Full Sail Partners Blog

Project Management Trends Identified in the 40th Annual Deltek AE Clarity Study

Posted by Ryan Felkel on Wed, Oct 16, 2019 @ 11:35 AM

40th Annual AE Clarity Report

How well an engineering and architecture (AE) firm can deliver a project is core to the firm’s success. However, the 40th Annual Deltek AE Clarity Study found that AE firms still continue to have trouble with delivering great project management. Let’s take a deeper dive into these findings and identify areas your firm can improve on in regard to project delivery.

Top Project Management Hurdles

Surprisingly, the top three challenges reported by AE firms were the same as last year. We should take note so that these challenges do not repeat themselves in next year’s study. The leading challenge firms reported was the competing priorities of project managers. This entails managing and delivering projects while also being responsible for designing future projects and tasked with business development.

Even more, the second largest challenge AE firms have experienced with project management is staff shortages. If project managers are responsible for the aforementioned competing priorities, then it is clear the firms are understaffed. More allocated staff would balance the workload, so projects can be run more efficiently. In third place, AE firms reported that they are challenged with hiring and retaining experienced project managers with firms stating that inexperienced project managers actually hinder the successful delivery of projects.

Key Area of Need for Improvement

Project status visibility was identified as a key area of need for improvement. AE firms that participated in the study identified four areas to be improved regarding project management visibility. First, cost variance from original expected cost to deliver a project needs to be monitored closer. Secondly, ensuring projects are meeting predetermined KPIs throughout the project’s lifecycle needs to be a priority. Next, schedule variance from the original and proposed plan needs to be carefully watched. Finally, there needs to be a focus on client satisfaction.

If the top three areas are missing the target, then the client is going to have an unsatisfactory experience dealing with your firm. However, client perspective can be better managed if your firm uses the right tools. One tool that can help firms ensure client satisfaction is the Client Feedback Tool. Learn more about the Client Feedback Tool and how it integrates with Deltek Vantagepoint and Vision to give your firm better visibility into its project delivery. 

Projects are Busting Budgets

AE firms reported that 29% of projects ended up being over budget. Even more worrisome, this is a 9% increase from last year’s findings. Looking more into this finding, one might wonder if those responsible for managing projects have the information to keep project budgets on track. And let’s go deeper. Firms are also reporting that 36% of projects were behind schedule and only 58% of firms reported that they are confident in project reporting accuracy. These findings show that keeping to project budgets is a clear area of need for improvement for all AE firms.

Wrapping it All Up

For AE industry employees or executives, it is common knowledge that project management and delivery is the heart of their business. To continue to succeed in an extremely competitive industry, AE firms need to take a hard look at their project management processes. The challenges and areas identified in the 40th Annual Deltek AE Clarity Study can be easily addressed if they become a priority for firm leaders. You can check out all the details about project management challenges in the latest Clarity Study.

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Topics: Professional Services, Deltek Clarity Report

Ways to Improve Office Communication

Posted by Jennifer Renfroe on Wed, Oct 09, 2019 @ 11:12 AM

Connections Employees

In the workplace, communication is vital to success. Leaders must make sure that their team knows what is happening on a constant basis and what is expected from them. Not only does communication keep everyone abreast of the goings on, it also encourages relationship building which leads to a more productive and engaged workforce. So, how can you improve your office communication to make it the most effective?

Have Open Meetings      

Having team meetings in a common, open venue is a great way to encourage communication. It is a receptive environment offering the opportunity to discuss issues that are on team member’s minds. The face to face dialogue of open team meetings allows for matters to be actively addressed and some problem solving to occur. Additionally, all team members can contribute their input which provides various points of view.

Listen and Encourage Feedback

For effective communication to happen, leaders must listen to what their team members have to say. They must keep an open mind and really hear what is being said before following up with the team. They should also encourage feedback from the team to make sure that what they are trying to convey is being accurately digested. With the give and take of all parties, communication will thrive.

Keep Humor

Another trick for improving office communication is making it light and relaxed. When dealing with subjects that can otherwise be intense, keeping humor in the conversation makes the message easier to pass along to the team. This does not mean you have to become a stand-up comedian but just insert some humor into the discussions.

