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New Year’s Resolutions for Deltek Vision Users

Posted by Full Sail Partners on Wed, Jan 04, 2017 @ 02:18 PM

As the New Year starts, many people find it the perfect time to identify areas of opportunity to improve themselves. In addition to making resolutions for their personal lives, many people also focus on creating resolutions for the workplace. To support this process, our team of Deltek Vision experts at Full Sail Partners has put together a list of New Year’s Resolutions for Vision users.  

New Year's ResolutionsTop Resolutions for Vision Users

  1. Make sure your firm is using the most current version of Deltek Vision. The latest version is 7.6 and is full of new enhancements. Learn more about Vision 7.6 in this article.
  2. Clean up duplicate records in your Vision database, specifically the Vendor and Client records, to prevent billing errors and other problems.
  3. Go paperless for Accounts Payable (AP) Invoice Approvals that require consultant/project manager sign-off.
  4. Setup a yearly reminder for the accounting department to run the 1099 Initialization process after all AP checks have been processed for the year and before any AP checks are processed in the next year. It can be run in either period since it is not period specific. This process transfers the “Paid This Year” amount to the “Paid Last Year” field on the Miscellaneous tab in the Vendor Table Maintenance and resets all vendor “Paid This Year” values to zero.
  5. Start using Revenue Generation in Vision to allow for recognizing project revenue as it is earned, matching revenue with expenses incurred to data. Without this, Vision recognizes revenue only as it is billed.
  6. Stop printing reports for directors and project managers. Instead, have them use the Vision Dashboard. Custom Dashparts can be created to give each user individualized information that is relevant to them.
  7. Remember to never un-post or create journal entries to control accounts. This is more about accounting best practices.
  8. Login to Vision more often than timesheet completion requires and manage your timesheet frequently to avoid over or under billing clients.
  9. Take the time to understand and implement standard functions in Vision such as Expense Report Approvals, using Benefits Accruals, and Account Groups for General Ledger Reporting to decrease workload.
  10. Plan to attend more Full Sail Partners’ webinars to learn helpful tips and new tricks in order to fully harness the power of Deltek Vision. Check out our past webinars here.   

Do More with Deltek Vision this New Year

With each New Year comes both potential opportunities as well as challenges. Begin this New Year by following these resolutions. Do more with Vision and save your firm much wasted time.

By the way, as you are closing up last year, check out our recent article about Year-End processes for Deltek Vision users here.

Do you have a tip of your own? Comment below with your New Year’s Resolutions for other Vision Users.

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Topics: Tips, Deltek Vision

Top 5 Fears Keeping You From an ERP Implementation

Posted by Full Sail Partners on Wed, Jan 28, 2015 @ 03:00 PM

describe the imageMy momma was always full of advice. Some I took with great results, but others … well let’s just say I had to learn the lesson the hard way. At this stage in our lives, we’ve all moved on from those tender years where momma was our greatest guide, but we are all still attuned to receiving advice from those more experienced. Or at least we should be. Take for example, the ERP Implementation process:

Most savvy business professionals know the ERP acronym, but not all have taken the advice.  But why?  What’s keeping some companies from “pulling the trigger” and bringing this all important piece to their success puzzle – especially when their competitors are?  In my years talking and working with a variety of firms, I have gathered the top five fears why companies, like yours, haven’t completed an ERP Implementation. 

1)      You say: “It’s going to cost too much.”

We hear:  Fear of Being Out of Control

We solve: An ERP system will address this fear by managing costs and stopping       financial leaks.

Problem:  The industry says that ERP implementation can be expensive and many companies wonder where the money is coming from. Many function under the notion that it’s easier to just do the quick fix and move on.

Solution:  The right ERP system, implemented correctly with the aid of the right consultants, will fix those expensive leaks in processes. Furthermore, with a detailed IT growth plan and the information from the new ERP, the initial costs will be recouped and you’ll be well on your way to a better financial and technologically focused picture.

2)      You say: “I don’t have the time to research an ERP.”

We hear:  Fear of Where to Start

We solve:  Taking the first step with an ERP and controlling your future will eliminate this fear.

Problem:  It can be daunting to think about the work it will require to research and discover the right consulting firm who will help find and implement the right ERP. But, in this scenario, consumers are being reactive rather than proactive - spending days living those old clichés “with your head in the sand putting out fires.” 

Solution:  It’s time to take action - focus on goals and the future. An ERP is a planning, forward-looking mechanism designed to give control over an organization’s future. If the research and work is done at the beginning of the ERP implementation, energy will be focused on the future. 

