Full Sail Partners Blog

Amanda Roussel

Recent Posts

An Effective and Successful CRM is a Lifestyle Change

Posted by Amanda Roussel on Wed, Jun 10, 2020 @ 11:35 AM

CRM lifestyle

There have likely been times where you desired to get healthier and stronger. You cannot just wake up one day, eat well, exercise, and see the results of your efforts instantaneously. You must have the desire to change, recognize the benefits of doing so, keep your WHY at the top of your mind, and identify long-term goals. Just like in your personal life, lifestyle changes are necessary on the business front to see real success, and client relationship management (CRM) is a large part of making that happen.

Professional services firms offer services, and it is all about the knowledge and expertise of a firm’s professionals and trust in the brand. The art of building relationships and earning trust takes time, thought, and coordination within your team. CRM tools keep track of these communications, and consistency is what builds the data. With this data, you can establish long-term goals that you strive to meet. The positive results from choosing to use an effective CRM make it worth your while to change your work lifestyle.  

Accomplish More

The benefits of a personal healthier lifestyle may be having more energy, feeling more confident, and accomplishing goals that have felt distant. Likewise, for businesses, process and habit improvements offer benefits such as boosting productivity, increasing communication with clients, and crushing sales goals. Implementing a CRM helps you work more effectively as a team while adding productivity time back to your schedule. If CRM data is captured timely and correctly, it takes significantly less time to “research” what the latest communications and outcomes were with clients.

Think of employee-client interactions and the information that is gathered as a firm resource. Business resources are meant to be shared efficiently, and that information should be available when others need it. Furthermore, new information is constantly coming in and a CRM tool provides your teams a platform to document and share this information, keeping everyone informed.

Use the Technology at your Fingertips

As new information comes in from various sources, real-time data is crucial. This is achievable with the mobile capabilities of a strong CRM. Therefore, documenting information after each engagement brings consistency and a positive habit. With a firm-wide CRM, you can stay on top of your communications and proactively reach out to clients.

Additionally, as there are web-based apps to track exercise stats, sleep habits, and food intake, there are also apps that streamline business matters. All data from these apps, such as email, can be incorporated and captured into your firm CRM. While technology can help guide us, we are ultimately responsible for holding ourselves accountable for the improvements. 

Use Accountability to Create Consistency 

Just like having an accountability partner in an exercise or health program, employees should be accountable for keeping their colleagues informed. When we have dated action items as a CRM may show, the transparency should drive employees to stay on top of their tasks. However, there needs to be support and enforcement from all levels of leadership to make sure this happens. Consistency is crucial to success.

Get Over the Hurdle

According to the 40th Annual Deltek Clarity Architecture Engineering Industry Study, only 14% of firms planned to invest in marketing intel and CRM systems. Is your firm part of that 14%? CRMs have advanced greatly, and the capabilities of an effective CRM support and encourage accountability, teamwork, outreach, and relationships. After some time, your firm will not remember business without an efficient tool like a CRM. These positive habits will stick with the firm for years to come, just like a lifestyle change for a healthier you.

Grow Revenue with a CRM

Topics: Client Relationships, Technology Solutions, CRM

Why NOW is the Time to Move to the Cloud

Posted by Amanda Roussel on Wed, May 13, 2020 @ 11:35 AM

Cloud computing

Leadership teams and firm owners have countless business elements to focus on and decisions to make. Some decisions are no-brainers, others are hard, and some just need to wait for the “right time.” There are often firm improvements pitched for consideration that may not make it to the priority list, or that are labeled as a luxury rather than a need. The word “value” can often determine where an initiative may fall on that labeling scale. One initiative that is proving to be a need is moving your firm’s ERP solution like Deltek Vantagepoint or Vision to the cloud. Now is the time, and it should be an easy decision. Let us identify some of the many advantages of moving your ERP solution to the cloud.

