It has been a while since the last “What’s New”, but in that time, a lot of work has been going on behind the scenes, which has just been released to all Acrual customers. Let’s start with the big one.
To give some context to this project, let’s go on a brief journey through the history of Acrual. Acrual first started development in mid-2013 and was designed around speaking to businesses about their requirements in this area, and working out solutions which would give them the most value, which is a big part of why Acrual works so well for customers.
Since those days, businesses using Acrual have continued to grow themselves and are now estimating jobs that are an order of magnitude (10x) larger than what the system was originally designed for.
This has meant that some things didn’t quite perform as well as originally designed – anyone who has estimated a $1M+ job would probably have some idea what I’m talking about here. Some operations such as copy/paste or changing of margins could take considerable time to complete – sometimes over a minute per action. From a usability standpoint, this is not great and is definitely something customers shouldn’t have to work around day-to-day.
To resolve this, I’ve undertaken a big multi-month project to completely re-imagine the way that quote data is stored under the hood in Acrual. This should deliver both performance improvements, as well as reliability improvements for customers.
Now that the project has finally come to a close, let’s take a look over the end results – I’m super impressed with how it has ended up, and hope you will also benefit from this day-to-day.
This chart shows the time (seconds) that an action previously took (blue) and the time it now takes (grey). As a start, you can see that the time it takes to change margins in a large job has decreased by over 90% alone. Copying of items was the slowest action of all, now over 94% faster at just 8.6 seconds on a $2M+ quote.
These performance improvements aren’t limited solely to these actions and the system will be faster across the board when estimating and quoting.
This new engine also provides lots of ways to be further tweaked and refined to deliver even better performance than shown above in the future.
As for the name project name “Raptor” – it needed to represent a massive leap forwards – and what better name than after a rocket engine.
MYOB AccountRight Integration
Since the last update post, the Acrual to MYOB AccountRight connection is also now up and running for invoices and progress claims. Any invoice created within Acrual will be automatically synchronized across to MYOB.
To get started, head into the Settings page when logged into Acrual and go to the Connections tab. You should be able to see a MYOB box with a Setup Connection button, click this and follow the prompts to setup the connection. If you have any hiccups along the way, get in touch, I’d love to hear your feedback.
Those aren’t the only changes that have happened since the last update post:
When deleting an item from an estimate, the item name shows in the confirmation box to ensure you don’t delete the wrong item by accident
You can now fully re-order the list of inclusions and exclusions when generating a quote or variation
When performing a substitution in your estimate, selecting an item to substitute now automatically scrolls the library item into view so you no longer have to spend time finding it manually
Thanks for reading, and as always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in contact.
It’s finally time to announce that the Xero and Acrual integration is now ready for use. With this, you can easily and automatically synchronise your invoices and time sheets from Acrual into Xero. Once setup, this runs along in the background and will keep everything in sync.
To get started, head into the Settings page when logged into Acrual and go to the Connections tab. You should be able to see a Xero box with a Setup Connection button, click this and follow the prompts to setup the connection. If you have any hiccups along the way, let us know, we’d love to hear your feedback.
Hiding costs in Quote Breakdowns
Sometimes your client may request or be interested to see a itemised list included in your quote, but you may not want to give out itemised pricing. Good news! You can now handle this by changing the display of costs in the breakdown independently of the actual items. Set the “Show Costs in Breakdown” option to Sections Only or None and see how it works.
Substitution of Modules
Have you ever wanted to substitute out whole modules in a quote in one go instead of substituting out labour and materials one by one? Dealing with this in the past could be painful and often required weird workarounds to avoid the issue. Well now you can substitute modules using the exact same method as labour and materials!
Extra quote email fields and default template in settings
There are now additional fields available to use in email templates when sending out quotes.
You can also setup a default template to be used for all future emails in the Settings page under the Quotes tab.
