Digital Dry Shack Blog

Home/Digital Dry Shack Blog

10 Reasons to upgrade to Sage SQL Estimating 17.11

No more corrupted or misplaced estimate files- all estimates are stored in the faster, more stable Microsoft SQL database. Virtual Licensing eliminates the need for physical USB devices and product activation codes. No more passwords with more robust, granular, Estimating Security Groups Shared report and screen layouts created by administrators can’t be accidentally overwritten, while still allowing each estimator to create personal layouts Alternates give estimators the ability to filter estimates, including or excluding Options with a mouse click, thus providing quick bid totals for different scenarios. Office365-style Ribbon Bar, & Shortcut Menu offer improved, modern, look and feel and simplified spreadsheet shortcut menu. Because it’s in SQL, Excel integration is native to Estimating. Estimators can quickly import or export Alternates or WBS values, enabling sharing common WBS libraries and pre-fill of WBS lists. Insert Column provides faster Screen Layout changes For Sage100 clients, the common MS-SQL platform enables improved performance &  integration between Sage 100 Contractor and Sage SQL Estimating. Enhanced eTakeoff & Bridge functionality can auto-populate estimates, drastically reducing data input time. Rest assured: there are no changes to the Estimate interface to various JobCost systems, so you’ll be able to export estimates to JobCost with no disruptions or [...]

Digital Dryshack # 94: GASP! (10 Generally Accepted Scheduling Practices)

Most of our work lately has been P6 training, and I find myself during that training to be referring often to Generally-Accepted-Scheduling-Practices. However, I don’t know if a written set of such practices exists – yet. So the purpose of this blog is an attempt to do just that, condensing my 30 years of construction scheduling experience into a list of Best Practices, which can be abbreviated to the curious acronym, “GASP”. First and foremost, always maintain professional ethics in preparing the schedule. There are ways to manipulate scheduling software to achieve questionable results, but avoid doing so. Take the high road and act in the best interests of the project. Make sure you build a closed logical network that passes this simple test:  Every activity but the first has a predecessor.  Every activity but the last has a successor.  Use Constraints sparingly, typically only for contract provisions such as project start, project finish, and turnover dates that are contractually required. Use “softer” constraints such as “Finish On or Before” more often than “Mandatory Finish” for example. This allows dates to move according to the logical network, calculating positive float if early, negative float if late.\ The WBS (Work Breakdown [...]

Digital Dryshack #92: 6 Tips: P6 Scheduling for D.O.D., 2016

We’ve recently returned from our 3-day, “P6 for Government Contracts” training session for Dawson Construction in Honolulu. One significant takeaway that reinforced what we were already noticing is that new government personnel are changing NAVFAC’s & USACE’s scheduling specs for recent projects. For years we had been able to count on a rigorous but largely boilerplate scheduling spec for both branches of the service. Not so anymore. Here’s six tips to help to get your IPS accepted (and get you paid faster) on D.O.D. contracts: READ (AND FOLLOW) THE SPECS ! As fundamental and obvious as it sounds, even experienced schedulers often skip this crucial stop and assume they know what’s required. We all know how to spell “assume”, and it’s as true as ever. Both NAVFAC & the Corps are now including WBS instructions in their scheduling spec. Be ready to comply with this new requirement. NAVFAC construction managers are using a recently-compiled 82-point checklist to evaluate IPS submissions. Know it and get it right the first time. We’re providing a link to download this stringent list of requirement­s (we do ask for your email and company info to download). The 48-Division CSI MasterFormat codes are required Activity Codes [...]

Digital DryShack #91 – Estimating – Sage 300 JobCost Interface Error Fix

We received a call from an old friend and  seasoned Sr. Estimator who was having problems importing an estimate to Sage 300 Accounting. Problem: All the estimated costs were interfacing correctly to the JobCost budget except one cost code's Labor. Some of the Labor costs and hours showed up, but not all. Cause: Exporting multiple units from the same Job Cost Code and Category AND those Items flagged in the Database to "Send Units to JobCost" . In this case it turned out that two different Items in the same JobCost Phase and Category were using different units of measure Masonry Powerwash using the unit "hr" (hours) Masonry Block Install using the unit "ch" (crew hours) Solution: Changing the Items to use the same unit, (in this case changing the Powerwash item from "hr" to "ch") BEWARE HOWEVER: WHEN CHANGING UNITS OF MEASURE, BE SURE THE NEW UNIT IS PRICED CORRECTLY ! (most times the new Unit should utilize a different price) This needs to be done manually by the Estimator Happy and Profitable Estimating! Cheers, BC Got a Construction Software problem? Submit it to and we'll try to answer and post in an upcoming Digital DryShack

Digital Dryshack #90: Sage SQL Estimating

We've been working with Sage SQL Estimating over the past few months, and are becoming bigger fans of the recent updated version, 15.2. The upgrades over the past year and more enthusiastic client interest had prompted us to put together the first cut of feature comparisons between the 2 versions of Sage Estimating. The 3 biggest changes in most recent version:  Totals Page Templates  All-new Database Editor  JobCost Interface enabled for non-Sage Accounting These were mission-critical improvements that arguably kept legacy clients from upgrading. With these much-needed features available, the decision to upgrade becomes easier. Here's a link to our quick analysis (click the title of this blog post if you cannot see the chart):