Be Appreciative of Efforts

A necessity for business leaders who want to have improved communication with their teams is to show appreciation for their team efforts. When they attend a meeting and offer feedback, thank them for their time. Being respectful towards your team shows that you care, and in the end, will make them more engaged with your firm.

Update Frequently

Frequent updates are certainly required to improve communication. When communicating more boilerplate information, they can be done in one of two ways - either by email or via an internal newsletter. While emails are good for quick reminders, internal newsletters impart much larger amounts of general information to all team members.

Effective Office Communication Helps with Retention

When firm leaders use effective office communication, they are engaging their teams. Engagement is a big reason that employees choose to stay employed with a firm. So, by improving office communication, you are not only helping with productivity but ultimately staff retention as well.

Talent Management

Topics: Technology Solutions, Professional Services, Office Support, Communication

Why Clear Business Intelligence is Important for Future Success

Posted by Jennifer Renfroe on Wed, Oct 02, 2019 @ 11:35 AM

Business Intelligence

Business leaders cannot run their firms successfully if they don’t have all relevant information at their fingertips. With clear business intelligence, data can be consistently analyzed and interpreted allowing for the creation of actionable goals. KPI dashboards can also be set up by all department heads enabling them to focus on their specific needs. With all departments having the insight to work more efficiently and effectively, there will be an across the board positive impact on the firm. Let’s see how clear business intelligence can ensure firm success.

Ensuring Productivity

By tracking sales or marketing progress in business intelligence dashboards, firm leaders can keep a pulse on their staff’s efficiency. If the numbers are not meeting expectations, managers can meet with teams to recalibrate the strategies to improve them. Firms will operate successfully if inefficiencies are eliminated and sales goals are met in a timely manner. Ultimately, using business intelligence will accelerate the firm’s ROI.

Improving Customer Satisfaction

Business intelligence can be used to improve the firm’s ability to meet customer needs. It can first be used to identify the target audience or the most valuable customers. Then it can track the customer interactions making sure they are receiving the support and resources necessary for them to be satisfied. Pinpointing the proper prospects for growth and ensuring current clients are getting what they need will ensure future success.

Managing Risk

Being able to see data on a constant basis allows those in charge to identify problem areas before they become disastrous for the firm. With graphs and charts in the dashboards showing the significant data in real-time, leaders can evaluate current situations noting any red flags. Being proactive and tracking this information allows for corrective action to be taken before the matter is unmanageable.

Making Smart Decisions

Overall, it is crucial for firms to have a full understanding of the organization’s entire operation in order to make informed decisions. Whether it is to determine long term staffing for a new project or evaluate the efficiency of marketing campaigns, seeing complete data is necessary to make smart firm decisions. Business intelligence allows firms to see all aspects of the operation and make choices leading to firm success.

Blackbox Connector for Informer

Topics: Project Management, Building Business, Professional Services

Improve Business Development with Technology

Posted by Madeline O'Connor on Wed, Sep 25, 2019 @ 01:22 PM

Build Business

Business development can be a challenge especially when firms are already busy with day to day activities. Leaders must figure out what is worth putting effort and money into to get the pay-off they want. Fortunately, Deltek and Full Sail Partners offer many different solutions that are technology forward and can help make business development easier for you. Let’s take a look at some of these and see how they support business development.

Deltek Vantagepoint

Deltek has recently revamped Vision, creating a more powerful and user focused system that is designed for professional services firms. Deltek Vantagepoint can be used to improve productivity, increase profitability and make smarter business decisions. It also allows business development teams to quickly put together proposals that will give them an edge over the competition. So, by using Deltek Vantagepoint, you will have a platform that promotes business development with easy to use tools.

Blackbox Connector

Blackbox Connector provides the opportunity to connect Deltek Vision and Vantagepoint to 3rd party software. For business development purposes, Constant Contact and Mailchimp Blackbox Connectors will help make it easier to nurture relationships with potential new business. What is sent out via Constant Contact or Mailchimp is brought back into Vision or Vantagepoint with the Blackbox Connector making it convenient for you to track your marketing efforts which leads to new business.

Deltek PIM

Efficiency is one of the leading attributes to great business development. Deltek PIM offers your employees one place to access all your files across all aspects of your business. With all emails and documents in one place, it is simple to research and determine where new business might be found saving you a lot of discovery time. This can be an asset when trying to advance your firm’s business development.