3)      You say:  “It’s going to take too long to implement.”

We hear:  Fear of Failure

We solve:  An ERP system helps you succeed by pulling together all your information for a clear picture of your newly improved organization.

Problem:  When you run a lean organization, all internal resources are at full capacity unable to see the big picture which makes for silo’d company data inhibiting the ability to see the big picture. Not having a clear picture serves only to stunt a firm’s growth:  it’s this lack of encompassing visibility which keeps a firm from being able to make intelligent decisions or to understand trends, because they are lacking departments and systems that are connected to each other.

Solution:  A good ERP system will pull together all this disparate data giving users the clear picture they need to move forward and giving everyone the gift of time. Yes, ERP implementations require some work and time to evaluate and establish new processes, establish goals, and get everything running smoothly, but the more attention is focused on the consultants and the implementation, the faster you will reap the benefits and feel the relief.

4)      You say:  “It’s going to require too much change in my current processes.”

We hear:  Fear of Change

We solve:  An ERP consultant will guide you through change.

Problem:  Even a bad process can feel comfortable, familiar. And in the fast-paced business world, we all have to find comfort where we can. It’s understandable to want to avoid the work, unfamiliarity, and making changes to numerous business processes. But what’s more important is that your competitors are already using their ERP systems. They will be on “the latest and greatest” while you are still floundering with “this is the way we’ve always done it.”

Solution:  Here’s where the right consultant can really help. Someone who knows their way through the maze of settings; who knows the latest and most relevant business processes; and who, most of all, knows YOUR business and YOUR industry. Once the consultant tailors the ERP implementation to what are now highly efficient business processes, you’ll be able to appreciate the value of the phrase, “change is good.”

5)      You say:  “No one will use the system, anyway.”

We hear:  Fear of Unknown

We solve:  An ERP is such a supportive tool, it will quickly become a familiar part of your world.

Problem:  So after all the trouble of researching and implementing and ERP; the real fear is, “Will I really use it or just revert back to our old ways?”  Once the shine wears off of a new ERP system, there will be some effort every person will have to make to make the changes permanent. HuffPost Healthy article, “How Long Does It Actually Take to Form a New Habit? (Backed by Science)” tells us that, “On average, it takes more than two months before a new behavior becomes automatic -- 66 days to be exact.” 

Solution:  That’s great news, because in a little over two months, with a focused effort, everyone, including you, will have turned these new processes into automatic actions. What’s more, the new processes will have included regular reviews of data giving a clear picture of the entire organization allowing responsible action for your future. We also recommend understanding more about the 8 key ways to make your implementation a success

ERP Implementation Fears Laid To Rest!

Some (or all) of these fears may have indeed been on your mind as you contemplated your company’s future success. To learn more about ERP implementation, the benefits and the return on the financial and time investment, check out Full Sail Partners’ whitepaper, “Could Your Firm Benefit from an Enterprise Resource Planning System?”

In the end, while momma’s advice may not have included an ERP implementation, her wise words still resonate and are perfectly applicable to this journey “Nothing tried, nothing gained!” Obstacles are just opportunities waiting to be discovered!

 

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Topics: Building Business, ERP, Professional Services

Departing platform 9 ¾, Project Management Training … all aboard!

Posted by Full Sail Partners on Wed, May 21, 2014 @ 09:08 AM

project management trainingHarry Potter’s Hogwarts Express isn’t the only train that uses platform 9 ¾.  There are other trains, similarly magical, that take their passengers to places they’ve never been.  Take project management training, for example.  Just like at Hogwarts, project managers are trained in a kind of wizardry, i.e. transforming the business experience of their clients from nothing more than a mere idea into something special. And those lucky enough to “receive their letter” to attend, must have honed ALL their skills in order to reach their final goal – being a productive and effective project manager. 

At Hogwarts, Harry takes classes like Divination, Transfiguration and Potions.  And although the names of the classes they take are very different, the content of the classes they take is very much the same. 

  • Divination is the art of “seeing.”  A good project manager must indeed learn to read signs.  Is the project moving smoothly?  Is the client happy with progress and with process?  Are the employees on the project satisfied and therefore doing a good job?  Too often, these “signs” are definitely not clearly communicated.  They are often muddied, and it takes a good project manager to see them.
  • Transfiguration is really about how to transform yourself.  During project management training, attendees will transform their natural business gifts – financial acumen, business savvy, and communication expertise – into a project manager who really knows how to wield those skills to benefit their customers, their employees, and their company. 
  • Potions is a class on how to take seemingly dissimilar ingredients and turn them into a concoction which is business changing.  Take, for example, a handful of employees from various areas like a programmer, a writer, a financier, an administrator, a quality controller, and an executive – put them together into a cauldron-like project plan, and you have a new business process gaining efficiency, money, and time.  A potion any business would be proud of!

