Digital Dryshack Construction Blog

Case Study: Kissick Construction Viewpoint Consulting

When Kissick Construction called us last March, they were looking for 3 things: personalized service, quick response,  and Viewpoint expertise. When Dennis asked if we were up to the challenge to meet all three objectives consistently and  help his company take its Viewpoint Vista system to the next level, we guaranteed personalized response within one business day, (with a 2 hour goal), satisfied their concerns regarding our capacity, and the rest is history. With construction roots going back nearly 100 years, Kissick Construction is one of Kansas City's most trusted civil contractors, who's made it their business to deliver on their promises to the area's most demanding industrial clientele. And they were looking for a consulting firm with the same business ethic. Now nearly a full year later, Kissick's Viewpoint Vista accounting and project management suite is running smoothly with few wasted motions or redundant data entry that had frustrated them in the past. We've helped them allocate their extensive equipment fleet's costs accurately, built dozens of custom reports, designed custom workflows for specialized client invoicing, and simplified multiple entities' certified payroll requirements to name just a few goals we've met. Now nearly a year later, we're still providing quick turnarounds [...]

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 [...]

AGC Alaska Conference report

Our CEO Barry Cassell spoke at the 68th annual AGC Alaska conference in Anchorage last month. Barry's session, "Construction Tech Today and Tomorrow" provided historical perspective and a look ahead at the progress of technology in our industry. Among topics covered, a recent survey by McKinsey Global Institute pegged Construction next-to-last of all major industries at technology adoption (only Agriculture does worse than we do!) Paper record-keeping, isolated information silos, and old-school mentality are just a few of the habits holding us back. Recent developments in BIM, Autonomous Equipment, the Cloud, and Mobile Tools are promising initiatives making a dent in the problem. Barry showed the audience 5d takeoff tools available today, & Zach Goepel of Procore demonstrated how Artificial and Augmented Reality are providing visualization tools impossible a few short years ago, resulting in accelerated scheduling with reduced change orders.  

Vista Tips – WF Template Reports

By Laurel Cripe   A company which is implementing Vista has many resources for learning: the Viewpoint Learning Center, aka “ClearView”, 4988 articles for Vista in the Knowledge Base at last count, the online Help System (F1 or Form Help from Vista), and of course, their Vista consultant. If the help that is needed is a basic list of steps for a process, sometimes the Knowledge Base articles or the videos in ClearView can be overkill, and searching for the right resource time-consuming. Built into Vista is a set of concise “how-to” documents that are not widely advertised. These documents are accessed via the WF Templates report. To access the reports, go to the Workflow Module, Reports folder, WF Templates. From the Begin Template field, the lookup (F4) will bring up a long list of standard templates, including documents both for implementation and for processing. For example, under PR, there are steps for Payroll Implementation and Processing, along with steps for Month/Quarter End and Year End. Judging by the revision dates on the templates, these reports are left-over from legacy help systems in Viewpoint, and may not include all the most current feature enhancements.  But sometimes less is more, and [...]

2017-01-14T08:23:21+00:00 By |Consulting, News and Events|

We’re presenting Construction Tech at AGC Alaska 11/9 in Anchorage

Please come join us at AGC Alaska in Anchorage November 9-12. We're presenting the session "Construction Tech: Today + Tomorrow" on Wednesday at 2:45. Our session takes a look at the current state of tech in our industry as well as what's coming in the next few years. We'll discuss Cloud, Mobile, Drones, 3-d printing and Robotics, to name a few. Registration for the conference is still open - if your company does business in our industry in Alaska, you should be there! While you're at the conference, don't forget to register with us to win dinner overlooking all of Anchorage from the Crow's Nest at the Hotel Captain Cook. We look forward to seeing you there.

2017-01-14T08:23:21+00:00 By |Consulting|

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|