Informer

Informer is a business intelligence tool which allows your firm to collect data and analyze it. Business intelligence provides insight you can use to make better business decisions and evaluate areas for business development. Visual options in dashboards can display a variety of charts and graphs which give you vital information. For instance, you can identify which clients have used your services the most and may require further assistance. Informer thus allows you to pinpoint business development potential.

Deltek Learning Zone

Deltek Learning Zone is a great resource to find out more about tools that can help your firm further its business development efforts. DLZ offers virtual live classes, self-paced classes, support videos, infographics, and many more ways to learn. You can find experts that have a lot of knowledge regarding the best way to target business development using Deltek products. This will help your firm plan a course of action for your business development strategy.

Making Business Development Easy

Time is a precious commodity to all firms. With the many offerings from Deltek and Full Sail Partners, your business development efforts can be handled more efficiently and effectively. It is crucial to target business development if you want to set your firm apart from the competition. Use these resources and stay on top of the business development game.

Deltek Vision Workflows

Topics: Tips, Building Business, Professional Services

Business Development Trends Discovered in the 40th Annual Deltek AE Clarity Study

Posted by Ryan Felkel on Wed, Sep 18, 2019 @ 12:20 PM

40th Annual AE Clarity Report

The 40th Annual Deltek AE Clarity study uncovered some interesting trends regarding business development from last year. The results indicated that AE firms still are struggling to find new opportunities early enough to convert them into sales. Additionally, a large number of firms that participated in the study identified the need to be more strategic about which potential projects to pursue. Here’s a quick summary of some business development findings from the 40th Annual Deltek AE Clarity Study.

Business Development Challenges

One of the most significant findings in the study is that firms have trouble with prioritizing time to nurture client relationships. More importantly, this is a leading challenge for the second year in a row. The seller-doer model seems to be the go-to business development method for AE firms where not enough attention is given to focusing on potential new business opportunities. If firms stay with this outdated model, this trend will unfortunately continue.

Diving deeper, the number 2 and 3 challenges firms reported are increased competition and identifying new prospects. In regard to competition, this is going to occur in any industry and this challenge sounds more like an excuse. However, identifying new prospects has a direct correlation to firms using the seller-doer model. 61% of firms stated that project managers are almost always responsible for business development. With project managers being tasked to do their core job, delivering projects, they struggle in their efforts to successfully generate new business.

Revenue Growth Forecast Findings 

Less shockingly, net revenue growth remained at 5.1% on average. This is very little change from last year. So, why is this not surprising? The findings that firms lack having a dedicated business development team pinpoint the reason for net revenue growth staying stagnant.

Another notable discovery from the study is that smaller firms continue to pursue small projects that have shorter timelines as opposed to focusing on trying to win larger long-term projects. This business development model is proving to be less effective for generating increased revenue year after year. Smaller firms should take this under consideration when making plans for long term growth.

Key Takeaways from the 40th Annual AE Deltek Clarity Study 

Out of all the firms that participated, less than half of the firms stated that they have a formal business development process. This is astonishing since creating new business is essential for future firm growth. Even more, firms are continuing to use the seller-doer model, and as a result, project managers face the challenge of balancing expectations which can hinder the success of their projects. Learn more by downloading your free copy of the 40th Annual Deltek AE Clarity Study.

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Topics: Professional Services, Deltek Clarity Report

Introducing the Vantagepoint Feature “Hey Deltek”

Posted by Ryan Felkel on Wed, Sep 11, 2019 @ 11:20 AM

Deltek Vantagepoint-1

If you’re a Deltek Vision user, you’ve probably already heard about the latest and greatest version of Vision…Deltek Vantagepoint. Even better, Deltek keeps announcing new features that have never been available before in Vision. One of the coolest features to be offered now is “Hey Deltek.” Just like “Hey Siri” and “Alexa,” “Hey Deltek” allows users to speak directly to Vantagepoint to do several different things. Here’s a look at what “Hey Deltek” can do for you.