Another similarity between Harry Potter and those wishing to become effective project managers is natural skill.  Wizards aren’t made at Hogwarts, they are honed:  the young wizards who attend school already have the necessary abilities and project management is very much the same. 

One doesn’t become a project manager because of project management training;

one becomes a project manager because of their natural abilities refined at training.

Other than project management training, a good project manager must also have

Communication ability – exceedingly important!  Project management is not only completing and managing a Gantt chart, but effectively and efficiently communicating every portion of the project to every person involved … to their understanding.  The project manager is the translator of all things, so that each interested party is clear and satisfied.  A superhuman feat but one which good project managers achieve every day.

Business savvy – Someone who is good at business is just plain impressive.  Those who see ramifications outside of the project plan are the best at their jobs.  Project managers have an understanding beyond the project as to the impact to the surrounding business processes and how to structure a project to either improve or not negatively impact them.  It’s really knowing how to do your job in the project management box, but seeing and managing the effect outside of the box.

Experience – you just can’t teach experience!   People who have “been there, done that” and who then apply that experience to their projects are truly the most successful project managers.  And, to be clear, it’s not the same experience over and over, but broad experience garnered through years of accumulation.   

So how do you find out if your project management training was successful?  How do you know if you have what it takes to be a great project manager?  Just call our friends at Full Sail Partners (which could be considered the Hogwarts of Project Management).  Although they aren’t called that at Full Sail, you will have access to the likes of Professors Dumbledore and McGonagall – people who are sage, savvy, and just plain good at their jobs (oh, and really nice, too).  

Although project managers will probably never make the big screen success of Harry Potter.  They are, in fact, the real wizards working in our midst.  Their project management training has sharpened their skills to perform magic every day:  turning an idea into a project plan and then into something special for our businesses. 

Without the wand or robe, of course. Click your wand below to learn more. 

Project Managemet Software

Topics: Project Management

How to Define Success with a Project KPI Dashboard

Posted by Full Sail Partners on Wed, Jul 10, 2013 @ 08:36 AM

kpi dashboardsAt the core of a project-based firm’s business is the need to monitor the progress of your projects. As Project Manager’s we are busy and we need quick, real-time information to help us steer our projects. Just as a dashboard in a boat identifies and provides feedback regarding the status of our voyage – the speed, the wind angle, the wind force, and the navigational direction – a dashboard can provide the same information about your project.

Specifically, a project KPI dashboard can examine some simple indicators that allow a project manager to gauge which project(s) need more attention.  They should be examined on a regular basis. 

What Project KPIs should I be looking at?

  • Accounts Receivable - Overdue AR can be a warning sign for many problems including:  client dissatisfaction, overall project communication issues, and client insolvency (they can’t pay us if they have no money. . . should we be loaning them more money?).  Make sure your AR is in line with a Summary AR Dashboard Part and one for each individual project.  We recommend examining this Project KPI at least twice every billing cycle.

 Tip to Think About:  What is my outstanding AR?  Not only the amount, but how many days out is it? 

  • Unbilled Labor – A large amount of unbilled labor is a serious risk not only to the project, but to general firm cash flow.  The company cannot get paid for it if it doesn’t get billed.  A Project Manager should monitor this Project KPI closely all the time, but especially after invoicing.  Make sure to avoid carrying large amounts of unbilled labor from billing cycle to billing cycle.

Tip to Think About:  How much labor is sitting on my project that has not been marked as billed?  In other words, have I been billing my project progress correctly?  

  • Estimated to Complete (ETC) and/or Estimate at Completion (EAC) – These schedule based measures will help you determine not only if you are on budget, but if you will finish the project within the overall budget as well.  Compare the EAC to the overall budget and if it is greater, you may decide to either reduce future expenditures or accept the fact that you going to be over budget. 

 Tip to Think About:  How much more do I need to finish this Project?
 When over  budget, confirm that you didn’t forget to send out additional services  contracts. 

  • Summary Key Performance Indicators - Above the project level, the measures are usually about Net Revenue, Utilization and Backlog.  By putting these Project KPIs on your Dashboard, you can improve your performance and make your boss look good too.

Tip to Think About:  What is your Boss being measured on?  How can you manage your   projects better with the use of Project KPIs to improve those Summary Key Performance   Indicators?

