BTerrell Group Blog

Reduce Audit Risk with Sage 300 ERP

Posted by Brian Terrell on Mon, Mar 31, 2014

Guest blog postCarrie Tumey, Avalara

by Carrie Tumey, Regional Sales Manager

Tax compliance. It is one of those tasks that can drive your accounting department or bookkeeper crazy. It’s also an unavoidable, statutory requirement. Undoubtedly you have developed a process that works, but do you know how that process will hold up in an audit? With an average audit penalty of $34,000 and the average total cost for a business to manage a sales tax audit of $96,552, most companies cannot afford to make a mistake, even if it’s a little one. The consequences of making mistakes are dire.

In a time where states are short on revenue and looking at uncollected sales and use tax and exemption certificate mismanagement to help make up that gap, tax compliance practices are increasingly under the microscope. Now is a great time to examine your how you’re managing compliance and determine just how much risk you carry. Here are a few things to consider:

Audit and Divorce resized 600Are you manually managing sales & use tax in Sage 300 ERP?

Perhaps you look up tax rates by ZIP code or download rate tables to update in Sage 300. This can be time consuming and error prone. Rate tables have to be continuously updated with rates that are constantly changing and State websites aren’t always reliable. ZIP codes were created for the postal service and do not always line up with taxing jurisdictions. Relying on ZIP codes to determine tax rates can mean over or undercharging your clients.

Does the taxability of your products vary by jurisdiction?

Products that are taxable in one state may not be in another.  In some states, for example, candy that contains flour is not considered “candy” for sales tax rate purposes and is taxed at a lower rate than at a combined state and local sales tax rate.

Are you doing business in multiple states?

Instead of thinking of sales and use tax obligations in terms of where your business is located, think about where you do business and the activities you engage in within those states. Why? Rules vary from state to state when it comes to what creates sales tax nexus. For example, certain trade show activities can trigger sales tax liability in Illinois, Texas, Nevada, Florida and California.

How are you managing exemption certificates?

Most businesses have a combination of fixed assets and inventoried items, which means you’re likely not just dealing with sales and use tax, you have exemption certificates that need to be managed. Improper exemption certificates management is one of the top sources of negative audit findings. If you don’t have a clear process set up to protect yourself and prove you’re exempt from tax, you could be setting yourself up for trouble.

Reduce your risk:

Tax compliance is tricky, especially when manually keeping up with rate, rule and boundary changes in multiple jurisdictions. Reduce your risk of a negative audit by taking time to examine your compliance process and develop a consistent, defined work flow. Then, look for ways to increase tax calculation accuracy. Automating the tax calculation and decision process can save time, money and effort. Sage Sales Tax works right inside Sage 300 ERP and automates the transactional tax process, helping you achieve compliance and accuracy across the board.

For more information on how to reduce your risk, join us for our FREE, upcoming webinar:

Webinar: Automating Sales & Use Tax in Sage 300 ERP

Date:  April 23, 2014
Time: 1:00 p.m. CT


Tags: Sage 300 ERP

Sage Announces General Availability of Sage 300 ERP 2014

Posted by Chris Firra on Fri, Mar 28, 2014

Last week, as anticipated, Sage officially announced general availability of Sage 300 ERP version 2014.   I attended the business partner webinar that took place a day earlier, where I learned that the early release for developers and so called VIP customers was consistent with the latest version. 

The release is in keeping with Sage's mode of providing evolutionary (as opposed to revolutionary) improvements to their stalwart ERP.  Sage announced with version 2012 that new features would appear between major releases along with each product update.  As with all new software, there have been some reported bugs, which have been addressed with software patches.  During the meeting, I learned that 2014 Product Update 1 incorporating these patches is anticipated before the end of April.  Below are a few of the new features that I found interesting in version 2014:

The Sage 300 ERP desktop received an overhaul that gives it a cleaner and more modern appearance.  

A "ribbon style" tool bar with new icons appears at the top of the desktop.  Various screens have been redesigned so that they are larger and easier to navigate.  Required fields have been indicated by an asterisk.

Sage 300 ERP 2014

One of the featured benefits of the new release is a clearer view of the users that are currently in the system and what they are doing.  

The LanPak Users screen (launched from the desktop Help menu) displays not only which user is logged in but optionally what screens they have open.  I know that this will be useful for client’s CFO that will no longer need to ask, "Who is in my Accpac?" Better yet, Sage hinted that possible future enhancements will include the ability to “kick-out” specific users from the system.

Sage 300 ERP 2014 2 resized 600

Another nice new feature is found in the General Ledger Transaction Listing.  It now provides an ability to run a report that can span multiple fiscal years and fiscal periods.

