How do I get started in CORE?

The first 30 days of any transformation are always the most critical, since they lay the foundation for momentum and success of the targeted outcome — whether it's a new diet, New Year’s Resolution, or software implementation. If you are new to CORE, the first 30 days will prime your company for the success you seek from the power of the software you selected.

With so many features, CORE can help polish your internal business practices by simplifying project management, timekeeping, billing and accounting to maximize cash flow and efficiency. Since this initial window of use is critical, here are 7 key aspects that'll help you make the most of your new software.

1. Settings

Determining the foundational rules CORE will use to gauge and analyze your company data is the first step in the implementation process. Before setting up projects or entering time, you'll want to configure your Settings so that you can set rules that will apply to your projects 'most of the time.' 

These Settings will become the default within the software for things like including billable expenses in the contract amount, as well as applying rules regarding time keeping and billing terms. You are also able to set custom labels, security settings, and default document storage. 

It's important to note that many of the rules set as default in Settings can be overridden by setting different rules at client or project levels. Project settings always win in CORE, but if a majority of your clients and projects have similar rules in their contracts, most of these considerations can be addressed in Settings. This saves time by streamlining common information you enter into new projects in CORE. 

When set, the rules in Settings will apply moving forward, but will not change the settings on previously entered data. This is why it's important to establish these 'global settings' before you begin data entry.

2. Chart of Accounts

Regardless of whether you will be using CORE Accounting, the Chart of Accounts in CORE should be aligned with the Chart of Accounts used by your company or tracked by your CPA or bookkeeper. This allows for simple mapping to track income and expense accounts behind the scenes. As your team invoices time and expenses, the company receives payment on these items from these accounts as well. 

If your company is using an online third-party accounting software, the Chart of Accounts can be synced from that system and brought into CORE. Proper setup of this is crucial, however, especially if invoices or other information will be synced to this outside software. 

BQE offers special training and consultation on integrations to assist customers in properly configuring their accounting solutions. If you have any questions regarding this process, you should reach out to CORE Support, which is available 24/7/365. 

3. Contacts 

Data entry should begin with your contacts. The first group entered for a company is typically employees. Name, Display As, Bill and Cost Rates are all required for these records. Other information entered for each contact is strictly at your discretion, but may be beneficial moving forward. For example, without an email address on file, your employees will not receive the invitation to access CORE.

Another field that can offer significant insight to the costing and profitability on projects is the Overhead Multiplier. This field takes the base cost rate, which is usually the base pay rate, and multiples it by the overhead multiplier to ascertain the burdened cost rate. This becomes the rate considered when evaluating the cost towards a project. 

After employees, vendors are usually next to be added. Examples of vendors include the electric company, a contract employee, or an outside consultant. If you are using CORE Accounting, all vendors — both project related and non-project related — must be entered into CORE to manage project expenses, as well as overhead expenses. Anyone using a third-party accounting software only needs to enter project-related vendors into CORE. 

Finally, clients must be entered before a project can be created and associated with the client. A complete client record ensures that the proper information will be pulled through to an invoice and the correct client contact will receive the emailed invoice from CORE. 

In all three contact records, only the red asterisk fields are required. We highly recommend that complete contact information is included so that there's a thorough record for each contact type.

4. Items 

Activity and Expense Items must be set up if you want them to show up on timecards for employees, as well as displayed on hourly, itemized invoices for clients. This setup is based on the detailed description you establish to your clients. Some of our customers opt for a generic 'Billable Time' option, while others delve into the specific tasks of a phase or scope of work. In either case, it's important to map the income and expense accounts to each item to ensure proper tracking of the output and input of accounts through invoicing and payments. If the item is marked non-billable, no income account needs to be selected. 

For Expense items, it's important to consider if only project-related expenses are needed, which will be the case if a third-party accounting software is being used. Otherwise, all project non-project related expenses tracked must be included and mapped to accounts as part of the master Items lists.

5. Project Setup

Strategy is everything when it comes to project setup and management. Determining the cut-off time for historical projects/engagements/matters or deciding to start with a 'Tabula Rasa' (clean slate) will help determine your strategy for implementation. BQE offers an array of Data Conversion Services, though hand entry works for many of our users as well. 

You must decide project structure based on two criteria: scopes of work within the projects and/ or billing milestones. For each project or phase, CORE can assign activities, expenses, and even team members. Fee Schedules can be used to control rates on a job, while budgeting, allocation and forecasting reinforce the project management roles of a company. After projects are entered, consider using opening balances to align the open A/R on a project in preparation for your first billing from CORE.

6. Time and Expense Entry

After your projects, assignments, fee schedules, budgets, allocations, and forecasting (or any combination applicable to your organization) are set up, employees can be invited into CORE and trained to enter time and expenses. The data from these entries is immediately visible against project contracts and budgets if the 'Auto Approve' rule has been applied on Time Entries and/or Expense Entries in Settings. Otherwise, project performance updates won't be available until after a company’s submittal and approval process has been completed. Only approved time and expense entries reflect in Spent or project performance. 

Another item to consider is if historical time is to be loaded to reflect in the reporting of the total performance on a job. Employee time entry, depending on the 'Go Live' date, can require employees to enter one or two weeks of the current month’s time for a complete time record for the first billing from CORE. There is no right or wrong way, as long as your team’s path forward in CORE aligns with your goals, objectives, and desired outcomes.

7. Billing

After all of the prior informational aspects have been populated and the equivalence of a standard billing period for your company has been entered into CORE, your team is ready to generate invoices. Whether your billing structure is hourly, fixed fee, or percent billing, activities and tasks are aligned based on the invoice period for which you are billing. 

By setting up CORE properly, your organization can rise above one of the biggest challenges — and quite often the downfall of small businesses — knowing your business numbers. CORE provides you with key performance indicators related to your projects, employees, clients, and vendors so that you can better manage internal resources and costs in real-time. For example, you'll be able to view the calculated effective billing rate for each individual to gauge performance, and judge if billing rates should be adjusted going forward, which has a direct impact on project profitability and realization.

For additional information on implementing CORE, please check CORE Help Center.

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