Review of Takeoff Software for Estimating Construction

So often people want to rush out and buy estimating software or takeoff software without first trying to define their internal estimating processes. Once the estimating process is clearly defined, then and only then, can you actually try to compartmentalize the process into segments. So often the segment is really quantity takeoff. Takeoff of what you may wonder? That is like the million dollar question. This article will speak about the takeoff software process which usually associated with estimating software processes. The takeoff software process can often be takeoff of materials for some folks, and to many others, the takeoff process of scoped systems to create estimates or proposals. This review or comparison will not try to explain the estimating software process but bring to you valid quantity takeoff thinking among estimators in a quest to find which product thinks the way you do. These are the opinions of the author.

I will review and compare 3 types of measuring takeoff products:

It is extremely important to note that these are ONLY measuring takeoff programs, NOT estimating programs.

1) Planswift

2) On-Screen Takeoff by On Center Software

3) Electronic Plan Takeoff Software

All three products have their strengths, however, Planswift and On-Screen Takeoff are stand-alone products and Electronic Plan Takeoff is actually dynamically integrated live with Microsoft Excel which means that it starts and finishes and saves in Excel. They all integrate with Excel, however, you will have to evaluate your thought process and decide which of the three products work-flow think along the lines of how you think. For instance, what is the first thing you do when you get a set of plans? Typically, you start flipping through the plans to see how involved the project is and what type of work do you see that is attractive for your company. Then when you decide you are going to estimate this job, more often than not, you start like 80% of companies in the world of construction estimating by opening your takeoff master template Excel spreadsheet. You rename your spreadsheet to the new job or project and off you go performing takeoff. This is where the differences are:

In Planswift, you decide what drawing you are on and then you perform the measuring of an item you want to perform takeoff on the plan. Unfortunately, that is not exactly how an estimator thinks. Planswift does give you the ability to add a type of takeoff item on the fly by naming it and then perform takeoff of it; somewhat of a very manual and slow process. They also provide you with the ability of applying a type of assembly to a takeoff to aggregate quantities of items in that assembly. Not quite the way an estimator thinks. It forces you to jump to different screens which slows down the process. Typically, the main start of anyone’s takeoff process, or some may think of it as a checklist approach, is to start with your own spreadsheet of YOUR items. Those items can be material items or can be scoped assembly system items. Either way, by starting with a master spreadsheet say in Excel for example, many estimators think of this as a risk reducer, not to forget things they normally takeoff. Being that Planswift is a stand-alone takeoff program, it typically saves your takeoff images in Planswift instead of your estimate in Excel, if Excel is your estimating system. If you are using Excel, you have to manually save your takeoff measurement numbers in Excel and your takeoff images in Planswift or elsewhere, just not in Excel where the takeoff quantity resides. Again, if you want to integrate with Excel, they force you to either export or import takeoff items from Excel rather than being dynamically integrated live to Excel. They do however have the ability to dump the measured quantity from Planswift into any Excel spreadsheet or Word document. The main purpose or the primary focus of this program is measuring, therefore it does a good job at that function. Most of the other functions require you to jump around different screens, and essentially, you loose your thought of where you are. There are some features that attempt to address the estimating process, however, there are many features that are missing for Planswift to be a full fledged estimating system; it is NOT one. Planswift does integrate with the leading estimating system Sage Timberline, but the integration is weak. Since Timberline’s power is in assembly takeoff and where most estimators reside in Timberline, Planswift does not give the estimator the ability to add quantities of miscellaneous Timberline items or one-time items that need to added on the fly to an assembly while they are in Planswift at the Timberline interview screen, and while being in the measuring phase. Planswift does allow the deleting of assembly generated items as well adjusting assembly item quantities in a different screen. Again, to perform all that, you are forced to jump around to different screens. No assembly is ever perfect in any estimating system since project conditions are always uniquely different, therefore, having to add items to an assembly is extremely important. That adding of items and associated quantities is an absolute requirement any estimator typically has to do during the takeoff measuring and estimating phase; something that Planswift struggles with as related to Timberline Estimating. Planswift does allow the direct send of measurements to Timberline Estimating items and assemblies while in Timberline Estimating, just as you would do with the old digitizer measuring boards. Training, support and maintenance are extra for Planswift. On-Screen Takeoff by On Center Software, and Planswift charge their annual maintenance and support fees per license (mandatory) which costs the end user more expense annually especially if a customer has more than one license.