Digital Dryshack #89: Multiple Critical Paths in P6

Recently, Cassell Consulting was contacted by a planning engineer who encountered difficulty during critical path analysis. Our resident P6 guru, Ken Wagner, weighed in to clarify best procedures for utilizing multiple critical paths in P6. The following is an edited transcript of their exchange: Q: "I have a question regarding how to know multiple critical paths.To know first 10 critical paths in Primavera P6. I used to filter (longest Path) to know the first, then delink activity and schedule again (F9) to know the second, and so for rest… I also used your method: but it gives different critical paths from the first method. Which is right? A: "I sometimes modify my settings based on the analysis I need to do. Sometimes I change the critical path to total float less than or equal to, to a negative number to capture activities that are approaching near critical (note: that this is in hours so for 1 day that would be -24 etc.). I filter for only Task activities (filter out milestones, LOE, WBS Summary, etc.) In group and sort, group by float path and then do a multiple sort criteria for Start, Total float and then the final tie breaker is [...]

2016-04-15T16:54:59+00:00 By |Consulting, Digital Dry Shack Blog|

Digital Dryshack #87: 10 Reasons D.O.D. Schedules get Rejected

Working with a G.C. firm providing scheduling training in Honolulu last week reminded me of the struggles most midsize contractors face when submitting an Initial Project Schedule (IPS) to NAVFAC or the Army Corps of Engineers. Most contractors produce a simple bar chart in MS Project for their typical jobs and aren’t familiar with P6. Rarely are the rigorous and demanding scheduling complexities included in D.O.D. project manuals required by private industry or commercial work. So when awarded a NAVFAC or USACE project, Contractors aren’t getting paid for anything but the bond because their IPS is rejected multiple times for a myriad of reasons. For this reason, I’ve listed the 10 most common reasons the Government rejects Initial Project Schedule submissions: Incomplete Logical Network is the #1 reason most schedules are re­jected. These 2 rules are absolutely non-negotiable: Every Activity but the first (Contract Award) must have a Predecessor Every Activity but the last (CCD) must have a Successor Schedule Log report not reviewed for compliance with Project Spec is the #2 reason for rejected schedules. This invaluable report lists all Constraints, Critical Path Activities, mandatory program settings, open-ended and out-of-sequence Activities, and much more. If you don’t review this report [...]

The 2015 JBK Construction Technology Report is here!

The 4th Annual JBK Construction Technology Report is here! This report reveals the comprehensive results from the 45 question 2015 survey with commentary and analysis from the perspective of a construction technology solutions provider. Interested in the growth of technology in construction? To receive your copy today, fill out the form below to immediately get access to the full report.

2017-01-14T08:23:27+00:00 By |Digital Dry Shack Blog|

DD# 85: Wolf Construction Controls

In the course of doing business as consultants, we encounter many different types of companies and managers, with many different styles, methods, and business issues that they’re trying to fix. Of those companies we’ve worked with in the last few years, none stands out more than Wolf Construction in Topeka, Kansas. Wolf is an industrial general contractor, with blue-chip clientele including electrical utilities, petrochemical, and manufacturing customers.  I was fortunate to meet Dusty Gary, Wolf’s VP of Operations at a Viewpoint user conference three years ago in Portland. While we didn’t immediately do business together, we sensed a common bond, the passion for achieving better outcomes by joining vision with technology . What truly sets Wolf apart from its competitors is its unwavering commitment to quality, safety, and accountability to its clients. It achieves these high standards on a daily basis, through laser-focus on its Operations. Nothing happens by accident at Wolf. Dusty, following in his dad Dave Gary’s footsteps, has instituted a culture of attention to core values. By following its rigorous procedures of quality workmanship and attention to detail, the net result is efficient execution down from soup to nuts on every job, for every client, every time. [...]

2017-01-14T08:23:27+00:00 By |Digital Dry Shack Blog|

DD# 84: 3 Reasons to Adopt Masterformat 2010

Interest in our 2010 Masterformat Sample Cost Code list has been strong recently, reminding us that many contractors are moving to the new platform for their estimating and job cost tracking systems. We think it's a good idea and are surprised so many are taking the head-in-the-sand approach. In our opinion, our construction industry has already achieved critical mass with the new format: The US Government, including the Army Corps of Engineers, NAVFAC, and the Air Force are specifying 100% of their projects in the new format. Most state and county jobs in our region, (Pacific Northwest, Hawaii, and Alaska) are also using 48-division format. MF 1995 (16-divisions) is bursting at the seams, and there's no room to put the emerging technologies in its overstuffed divisions. So why the resistance? Three reasons we hear from our change-resistant clients: "It's just like the metric system, a flash-in-the-pan that will never happen". (We disagree) "The new system just doesn't make sense". (We agree that it's unfortunate that Earthwork, old Division 2, moved to Div 31, 31, 32, & 34. But it was necessary to maintain the familiarity of Div 3-14, as well as accommodate all the work that just won't fit into a single division. Can you imagine the pushback we'd be hearing [...]