Make it Easy for Your Teams

Professional services firms have data… lots of data. Much of this data is centered around your people and projects and should be safely stored and easily accessible. With a device and an internet connection, teams can securely access their solution from anywhere. This allows for great flexibility with office, remote, and field team members. The cloud is not only flexible with location, but it is also flexible with firm size. Growth is a leading driver for many firms, and it is important that systems put in place now allow for scaling up when the time is right. The cloud offering makes it easy for teams to get their work done, providing value for the firm.

Reduce IT Burdens

Another benefit the cloud offers is removing the burden on your IT team, whether internal or external. On-premise hardware requires system maintenance and server upgrades which take time and money. Moving to the cloud, IT resources can be reallocated, and your firm will have confidence knowing that your ERP system is running on enhanced security, using updated hardware and software, and requiring zero maintenance from your IT team. You can also rest assured that a disaster recovery plan has been established and is ready to be deployed, if needed. The value of the cloud ultimately improves firm efficiency because you can now focus on what you do best, providing value to your own clients.

Fixed Costs vs Unexpected Costs

Planning for and managing expenses is a significant part of a firm’s financial health. Opting for a subscription-based fee for cloud services, firms can have confidence in budgeting a fixed cost. Otherwise, a best-guess amount would be budgeted for on-premise hardware needs. Another factor that should be considered is potential downtime. On average, downtime with a traditional IT system can be four times longer than the cloud alternative. Unexpected expenses and downtime can put an unfortunate burden on a firm. Choosing to be in the cloud ensures value with increasing reliability and reducing operating expenses.

Everyone is Invited to the Cloud

Small and large businesses alike have the same access to the cloud. The cloud can give businesses a competitive edge as they use the latest ERP solution like Deltek Vantagepoint for project management, financial management, and other streamlined processes. With proven tools accessed easily from the cloud, project managers, accounting teams, marketing groups, and executives can stay integrated and informed, no matter the firm size. The cloud does not discriminate on who gets value.

Continuity is a Necessity

Now is the time to make the move. Firms should be proactive in protecting their valuable data and seamlessly move it to a safe place. Do not wait until something goes amiss with your traditional IT system. Because cloud solutions are reached via the internet, users have greater flexibility with computer upgrades and mobile devices, too. The cloud is the leading choice for data storage because it is secure, reliable, and always available. With all these benefits, it should be an easy decision that NOW is the time to move to the cloud.

Thinking Out Cloud

Topics: Technology Solutions, Cloud, Communication

Chris Simei Joins Full Sail Partners to Lead Business Intelligence Development

Posted by Amanda Roussel on Tue, May 05, 2020 @ 12:05 PM

Chris Simei

Full Sail Partners hired Senior Consultant, Chris Simei to head up their Blackbox Connector between Informer and Deltek Vision and Vantagepoint. Chris is known as a business intelligence (BI) expert in the Deltek ecosystem and will focus on expanding Full Sail Partners’ BI capabilities including connecting with other solutions. His wealth of knowledge will help ensure Deltek clients maximize the value of their product and reimagine how they use their data to reach optimal efficiency.

Chris is always looking to help clients and leverage creative concepts to drive innovation. Additionally, Chris delivers automated solutions with a well-versed perspective, having been in the A&E industry for over a decade. His work has taken him across the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and the Middle East.

“The landscape of ERP data management is changing swiftly. I collaborate with clients and use Deltek solutions to help firms get to the next level. The solutions are endless and I’m excited to guide firms along their success journey," commented Chris Simei.

Professional services firms are starting to reap the benefits of business intelligence. However, the most effective analytics take some collaboration and preparation. In this role, Chris will help firms get the data they need to make key business decisions by using the Blackbox Connector to integrate Informer, or other business intelligence software, with their Deltek system. Informer is becoming the desired choice among the Deltek community because of its drill down capabilities, ease of use, and ability to combine other data sources. The Blackbox Connector team has made it easy for firms by providing pre-built datasets, visuals and dashboards to every user within the firm.  