There may be other metrics your firm utilizes.  Share with us what you have on your project KPI dashboard.  Also, be sure to check out our past webinar: Get the Work Done.

Topics: Project Management, Tips, Technology Solutions

Deltek Vision How-To: Displaying Graphs on Reports and Dashboards

Posted by Full Sail Partners on Fri, Jun 28, 2013 @ 09:05 AM

describe the imageIn this Deltek Vision How-To Video, we will demonstrate how to configure a graph from a Deltek Vision report to display on your dashboard. Firms that optimize their dashboard gain greater visibility into to their company as a whole.

 

Looking for more information on how to optimize your Deltek Vision system? Check out these other How-To videos.

Topics: Tips, Video, Deltek Vision

Resource Forecasting: 3 Challenges and Solutions

Posted by Full Sail Partners on Wed, Jun 05, 2013 @ 01:15 PM

resource forecasting challenges solutions smallDo you lose sleep at night wondering if you have the capacity to handle work coming in or even worse if you have too many people?  As a manager of a professional service firm, managing your human capital is a daily necessity to achieve firm growth and the anticipated performance expected from your employees.  As the market changes, your firm needs information readily available to make quick decisions about acquiring, training, and scheduling your talent.  Many firms rely on resource forecasting tools to handle the management of their employees.  Let’s take a further look at some of the challenges firms have with managing their resources: 

Challenge #1: What are my employees currently doing?  In the past, to see what an employee was working on, managers would go to the desk of their employees to check on the progress of their projects.  However, now resources aren’t always in the same office, state or even country.  Managers are finding they need to easily identify on a daily basis how their employees’ time is being used so they can plan for future work.

Solution - Collect and Measure Time.  As a professional service company – time is what we sell.  Sometimes there is a product that we deliver, but we still internally measure how valuable that product is based upon how much time we have spent creating it.  By capturing an employee’s actual time against a project your firm can now measure that time against what was forecasted to determine the variance. That variance provides you with data to use when projecting future projects.

Challenge #2: How do I match skills with available work?  Some firms are small enough that managers know everyone. However, for a larger firm or as a small firm grows, you don’t necessarily know the skills available within your firm.  Being able to match skills to the work you pursue and win becomes a juggling act.  Not all firms have the critical information available to predict when they need to hire an employee with specific skill sets.

Solution - Identify the Right Resource.  In an ERP, your firm identifies skills, training, role, and experience.  Having this information available allows project managers to identify the right resource based on real-time information.  An integrated solution provides your firm with the ability to search for similar past projects and determine how much experience (time data) they have working on this type of project.  The availability of this employee data allows project managers to make decisions about their collective skills and come up with a plan to increase / diversify their skills needed for the project.

Challenge #3: What predictions can I make about future work?  In order to make a well-informed decision on how to handle the future work, a firm needs historical data.  Without this information, you might as well turn over your resource forecasting to a psychic because your firm is just guessing.  Many firms don’t have the data available to make these decisions.

Solution - Availability.   Project schedules require managing all types of commitments – planned and unplanned. In addition to project commitments, employees take vacation, are on holiday leave, and have internal meetings and activities.  Developing a comprehensive plan for each employee provides accurate resource forecasting to handle future demands.  This helps identify capacity excess or shortage gaps.

The ultimate goal for any project is to end up with a loyal client that will use your firm again.  In order to do that, firms must finish the project on time and on budget.  Choosing a solution that integrates all of these data points allows your firm to report real-time information to make well-informed decisions about resource forecasting needs.  By optimizing your resources, project managers can shorten the decision cycle, increase profitability, and better plan for the future.  

Learn more about Resource Management?  

Topics: Project Management, ERP, Professional Services

Resource Search Tips in Deltek Vision for Project Managers

Posted by Full Sail Partners on Fri, May 24, 2013 @ 08:30 AM
Deltek Vision Resource Planning

Last week I was working on my plans for a few upcoming implementations (yes, I have to do plans just like you do).  As I was using the “Resource Search” feature, I thought it would be helpful to demonstrate some of the features of this powerful tool for fellow project managers.  So for those that are thinking about using Deltek Vision's Resource Planning tool and those that need a refresher, here are some great features of the tool.  

What Is Resource Search Option?
The Resource Search option allows you to see who is available to work and when they are available. It allows users to quickly assign resources and respond to client needs. This feature is accessed when working on the Labor Tab of the Planning module.  To search for resources, right click on the left side bar to search for a resource. Then select “Resource Search.”   

