Sage — Sage Timberline Office

From the July 2009 Review of Construction/Contractor Accounting Systems

Sage Timberline Office offers mid-sized and larger construction and real estate businesses with a high-end, thoroughly comprehensive collection of accounting and management applications. With more than 50 available modules for everything from the basics of GL, AP, AR and payroll, to more industry-specific ones for job costing, project management, estimating, procurement, service management and real estate, the Sage Timberline Office suite is an exceptionally powerful solution that offers strong analytics and process controls, along with integration with many of Sage’s other business solutions. Pricing is dependent on the specific modules selected and number of users, but can range from $7,500 up to several times that. Sage Software also offers a construction industry version of its Peachtree Premium for small entities, and the Sage Master Builder system for mid-sized construction firms.

Learning Curve/Ease of Use:
As an enterprise application, Sage Timberline Office should be implemented with the assistance of a Sage Timberline Office Channel Partner in order to maximize the benefits the program has to offer construction firms. The program opens into a crisp interface comprised of a customizable My Tasks panel, which offers expandable links to the various modules, reporting, searches and online assistance. An additional Explorer-style expandable menu tree is also displayed, giving more access options to key modules, common tasks and specific functions, such as billing, cash management, job costing, estimating tools and inventory. When within top-level screens for modules, the main work area displays key business information with text and graphs, offering drilldown access to more specific detailed data. This main panel is also used for transaction and data-entry functions, as well as for displaying reports, and includes various icons for searching or emailing a document, along with other tasks.

Menus are very easy to tailor to user needs and can even include links to other applications and external websites. Users simply drag and drop items from either the master task list or a website address bar. Customization options extend throughout the program, including transaction screens and customer and vendor information tracking, with the ability to create more than 250 user-defined fields for various data.

While users have the ability to customize their interfaces, they are only able to access and work with functions for which they are specifically authorized. Likewise, interface access options can be applied across company divisions, departments and roles. For the most senior personnel, Sage Timberline Office includes an Owner Financial Summary that offers access to all features and functions, but with a focus on top-level financials and activities, such as AR, contract, job profit, estimating and billing summaries. Various snapshots and dashboards provide quick access to key data.

Key Modules & Management Tools:
Underlying its construction and real estate management features, Sage Timberline Office features a thoroughly integrated accounting and business management system that includes general ledger, accounts payable, accounts receivable, billing, cash management, payroll, reporting, document management and financial statement generation. The program also offers mobile scheduling and time entry functions, and integrates with other Sage products for time-based billing, advanced CRM, fixed asset management and payment solutions.

Sage Timberline Office construction-specific functions are centered around modules for project management, contract management, production management, job costing, equipment costing and estimating, providing users with real-time access to project details, including tracking change orders, subcontracts, purchase orders, RFIs and submittals. Estimating capabilities streamline key tasks, with access to pre-built, industry-specific databases such as RS Means, and offering advanced analysis and productivity capabilities.

The Production Management module offers core features for managing and controlling construction costs, providing a system that coordinates with the accounting platform while producing high volumes of purchase orders, and communicating with sales, service and other departments. Vendor and inventory management capabilities are greatly enhanced by the Procurement module, which offers automated management of requisitions and POs, tracking of change orders, materials and subcontract items, as well as contact management for suppliers. Its inventory capabilities can track unlimited complex and multi-part items and kits across multiple locations, with the ability to define item classes, allocate costs across departments, track transaction histories and use barcoding technology.

Sage Timberline Office offers an almost overwhelming collection of reports and analysis functions, with more than 500 output options that can be fully customized using the report designer, financial statement designer or third-party programs such as Crystal Reports. Fortunately, the system also offers great tools for managing reporting, along with wizards, favorites lists and other customization features. Most reports can be emailed from within the program, stored in the integrated document management system, or saved as PDF, Excel, Word, XML and other common formats.

Sage Timberline Office offers outstanding integration across the more than 50 available modules and with several other Sage programs. Additionally, the ODBC functionality of the system allows import from Excel, Access, Word, Crystal Reports and many other programs. Remote access via smartphone is available for scheduling and time data entry.

Support & Training:
Sage Timberline Office includes a wonderfully designed and functional interface offering extensive user-friendly assistive features. It is further enhanced by the vendor’s support website, which includes a deep knowledgebase, resource library, downloads, and access to live and virtual training options. Technical support is offered in various subscription packages.

Relative Value:
With its extensive collection of modules, powerful reporting options and overall comprehensive capabilities, Sage Timberline Office is geared toward large-scale builders and real estate managers with extensive management and workflow needs. The program provides excellent customization options with drag-and-drop functionality and unsurpassed security options.