“Many firms are looking for ways to streamline their business intelligence data to stay on top of projects and business decisions. Bringing Chris on board allows Full Sail Partners to help more firms get connected with Informer and other solutions. Deltek is a robust, cohesive system, and it takes technical experience to integrate these systems correctly. After connecting the systems, firms can have confidence in their data and have an intuitive system at their fingertips,” stated Scott Seal, Vice President of Consulting.

For more information, please email Full Sail Partners’ Marketing Communications Department.

Topics: Press Release

What Makes a Great Project Information Management System?

Posted by Amanda Roussel on Wed, Apr 22, 2020 @ 11:35 AM

PIM Puzzle

In this digital age, project information management is crucial to efficiently maintain firm documentation. With projects that may have a duration of five or 10+ years, project files are plentiful, from large drawing files to Word documents and email correspondence. The organization of those files can be challenging for firms of any size. Therefore, established document management practices are necessary to keep projects running smoothly. So, let’s see what a great project information management (PIM) system would look like.

Challenges to Project Information Management

In order to ensure the setup of a great PIM system, let’s first evaluate the project information management challenges faced by firms:

No Two Projects are Alike - Projects are unique. They can be similar, but there will be at least one detail that sets each one apart. Firms need to create and save project files that contain the specific project details for the benefit of all team members and others in the firm that may need to reference a document, such as a contract or correspondence. The numerous drafts and revisions as a project progresses are important and should be saved in one place as well.

Many Hands on a Project - Team size can vary from a small few to over 50. No matter how much time team members spend on a project, they need access to the files that are applicable to their work and their hours should be recorded on a timesheet. It is also no secret that employees come, and employees go, so team members get added and others get shifted. If team members change, how can the project seamlessly be handed off with no interruption in service to the client without proper documentation in an accessible place?

Information Overload can be Overwhelming - We are all familiar with the yellow folders that you can sift through on the network as you hopelessly search for that one email from the client with a very particular request from three months ago. It is somewhere in there amongst the other documents - contracts, correspondence, drawings, scope of work, photos, reports, supporting data, deliverables, etc. While firms do have various ways to save their files, they are usually not saved in one cohesive location. Furthermore, varying naming conventions also create problems regarding files since not all team members have the same naming logic.

Overcoming Documentation Difficulties

Teams can better use their time executing a project rather than searching for the latest version of a file. So, it makes sense that all relevant project documentation should be easily accessible somehow. Now, what document management practices should be set up by firms to ensure all team members have the correct tools in their toolboxes?

Proactively Manage Emails – Email is a universal form of communication in project-centric businesses. It is communication, but it also can be considered important documentation. Therefore, email can be leveraged to improve productivity, and it should be managed in a secure central location with your project information.

Inclusion of all Project Documents – Project drawings, reports, deliverables, and any documents related to the project should be saved in one location. This includes contracts and change orders as well. Having all information in one place improves efficiency and can ultimately keep projects on track.

Tagging for Searchability - Tagging documents with the correct information allows a system’s search feature to retrieve related documents quickly. As a result, this saves you valuable time and allows you to easily find the document you need to continue your work.

Mobility is a Possibility – Project information management needs to happen from anywhere – office, home, or on site. Be certain that your teams can access the data they need no matter where they are. This is a vital component to a great document management system.

Auditability – Just like accounting data, your project documentation should be auditable as well. Allowing tracking helps keep the data safe and always available.

Investing in a Great Project Information Management System

A quality project information management system is a wise investment for the future of your firm. Having best practices in place regarding accurate and easily accessible project information ensures project data is an asset to the firm, rather than a liability. Even more, a well-planned system can boost team communication and collaboration as well as project efficiency, bringing your team to the next level of excellence.Deltek PIM

Topics: Project Management, Technology Solutions, Project Information Management (PIM)

What Metrics are Important for Your Firm to Track?

Posted by Amanda Roussel on Wed, Apr 08, 2020 @ 11:30 AM

business metrics

“What gets measured gets done” is a common phrase heard in the business world. This thought process relies on business metrics that can be tracked and focused on within an organization. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are the critical measurements which business leaders pay close attention to consistently. There are many leading and lagging indicators that can be analyzed to gauge a company’s health and employee productivity. So, what are KPIs that leaders and employees use to determine if their firm is operating effectively?  

