You’re Fired!

Almost two weeks ago I received a letter from IDES, the Illinois Department of Employment Security, notifying me they had received my request for unemployment.  The letter asked if I wished to contest the claim.  Since I am president of my company, I was shocked to find out that “I” had filed this claim! On the same day, another letter said that my wife had also filed but her request was denied as fraudulent.

The Daily Herald recently reported that about 80% of new unemployment claims in Illinois were frauds.  That means for every legal claim there are FOUR illegal claims!  Our state has enough problems without being ripped off with bogus unemployment claims!

I contacted IDES and explained the situation. I was instructed to destroy any debit cards that may come in the mail immediately upon receipt.  Sure enough, a few days later both my wife and I got them!

I reported the events to my Identity theft protection company, who instructed me to file a police report.

I was also told to contact the IRS to report the identity theft and to complete a Form 14039 (Identity Theft Affidavit).

There are several more steps I need to complete, but the main focus of this article is that we have to stand up and take action to stop these occurrences.  I have heard from other business owners that they have been experiencing the same issues.  It is easy to just ignore the problems, but we must report them to help the appropriate agencies catch these people and put a stop to these games.

Office 365 Xlookup function

Have you ever needed to use multiple lookups to place data in a spreadsheet?  Do you get tired of having to create multiple versions of the same lookup formula just because you need more than one piece of data?  If so, the XLookup function in Office 365 may be just what you need.  Xlookup has many more features than the old Vlookup and Hlookup, but this article will focus on the ability to return multiple pieces of data.

Xlookup may return multiple values in adjoining cells, either across or down.  Say you have an employee list with the employees id, first name, last name and phone number and you want to retrieve all the data in one formula.  Xlookup can do that.

For example, say you have an employee table is in cells q4:t53 and has the following attributes, id number, first name, last name and phone number and cell b3 three holds the id you want to retrieve.   The formula to return the first name, last name and phone number is =XLOOKUP(b3,q4:q53, r4:t53).  B3 is the value to search.  Q4:Q53 is the ID column in the employee database that will be searched and r4:t53 asks to return three pieces of data.

Xlookup is a nice function, but unfortunately current it is only available in the Office 365 versions of Excel and not the Office 2019 or earlier versions.


Sage Intelligence Reporting – Sage 300 Financial Ratio Report

Is the data your company needs to grow and run efficiently readily available? One of my favorite report writers is Sage Intelligence Reporting. Out of the hundreds available, I recently had a client find a very interesting report that will help many of you.

The Financial Ratio Report in Sage 300 provides many of the standard financial ratios like Profit Margin, Return on Assets, Gross Margin %, etc. Not only does it display the actual data, but it also allows the user to enter targets so you know how you are tracking compared to your plan.

The report generates the ratios in the current year and will report on the previous four years if desired, making it easy to see a five year trend.
Another area of the report features the year over year changes on revenue, net income, assets and liabilities. This is just a small example of what is reported.
For most of the small sized companies I work with, there is more information than they really need, but if it becomes confusing, we can very easily remove some items.
One last feature is that the report allows the user to select the five most important metrics of the thirty-three that the report can produce.

This tool, if used properly, can easily be configured to help companies improve their performance.


I just completed the audio book Winning by Jack Welch with Suzi Welch. From reading the book it is very easy to see how Mr. Welch invigorated General Electric to become a great company. This book answers a myriad of business questions including HR, management and employee issues.

One of the ideas that really hit home was employee evaluations. Mr. Welch strongly suggests being honest and perhaps brutally honest. He had a 20-70-10 rule for employees. The top 20% should be richly compensated. The middle 70% is the heart of the business and should be cared for and the bottom 10% needs to be replaced. For the bottom 10%, he suggested letting them know they are not making the grade and should look for a better fit, before they need to be fired.

Welch also dislikes the stories about the 30-year employee that always gets good reviews, but when there is a downturn in the economy, is the person to be terminated. By giving employees an honest evaluation of their performance, everyone should know where they stand, so it is not a surprise when headcount must be reduced and someone needs to be terminated.
Another good idea is how to deal with an employee that is doing great on paper, but is a “cancer” to your organization. Maybe no one likes the person, but he or she produces good numbers. That is not enough for a great company. Good results are no excuse for poor behavior.

The last idea I want to highlight is the budgeting process. At G.E. it took many years to change the process. The old method was for managers to argue for the least growth, so they could easily meet their targets and receive their bonuses and managements desire to promote rapid growth. Normally there is a compromise and everyone is happy, but this really limits how a company can grow.

I had a personal experience about bonus systems. Several years ago, one of my clients, a large company, had a bonus system for each department. My company wrote the software to track progress toward each person’s bonus.

One day I was asked to rewrite the bonus system with all new rules. I told them I could do it two ways. The first way was to allow for the old method and new method to be computed and we could report both ways, to show the differences in the system. The second and less expensive way, was to only calculate the new method and not capture the data required to show the old method. The client chose to go the less expensive route.

One year later, management asked if I would re-do the bonus system to allow for the old and new method to both be reported. The previous year, everyone made their bonus, but the company did not improve. That taught me (and them) that a company’s objectives, must be in line with each individuals’ objectives. If not, the individuals’ objectives will win out at the expense of the company.

Winning has many more great ideas that I believe would be beneficial to people new to the business world as well as people that are part of senior management team.
If there is anything I can do to make your company work more efficiently and better, please contact me.