On Center’s On-Screen Takeoff is the Grand Daddy of software takeoff products due to the fact that it has been around the longest. On Center recognizes that On-Screen Takeoff is primarily a measuring program. That is why they have a separate estimating program named QuickBid for those who want an estimating program. On Center does not try to trick you into thinking it is an estimating system. In On-Screen Takeoff, you also decide what drawing you are on and then you perform the measuring of the plan. BUT, before you start, you can load a master set styles of things you typically takeoff or measure from your own library. That process seems to be less complicated than that of Planswift. On-Screen Takeoff does give you the ability to add a type of takeoff item on the fly by naming it and then performing takeoff of it; somewhat of a manual and slow process as well. The program does come with many features that are primarily focused on simple measuring to advanced measuring issues all with attention to detail regarding easy navigation for the takeoff process. On Center does a very good job at that. However, there seems to be a disconnect of thought from an Excel spreadsheet items you may use for estimating and/or proposals. The integration to Microsoft Excel is not a dynamic live link, more like an after thought in my opinion. Yes, you can establish links to named styles to cells or ranges in Excel, somewhat rigid. But the question you will have to ask yourself, which will happen more often than not is: What do you do when you need to add things on the fly during takeoff and in an Excel spreadsheet? Again there will be manual associations you will have to establish with Excel which is another major slowdown. You have to manually save your takeoff measurement numbers in Excel and your takeoff images in On-Screen or anywhere you decide, except the takeoff images will not be saved in Excel where the takeoff quantity resides. This type of situation arises when a takeoff program is a stand-alone program. On Center’s On-Screen Takeoff has the best integration with the most widely used estimating system in the USA: Sage Timberline Estimating. It basically mimics the same interview process as you would do with the old digitizer measuring boards. By working directly with Timberline, On-Screen Takeoff allows the estimator to perform takeoff of a Timberline variable question and immediately returns back directly with the takeoff quantity in a Timberline assembly at the variable question. By virtue of this process, On-Screen Takeoff allows the estimator to continue his/her Timberline interview process in Sage Timberline Estimating by reviewing/massaging generated quantities, or adding items in a Timberline assembly as the estimator see fit. That workflow process gives full control to the estimator, good job On Center. Training, support and maintenance are extra for On-Screen Takeoff. On-Screen Takeoff by On Center Software, and Planswift charge their annual maintenance and support fees per license (mandatory) which costs the end user more expense annually especially if a customer has more than one license.

This next system is ONLY if your estimating system or proposal generator is Microsoft Excel. Electronic Plan Takeoff Software is a plug-in for Excel. You start your spreadsheet, you perform the measuring takeoff, you may even add some more items on the fly all the while you are in the measuring phase in the Electronic Plan Takeoff program. When you are done, even if you added items on the fly, they automatically appear in your Excel spreadsheet. Excel is the control of everything. Your project is started in Excel, your takeoff is saved in Excel, the estimate or proposal is/can be produced there in Excel; one program, one place. Many takeoff programs interface with Excel somehow, but only Electronic Plan Takeoff is live linked with Excel, meaning all your Excel spreadsheet descriptions appear in the measuring takeoff program so you always know where you are in Excel. That is a huge difference in comparison to Planswift and On-Screen Takeoff. You can even change a description of a takeoff item in Electronic Plan Takeoff and it is automatically changed live, in your Excel spreadsheet. When you talk about the estimating and takeoff phase you must keep processes cleans and easy and this program does just that. There is no getting lost in this program. Just like the other reviewed programs above, the central focus of this program is takeoff measuring, and it does a GREAT job at that. The navigation within the program is really simple and easy. It is not made to work with other estimating systems, but there is a version that allows the direct send of measurements to any Microsoft Windows program awaiting a keyboard entry, just as you would do with digitizer measuring boards. There is also a version that works with digitizer boards as well. If you use Microsoft Excel for estimating, or takeoffs, or proposals, then this Electronic Plan Takeoff program for Excel would be your best choice. The integration to Excel is unmatched in Electronic Plan Takeoff compared to Planswift or On-Screen Takeoff. What is quite different in Electronic Plan Takeoff is that training, support, and maintenance are INCLUDED with a purchase, whereas training, support and maintenance are extra for Planswift and On-Screen Takeoff. Moreover, annual support and maintenance for Electronic Plan Takeoff year two and beyond is a low fee per company per year, instead of per license. On-Screen Takeoff by On Center Software, and Planswift charge their annual maintenance and support fees per license (mandatory) which costs the end user more expense annually especially if a customer has more than one license.