Send emails straight from the Estimate page
Previously it wasn’t possible to send quote emails directly from the Quick View Quote on the Estimating page. Well now it is, no need to go to the Quote page to do this anymore.
Ordering to stock in Purchase Orders
If you have used Purchase Orders in Acrual in the past, you likely noticed that it wasn’t possible to order materials to stock – they had to be assigned to a job. This caused quite a few issues when you need to order in bulk, but only require a portion of the material for a particular job.
It’s now possible to assign items in a Purchase Order to stock, and then also to create Purchase Orders from stock to a particular job too.
More robust handling for material and labour uploads
Some users were experiencing issues when uploading materials and labour into their Estimating library. This was largely due to weird formatting errors crossing over from spread-sheeting applications.
These errors have now been significantly reduced over the last few months so this process should be far more robust and less error prone.
Better paste support from Word and Outlook into text editors
Users were also experiencing weird formatting errors in the Acrual text editors when pasting text from Microsoft Word and Outlook. These formatting issues should now be largely resolved and result in far better styling when printing out quotes.
Clearly display zero-cost labour in Estimates
Some users flagged that it would be nice to easily see the quantity of zero-costed labour in Estimates split out from all other labour when running reporting. This is now possible to do in the Estimate Labour report – if your Estimate has zero-cost labour, it will be shown with its own total row.
Thanks for reading, and as always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us.
We are happy to announce that you can now more easily manage your estimating library with the new import and export functionality. This will help especially when managing larger libraries with hundreds or thousands of materials and dealing with price changes across many items.
To access this new functionality, simply right click on the section at the top of your labour or materials library and select “Manage Library” as shown in the screenshot below.
This will take you to a page which allows you to export your existing library to CSV format. You can then edit this document in your favourite spreadsheet editor. You can edit the name, cost, unit (materials only) and section. You can also add new items to the library by adding new rows to the spreadsheet.
Active Quote changes
Do you find that every time you open the active quote/job dropdowns that the quote or job you want is never listed? Well now it’s easy to quickly find the quote you are looking for with the new quick search feature. Simply open one of the dropdowns and start typing, then pick the quote or job you are looking for.
We are also changing the way the current active quote and job are displayed in the left sidebar to make it a little clearer what they are doing there, as new users can find it a little confusing.
Prevent delete for Labour and Materials used in Modules
There has been a long standing issue that can take you by surprise when deleting a Labour or Material item. If that item is used within a Module, the name will be set to “null” and won’t be added to the quote as the underlying item has been deleted.
The fix for this is an amendment to the confirm delete dialog that prevents you from deleting that item if it is still used in any Modules. It also lists the Modules so that you can amend them if required and then delete it.
Changed wording for quotes used in Estimates
You have always been able to add quotes from suppliers into your estimates. However it can be a little confusing for new users that they should be clicking the “Add a Quote” button, as they think they are already working on a quote.
We are making a change to the wording so that it will now say “Add Supplier Quote” instead. This should make the action clearer and easier to understand for newer users.
Thanks for reading, and as always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us.
We have taken on board all the feedback you’ve given us about the progress claims module and redesigned it from the ground up. We’ve tried to incorporate everything you mentioned to us such as automatically calculating retention, handling bank guarantees and printing a valid progress claim you can send straight to your client.
Here is what the new editor looks like when creating a claim.
And here is what the printed document looks like
The contract values and line items are pulled straight from your estimate. Variations will also become visible here when entered as well.
The new functionality has been designed to work perfectly for smaller residential clients all the way up to larger building companies. Example uses for Acrual progress claims include:
Any other business requiring a detailed and customisable progress claim
Estimate Library nesting
Due to popular demand, the estimating library has been changed to allow multiple levels of sections.
Previously you could only have one level of sections which made it hard to organise in certain cases, leading to really long lists of materials and labour. Now you can nest sections inside other sections allowing you to organise the library exactly how you like it. This change applies to Modules, Materials and Labour.
Here is an example of what you could do before.