Sage 300 ERP 2014

Support for Excel 2013 (32-bit) has also been added for Financial Reporter.

It's important that Sage customers keep the 32-bit requirement in mind before upgrading Microsoft Office applications for users that rely on Financial Reporter.

A New Visual Process Flow has been added for U.S. Payroll.  

In version 2014, it's easy to add programs, reports and user interfaces from other modules to Visual Process flows using the Visual Process Flow Designer.  I think that Visual Process Flows are one of the best-kept secrets in Sage 300 ERP, as it provides a controller with a great opportunity to define an accounting department’s processes, yet few people are taking advantage of the feature thus far.

Sage 300 ERP 2014

If you are interested in learning about any or all of the new features in Sage 300 ERP 2014, give me a call at (214) 647-2611, x103, or check out one of BTerrell Group's upcoming webinars.







Tags: Sage 300 ERP

Getting the Most Out of Sage 300 ERP data with Spreadsheets

Posted by Tony Zhang on Wed, Mar 26, 2014

Spreadsheet AnalystOver the years, BTerrell Group has helped our clients improve their productivity using software systems and financial reporting. One of the products we really like is Spreadsheet Analyst (formerly known as Sage Accpac Insight), which is a terrific complement to Sage 300 ERP. Not only does this product help meet enterprise reporting requirements very well, but brings a lot of value to our customers. To help customers get the most value out of Spreadsheet Analyst, our own Chris Firra  has developed an in-depth training curriculum that has helped numerous customers along the way.

Spreadsheet Analyst handles the financial reporting in Excel nicely and is especially good for multiple companies with large amounts of data – the typical  in enterprise reporting – thanks to the data warehouse it provides. Feel free to call BTerrell Group to discuss how we might leverage Spreadsheet Analyst to help you improve your business processes, or to provide the following training to your employees.

Spreadsheet Analyst Training Agenda

Session 1 - Spreadsheet Analyst Report Authoring I.

  • Spreadsheet Analyst concepts and terminology
  • Spreadsheet Analyst report and template design
    • Creating new reports from templates and other new reports
    • Defining Row Groups and Columns
    • Controlling report behaviour using Sheet Order By and Column Order By functions
    • Report formatting functions
  • In session exercise
  • Independent exercise

Session 2 – Spreadsheet Analyst Report Authoring II.

  • Sorting and grouping techniques
  • Creating custom drill-down sheets
  • Using named ranges in report design
  • Using pivot tables in report design
  • Workbook navigation and controls
  • In session exercise
  • Independent exercise

Session 3 – Spreadsheet Analyst Report Authoring III.

  • Best practices for report and version control
  • Report distribution methods
    • Defining Control Sheets for distribution
    • Using Workbook Generator
    • Configurations for email distribution
    • Configurations for file publication and report archival
  • In session exercise
  • Independent exercise

Session 4 – Spreadsheet Analyst Data Warehouse.

  • Understanding the data warehouse architecture
  • Managing Schedulers
  • Managing and modifying Data Filters
  • Methods for adding new tables
    • Master data
      • Accounts
      • Roll-ups
    • Transactional data
    • Calendars
  • In session exercise
  • Independent exercise

Session 5 – Importing data and Advanced Authoring.

  • Using Write-Back workbooks to import data
  • Developing budgeting templates and generating budget write-back workbooks
    • Budgeting functions
    • Spread methods
  • Optimizing report performance
  • In session exercise
  • Independent exercise

Session 6 – Capstone Exercise.

  • Joint exercise

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Tags: Sage 300 ERP

Comparing/Contrasting Intacct & Sage 300 ERP: Which is Best for You?

Posted by Brian Terrell on Fri, Mar 21, 2014

Intacct and Sage 300 ERPThanks to everyone who attended Wednesday's panel discussion in which Keith Karnes, President of BTerrell Group, and I compared and contrasted the two accounting software products BTerrell supports.  We have 23 years of experience with Sage 300 ERP and nearly 4 years of experience with Intacct.  If you were able to join us, we hope you learned a lot.  If you had to miss it, these are some of the key points that were made.

Both products enjoy great architecture.

Intacct occupies the top tier cloud architecture characteristic of multi-tenancy.  Keith explained that multi-tenant applications cost less to maintain, deploy and support because every action spreads across the entire user base.  It's just like the economies of scale enjoyed by a multi-tenant office building that enjoys better rates on utilities and more effective (and higher level) maintenance.

