HMS Cornerstone Solutions cures your business pain points by harnessing technology. We are more than a software consultancy firm – we’re a partner vested in the overall health and wellness of your business. We streamline software solutions and business processes to improve your utilization, delivering quantifiable information using real-time data points to save you money and improve your bottom line.
HMS Cornerstone Solutions is a premier provider of services and support for the Home Building, Property Management, Construction, Manufacturing, and Land Development industries. Our team has decades of experience with a wide range of software and ancillary systems - visit our About page to learn more.
We are almost through Q2 for 2019
and we can tell you that there is a definite trend afoot in the real estate
industry. In the last six months, we’ve seen a surge in “system selection”
projects. These are not small ancillary system projects, these are ERP projects
all across the industry – including land developers, home builders and
property/asset management companies.
Why this sudden movement? If
you’ve been around as long as the Cornerstone team, you can recall how Y2K forced
so many of us to upgrade our back-office systems. For many companies, that was
the last time they took a hard look at the future of their systems. Folks, that
was 19 years ago. To be fair, some companies did make changes in the last ten
years, but that window is also aging out.
None of us want to upgrade or
change systems. Yet, technology is moving so fast that many of those aging systems
are leaving us. For example, if you are on SAP you will soon need to move to
their new platform SAP S4/HANA. That will mean almost a full re-implementation
for you. If you find yourself in that situation, facing full implementation
costs and changes, it is incumbent on you to do your due diligence and include
a comparison of alternative solutions in your analysis.
Many other real estate products
have been on minimal support and don’t seem to be upgrading; some products have
only one or two sources left supporting them. If this is the case with your
system, you really need to look forward. Yep, pull your head out of the sand. Or,
if you feel you are already above the ground, look around you…are you painting
the organization in a corner because you’re waiting to address what you already
know is coming?
Some of the products that we see
as the “senior” of the “senior citizens” include not only the old SAP, but JDE
One World, FAST, Trueline, a version of Builder MT and more. These products
have served us well, but if your organization is counting on them, you need to
take a serious look at “how much longer?” Not only are you missing out on new
technology, features, and tools, but eventually something is going to give. For
example, if you are on a product utilizing the AS400 and the hardware goes
down, you will need to upgrade to expensive new hardware just to be able to hold
on until you can complete a new system selection and implementation.
Don’t drag your company down into
defensive mode, go beyond offensive mode and move into pro-active mode. Ask
yourself the hard questions and start prepping your management and co-workers
for change. Get on the next budget cycle early and make a solid case for
necessary expenditures. Assemble teams and include a wide range of departments
to build requirements, foster buy in, and ensure your selection is the best one
for your entire company. And feel free to give us a call for help; as
Cornerstone has done many, many of these projects (= we have the templates!)
Tis the Season of Spring
Cleaning! While washing your car and scrubbing the window sills, be sure to
include your SQL Server environment in your whirlwind of activity. Yes, much
like the base boards, your SQL Server environment needs a little extra
‘maintenance’ attention now again.
Upgrading seems obvious, but we
see a significant number of SQL Server installations running on the 2008 and
2012 versions. These SQL Server versions were all reasonably solid, so the “if
it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality has created a lag behind. Upgrades do
more than solve problems however – they also provide new functionality and
address issues that exist, but my not be obvious. Additionally, support for SQL Server 2008 R2 ends July 9,
2019, and SQL Server 2012 is scheduled to reach the end of its lifecycle in
only three years. This may seem like a lot of time, but depending upon your
other projects and your environment, 36 months can come around quickly. If you
are on a SQL Server version below SQL Server 106, we recommend you upgrade to
SQL Server 2017. Please review the Supported
Version and Edition Upgrades for SQL Server 2017 and the Upgrade
to SQL 2017 articles, published by Microsoft, to plan and execute
Since many of our clients leverage SQL Server Reporting Services, we
wanted to highlight two items specific to this feature. First, the look and
feel of Reporting Services changed significantly in SQL Server 2016, along with
adding some long-awaited functionality, such as the ability to control
parameter layout, mobile reports, and KPIs in the SSRS Web Portal. Second, the
Reporting Services installation is now a separate download and install, rather
than a feature component of the SQL Server installation.
SQL Server 2017 Standard Edition
can be licensed on a Server + CAL or a Per Core basis. Your Edition and current
license agreement will impact your options. Take a moment to touch base with
your Microsoft Software Licensing Provider for a period review of your
Perform an Access Review
Databases move, turnover occurs, leaving
orphaned users and old windows accounts straggling as a result. Take a moment
to run the sp_validateusers stored procedure to identify an Windows accounts
that need attention. SQL orphaned users take a bit more research: the MSSQL Tips
Ways to Find SQL Server Orphaned Users, defines scripts for locating
and addressing these.