Microsoft and Excel are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation. Planswift is the registered trademark of Tech Unlimited, Inc. On-Screen Takeoff and QuickBid are registered trademarks of On Center Software, Inc. Sage Timberline Office, Sage Timberline Estimating are registered trademarks of Sage Software, Inc.

Using Social Networking to Expand Your Business

Social networking is one of the components of the Internet that allows two people, or a group of people, to communicate and interact with each other. Aside from allowing users to share thoughts and ideas, social networking sites also allow the sharing of photos, videos and documents. Because of these, many businesses are now turning their attention to social networking.The first thing that a company needs to do is to familiarize different social networks. There are many social networking sites, each with special offers for their users. If you really want to keep your business ahead of the pack, the best thing to do is to sign up with several social networking sites. Getting into more than social network will give you and the company better chances of reaching out and connecting to more people. Some of today’s most popular social networks are Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and LinkedIn. However, choose only those that you feel will suit your company’s needs; you do not have to sign up with all the social networks you find online.Once you have signed up, make sure that you use the site regularly and participate in whatever activity, or activities, it has to offer. Getting actively involved in the goings on in a social network is what will help your company meet people who can be a potential client or partner.When you fill up the profile page, make sure that you give out all the vital information about your company. However, don’t give out everything. It is good to keep a few surprises as these will prove to be handy in the long run. Make sure to include as many photos as possible. Photos are always objects of interest and as soon as users see them, they get curious and navigate over to your page.Once you have completely set up you social networking account, try to socialize and look for persons, groups, or organizations that you can add up as your contact. Try to look for people or groups that share the same interests and intentions as your company’s.Keep your account constantly updated. Post updates regularly. Update your blog posts or notes. Your notes and blog posts can be articles or stories about your company, its products and services. However, whenever you post messages, notes, or shout-outs, do not directly persuade your online friends to “buy our products.” It would be better if you share some advice regarding topics or items that are relevant to your company’s business.Once you start doing all these, you will be able to reach out to more people; even those from the remotest parts of the world, your company will start bringing in more customers. Once you begin to interact with other Facebook or MySpace users, your company’s grasp of communication will become significantly wider. Eventually, your company will begin to expand and grow.

How Social Network Brings More Harm Than Good

Social networking has been looked at by many professionals as a blessing. They see each new friend or follower as a potential customer. But too often they let their efforts stop with that initial connection. Many fail to realize just how detrimental social networking can be to one’s success when not used correctly. How can something so unifying and so easy to use do more harm than good? If you are wondering about that question, then you either haven’t been using social media long, or you haven’t been using it correctly. Because to know how to make it work for you, you have to know first how it can work against you.First of all, social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter can make online professionals lazy. They can see their follower count or list of friends rise, sometimes by a hundred or more per day, and they think that success is inevitable. Meanwhile, they look at how sales and revenue are coming along, and they are shocked to discover they are worse off than before. The reason for this is that they forget that social networking relationships are very basic, and that turning these individuals into buyers requires one to develop a deeper relationship.Secondly, social networking sites create a lot of noise. There are hundreds of millions of people across the world using these each day. Many have 100 to 1,000 friends. With all that noise, it can be very difficult to get one’s message heard, and as a result, you get drowned out in the static. Instead of making social networking a numbers game, it is better to surround yourself with a smaller group of people, who are actually solid contacts. People, who will help you spread your message, service, or product to the world.Thirdly, social networking takes away time from one’s site or blog, the real online sales tool. People get so caught up playing social media games or checking on what other people are doing that they forget to be productive with the site that truly represents them. Instead of getting sucked in, it is better to work on content. Make it compelling and give people a reason to get off the social networking pages and on to your own personal site. There is a lot less noise there than on a place that has more than 500 million users. When people are at your site, they will actually hear what you want them to hear.The more that you know about the pitfall of social networking and how it can actually do more harm than good, the more effective you will be when you use it. Keep that in mind the next time you get excited about a new follower or friend.