Add a New Lead

On average, an architecture and engineering (A/E) firm adds 15 new leads to its CRM system per week. First, consider the time it takes to develop one lead into an opportunity you want to include in your CRM system. Now, think about the effort required to record a new lead into the CRM system - typing here, checking a box there etc. With “Hey Deltek,” you can enter the information and start developing a lead in seconds.

Using “Hey Deltek,” manual input is effectively eliminated. Simply type or say, “Create new lead Jane Doe.” As a result, “Hey Deltek” can save employees hours a week allowing them to focus on more important matters.

We All Need Reminders

My memory is sharp, but I still need reminders. I frequently use them to ensure that I follow-up with clients and get other tasks completed. Unfortunately, creating these reminders in Vision or Outlook takes a lot of time around 2 minutes each. With “Hey Deltek,” creating a reminder takes about 15 seconds. So, using “Hey Deltek” to create reminders will again save you a lot of effort that can be put forth on other things.

Even Works with Projects

Beyond business development, “Hey Deltek” works for project managers as well. A/E project managers often handle multiple projects having to stay on top of which stage projects are in and record time against them. “Hey Deltek” allows project managers to quickly access projects. Just simply type or say what project you want to open. This convenient feature of Vantagepoint adds more functionality and better searching techniques for users.

Moving Forward with Deltek Vantagepoint

If you’re hesitant to make the upgrade to Vantagepoint, know that Deltek has made a concerted effort to ensure that the transition is smooth and seamless. “Hey Deltek” is just one amazing feature included in Vantagepoint. Even more, the “Hey Deltek” capabilities continue to grow as will Vantagepoint. If you need more information about Vantagepoint, reach out to a member of the Full Sail Partners team and make sure to watch our webinar series about preparing for Vantagepoint.

Deltek Vantagepoint

Topics: Building Business, New Features, Deltek Vision, Deltek Vantagepoint, Network

Improve Employee Engagement with Training, Learning and Development

Posted by Jennifer Renfroe on Wed, Sep 04, 2019 @ 01:56 PM

Employee Training

According to Gallup’s most recent research, only 13% of employees worldwide feel engaged in their workplace. Additionally, only 33% of Americans are engaged at work based on a report from the latest State of the American Workplace. Without employee engagement, there is limited innovation and problem solving which leads to a dissatisfied customer base. Converting these uninspired workers into engaged employees is a must for a firm to be successful. A sure-fire way that firm leaders can do this is with employee training, learning and development.

Effective Training

To encourage employees to become engaged, managers must first show interest in their employee trainings. They should speak to their employees before a training to discover what they are looking to get out of it. Afterwards, they should take the time to talk about what has been gained from the training. Additionally, there should be a balanced blend of training options to appeal to a diverse workforce. Embracing technology is also an excellent way to make training enjoyable. Managers should know their people and what works for them, and with well thought out trainings, employees will stay engaged.

Constant Learning

Another way to keep employees engaged is to provide them with constant learning opportunities. One size does not fit all. Some employees like a structured lesson while others prefer an interactive approach which gets them more involved. There is certainly more accessibility to learning activities with technology so again using technology as part of the learning options is ideal. Additionally, offering employees a yearly allowance for professional learning is a great way to get employees engaged. The allowance could be spent on books, on online classes or even industry conferences.

Career Development

Another big area for engaging employees is their career development. Managers should sit down with their employees and evaluate what the future holds for them. They should be offered the opportunity to experience different roles in the firm, gradually being given more challenging work and responsibility. This entails daily learning of new skills to help reach the ultimate position with the manager’s help. From the manager’s side, this means aligning firm needs with employee aspirations. Knowing that their managers are interested in what they desire in their career path makes for engaged workers.

Worth the Time Required

While the time required to provide a balanced training menu, a variety of learning opportunities, and personal career development is high, the cost of losing the firm’s key knowledge base or customer connections outweighs the burden. Employees are a firm’s best asset and keeping them engaged should be a priority. Engaged employees work harder for your firm and ensure customer happiness so it’s worth it to spend the time to make them so.

  Deltek Talent Management

Topics: HR, Employees, Deltek Talent

What’s Happening at Deltek Insight 2019?

