Breezeworks, chided contractors who are tracking customers on index cards and notebooks. Come into the 21st Century, he says, because, “given the low cost of some of the business management software available now, you don’t have to be a large conglomerate with an IT team to go digital.” Rather, he says, tap into your smartphone or tablet. There are plenty of systems to manage your business — your estimates, jobs, teams, purchase orders and invoices from your desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone — wherever you are (the beach?), whenever you want.

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