Using a Licensed Home Health Care Agency – 3 Major Benefits

Placing a relative in a nursing home is a hard choice to make as a family. If you make the decision to do so, then you want to choose the right facility. On the other hand, a nursing home is a last resort for families today. You can consider other options when an elderly family member is no longer able to live in their New Jersey home alone. One such option is licensed home health care. Home health agencies assist families by providing a qualified caregiver to stay with an elderly loved one in their own home.The home health aide you select needs to be professional and qualified to provide skilled services to your loved one. Some folks may attempt to find a skilled caregiver on their own, without any help from an agency. In my professional opinion, you will save time and frustration and are better served using an agency that provides pre-qualified, certified NJ live in or hourly home health aides.One of the primary benefits of using a home care agency is that they perform a detailed background check on your caregiver. First, the agency will make sure that the caregiver does not have a criminal history. They also do a DMV check regarding driving record. The agency only hires caregivers with clean criminal and driving records to provide skilled home care services to its clients.Secondly, the agency will find a home health aide that is state certified to provide a specific service to your relative. For example, if you have a family member dealing with Alzheimer’s then the agency will provide a NJ certified home health aide that has experience with this debilitating disease.Another major benefit of using an agency is that you do not have to worry about state, federal and local taxes, salary requirements, employee benefits, insurances and other legalities. The agency will handle all employment taxes, licensing issues and insurance requirements related to hiring a professional caregiver.Essentially, the conveniences and benefits of using an agency put a family in a better position to make good decisions for an aging or sick relative. Moreover, since the agency manages and supervises the whole process, the family can focus solely on spending quality time with their loved one.

The Top 4 Reasons That Make Refinancing Your Commercial Mortgage Advisable

There are many ways of refinancing a commercial mortgage; once these ways are implemented, they will improve the fiscal outlook of a business. So we are just giving you, the borrower, four factors that will motivate you to refinance a mortgage that is commercial in nature.Going to the fixed rate againMany times, business owners get commercial loans having adjustable rates; these loans enable you to:
Keep the initial cost of the business low
Capitalize on the low interest rates provided by the market
Yet whenever the interest rates start to rise or whenever they begin to recede, getting an adjustable rate within a commercial mortgage becomes expensive and tedious. Also, these adjusting rates constantly make it hard for companies to predict their monthly payments. Here, a refinance loan can make all the difference as it can easily recreates an ARM loan to a fixed-rate mortgage with having more predictability and clarity.Avoiding a balloon paymentThe “balloon payment” comes appended to some loans; in such a loan, the major chunk of the balance remains due until the loan period comes to an end. It has been observed that for most businesses, making the final payment-the balloon one, that is-is the hardest. During this scenario, the option of refinancing is a more preferable one because it enables the companies to bypass the need to make the final balloon payment.Taking the advantage of lower interest ratesThe reduction in total loan cost is yet another factor that motivates a business owner to refinance such mortgages. As and when the market interest rates plunge dramatically-the way they have done in the previous years-businesses can tend to save nearly thousands of dollars. This saving comes to a business in the form of lowered interest rates.Cash-Out refinanceIf an owner has a significant equity amount within the commercial property, it’ll be possible to extract a little portion of the same amount as cash; this cash flow can be used for other commercial purposes by the owner. This way is trusted by nearly every prudent business owner when it is about:
Financing property improvement and repairs
Getting a source of working capital for meeting day-to-day operational needs
Such refinancing of commercial properties can be repaid as a line of credit or as a lump sum.However, refinancing of loans, too, has its own fees; this fee may be related to lenders, appraisals, and closing costs. For this reason, it is advisable that you must weigh the costs alongside the benefits before making the last call.