Leading Indicators Look Forward

Firm leaders must always be looking to the future. New business is crucial to maintain a successful operation of a company. Likewise, appropriate staffing is necessary to ensure employee productivity.

New Business Pipeline – This measures the opportunities in the pipeline throughout the business development or sales process. The process typically covers efforts to attract clients, engage clients, then secure clients. How is a pipeline goal determined? Look at the firm’s hit rate – the ratio of wins to the number of projects pursued – and work backwards to determine the number of calls, meetings, and proposals needed to meet pipeline goals. Other metrics include client touch points, new leads, web visits, blog views, and dollar of proposals submitted, which all feed into the new business pipeline.

Full-Time Equivalent – This number shows if a firm is properly staffed for current and future work. The concept includes hours worked by part-time employees and full-time employees to determine the full-time equivalent (FTE). A firm can look at the total number of hours worked by all staff combined for a given time period and divide it by the number of working hours in that same time period. The FTE metric could trigger human resources to ramp up recruiting efforts or signal to business developers to target work for a specific time to keep utilization where it should be.  

Lagging Indicators Evaluate the Past

To keep a firm running successfully, business leaders must constantly measure results against goals. Were the goals met? Why or why not? There are a number of factors leaders analyze here.

Utilization Rate – Many firms use utilization goals as the benchmark for employee productivity. These goals are usually set by team managers and consider billable time, employee development, and administrative time. Employees can bring their highest value to the firm when they are operating at their optimal billable utilization goal. This metric is widely used at the individual employee level and group level.

Overhead Rate – This measures a firm’s non-billable costs compared to billable costs. Overhead expenses can be monitored and adjusted if this number is higher than desired. Examples of non-billable, or overhead, costs include leases, supplies, and non-billable professional hours, to name a few.

Revenue – This popular metric is the number that sits at the top of the income statement and measures the income a firm generates before subtracting expenses. This can be measured against revenue goals to determine how the company is performing. This number is important, but it should not be the only source of motivation.

Gross Profit Margin – This metric tells the firm’s process efficiency. The higher the number, the more efficiently the work is being completed. This can be measured overall for the firm as well as at the project level.

Revenue Growth – Is your firm on the desired growth path? This comprehensive view shows leaders the growth trajectory year-over-year. If it’s not on the desired path, course corrections can be made to get back on track.

Ongoing Pulse Checks Monitor the Present

It is also important to keep abreast of the general attitude towards your firm by both clients and employees. Both clients and employees contribute to the ultimate success of your firm. Thus, both should be assessed for current satisfaction levels.

Client retention and satisfaction – Repeat clients are vital to a firm’s success and can be tracked against new clients. Keeping clients satisfied helps ensure they will continue using the firm’s services. Tools such as the Client Feedback Tool can be used to gauge how satisfied clients are with the firm’s work and communication. The Client Feedback Tool can also be used to the employee’s advantage, learning where improvements can be made, or assistance requested.  

Employee satisfaction – The employee experience is just as important as the client experience. Satisfied employees are typically more productive, resulting in a stronger bottom line. It is best to keep lines of communication open and engage with, survey, and collaborate with employees regularly.

Using Metrics Ensures Firm Success

There are hundreds of metrics that can be tracked on a daily, weekly, monthly, and annual basis. It is key to find the proper balance of metrics that works for your firm type and structure. Knowing how to get the right data is also important. Solutions such as Deltek Vision, Vantagepoint, and Informer can provide business intelligence showing real-time KPIs, giving leadership teams the data necessary for effective decision making and business management. Clear data can be used to identify the most successful areas as well as those that need attention and improvement. This is the most effective way to regularly stay on top of your firm’s performance.

Key Performance Indicators

Topics: Technology Solutions, Professional Services, Business Intelligence