Posted by Madeline O'Connor on Wed, Aug 28, 2019 @ 03:29 PM

Deltek Insight 2019 Orange-1

Deltek Insight 2019 is just around the corner, and it is time to start making plans! This year the conference will be held in Orlando, Florida from November 18th through the 21st at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center. If you have been thinking about attending this year, but are just not sure, let’s take a look at some of the amazing reasons why you should attend.

Expand Your Understanding

Deltek offers so many products that can be beneficial to your business. At Insight, you can customize the events you attend to cater to your specific firm needs. Figuring out which sessions are best related to your firm needs allows you to get the most out of Insight and gain the knowledge required to take your business to the next level using Deltek products.

In addition, our experts from Full Sail Partners will be on-site leading sessions that will get you on the right track with some of the trickier Deltek products. If you are having trouble with configuration planning, Michael Kessler, PMP will be speaking on implementing projects and resource planning. If you want to learn more about implementing the Asset Management Module, join Kelly Duguette as she shows you how to enhance module usability. You can check out everything Full Sail Partners is doing at Insight 2019 here.

Finally, if you need a little more help with a certain area, you can meet with a Deltek expert who can assist you with whatever problem needs attention. You can set up a 1 on 1 meeting with an expert which will last around 45 minutes. These meetings are first come first serve and the slots fill up fast. Getting one on one expert advice provides new insight on your products and is another great reason to attend Deltek Insight. For more information about these sessions click here.

Mingle to Grow Your Network

With Insight being one of the largest conferences for Deltek users, the opportunity arises to connect and mingle with others in your field of work. You will have the chance to speak with people from around the world that you normally would not be able to meet. There will be plenty of time for learning and growth and collaborating with these people in your industry might help solve a problem you have mutually experienced. The Celebrate Insight event which takes place on Wednesday the 20th also offers tons of food and socializing with the rest of the Insight attendees. You will surely leave Deltek Insight with new solutions and awesome connections

Have an Experience Packed with Fun

Deltek Insight will kick off Monday, November 18th with a pre-conference workshop from Deltek University that will boost your knowledge. After that, there will be a general session where attendees will learn the schedule of what’s happening throughout the four days of Insight. In the evening, there will be a welcome reception where you can visit the sponsors’ booths to gather more information. Make sure to stop by the Full Sail Partners’ booth and see what we have been up to this year!

As mentioned before, the annual Deltek customer appreciation event, Celebrate Insight, is always the highlight of the conference. It will once again be a great event featuring dinner and drinks, concerts and games. With the party venue located in Florida, this year is something you are not going to want to miss.

Register Now for Deltek Insight 2019

With so much to look forward to this year at Deltek Insight, you’ll surely want to sign up! From the opportunities to network, to learning from experts, to having fun in Florida, it is worth attending this year! Register now, and we can’t wait see you there!

  Deltek Insight 2019

Topics: Building Business, Deltek Insight

Financial Trend Findings from the 40th Deltek AE Clarity Study

Posted by Ryan Felkel on Wed, Aug 21, 2019 @ 12:53 PM

40th Annual AE Clarity Report

You’ll be happy to know that the 40th annual Deltek AE Clarity Study found that AE firms’ financial metrics increased across the board. However, what you’re really wondering is how your financial metrics matched up against the findings of the AE Clarity Study. By comparing your metrics with the study findings, your firm can see what it must do to ensure it has an even more successful future when compared to past performance. Here are some financial highlights from the 40th Deltek AE Clarity Study.

Hurdles that Firm Financial Leaders Experience

A shocking reality to many firms is that finding and retaining top talent is becoming very costly. In fact, this challenge was introduced to the survey this year, and it was the largest one faced by financial leaders last year. To put this into perspective, it typically costs a business 1% to 2.5% of its total revenue to hire and onboard a new employee according to a study by MIT. For a firm with over $1 million in revenue a year, this is an astonishing amount.

However, there are other standout challenges firm financial leaders faced. Some of these included business development challenges such as increasing profitability and managing firm growth. But when closely reviewing the Clarity Study financial findings, human capital management issues were very common. Succession planning and ownership transition ranked as the fourth leading challenge for financial leaders.   

Key Financial Findings from the Deltek AE Clarity Study

Overall, the 40th Annual Deltek AE Clarity Study found that the majority of firms are improving their financial performance. For instance, the study found that firms have increased their operating profit on net revenue by 1.2%. On the other hand, firms experienced only a 0.4% increase in utilization rate and a 0.05% increase in net labor multiplier.