Reality Vs Myths – SBA Changes Small Business Reporting Standards

The SBA recently made some changes to how small businesses can compete in the federal marketplace, leading to some false beliefs. An examination which clears up some of the false beliefs about the change in Small Business Association guidelines and how it affects businesses trying to do work with the government.Myth: Small Businesses can’t compete in the federal marketplace because large companies are getting contracts specifically written for smaller businesses.Reality: Though it is true this has happened in the past, large businesses taking contracts set aside for smaller businesses is not a real factor anymore in the federal contracting arena. A minuscule percentage of contracts get awarded to companies whose size is later challenged – the companies are almost universally on the edge of what is defined as a ‘small business’ rather than the large multi-national corporations. The Small Business Administration (SBA) has adopted regulations which keep such contracts from being considered as small business contracts, helping to make the available figures and statistics more accurately reflect reality.Myth: Large and multinational corporations are listed in the GSA’s database with small business contracts because they were awarded them.Reality: There are two explanations for this. The first is that size status is determined at the time a contract is awarded, and is retained for the duration of the contract. In recent times, agencies have increasingly been awarding long-term contracts which can extend for as much as twenty years. During that period it is quite possible that these businesses become larger and no longer fit the small business size standard for their commodities. Small businesses are becoming large businesses during the period of their contracts, making size reporting difficult to implement effectively. Secondly, many large companies have a strategy of purchasing small businesses with long-term contracts, meaning that a contract awarded to a small business may then become owned as a subsidiary of a large business. Until recently, agencies were allowed to count those contracts toward their small business goals despite this fact.Myth: Nothing has been done to stop such misrepresentation of small business awards, and the SBA has not made it more difficult for larger businesses to attain long-term small business contracts and misrepresent themselves.Reality: Many steps have been taken to resolve this issue. The SBA implemented a ruling in June that requires companies, large or small, to recertify their size status at the end of the initial contract term (generally five years) and again at every exercising of a contract term extension option, usually between one and five years. Additionally, whenever a small business is bought out by or merges with another business (of any size), it must recertify its size status for all of its contracts, regardless of where they are in the term. Thus, from now on all contracts will be reported as held by large companies if the business holding them has grown past small business size standards or has been acquired by a large company. The SBA has also taken other steps, including increasing its staff working on finding small business contracting opportunities, requiring federal agencies to review any issues or discrepancies with their reported contracting statistics, and starting a “Small Business Procurement Scorecard,” which will monitor and score agencies on their performance on a variety of small business goals.Myth: This five year recertification allows agencies to report the tens of billions of dollars set aside for small businesses for large businesses until 2012.Reality: The new SBA policy explicitly prohibits this. It forbids small businesses that merge or are acquired by large businesses from claiming small size status for all future work, even on existing contracts. This means that as soon as a business is no longer legally considered ‘small,’ all of the dollars used must be reported according to the appropriate size standard. It also limits the time that a small business that expands beyond small standards can report as small to no more than five years – and most to within one year. All of the new SBA policies apply to all existing and future contracts of any term length, so that whenever any event that triggers a recertification need occurs – merger, acquisition, end of a contract term, or exercise of a contract option – the business must recertify itself to whatever size standard is appropriate at that time.Myth: Small business can be forced to compete alongside large businesses because of the new recertification policies.Reality: A contract that is set aside for small businesses MUST be given to a business that is certifiable as small at the time of bid submission. These new policies actually protect small business owners from having to compete with larger businesses, because there is now no way for them to acquire small businesses in order to certify small business status.Myth: There is no enforcement and there are no penalties, fines, or consequences for large businesses that get small business contracts.Reality: If the SBA determines that a businesses has misrepresented itself about the size standard, they have the right to disqualify a bid and deny the contract. If a business is found to have intentionally misrepresented itself regarding size status in order to get a contract, under Section 16(d) of the Small Business Act the owners are subject to fines and imprisonment. Companies that lost out on the bid may challenge the size of the winning companies and also file civil suits under the False Claims Act. Additionally, there is proposed legislation that would delay awarding of any contracts that have size standards attached over a certain dollar amount until the size status of the winning bidder is determined and verified by the SBA.Myth: The SBA will not release information on small businesses awarded government contracts.Reality: Information and data relating to federal contract awards is readily available to the public through the Federal Procurement Data System – Next Generation. Any person – small business owner or otherwise – may request information or reports through the database operator, the General Services Administration (GSA), if they have difficult finding data or navigating the site.Myth: The recertification procedures will change the size standards for small businesses and how they are classified as ‘small,’ much like the 2004 proposal.Reality: This is simply not the case. Small businesses are still determined to be so by the same regulations. The rules regarding size standards have not changed and are still determined by industry – some are based around maximum number of employees, some are on revenues in recent years, and some are a combination of the two. The 2004 proposal, which did not go into effect, was a broad restructuring agenda that would have made all size standards determined by the number of employees.Myth: More than a dozen federal investigations in the last six years have reported finding that billions of dollars were diverted from small businesses to Fortune 1000 companies and their subsidiaries across the country.Reality: There reports almost universally raised issues regarding the accurate reporting of contract dollars that were originally awarded to small businesses – just the sort of thing the new rules were put into place to prevent. This meant that small businesses were the original winners of the contracts, but then were bought up by larger companies. Although there are a very few occasions where large businesses won federal contracts that had been set aside for small businesses, generally this was because of a misunderstanding or of a small business not realizing it had grown beyond the size standard. None of the studies suggested that large, multinational corporations competed against small businesses for contracts. The dollars went to the larger companies because the business that originally won the contract was small. The new rules and guidelines that have been put into effect as of June 30, 2007 should prevent any further such problems of misreporting.