Sage created Sage 300 ERP using n-tier architecture, which was way before its time.  This means that the user interface, business logic, and database layers are all separate, and a new technology in any of these components can be implemented without rewriting the other two.  We founded CodePartners, our sister company, on the advantages provided by this superior technology.  Note that Sage can continue to economically adapt Sage 300 ERP to work with the latest and greatest technology tools because of this great architecture.  You should not ever see Sage 300 ERP listed on any sunset list of products within the Sage portfolio.

Keith and I discussed the cost and timeframe of implementation between the two. 

Sage offers both the subscription and perpetual license models.  Furthermore, clients can subscribe to Sage 300 ERP as an on-premises application or as a hosted application.  When hosted, one may choose Sage or any qualified third party for hosting services.  Intacct customers subscribe to their software.  As a pioneer in accounting software as a service, Intacct has sales, provisioning and support nailed because it's the only thing they do.  Nobody has better hosting business practices than Intacct, and clients benefit greatly from their leadership in this area.

Finally, both programs enjoy excellent integration and customization opportunities.  

Intacct's web based API exposes the core Intacct objects to other applications for direct access.  In our office, we created a direct bisynchronous transaction link between a web based payroll processing application and Intacct's General Ledger.  To pass transactions between the two, one has only to write a payroll check and click on a web form button.  No CSV files to save and then use!

Sage communicates with other programs just as nicely.  The n-tier architecture makes all business objects available to other applications to call.  This includes both other on-premises applications as well as web based applications.  Once again, our sister company CodePartners began out of the simple value proposition provided by fully integrated financial workflow.

Thanks again to those of you who were able to attend today's panel discussion.  

If you missed it, you can watch the recorded version here.

If you would like more information, please don't hesitate to let us know.  

And, remember to sign up for next month's informative session co-sponsored by Sage Sales Tax, which we'll present on April 23rd!

Tags: Sage 300 ERP, Intacct

Travel and Expense Report Evolution

Posted by Chris Firra on Wed, Mar 19, 2014

Expense Report - the old days

Many years ago, small businesses adopted preprinted employee expense report forms.  The use of a standardized form was an attempt to have employees enter all of the information necessary to properly categorize the expenditures.  Employees were instructed to staple all of the supporting receipts to the form, which then was physically passed on to the supervisor for review.  The supervisor reviewed the receipts, and ostensibly checked whether there were enough of them to cover the reimbursable amount claimed by the employee.  

On occasion, a form would be sent back to the employee for revision, but if all was good, the supervisor sent the little bundle of paper down the hall to the accounting department.  With a little luck, the form arrived with all its attachments at the Accounts Payable office.  The A/P personnel then had to again match the receipts to the amounts claimed, check the total, code the expenses and enter the transaction into the payable system.  This was no small chore for companies with many employees in the field, and soon their file cabinets were bulging with all of the vouched and supporting receipts.

Expense Report

Next, only a couple of decades ago, after Microsoft Excel came along, someone got the idea of having employees complete an expense report using an Excel template.  The template had some terrific features like ensuring that expenses extended and footed properly.  The completed report could be emailed to the supervisor, who would again electronically forward it on to accounting (via email) after approval.  The paper receipts either followed separately or were converted to .pdf and also attached to the email with the expense report.  Accountants rejoiced as this cut down the incidents of math errors and lost paperwork.  This method endured, despite the fact that the expenses still had to be manually entered into the accounts payable system.  Additionally, every time a new expense category or department was created, the template had to be revised.

Expense Report3 resized 600

Within the last few years, wonderful new travel & expense report automation has become available for small business.  In our office, we utilize the expense report feature of Intacct's Time and Expenses module.  It provides each employee with a quick way to enter expenses that are properly coded with valid general ledger account and project number.  Additionally, scanned receipts or photos can be attached to the report to provide necessary support.  Once entered, the expense report appears on the supervising employee's dashboard for review and approval before becoming available for payment.  The real net gain is that an accountant does not need to reenter the transaction, much less make sure that the report foots.  Incidentally, Intacct offers a less expensive "employee user" license that provides dashboard access as well as expense report entry and approval.

Mobile Expense Reporting

For other organizations, a more full-featured integrated travel & expense management application may be appropriate.  Web-based travel & expense solutions  such as ConcurExpense Cloud and Expense Anywhere enable employees to capture receipts and and submit reports from their mobile devices.  Most can also retrieve corporate credit card transactions and support rules to evaluate expense amounts at the time of entry.  The application programming interface (API) of both of our core accounting offerings, Sage 300 ERP and Intacct, enable integration with these solutions, eliminating additional data entry.

If you find that your accounting personnel are spending too much time handling travel and expense reports, it might be time to allow your process evolve, especially if your process still involves paperwork.  Feel free to call BTerrell Group to discuss integrated expense management options that will work with your accounting system.


Tags: Sage 300 ERP, Intacct