Can I setup an interface to electronically transfer bill of materials from my CAD software to Sapphire Build (Kova)?

Sapphire Build can easily interface with many of the leading CAD programs with the intent of transferring BOM detail from CAD to the back office. Cornerstone has worked on several projects with MiTek/Sapphire Build this past year and can assist you with interfacing to several systems, including leading CAD software.

I am struggling with the concept of Major Codes, Craft Codes and Tasks. Can you simplify these terms for me?

Absolutely:

CRAFT: The word “Craft” is somewhat an old English term. It refers to what we mean today as a construction trade. For example: the Framer, the Electrician, the Excavator, the Finish Carpenter, etc.

TASK: A Task is the activity performed by a Craft. As you begin to work with Tasks, think of your project schedule and the activities that you will post to it. From the examples above:

The CRAFT Performs the TASK(s):
Excavation: Excavate- The work of digging the hole in preparation for the foundation
Prep Slab-  The work of preparing the ground for the basement slab
Backfill- The work of backfilling against the outside of the foundation once it is poured
Rough Grade- The work of rough grading the lot after backfilling
Foundation: Forming, Reinforcing, Pouring & Striping the footing and foundation
Electrical: Rough Electrical
Finish Electrical
Drywall: Hanging, Taping & Texturing the drywall

The MAJOR CODE: Major Codes are simply another term for Cost Codes. They are the systems tool for organizing and collecting the costs of each Craft into its own “bucket”. For example: The Major Code “Foundation” may include all the costs of the Foundation work: the foundation labor, the reinforcing steel, the window bucks, and the concrete. In lieu of collecting all of those costs into one Major Code, you may decide to track each of those costs individually. Accordingly, you will need to establish a separate Major Code for each of those line items.

When I’m out of the office can I use our company’s SharePoint site without full browser access?

YES!  Get your intranet in your pocket with the SharePoint mobile app. With easy on-the-go access, the SharePoint mobile app helps keep your work moving forward by providing quick access to your team sites, organization portals and resources, and the people you work with – across online in Office 365 and on-premises. You can see site activities, get quick access to recent and popular files, and view and arrange lists on your team sites.

• Sign in to your SharePoint sites, whether they’re in the cloud or on-premises. The app works with SharePoint Online, and SharePoint Server versions 2013 and 2016. You can add multiple accounts, and easily switch between them.
• Quickly find your sites. Check out the Sites tab, to see the sites you frequently visit and the sites you follow. Tap on a team site to dive into it. See site activity, navigate using the familiar quick launch navigation, easily follow or share the site, and work with your lists.
• Check out recent and popular files. In a team site, get to your recent or popular files quickly to view or share them, and have full access to your document libraries using the new integration with the OneDrive app. Edit your files easily using Office Mobile apps like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.
• Search. Enterprise Search is available throughout the app and results are organized into sites, files and people.
• Find and browse for people you work with. Tap on a user to get to their contact card and to see who they work with and what they are working on.

Note: To sign in to SharePoint, your organization needs to have an Office 365 subscription that includes SharePoint Online, or an on-premises SharePoint

What is a “web concierge” and why would my business care about it?

Just as in your favorite hotel, the concierge is a doorman, a porter or an attendant. A web concierge assists “web traffic” coming to your site. This can be a person or an automated tool. The goal is to “greet” incoming web inquiries to your site and “guide them” to the correct place. For example, a homebuilder or real estate site may have people inquiring via the web about buying a home. The web concierge may look over the data provided, immediately respond to the inquiry and also pass it on to the most appropriate sales agent. How long the web concierge manages the inquiry is a matter of your own business process. If you need help with more detailed best practices, give Cornerstone a call.

How can I ensure that both our procedures and our training program are up to par?

The easiest way to achieve consistent process documentation and training is to deploy an intranet. This will be an internal website just for your employees and teams. This can be done with an off the shelf package, Sharepoint (online) or even custom design. When designing your intranet, first identify your main goals. Adoption will be driven by your intranet becoming a daily tool for all employees. To populate training materials, consider developing a team of SME’s (subject matter experts) from the different departments. For example, you would have 1-2 SME’s from AP, AP, PR, Purchasing, Operations, Sales, Tenant Relations, etc. Develop a standard training template and then assign each SME the job of creating the training procedures, along with a document for their functional area. You have now developed an internal set of trainers. You can even provide them a tool to create short training videos.

Your intranet must also contain fresh and necessary information to be sure the general population of your company has a reason to go there frequently. This can be set up as an access point to document repositories, systems, HR functions, workflows, etc. But don’t forget, there must be also be something there to bring in the line level employees. Dashboards and reports can help both management and line level teams.

A word of caution: be sure you identify and stick to the quarterly and long-term goals as well as lock in a management champion. Many companies start to run in too many directions mid-project and this becomes a recipe for failure. Scope creep is a common side effect of a loosely planned deployment, causing costs to skyrocket and morale to crash.

How important are Customer Portals? Are they worth the effort?

Ten years ago, not many of us were concerned about managing a customer portal. Today, whether our customers are home buyers, property tenants, property asset investors or trade partners, they are all inclined to sign in to a portal and review their information. They expect a web based portal they can access from anywhere. They expect the site to be secure and protect their information, and they expect easy access to contact information. The good news is that most back-office systems now offer some pre-packaged portal and we no longer need to build these from scratch. The Cornerstone Team can help with both your implementation and best practices.

How do I get everyone on board to take down new releases?

Keeping systems current is critical for many reasons, including features and functionality improvements. Planning and communication are key to successful upgrades. Most organizations have a test environment or sandbox. The best practice is to copy most current data from your live environment to your sandbox.

Next, be sure to read the release notes. Take down the current release to your sandbox environment only. Be sure to upgrade all linked products as some are dependent on each other. Based on the release notes to know which areas have been upgraded, perform normal routines in the sandbox and test for functionality.

Give a time frame to the end-users for their testing. For example, allow two weeks for testing and have a person in AP perform normal tasks such as entering and invoice and cutting a check. Once testing and acceptance is complete, you are ready to upgrade your live environment. Plan your timing, inform the staff, distribute the release notes, upgrade. Voila!

If you need help with this, the Cornerstone team has decades of experience helping people through this. We even perform the normal testing for some of our clients as their staff may be too busy to test.

Is it possible to link Microsoft CRM to my Sales System?

Absolutely! In fact, without this integration, your staff will be doing double work and defeat the purpose of one of the systems.Cornerstone has been very successful in helping our clients integrate MS CRM to sales systems.

The goal is to keep the lead/opportunity in the CRM for management until the prospect is ready to write a contract, then, electronically push the pertinent data over the to sales system when triggered by the end user. There is no double entry of information.

Some of our clients go even farther to push back information to the CRM and use the CRM to continue touch points with buyers or tenants. These clients are getting the best value of both systems and feel it gives them the technical edge required today.

Is SharePoint right for my company?

That’s a pretty open-ended question.  SharePoint remains Microsoft’s flagship for intranet and document management.  Many large organizations use the platform for the internet as well.  Being able to use SharePoint in conjunction with Office 365 make this a remarkable tool.  Some of us can remember when “copy & paste” was a new function in the world.  Microsoft continues to weave the product offering and collaboration tools into a wonderful web.

Is it right for you? There are many best practices that should be followed in making the decision to go down the SharePoint road.  We would recommend that you work with professionals such as those on our team to help you decide if this is a fit for your organization.  Things to consider is how much of the product would benefit you, how long to deploy and consider a phased approach, will it be hosted or on-premise, what is the annual budget, do you need multiple languages.  Give us a call and we can help you through the decision-making process.