What do you think of Virtual Reality Safety Training?

According to OSHA statistics, 1 in 5 workplace deaths are in construction, so safety training in any format is vital.

Virtual Reality (VR) training has come quite a long way in the last couple years and can be quite effective for training for a few reasons. Training with VR technology allows for a simulated experience, works with real-world scenarios, and if designed appropriately, can be very effective in multi-lingual environments. Additionally, the VR technology can be used to allow different areas of an organization to “experience” another perspective. Allowing an Accountant to experience a simulation of a Heavy Equipment Operator’s perspective without compromising safety, helps grow the health and strength of the overall organization.

Additionally, the VR can be structured to allow the Heavy Equipment Operator to see what his impact is from a numbers perspective, such as Accuracy Rates and Bucket Fill Percentages. VR Safety training can also be used for Corporate wide safety training, such as Fire Safety. Learning by simulated doing, such as how to use a fire extinguisher, and the impacts of which extinguisher you use on which type of fire, can often be better retained when learning through simulation, rather than traditional training methods.

VR training packages can be found through a variety of resources – so check online, with your trade organization, or through your local college/trade education system. You can also always contact Cornerstone for our recommendations.

Also, check out all the great articles we gathered on this topic here: http://dev.hmscornerstonesolutions.com/whats-new/

Hey Joe: Why do some builders drive so many costs to job level costing instead of straight to the GL?

This question varies based on the accounting system you are using, though in general many builders like to have a job to capture non-lot job budgets and costs. For example, a project level job will never be a “house to sell”, but it is a great place to capture budgets and costs. One of the biggest benefits is the inception-to-date costing and budgeting. Whereas a GL cost center and budget run annually, a job cost level runs inception to date. Similar to capturing at the GL level, you would want to allocate costs from some of this type of job to actual lot jobs. For more information reach out to us using our ContactUs form and we’ll be happy to help.

Joe’s News: California mandates solar power on new homes

California has long pushed the envelope on energy and environmental policies.

Right now, people are abuzz with the California Energy Commission’s proposed requirements for the the state’s 2020 energy code, which includes mandates on solar energy generation for all new residential construction beginning in January 2020.

Read the full article at NAHBNow.org:

The Nation Watches as California Mandates Solar Power

Read more about the Energy Commission’s requirements at:

Energy Commission Adopts Standards Requiring Solar Systems for New Homes, First in Nation


Joe, I don’t really understand what “systems integration” means. Can you help?

Systems integration is the joining of two (or more) systems together into one. The demand for systems integration typically stems from reporting needs, error reduction goals, time saving efforts, or mandates. Wouldn’t it be a grand world if you never had to type the same thing twice or if your data was always consistent? These are the ultimate goals of System Integration. Be aware, there are multiple methods of integration and multiple tools to help you build your integrated environment. There are many factors that go into determining which method is the best direction for you. Talk to us when you’re ready to evaluate your integration needs and let us guide you on your journey to successful integration.

Is there a method to help us not run into the “same old problems” over and over again?

We’ve all been there. Whether we are the person who sees the problem or the solution, or if you are the person who is the problem or solution, there is a method to achieve permanent problem solving. The methodology is called the Eight Disciplines of Problem Solving (8D). We like this method because it addresses the full lifecycle of a problem, rather leaving components unaddressed, which results in one (or more) new problems being created. Successful resolution results in permanent resolution, which should be the ultimate end goal. Whether your company is comprised of five employees or five thousand, the 8D method is both affordable and scalable, which is not something we see every day in our industry. The fastest way to victory with 8D? Don’t skip any of the steps. And yes, there are 9 steps in the 8D process (D0 – D8)!

I need a low-cost ETL tool to move data between systems. What’s my best option?

There are a wide range of ETL tools available, but there may already be one in your arsenal that you didn’t even know about!  SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) is the ETL Tool included with SQL Server Standard and Enterprise Editions. This means if you have either of these licenses, and most companies in our industries do, you can operate SSIS on the same instance for no additional licensing cost.

More importantly, SSIS has a robust set of tools that make ETL easy for a variety of development skillsets.  Don’t have SQL or prefer to use a cloud service? Consider options such as Jitterbit or Scribe. Whichever option you consider, be sure to accurately scope your desired results against the plus/deltas of either architecture. As always, we’re here to help you understand the requirements of your integration needs so you can make the most informed decision, so don’t hesitate to reach out.

What is the easiest way to track sales commissions for internal and external agents?

Most of current sales systems for homebuilders include the ability to track the information needed for calculating simple % or $ based commissions. That being said, we often have very complex commissions’ formulas for our internal sales team. Such things as draws, cancellations of sales, etc. all come into play. In that case, it is best to feed the data out to a standard Excel, perhaps using Excel Pivot. You could also use an export directly into your payroll system if it is set up to handle draws, etc. And, don’t forget about Power BI. The most important thing would be to build an export file to feed into your external calculation tool. We don’t want any duplicate entry.

Our 3rd party sales team doesn’t want to put the prospects into our Sales System. Is this standard practice?

We have heard this push-back from 3rd party realtors more than once. The question is “who’s data is it?” If those agents are working out of your model home, it is your office and you are drawing the prospects in. Therefore, it is your data. The ability to have those prospects in your system or CRM to manage and market to is yours. On the other hand, if the 3rd party person is working out of an office shared with other builders, it is likely their data and you will have to go with their flow.