ERP Software for GovCon, A/E, and Project Management

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Unanet provides user-friendly ERP software that helps project-driven organizations turn information into actionable insights and optimize their processes. We’re dedicated to our customers’ success and providing all the information they need to understand and maximize their use of their ERP solution.

Please see below a list of frequently asked questions about our software, government compliance, and architecture and engineering.

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FAQs about Government Contracts (GovCon) and Compliance

What does NIST stand for and what does it do?

NIST stands for the National Institute of Standards and Technology. This is the federal agency that sets standards for technology, measurements and, increasingly, cyber-security. The NIST also works to promote U.S. industrial and economic competitiveness by the advancement of technology and science standards.

What are NIST controls?

NIST controls are guidelines that enhance cybersecurity, information protection, and security standards. Most commercial and private sector companies are encouraged to follow these protocols, but it is not required. Federal agencies and government contractors are required to follow these standards.

What is NIST responsible for?

As a non-regulatory body, the NIST is responsible for setting standards for security and technology for federal government agencies and American companies. The standards they promulgate and maintain are cited by government agencies in their own regulations. Their standards also work to encourage U.S. competitiveness in the world economy.

Is NIST cyber-security compliance mandatory?

All government contractors must be compliant with the NIST standards on cyber-security (NIST 800-171 and NIST 800-53). If your organization is not a government contractor, you may or may not be required to maintain compliance with those standards. To learn more about the standards and whether your company needs to be compliant, visit the NIST website.

What are NIST 800-171 and NIST 800-53?

NIST 800-171 and NIST 800-53 are standards for requirements that certain systems must follow to access and store controlled unclassified information (CUI). These are a crucial part of the NIST compliance risk management assessment (below).

What is CUI?

Examples of CUI would include any personally identifiable information such as legal material or health documents, technical drawings and blueprints, intellectual property, as well as many other types of data. The purpose of the rules around CUI is to make sure that all organizations are handling the information in a secure and uniform way.

How do I become compliant with the NIST cyber-security standards?

To become compliant, you must first create a NIST cyber-security compliance risk management assessment. When doing this, meeting NIST 800-171 and NIST 800-53 requirements (described above) will be of the utmost importance. Once you have started a risk assessment, you need to create NIST compliant access controls for your company and then set out to manage audit documentation. After doing all this, the government will perform an audit of your organization to determine if you have met all requirements and protocols and if you are compliant with the NIST cyber-security standards.

What is the difference between DCAA and DCMA?

While the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) and the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) both monitor government contracts and contractors, they have different missions. The DCMA monitors defense contractors for compliance with contract terms during the period of performance of the contract. DCMA also reviews business systems such as Purchasing, Government Property Management and Earned Value Management for compliance with DOD’s business systems requirements. The DCAA audits defense contractors’ financial business systems such as Accounting, Estimating, and Material Management Accounting for adherence with the DOD business systems requirements. DCAA’s primary mission, however, is to audit defense contractors’ accounting practices and contract costs. DCAA also audits contractors on behalf of some civilian agencies on a reimbursable basis.

What is the purpose of a DCAA audit?

Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) audits are performed to ensure that government contractors’ cost accounting practices adhere to the cost principles of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and, where applicable, the Cost Accounting Standards (CAS).

What does “DCAA compliant” mean?

The DCAA does not certify contractors as “compliant,” but “DCAA compliant” is a widely-used industry term that refers to an organization that adheres to the standards, guidance, and recommendations of the DCAA with respect to their financial business systems and cost accounting practices.

What is DCAA compliance?

DCAA compliance is when a company’s business systems, in particular the accounting system, has been reviewed or audited and found to be acceptable for use in accounting for government contracts.  If you expect a near-term system audit, conducting your own an internal review before DCAA comes in is a really good idea. DCAA’s audit programs for approval of an accounting system are available to the public on its web site.

What is a CPSR?

CPSR stands for Contractor Purchasing System Review. The CPSR is conducted by DCMA to ensure that all purchases made by government contractors comply with all the FAR procurement rules.  A company’s Administrative Contracting Officer (ACO) at DCMA will normally “flag” a company for a CPSR when the annual volume of their purchases charged to government cost-type and T&M contracts approaches $50 million.

What is a CPSR review?

A CSPR is a very detailed review of the documentation associated with purchases and subcontracts to ensure that they are compliant with all the FAR procurement rules.

How do I prepare for a CPSR?

To prepare for a CSPR, review your purchasing policies and procedures to ensure they are well documented and, when followed, result in purchases that adhere to all the regulations. Also, pay close attention to the purchasing and subcontract files to ensure that each step of the purchasing process is clearly documented to show that all required actions were taken and that the files are organized and easy to access. Contractors subject to a CPSR should also perform periodic internal file reviews to assure a good result when DCMA comes in. DCMA’s own review checklists are available on its website.

SF1408 Questions for DCAA Compliance

What is SF1408?

