I need a low budget phone app for Supers in the field to submit VPO requests, but my ERP doesn’t have external access. Help!

Good news! There is something out there made just for this type of activity: it’s called PowerApps from Microsoft.

The PowerApps software is designed to allow people with no coding experience to create applications that will run on phones, tablets, or through a browser. The design is done through a browser, so you can access your design environment from work, home, or wherever you have internet access.

When you’re ready to publish your application, you simply click a button and it will be available to access by whichever of your organization’s users you choose to share it with. PowerApps is included in many of the Office 365 plans and currently you can access PowerApps with a 60-day free trial, so give it a try!

We want to build a Help Desk issue tool in our SharePoint site. Should I use the Task template or the Issue Tracking Template?

This depends on the functionality you need.

If you are looking for the ability to enter tickets, categorize them, notify people when tickets have been assigned, then the Issue Tracking template is excellent.

But, if you wish to have your tool sync with MS Project or Outlook, you would need to use a Task template. The task template also gives you more views and a timeline.

So, keep your needs clear. Are you tracking an IT project or Help Desk tickets?

My ERP system has a Microsoft SQL Server backend. How often should I be rebuilding my table indexes?

Microsoft SQL Server indexes can be reorganized or rebuilt. The frequency will depend upon how fragmented it is. Whenever your indexes have more than 10% fragmentation it is time to clean up your index.

If your fragmentation is between 10% and 30% an index reorganize will be sufficient. If you have 30% or more fragmentation it is a good idea to run a an index rebuild.

A fragmented index can result in decreased performance so why this critical maintenance task is often ignored is a puzzle for sure. Re-indexing can be done with a script, through the SQL Server Management Interface, or can be included as part of a Maintenance Plan. Regardless of fragmentation levels, rebuilding indexes once a week is a good minimum threshold for this task.

I’m new to the residential construction industry. Can you help me understand inventory turnover ratio?

You bet! First, let’s start with the formula:

Inventory Turnover = Cost of Goods Sold/Value of Average OnHand Inventory

Because of the high dollar value of inventory in home construction, it’s critical for a home builder to monitor and maintain a healthy Inventory Turnover rate. Too much inventory = too much risk and too little inventory = missed sales opportunities. A lower than optimum number indicates low demand, while a high ratio is indicative of under-stocking.

Identifying appropriate inventory levels for each season can mean the difference between a builder who survives market fluctuation and one that doesn’t. The optimum rate will not only depend upon season, but also whether or not the builder is focused on single vs. multi-family and if they primarily sell spec homes or strictly build-to-suit. For a typical single-family builder with a mix of both spec and custom homes, a ratio of 6 to 8 is a good starting point. Tune from there based on your specific environment.

Need more help with your performance indicators? Don’t hesitate to reach out to the team at Cornerstone Solutions.

We have plenty of technology, but our processes have bottlenecks and we need to be better at making deadlines – any thoughts?

Often, our internal business processes are a result of the strongest player in a department or organization defining how things will be done. It becomes more of an evolution than an intentional process. The result may look like one semi-smooth department, but a one dimensional point of view doesn’t consider the overall organization.

Typically the reality is that the organization is riddled with duplicate work and multiple points of checks and balances. When this occurs, it is time to consider performing a Business Process Review. Reviewing the process, identifying the pinch points and the unnecessary efforts, determining and implementing change are all part of the steps in becoming more productive.

While reviewing your processes can be done internally, the fresh set of eyes an external review can bring is often very effective. Whether you go it alone or work with your friends at HMS Cornerstone Solutions, remember to document the current process as your first step.  It’s hard to know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’re leaving from.

Can I send an email directly from my PowerBI Dashboard?

Yes you can with the PowerApp custom visualization, which is in preview mode for PowerBI and available to download now. Embed this new customization within your PowerBI Dashboard, add an existing or create a new PowerApp associated to the dashboard’s data, and leverage the PowerApp’s ability to send an email.

Want more information about PowerBI?

Download our great whitepaper on our Resources Page

View the PowerBI webinar on our YouTube Channel

How much does Constellation’s Newstar charge vendors to access the portal?

Constellation’s web-based vendor portal provides suppliers and trades with real-time access to purchase orders, construction schedules and payment information to reduce phone calls and costly errors.

There is no cost to the Vendor.

Bonus: the VendorGo mobile app is coming in early 2018 (Android and iOS platforms) to connect vendors and their suppliers to NEWSTAR Enterprise, FAST, and BuildTopia to conveniently manage schedules, stay up-to-date on project changes, easily discuss details, and more.

Is BIM the hot topic in homebuilding systems? If true, should I earnestly learn more about it?

We do see a trend in the industry moving in the direction of unitizing purchasing. For many years, builders have separated labor from materials and now they are beginning to count sticks and bricks.

For more information on this emerging trend, register for our April webinar:

BIM: What it is & How Best to Use it

To find out more about this webinar and see our entire 2018 webinar schedule, visit our webinar page: https://hmscornerstonesolutions.com/webinars/

Do real estate professionals benefit from the recent tax changes approved late last year by Congress and the President?

Yes. Commercial brokers who are corporations will benefit from the pass-thru portion of the new legislation. We encourage those who have an LLC to contact their tax advisors for further information.

If you would like more information, simply contact the Cornerstone Team by clicking on the Contact Us link at the top of this page.