And here is an example of what you can do now.
Upcoming Xero syncing
We are currently working on getting Acrual synchronising to the Xero accounting platform. This will let any Xero clients using Acrual automatically sync up their data. Initially we will be supporting invoices and time-sheets, but will later be supporting purchase orders as well.
If you are interested in being an early adopter of this, and haven’t already let us know, please get in contact and we’ll let you know as soon as it’s ready to try out.
Thanks for reading, as always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us.
Finding the right people is essential to running a successful and profitable Business. Find people who are motivated to achieve their best and make sure everyone is working towards a clear vision.
2. Put some procedures in place
Now that you have the right staff that you can trust, you can work on putting some useful procedures in place. Make sure all staff know the correct procedures for placing purchase orders, sending work to the CNC and so on. This makes everything flow a lot smoother and causes far less issues day to day, meaning you have more time to expand the Business.
3. Find somebody who knows the product, industry and is awesome at sales
To help get new clients and make more sales with existing clients, you want somebody who knows the industry from start to end. Ideally they are great at sales and talking the talk as well. Being able to sell ice to eskimos whilst knowing what they are talking about is a huge help.
4. Get accurate and fast estimating software
Get the best estimating software you can. Price isn’t always indicative of the capability of product. There are some over-priced estimating suites that may work well for civil and don’t work for joinery. Speed of quoting and getting back to your client every time with the right price is crucial. Find something that is simple whilst being very flexible.
Acrual is Estimating and Business Management software in the Cloud. It is fast, accurate and flexible. Check it out here.
5. Store all job information in one location
Creating a central handover job folder either on your own server or in the cloud (Dropbox, Box etc) is crucial. Make sure it has the correct information in it so no one needs to waste time looking for information. This also means nothing goes missing as all documents should be going to one place only.
6. Find a great production manager
Have a great production manager that can multi task and take on any problems thrown at them. With this person and the correct procedures in place, you can scale your workload through the roof.
7. Make sure you have good CAD staff
Having good CAD staff that can get through the workload and get the jobs to the CNC machine correct and fast is crucial to growing your Business. Without the CNC work getting done fast and accurately, you will have a bottleneck, either waiting for jobs to be completed, or fixing past mistakes.
8. Have the right machinery
Buy the right machinery to ensure it is making the maximum return on investment and increasing productivity. A CNC that is compatible with your drawing software is a huge advantage as you can send straight from the drawing package to the machine. This means the machine operators can load up the jobs, instead of manually entering them in which can take forever, and also be prone to mistakes.
9. Have good trades people
You need to have good trades people on the factory floor to minimise mistakes and maximise productivity. People who are self motivated and take care in their work are great for this job.
10. Make sure the fitters are right
The fitters will be the final piece most jobs so it is important to have this area under quality control. If the fitters aren’t doing work that is up to scratch, this will reflect on your Business as a whole. Putting them on a box rate (paid per cabinet fitted, instead of hourly) so you can control the cost of the job based off how many cabinets the estimator has allowed for in the project makes sure this area comes in profitable every time
We hope this list has helped to identify the main areas where joinery business can improve and maybe helped to find some areas you can improve in your own Business.
If you feel like taking a step in the right direction with your Estimating, give Acrual Estimating software a go. It is fast, accurate and flexible. Check it out here.
Acrual is business management software which includes estimating, project management, customer relationship management, invoicing, purchase orders, reporting and more. Our All-in-One solution removes the need to transfer data between mutliple programs, streamlining your business processes and saving time and money.
Acrual is hosted in the cloud giving your employees the flexibility to work from anywhere and on any device.
Welcome to the freshly renovated Acrual Blog. Tune in here to get the latest news on features of Acrual and how they can benefit your business. We will also cover how our valuable customers use Acrual to streamline their businesses and take them to the next level.
If you have any questions about Acrual and how it could help revolutionize your business, please don’t hesitate to contact us.