Are All Payday Loan Companies The Same?

Given the bad rap that payday loans and short term cash advances often receive in the media, it is no wonder that there is some confusion in regards to the actual payday loan companies themselves. There are differences that you need to be aware of, especially if you are thinking about getting a loan to tide you over. Although there is often negative publicity, payday loans also have their advantages and you need to be aware of these as well.Basically there are payday loan companies that offer their short term financial services from a physical location, and then there are those that are available and accessible online. The physical locations may also have a web presence in order to extend their services to a wider base than their current location achieves. Alongside these payday loan companies, there are also payday loan directories that can match you with a lender, based on the information that you provide to them. Many of the actual sites you find online will be a directory service that conveniently locates lenders to suit your circumstances.You will find payday loan companies with a physical storefront location in many shopping malls and local neighbourhood centres. These can also be convenient when you need emergency cash, however some people can get a little embarrassed about others seeing them entering the store. The main difference with a store front and online lenders is that the store front will often have the cash to hand over to you on the spot. Payday loan companies that offer their services online will need to deposit the money into your bank account. Although this may not be immediate, most companies will actually transfer the funds to your account on the same day that you are approved. So both methods of short term lending have their advantages and disadvantages.You will always need to be wary when you are shopping online for a short term loan because there are still those that set up fraudulent sites in order to get some valuable dollars from you. When you approach payday loan companies, whether that is online or offline, you won’t need to pay the interest fees or application fees, if any, upfront. If you come across a site that is asking you to pay a fee for their service upfront, then your radar should go up and you need to reconsider your options. When you are short of cash you often wouldn’t have this extra money on hand anyway and reputable payday loan companies understand this.Reputable payday loan companies will inform you of all the fees and charges that may occur, including what will happen if you default on the loan. You should not be left guessing when you apply for a short term loan of any type, and before accepting the offer that is being made to you, it is in your best interests to read over all of the terms and conditions again, just to be sure. If you have applied for a short term loan and you have been provided with an acceptance offer, you are still under no obligation to go ahead with the loan if you change your mind. Of course, once you have already accepted the offer from the lender, you will need to see it through until the loan is repaid in full, including any interest and fees that may be charged.Payday loan companies will all provide a short term loan solution for those that need them, however they are not all the same and will also have their own sets of terms and conditions. Many may be extremely similar, however it is important that you look for the differences before accepting any offer that is provided to you.