Volunteering: Giving Time

One skill that every business needs and I firmly believe cannot be learned in a classroom is leadership. Yes, you can read books on the topic and attend seminars, but the only real way to develop the skill is by doing it. When you step up in the corporate world and assume a leadership position there are a number of risks you are undertaking. Also, many of your coworkers may not be helping you as much as they can. They may secretly wish you fail so they can move up in the organization. If you don’t want to risk your career by attempting to take a leadership position in your company, how can you develop that skill without seriously jeopardizing your job? The answer is VOLUNTEERING. There are many organizations looking for help; it’s a great way to develop different skills and you discover your unique leadership style.
During my career, I have had the opportunity to work with the American Cancer Society, the Illinois CPA Society, my church, my school district and ROTARY. Rotary has taken me to Denmark, Germany, France, Australia and Guatemala as well as countless domestic adventures. The trips have not been all work, and they were all enjoyable. I have had the great pleasure of meeting and working with people from around the world.
One of my most interesting projects was working on a Mayan school in the middle of the rain forest in Guatemala. My team was bat proofing the boys dormitory to keep vampire bats from coming in at night and biting the students while they were sleeping. We also delivered local low cost water filter systems to many families that were living on about $2 per day. Providing clean water was a major health benefit.
If you are struggling with the Covid shutdown and have pent up energy, look for a release by helping other people. Perhaps you can organize a food drive, or a back to school supply drive. Search your own neighborhood, business or community with open eyes. What is needed? Be the volunteer to get it done! Doing something small will make a difference in someone’s life. You will be helping someone you may never meet and I also guarantee another person you help will be YOU!

Business Continuity. Delivered. Webinar

Business Continuity. Delivered. Webinar

Acumatica is offering a Free On Demand Webinar Series entitled Business Continuity. Delivered.

This webinar will address maintaining business continuity in these challenging times. While businesses around the world are focused on getting their workforce mobile, Acumatica’s cloud ERP solution equips organizations with the tools they need to succeed in today’s rapidly changing atmosphere.

Register Now!

Payroll Protection Program Funds

Payroll Protection Program Funds

So, you received your Payroll Protection Program funds.  Now What?  Do you want the loan forgiven?  If that’s your goal, it’s time to get your “Accounting” on.  The loan forgiveness process will be administered by your bank, and we expect they will request supporting documentation to prove your case of loan forgiveness.

First, what is an acceptable use of the funds? Payroll costs, health care benefits, mortgage interest payments, rent, utility, interest payments, depending on your legal entity.  In addition, you must use at least 75% of the proceeds on payroll costs.

Another important element is that you actually spend the funds in the covered period, which is defined as the 8-week period immediately after your receipt of the loan proceeds.

In order to document easier, our recommendation is to create a separate bank account to deposit the loan proceeds into.  This way you have a head start on the accounting, and it might make it easier to document.  You may also want to set up sub-accounts to assist in the tracking of eligible payments, or perhaps a Project or Job to assist in tracking.

Bottom line: document, document, document!  Also, start projecting your payments now so you are not caught with an issue in week 8 when it is too late.

There are many tips, tricks or tweaks that we can do to assist if you need any help.  Please call us for a consultation.

Michael S. Pruet, CPA

Taking Your Business To The Next Level

Taking Your Business To The Next Level

Isn’t it time you took your business to the next level? Join us in Las Vegas January 26 – January 31 for Acumatica Summit 2020! Grow relationships, learn from the experts, and connect your business all while enjoying our spectacular venue, The Cosmopolitan, a luxury resort in the heart of the Las Vegas strip.

From information-packed Keynotes to inspiring speakers, and from an extensive Solution Showcase to educational training tracks, Acumatica Summit 2020 will provide the latest and greatest in technology and expertise in the cloud ERP space. And, it’s a lot of fun.

“Every year I look forward to the Summit as a time to learn new things.”
—Randy Forkner, President of Collins Computing, Inc.

At Acumatica Summit 2020, you will enjoy:

  • 3 Keynote Presentations
  • 3 Days of Training Courses with Certification
  • Information Sessions for Customers, Partners, and Developers
  • Networking Opportunities with Industry leaders and ERP experts
  • Exhibitor Showcase
  • Live Product Demonstrations
  • Sneak Peek at Product Roadmaps
  • Exhibitor Showcase
  • Contests, Prizes, and Giveaways

Register Now!

Acumatica Hackathon 2020

Acumatica Hackathon 2020

The Acumatica Hackathon welcomes developers and non-developers (partners, customers, Acumatica employees, etc). Acumatica is a company committed to working with and investing in their developer community. The Acumatica Cloud xRP Platform, with its open and flexible architecture, gives developers the freedom to customize it as they desire. They don’t believe in one-size-fits-all.

The first step is registering for Acumatica Summit 2020, coming January 26-31, 2020, in Las Vegas, Nevada at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. The Acumatica Hackathon itself starts on Saturday, January 25 at 2 pm. The second step is understanding why Acumatica feels so strongly about developers participating in the Hackathon. Read more about that here.

W-4 Form Changes Effective January 1, 2020

The Internal Revenue Service has made substantial changes to the tax code that will impact the 2020 payroll tax year. The IRS has released a new W-4 form as a result of these changes. For more detailed information please see the IRS FAQs regarding the new W-4 form.

As you prepare for the next payroll tax year be aware of some important changes:

  • Any new employee starting January 1, 2020 or later must use the new W-4 Employee Withholding Certificate form.
  • Effective January 1, 2020 any employee that needs to make changes to their withholdings must use the new W-4 Employee Withholding Certificate form.