Who Has Skills?  
If you are like me, you are already familiar with your team’s skill set because we have a smaller team. Depending on the size of your firm, you may or may not need this feature. However, as your firm grows (that's the purpose of tool, right?) knowing the skills available can be very helpful. The resource search has the capability to search for resource skills. To take advantage of this feature, your organization must simply take the time to enter data within the Experience Tab. The skills feature is also used by marketing as a part of the government SF330 form. The skill and level of expertise is customizable to your firms needs.

Deltek Vision Resource Planning

Who is Available?  
In addition to searching for skills, the resource search allows you to identify resource availability and commitment. The commitment search allows me to search for over and under usage, as well as, a specific percentage of utilization for a specific date range. This feature in combination of the skills search allows me to narrow down the person that fits my criteria.

An Alternative to Resource Search
I noticed I kept switching back and forth from the Planning module to Resource Management.  Once I've narrowed down my search on the employees I'm looking for, I like to use the Resource Management module.  For me, the coloring provides a quick visual of those that are over, under, or on target for a specific time period.

Deltek Vision Resource Allocation for Project Managers

Deltek Vision Resource Planning

To simplify this process, lets pull up the Resource Utilization screen in a separate window (Right Click on ‘Resource Utilization’, click ‘Open in New Window’).  Now by simply moving the plan to the left hand side and the Resource Utilization screen on the right hand side, I'm now able to show the available resources.  In the Deltek Vision ERP system, this side by side comparison provides a quick view of our team members availability next to our project plan. This is simple, easy and saves me at least 3 mouse clicks.

More Resources
Are your Project Managers using these tools?  Searching by skills, commitment, and availability are only a few of the features in Deltek Vision's project-based ERP.

Be sure to view our Resource Planning Demo to learn more.

For those using Deltek Vision Resource Planning, try out these tip and let me know how they work for you. If you have any tips and tricks you've learned, please add a comment.

Be sure to check other Project Management articles.

Topics: Project Management, Tips, ERP, Deltek Vision

KPI Insight for Project Managers

Posted by Full Sail Partners on Tue, Jul 17, 2012 @ 02:15 PM

A Cautionary Example of Using KPIs

If a Project Manager Falls Down in the Forest and No One is Around to See It, Does the Project Manger Still Get the Quarterly Bonus?

I have been giving a great deal of thought to KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) lately.  One thought was about the idea of the unintended consequences of putting a “suite” of KPIs (KPIs are like potato chips, you can’t have just one. . .) in place, specifically for Project Managers.

How will their behavior change?  Will measuring chargeability for their project teams cause the employees to be more utilized or cause billable project to become less profitable?

Let me throw out an example.  This example is based upon a real client and provides KPI insight. The Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Company A wanted to incentivize their project managers to produce more revenue.  So, after months of discussion and planning, the partners setup revenue targets for each PM based upon past performance and a generously favorable potential revenue prediction for the next year.  The Project Managers would be paid a bonus at the end of each Quarter for any Revenue they brought in over the projected target.  This was very generous, and all the partners agreed that this would drive business revenues higher.

Except it didn’t happen exactly the way they wanted it to.

Here is a graph showing how their revenue was before this particular KPI was put in place:

KPI Key Performance Indicator Before

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


And here is the before and after picture:

KPI Key Performance Indicator After

 

 

 

 

 

 




Ouch!

This of course caused their accounting team to load up on antacids for most of the year.  Their KPI (and bonus program based on that KPI) had encouraged some behavior that was not necessarily good.  The Project Managers did not care about recognizing any revenue (and by extension, billing the client) until the end of the quarter, and when they did, they typically over-recognized and over-billed.

This problem caused a cascade through-out the organization.  Clients noticed and started to question why this month’s bill was so much larger that last month’s.  Average AR started to go up.  Cash flow went down.  Lines of credit had to be accessed to make payroll (and pay the quarterly bonus).

How could this have been prevented?  Looking back, it is obvious right?  But at the time, this sounded like a great idea and everyone was committed to making it successful.

  1. Too much focus on one KPI is not a good thing.  They should have used several measurements that touched upon AR, Chargeability, and (Project Managers cover your ears!), Client Satisfaction.
  2. Quantitative measurements are great, but we also need some Qualitative measurements in the mix.
  3. Involve many different types of people in your KPI development.  Someone might have pointed out this scenario at the beginning if the partners had not developed this on their own.

Which brings me to my final point... KPIs only help if you review them frequently and action is taken based upon them.  A well designed KPI exists to measure performance and if adjustments are not made based upon them...then no one saw the Project Manager fall in the forest.

View webinar on KPI Insight for Project Managers.

Topics: Project Management, Tips, Accounting, Building Business, Case Study