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

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.

Should I use PowerApps?

If you need rapid development of applications that are easily deployed to your internal users for Android, iOS, or Windows on phones, tablets, or desktops, PowerApps is a great platform. PowerApps allows you to create mobile applications for all these devices.

With an appropriately licensed O365 login and permissions your users can begin installing and leveraging your applications as soon as they are deployed. Your applications can be designed towards mobile or tablet layouts and can access a wide variety of both on-premise (using the gateway) and online data sources. The more of the Microsoft services you use (SharePoint, OneDrive, PowerBI, etc) the more you will be able to leverage the “power” of PowerApps.

When should you not consider PowerApps? If you are wanting to expose your apps to external users, PowerApps is likely not a good fit due to licensing/login requirements. Also, if you need to write custom code, remember that PowerApps is a “no-code” environment: this means no JavaScript, HTML, C#, etc. But – keep in mind –  you can connect to REST APIs through PowerApps.

Cornerstone can help you with all of your PowerApps questions and requirements – simply give us a call today.

What are the components of Newstar menu-level security and should I use it?

Menu-level security is the most advanced security offered in Newstar Enterprise and consists of:

* Permissions for each menu item (allow visibility to, allow add/edit, allow delete)
* Permissions for many on-screen buttons
* Permissions offered from basic security level (Batch, Invoice and PO approvals, AP Processing Rule)

Menu-level security gives you the most flexible and secure way of managing permissions and audit compliance in the Newstar Enterprise system, so we recommend that you begin using it as soon as it is feasible for you to do so. Cornerstone has created a guide and implementation plan so you can determine your best path forward, just reach out to us and we’d be happy to help.

People are not using our SharePoint site that we worked so hard on. How can I drive adoption?

You are probably overthinking the answer. It’s simple: it doesn’t get used because it is not yet a tool for your organization. If you SP site is a group of links to other sites, people don’t need to go there, they simply bookmark their favorites sites on their favorite browser. If your SP site is a place to store forms, but those forms have existed on your network for years and are still there, people will go to the old place to get the necessary documents.

To drive adoption, design your site to have great functionality such as the ability to fill in HR forms online and have them electronically routed to the right people when the user submits the form. Use your SP site to regularly share important as well as fun information about your organization. Implement workflows and forms and collaboration modules to make this a tool. Yet, be sure to make it cool. Don’t recreate the mess that may be in your old network storage. And be sure to continually communicate the features of the site, train the staff and implement the feedback mechanism so you will know what they want and need.