SF1408, (short for Standard Form 1408) is a form that documents the capabilities and compliance of a contractor’s accounting system (or proposed system). The form is completed and signed by an “audit organization” that is often DCAA but could also be an audit branch in a civilian agency or even a CPA firm. The term “ SF1408” actually refers to the form used to document the accounting system review but is often used as shorthand for survey itself. An SF1408 review is usually conducted at the request of a contracting office just before or shortly after a company is awarded its first government contract. For additional details, read our blog post, “What is SF1408?

Why is SF1408 Important?

SF1408 is important because it provides the government insight into whether or not the accounting system you use or propose to use is capable of being operated in a compliant manner. The SF1408 review is intended to assure the government that your policies, procedures, practices, and software tools, taken together as an “accounting system,” will reliably and accurately accumulate and report (bill) the cost of government contracts. Companies that do not meet the criteria of SF1408 may not be awarded certain types of government contracts.

What is DCAA Compliant Accounting?

A company that is said to be “DCAA compliant” in its accounting has clearly documented policies and procedures that adhere to the cost principles of the FAR and are implemented in actual practice. The DCAA is a federal audit agency that performs all audits of contracts and contractors for the Department of Defense. DCAA also audits on behalf of some, but not all, civilian agencies. Some civilian agencies have their own audit branch within the agency and some contract out their audits to CPA firms.

What is a Pre-Award Accounting System Review?

A pre-award accounting system review is the process by which an audit organization completes the Standard Form 1408 (SF1408) and documents the acceptability of a contractor’s accounting system for use on government contracts. The full name of the SF1408 is the “Pre-Award Survey of Prospective Contractor Accounting System.” The DCAA has published a checklist of what is needed to meet basic acceptability requirements, which can be useful in performing a self-assessment prior to your first government contract award.

 What is the best timesheet app for government contractors?

Unanet is a leading provider of ERP solutions for government contractors. Unanet’s web-based timesheet software enables the anytime, anywhere collection of hours and status for tracking project effort, calculating labor cost for project accounting or job cost accounting, calculating gross pay for the payroll process, and tracking and accounting for paid leave. Unanet is recognized as the best GovCon timesheet, supports all DCAA requirements, and is proven in organizations ranging from 10 to more than 50,000 users.

What is the best time tracking software for government contractors?

The best time tracking system isn’t a separate system at all. Unanet’s web-based timesheet software is an integral part of the paid Unanet solution and enables the anytime, anywhere collection of hours and status for tracking project effort, calculating labor cost for project accounting or job cost accounting, calculating gross pay for the payroll process, and tracking and accounting for paid leave. Ease your path to compliance with Unanet, which is recognized as the best GovCon timesheet, supports DCAA requirements, and is proven in organizations ranging from 10 to more than 50,000 users.

What is the best accounting software for government contractors?

Unanet’s Financials software includes Project Accounting, indirect cost pools, GL, AR, AP, Billing, Revenue Recognition, Purchasing and more in one centralized, integrated solution, allowing you to automate processes, eliminate inefficiencies, and minimize the “cost to cash” cycle.

What is the difference between CMMC and NIST 800-171?

CMMC is focused on cyber threats and has a more practical focus on protecting data. NIST 800-171 is concerned with the controls in place to secure the systems that hold that data. CMMC also includes very stringent guidelines at higher levels, all of which demand compliance with NIST 800-171.

What contract type puts the full performance risk on the contractor?

A firm fixed price (FFP) contract places all performance (and cost) risk on the contractor. The price of an FFP contract may not be adjusted if a project begins to run over budget. The government’s sole obligation under FFP contracts is to pay on completion or delivery.

What is DCAA accounting software?

The phrase “DCAA accounting software” is GovCon industry slang for accounting software that enables or supports features that make it easy (or possible) to comply with the cost principles of the FAR as audited by DCAA. Using this type of software makes creating, monitoring, and enforcing compliant process and practices and makes it much easier to demonstrate compliance to auditors. With Unanet’s ERP solution for GovCon, DCAA compliance and audit confidence are foundational, not simply a goal to achieve—Unanet features support government compliance requirements at each stage of your accounting processes.

What are the no bid contracts I read about in the paper or see reported on TV?

The term “no-bid contract” is media slang for a contract awarded to a single company without competition. There are many reasons why that might occur – some better than others. Sometimes only one company can do the work (the so-called “sole source” contract). Sometimes exigency does not permit the time to conduct a competition. Sometimes the competitive process is attempted, but only one offeror responds. Whatever the reason, the company to be awarded the contract will have to establish the contract value by negotiation on the basis of cost rather than simply bidding a price. This is when a compliant accounting system is not only invaluable, but essential.

What is indirect cost allocation?

Cost allocation is the process by which costs that cannot easily be attributed to a single project (indirect costs) are distributed across multiple benefitting projects. Indirect costs may include payroll taxes and fringe benefits, support for the workforce in the form of supervision, occupancy costs and IT support, or even the cost of running the company (accounting and executive salaries). Indirect costs often comprise more than half of all project costs.