Review the Basics
The turn of the seasons is a good
way to schedule a review of your database health, which should be performed
multiple times a year. Review your indexes for fragmentation, your databases
for overgrown log files or outdated backups. Schedule and perform a “test
drive” of a database restore. It is better to identify problems during a test
drive than find out your backups are no good in the middle of a real-life
issue. Check your SQL Agent Jobs to make sure they are working as desired and
retire any jobs that are no longer needed. Evaluate your Reporting Services
Subscriptions and confirm their distribution list is current. Confirm your SQL
Server Maintenance Plans are performing tasks against all appropriate
Touch Base with Your Team
Ask the users of the applications
that depend upon SQL Server how those applications are performing. Users are
the eyes and ears of your back-office system performance, so reach out and solicit
their feedback. Team members are often the first to feel the impact of a
missing or fragmented index or suffer the delays of a poorly written query. While
the performance issue may not be something that can be resolved immediately,
often times it can be resolved in time or mitigated. Healthy environments make happy
Nowadays there are a lot of houses for rent on the market. This is definitely a trend that is here to stay and can be beneficial for both landlord and tenant. However, unlike apartment buildings and complexes, rental houses may not be managed by a property manager.
Rental properties that are not managed by professionals are much more likely to be the target of rental scams. Here are some precautions that every potential renter should take, for every rental property they are thinking about renting:
The website where you find the property should have multiple photos, inside and outside. Inquire about the property and ask about something you can’t see in one of the photos.
The website where you find the property should have details about all the amenities. Look at the list and make sure the attractions mentioned are actually nearby – within walking distance if that’s what they say they are.
The webiste should have an exact address, not just an area circled on a map. Move on to another property if you can’t get the exact house address.
You should be able to set up an appointment for a walkthrough. Do not sign anything or make any payments until after the walkthrough.
You should be asked to provide information about yourself to be screened as a potential tenant. If you are not asked for your information at all or if you are asked for your information prior to a requested walkthrough, move on to another property.
You should be asked to sign a lease, but you should not be asked to sign or pay anything before seeing the property. If any kind of payment is requested before you have signed a lease and received keys (that actually open a door to the property) move on to another property.
Pay attention to the following warning signs: if the person asking for the intial rent or a deposit is out of the state or country; if the rent requested is too cheap for the area where the property is located; and/or if you are asked to wire a deposit or rental amount. These are all potential signs that the person asking for money does not own or manage the property.
Don’t be pressured. Scammers favorite tool is to try to make you act without thinking something through. Whether there is a time limit or not, you should thoroughly research the property – and if you don’t have time, move on to something else.
Know the owner – check real estate, property management, and tax assessor’s records to make sure that the person you are dealing with is the legitimate owner of the property.
Finally, if at any time during the process you feel uneasy or doubt what you are being told is true, move on. There are a lot of scammers pretending to be owners as soon as a house is placed on the market because more often than not, they get away with it! If no one was fooled, the number of scammers would drop significantly. Don’t be a statistic.
The ERP company hosting the conference will tell you “every year.” The business unit paying for the trip will often tell you “almost never.” The answer really lies somewhere in between. Since your ERP is likely your most critical business system, we would recommend not waiting more than three years without attending the conference. Keeping up to date on the latest features, learning about upcoming features, and weighing-in on desired features are all beneficial. In addition, networking and learning how your peers are leveraging system functionality are components you really cannot get anywhere else. Still can’t make it? No worries, Cornerstone regularly attends several ERP conferences each year. We can tell you the pros and cons of different conferences and share with you insights we gain at these events.
Harvard Business School professor Clayton M. Christensen coined the term ‘disruptive technology’ in his 1997 best-selling book, “The Innovator’s Dilemma.” Christensen states that disruptive technology lacks maturity, often has performance problems, appeals to a limited audience, and may not yet have a proven practical application. As an unused, unapplied and untested alternative, it takes time for disruptive technology to be predominantly deployed.
However, because disruptive technology is new it has certain advantages, enhancements, and functionalities over competitors. This technology consists of ground-breaking products that significantly alter the way businesses or entire industries operate, and ultimately renders existing technology obsolete. Examples of disruptive technology are Email and Cell Phones.
Disruptive technologies are sometimes described as being simultaneously destructive and creative, with the power to change the way we work, live, think and behave.
We reach out with our hearts again this year to the victims of the recent wildfires in California. With so many still missing and camping out in makeshift tents, the need for assistance hasn’t ever been greater. Join us in giving to any of the following organizations, who have been confirmed to be providing near to 100% of your contribution towards helping victims.
The highly-rated organizations listed on this page have received 3- and 4-stars and are confirmed to be working to provide relief to the individuals and communities affected by the devastating fires in Southern and Northern California. Donors may be able to designate their donations to the specific cause they wish by going to the organizations’ websites directly.