Better Job Cost Tracking with Sage MAS 90 ERP

Automotive Investment Group, an internal advertising group supporting more than 20 automotive dealerships in Arizona, Texas, Georgia. and California often found itself stuck in “Park” when it came to billing at least 1,000 different jobs every month – until the launch of a new accounting software package got the company back in the fast lane.

Automotive Investment Group, or AIG, seeks optimum pricing discounts when purchasing newspaper, television, radio and special promotional ads in volume, before allocating costs to individual dealerships.

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Procedures begin with sales managers submitting monthly advertising requests to AIG on Excel spreadsheets. Internal graphic artists also use Excel track accrued expenses. Because each ad is treated as a separate project, and identified by a unique job number, costs must be accumulated and billed back to the correct department.

Charged with billing thousands of job ranging from mammoth tent sales for multiple dealerships to single-shot newspaper ad placements, Cindy Sneden, AIG’s controller, discovered problems in their software system. When she tried to accrue costs for a job that had been estimated but not yet incurred, the numbers kept coming out wrong. Sneden realized that a former employee had not configured Job Cost correctly. Fortunately, a training session led her to an accounting firm affiliated with the Sage Software Accountants Network (SSAN) Premier Advisor Program. The fact that the company’s parent used Sage MAS 90 ERP as its accounting system for more than 50 accounting entities led AIG to convert to that system and later implement the Sage MAS 90 Job Cost module for better cost tracking, billing and project management.

“We used to spend 40 hours a month on data entry for Job Cost,” Sneden said. “Those tasks have been eliminated by the new accounting and system changes. Now we just spend one day a month doing manual verification of balances. This has freed up staff time for other important tasks.”

The SSAN Premier Advisor program provides accounting and business management software and support to public accounting professionals. Program participants receive practice development resources, access to training, and reference materials to better manage their practice and server their clients.

The program’s resources helped AIG quickly identify its problems and offered solutions using Sage MAS 90 ERP. Recommended by more CPAs than any other business management application in its class, Sage MAS 90 offers a broad selection of feature-rich solutions, including core accounting, e-commerce, business intelligence tools, payroll, customer relationship management (CRM), sales force automation and financial reporting software small or mid-sized companies use to improve workflow, billing of materials and job costing.

Reasons why companies choose Sage MAS 90 to run their businesses include:

  • Extensive core feature sets in each module, expandable with user-defined fields, automated data import and export, and hundreds of third-party add-ons available from master developers.
  • Platform flexibility: Sage MAS 90 is available for Windows NT, Windows 2000, NetWare and SQL Server networks. A single-user version is also available.
  • Client/server version: Sage MAS 200 uses the latest thin-client architecture to deliver high-speed performance across the Internet or via a dial-up connection.
  • Insightful reporting: Three built-in report writers, including the industry standard Crystal Reports, deliver information in the format businesses need, and provides access to Sage MAS 90 data via ODBC with the reporting tool of your choice.
  • Adaptability: With the availability of e-Business Manager, hand held computing applications and Sage MAS 200 SQL Server, the product line continues to prove its adaptability to new technologies.

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“Our advisor saw right away that re-implementing Job Cost would be better than tweaking what we had,” Sneden explained. “As a result of her recommendations, we developed a system that would bring us into alignment with standard accepted accounting practices, and at the same time, improve revenue recognition and cost tracking.”

Multiple layers were necessary to accommodate AIG’s complicated data input requirements, but the savings were dramatic. The new Sage MAS 90 ERP system provided additional fields for accounting, plus spreadsheets that pull data directly from the ad designers’ budgets. AIG deployed the Visual Integrator module to automate information transfer from the spreadsheets to both the Accounts Receivable, or AR, and Job Cost, or JC, modules.

Before integrating the Sage system, AIG never had used an AR module for billing. But their new business process system made it possible to pull every job into the AR system, resulting in more accurate billing statements and greater accountability overall.

Splits for multiple dealerships were handled with ease, and costs for production, photos, editing, typing and processing could be broken out for special reports.

“I estimate we saved another 40 hour a month not having to manually input invoices into the AR module,” Sneden said. “The beauty of our new system is that we don’t have to change anything, whether it’s requests from our dealers or budgets from our design team. Everything is imported and calculated automatically. We just check final figures at the end of the month.”

Sneden praised her SSAN Advisor for creativity as well as product expertise, using ingenuity to adapt existing software features to meet an unusual accounting challenge.

“Our SSAN Advisor has been a godsend for us,” she said. “Her accounting abilities and product knowledge really saved us time and money. We could never have done all this without her.”


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