Exclusive Remedy Provisions – Why You Cannot Sue Your Own Employer When Injured

Many clients, sometimes after years of litigating a workers’ compensation claim, get to the frustration point where they decide: “I guess I’m going to have to sue my employer.” It is at this point that the harsh reality must be revealed (or reiterated). In most cases, if you have a workers’ compensation claim, you cannot sue your employer, even if it was negligent, for the same injury. This article will try to explain the logic behind the exclusion commonly known as “the exclusive remedy provision”.Before workers compensation statutes came into existence, the same rules applied to work related accidents as any other civil claim. If one was injured at work and the employer was negligent, a civil suit could be brought against the employer for damages. However, in many cases, the injured worker would be out of work and unable to feed his family or obtain medical treatment. If the case was complicated, attorney fees, court costs and expert witness fees could not be paid. The employer had a distinct advantage. Even if a favorable verdict was obtained, it took months and the losing side was entitled to appeal.To even the playing field, beginning in the 1910s, lawmakers began creating the “workmen’s compensation” laws on which the current law are based. The concept was fairly simple: create a system where an injured employee received compensation and medical treatment where he or she was injured in an incident which arose out of and in the course of employment. Benefits were paid quickly and regardless of fault. If the case was disputed, it was handled administratively, generally without suit being filed and without a jury trial.On the surface, these laws seem to favor employees. However, as time would tell, the benefit to employers was significant. Contingency fees and non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, were in their infancy in the 1920s. In the heyday of the pre tort reform era, a person could recover much more in a personal injury case than they could in a workers’ compensation claim, sometimes ten times as much or more. Therefore, in a case where an individual was killed on the job as a result of his employer’s negligence, benefits to his dependents under workers compensation are generally limited. If he or she had no dependents, in many states the employer would only have to pay for medical treatment before death. The same circumstances in a lawsuit would likely result in a six or seven figure settlement or verdict with the potential for punitive damages.Also, as an incentive to industry, workers’ benefits under the act would be limited. Generally, an injured worker is entitled to two-thirds of his or her “average weekly wage” with a cap in place in many jurisdictions. In Georgia, for example, as of June 30, 1990, the maximum benefit an injured worker was entitled to was $175.00 per week, regardless of his or her injury or pre-injury wages. Even in 2006, after significant increases in the last fifteen years, the maximum rate in Georgia is less than $24,000 per year. (O.C.G.A 34-9-261) The median household income during the same period of time was $48,388.
([]).In some jurisdictions, there are exceptions to the exclusive remedy provision. If the employer is guilty of gross negligence or willful misconduct, an injured worker may be able to obtain benefits over and above those provided by workers’ compensation. For example, in Massachusetts, an employee’s compensation is doubled in these types of cases with the employer paying the additional benefits. At lease one jurisdiction allows a choice of remedies where the employer is guilty of gross or willful negligence.There are other exceptions but they are rare. In certain contract cases, an employer may be brought in as a result of an indemnification agreement with a third party. Also, if the employer is acting in a different capacity than employer, the exclusive remedy bar may not apply. Another example is in a loaned servant situation such as an employee working for a temp service. However, most states treat the both the direct employer and the company that pays the leasing company as “employer” for workers’ compensation purposes.The level of frustration is tremendous for both employees and attorneys in the area of exclusive remedy. It does not seem right that an employer can be negligent and be immune from suit. It is more unfair that an employer can cause injury due to gross or willful misconduct with no consequences in most jurisdictions. The frustration intensifies when you learn you cannot sue a company who is not your employer – the “statutory employer” concept but that discussion is for another article.When your lawyer, family or a friend tells you “You cannot sue your employer”, it may not seem just or fair. Sadly, however, it is probably correct.

Practical and Economical Gadget Gifts For Any Occasion

Just about everyone has a person on their gift list that loves gadgets. From electronic gadgets to practical gadgets, some people simply love gadgets. It’s easy to see why. Gadgets are basically adult toys, but they usually have very practical uses. Here are some great gadget gift ideas:FlashlightsA flashlight is a gift anyone can use and anyone can have fun with. Whether it’s for the kids to use during sleepovers or whether it’s for when the electricity goes out or when you have to go out and look for the cat at night.Flashlights have come a long way in recent years, especially since the invention of the LED. LED flashlights have so many advantages over traditional flashlight technology, that LED flashlights seem poised to dominate the flashlight market very soon. LED’s allow flashlights to be much brighter, last longer, use less energy and allow flashlight makers to come up with much smaller, more innovative designs.A great choice for a small and fun gadget gift is a keychain LED light. These tiny gadgets pack a lot of light into a package that is tiny and lightweight enough to carry on your keychain. This is a great gift for anyone who has a keychain. For larger, stronger lights, there are many LED options. Consider a 12 LED flashlight that packs tons of bright light into a more compact, less heavy package than a traditional flashlight.ChargersAnother practical gadget gift is a portable cell phone or MP3 player charger. These gadgets come in several flavors. One will allow your cell phone to be charged by using a regular AA battery. There are also hand crank powered and solar panel powered chargers available. These make great gifts for anyone on the go.Wireless Key FinderKnow someone who is always looking for their keys? How about solving this problem for them, forever. Get them a wireless key finder. A special keychain is attached to your keys and a wireless transmitter is placed in a central location of your home. Simply press a button on the transmitter and the keychain emits a loud noise, alerting you to the location of your keys.Portable Flash DrivesA portable flash drive is simply a tiny hard drive. They come in many shapes, sizes, colors, styles and capacities. These handy little flash drives can be plugged into just about any computer that supports USB. They can be used to backup and transport any important files including documents, email, pictures, videos, music and whatever else you need to backup. These devices are often as small as a pack of gum, yet can pack up to 64 GB of space. They can also be purchased in the form of jewelry, toys, pens and more.When you’re shopping for gifts, don’t forget to consider a gadget