What is a cost multiplier?

A cost multiplier is a factor that can be applied to direct labor expense (the labor charged to projects) to yield total labor cost. It is developed by application of all the indirect cost rates and other allocation factors and then dividing by the direct labor to which they were applied. Very lost cost providers could have a multiplier as low as 1.5 meaning that they could sell $1.00 of labor for $1.50 and still break even (profit is not usually accounted for in a multiplier). High cost suppliers could have a multiplier at high as 3.5 meaning that to break even, they have to sell $1.00 of labor for at least $3.50. It’s a useful short cut for those “back of the envelope” cost estimates.

How do I allocate indirect costs?

Indirect costs are usually allocated by multiplying a percentage rate to a particular direct cost to distribute that category of indirect costs to projects. Fringe expense, for example, is usually a percentage of project labor and it is typically between 28% and 35%. So, if the labor charged to a project totaled $1,000, application of a 30% fringe rate (for example) would result in distribution of $300 of fringe costs to that project. Overhead is similarly allocated. General and Administrative (G&A) costs (the cost of running the business) is more often allocated over a base of total project costs. So, you would total all the labor, fringe, overhead and any non-labor costs of the project and then apply the G&A rate to that total to distribute the cost of running the company to the project.  The allocation process is intended to ensure that each project bears a pro-rata share of the costs that can’t be attributed directly to any single project.

Architecture and Engineering (A/E) FAQs

What is project management software for architecture firms?

Project Management software is software that helps architects and engineers track their time, expense, tasks, and resources used in managing projects.

Which software is best for architecture and engineering firms?

Unanet A/E, powered by Clearview, is purpose-built ERP for architecture and engineering firms and offers a powerful combination of Project Management, Business Intelligence, Time and Expense Tracking, Financials, Integration and Automation, and CRM tools in one single source to run your business more effectively.

Do architects need project management software?

Project management software provides architecture and engineering firms with much-needed visibility into project status and the metrics used to drive project performance.

What is the easiest project management software for architecture and engineering firms?

Project managers need one easy-to-use system to view and control all project data. Unanet A/E saves you time and money by eliminating siloes and giving project managers an integrated, centralized application with real-time insights. Unanet also offers Unanet Connect, the first and only open integrations platform that goes beyond APIs and automates your business processes by integrating Unanet with over 100 best-in-class applications.

What is the most used project management software?

Unanet is consistently recognized as a Top Project-Based ERP Provider in G2’s Reports. Our customers ranked Unanet as a High Performer in several categories.

What does a project manager at an architecture firm do?

Project managers are responsible for the oversight and execution of architectural projects. In addition to monitoring project progress, they are responsible to manage client expectations and maintain consistent communication to key stakeholders surrounding project status, milestones and projected outcomes. Project managers ensure the successful, timely and profitable completion of their projects.

What is the best accounting software for small construction business?

Unanet is a leading provider of ERP solutions purpose-built for Government Contractors, AEC, and Professional Services firms of all sizes. In 2020, Unanet acquired Cosential, a leading CRM and Proposal Generation software provider for construction firms. The combination of Unanet’s purpose-built ERP and Cosential’s CRM software will give customers new choices for best-in-class solutions that meet their enterprise business management needs, including business development, proposal management, project management, finance, operations, and resource management.

What is project management software for engineering firms?

Project Management software is software that helps engineering firm track their time, expense, tasks, and resources used in managing projects.

Unanet Project Management Software FAQs

What is resource planning?

Resource planning is the process by which resources (e.g. people and materials) are allocated and scheduled to ensure the appropriate resources are available as appropriate to complete project tasks in line with agreed upon milestones.

What are the 3 stages of resource planning?

The three stages of resource planning are the budgeting for how much resource will be required, the allocation of the appropriate resources, and the scheduling of needed resources to accomplish the required tasks.

What is resource planning software?

Resource management software assists in the planning, allocation, and scheduling of resources. With Unanet’s Resource Management, real-time status reports and dashboards can accelerate the resource management and project management processes and drive consistent delivery at the project and organizational level.

What type of ERP software includes budgeting?

Unanet’s budgeting solution simplifies the project planning process and provides project managers with real-time insights into budgets to actuals through robust reporting and visual, analytic dashboards. Unanet allows project managers to easily allocate and schedule based on determined budgets or build out detailed budgets based on required resources. Project Managers benefit from budget baselines, change orders, and the ability to track projects costs and labor utilization in real-time for agile forecasting to avoid costly over-spends.

What is the best project management software?

Know exactly where your projects stand in real time and in one single solution with Unanet’s cloud-based project management software for GovCons, A/E firms, and Professional Services organizations. Your project management office can gain insight into resource demands through visual, analytic dashboards, Earned Value, Project Portfolio Management, and project costing, and can leverage this information to make strategic decisions across your company’s entire project portfolio.