Surprisingly, overhead rate changes affected firms differently depending on size. Whereas large firms experienced a decrease by 5% in their overhead rates, small firms reported an 11% increase. However, the increases are most likely associated with firms making investments back into their companies and their employees. Other reasons for these increases may be related to inflated office space costs and the general increase in the cost of doing business. Keep in mind, this is just a summary of the financial findings, and you will find more details in the actual report.

Finding Ways to Overcome Financial Hurdles

During the study, firm financial leaders were asked to rank their top three initiatives to overcome the hurdles they face. The majority listed business process improvement as the most important. This makes sense, as a more streamlined business process will quickly cut hidden costs. The study next revealed that firm project managers often lack financial understanding. Therefore, firms are increasing financial training for project managers to create more profitable projects. Lastly, financial leaders want to improve business forecasting which will also help with human capital management.

Benchmark Your Firm Against the AE Industry

The Annual Deltek AE Clarity Study is a great tool that allows AE firms to compare themselves to others in the industry. What makes this study so significant is that it uses information from over 700 companies of all sizes with over 2,500 individuals responding to the survey. As a result, the information contained in the study represents the entire AE industry. So, take advantage of this free study to discover how your firm measures up to the industry standard.

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Topics: Professional Services, Deltek Clarity Report

What’s New in Deltek Vantagepoint?

Posted by Jennifer Renfroe on Wed, Aug 14, 2019 @ 11:35 AM

Deltek Vantagepoint

If you haven’t heard yet, Deltek has reimagined Vision to create a more powerful and user focused ERP system specifically for professional services firms. Deltek Vantagepoint’s 360-degree view of a firm’s projects offers improved productivity, increased profitability and significantly improved strategic business decision making capabilities. Vantagepoint is an incredible upgrade from Vision and is continuing to grow with each new version. The latest release of Vantagepoint has even more enhancements which will allow firms to deliver even better projects. Let’s take a look at what’s new with Deltek Vantagepoint.

New Proposal Builder

With the new Vantagepoint proposal builder, business development teams can quickly put together impressive proposals to stay ahead of the competition. This new visual proposal builder provides a drag and drop option for images, allows project descriptions to be taken directly from project records and offers the ability to easily create resumes. Within the new proposal builder, there are also reusable templates, boilerplates and master elements to ensure your branding is correct. Having the ability to quickly create uniformed proposals allows business development teams to focus on the other activities required to create new business opportunities. 

Combined Opportunities and Projects

Project information is now consolidated into one hub making it easier to create, manage and deliver projects. By combining opportunities and projects, all project details can be monitored in one place. Having one location for project information prevents duplicate records, simplifies project administration and provides complete visibility into projects.

Streamlined Billing and Invoicing

Enhancements have been made to the billing and invoicing processes with the latest Vantagepoint release saving time for accounting teams. Deltek realized that having billing and invoicing in one place will greatly improve the user experience. With Vantagepoint, users can view project details that include billing information in the new Projects hub. As part of this enhanced capability, draft invoices can be reviewed and approved by project managers directly from their projects. Therefore, the overall time from draft to final invoice is cut short with this interactive billing process. Accounting teams and financial managers can analyze financial information and email final invoices more efficiently and improve cash flow.

Improved Dashboards

Without being able to visualize your data in several formats, it is difficult to make fast and actionable decisions. With Vantagepoint, dashboards have been enhanced to provide improved business intelligence and offer more actionable insight. Now there are new chart dashparts and better ways to sort, group and filter data. Multiple dashboards for users can be created and configured to meet specific user needs allowing for even more effective business management.

Get Ready to Upgrade to Deltek Vantagepoint

With all these features offered by the newest release of Deltek Vantagepoint, professional services firms can run their projects even more effectively. Deltek strives to power project success and will continue to seek out more improvements to help project-based firms run at their best. Are you ready to upgrade to Deltek Vantagepoint today? Check the official Deltek Vantagepoint Readiness Portal to learn more about the requirements and when you should start considering upgrading to Vantagepoint.

  Deltek Vantagepoint

Topics: Technology Solutions, Professional Services, Deltek Vantagepoint