The Reason Why Email Marketing Is Still The Best

Digital marketing is great hype today. New methods and techniques to conduct the marketing are being devised every day. Amidst all this, it is easy to assume that email marketing is an obsolete process.We may consider it as it is no longer being used or isn’t fetching desirable results.However, you couldn’t be more wrong.Email marketing is still widespread today. It is, in fact, becoming more successful with time. But what makes it such an appealing marketing technique, despite being so old?Well, let’s find out.Here are the reasons why people are still in love with email marketing:1. Low CostThe biggest reasons why emailing continues to remain one of the favorites is the cost factor. It has a very low cost involved. All you require is an operational email ID, and you are ready to start working on the email marketing tactics.Sometimes, people start buying bulk email addresses. However, it is quite rare. Mostly they send emails only to people who genuinely subscribe to the site themselves.An emerging practice is to use software for automating the generation and sending of emails. However, this cost is often less compared to other modes of marketing.There are neither any print charges involved, nor do you need to pay fees for the advertisements space like space on television and newspapers. Overall, email marketing remains one of the cheapest modes of marketing.2. Only for the customersMost marketing techniques involve users who may have never interacted with the brand. Some types of digital marketing tactics target users who have shown similar interests in their actions, as seen on Facebook and Google.However, email marketing is the only marketing mode where the users themselves ask to be part of the company’s subscribers.Companies get email addresses of the users either when they subscribe to the newsletters or when they register to their website.Taking advance approval from customers ensures that emailing effort is more visible and effective compared to other marketing methods.3. Target your audienceOne of the big merits of the email marketing is that it allows you to target a particular segment of your audience.Since companies usually obtain email addresses by subscription or registration, they also capture their basic information about the customer like name, gender, age, location etc.This information could be utilized in creating targeting emails.For instance, if your company has a great offer for students, you can send emails to users who are less than 24 years of age. And, if your company is offering discounted prices on women apparels, then you may consider targeting females instead of men.Users can also notice the pattern that they receive only those emails that are relevant to them. Thus, apart from saving a lot of resources, the company is also able to create a trust factor between the customer and the brand.4. Ask them to make a moveOne-way marketing despite having a broader reach suffers from a very critical drawback, i.e., lack of interaction. Even if you pitch the best of your marketing ideas, yet the user is free to ignore them.In simpler words, you just cannot compel users to make an effort for paying heed to your offer. However, small efforts can definitely pay off.Email marketing allows you to put in those efforts. By introducing a simple “call-to-action”, you can ask the users to visit your website and see what you have to offer.Having call-to-action also saves you from the trouble of giving too much information in the mail itself. Thus, in the email body, you can simply include the most-appealing content.5. Saves you the effortApart from being cost-effective, it is one of the simplest marketing methods around. One does not require any high-end software, no huge team or a separate department.All you need is the required hardware and a few professionals who know the job.There is always a scope for better software and tools to be used in email marketing.However, people mostly prefer the simple format, since it is majorly the content that decides the effectiveness of an email. The lack of complexity allows you to focus completely on creating an appealing email content.6. See your scoreA salient feature that makes the email marketing technique a desirable one is the metrics. Most traditional marketing methods have no or poor metrics, like radio, television, and newspapers.However, in email marketing, despite being decades old, you can get all the measurements you need.Also note, to identify the performance metrics, you would require appropriate email software.A right software will tell you everything correctly, right from the number of emails that were actually opened to the ones that redirected the user to your website.These results could give you insights into what is and isn’t working for your campaign.7. See instant resultsOne great benefits of using email marketing is that it allows you to perceive instant results. As soon as you send an email, the user would either receive it or be notified about it. Most people check their emails within 24 hours.Thus, whether or not the user decides to take your offer, you get to see the real results the next day.Most other marketing methods require some days or even weeks to bear results. But email marketing can get you the results before the date changes.Some people argue that such hasty marketing is counterproductive, but that is utterly false.8. No boundariesEmail marketing being a prominent part of the internet marketing, it does not have any boundaries set by geography.While this is true for any digital marketing method, the email marketing is the true alternative to the traditional marketing methods like print and television.The difference is you can target customers globally belonging to various countries, genders, age groups, professions etc.The more range of customers you choose, the bigger will your potential customer base would be.ConclusionEmail marketing, despite the negative stereotype, is both alive and productive even today. As discussed above, there are loads of speculations that make people fall in love with it.Though there are other marketing methods may beat the email method in one or two ways, overall, it is still one of the most effective and accessible marketing methods across the globe.