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Start the New Year with These Resolutions

Posted by Full Sail Partners on Wed, Jan 08, 2020 @ 11:05 AM

Checklist

Usually when you think of a New Year’s resolution, you think about a habit or trait that you find undesirable and want to improve upon to achieve a personal goal. However, a New Year’s resolution can apply to more than an individual. For business leaders, the start of a new year is the perfect time to make changes within their organization that they believe will increase the overall performance and success of the company. These changes are typically new initiatives for certain roles and departments.

So, what are the best initiatives for your firm to tackle for the new year? Fortunately, the team of Full Sail Partners’ consultants works with a wide variety of professional services clients and have been able to glean unique insight about the common challenges’ firms have experienced over the previous year. Based on these challenges, here is a list of New Year’s resolutions your professional firm may consider adopting.

Top New Year’s Resolutions for Professional Services Firms     

In no particular order, here are the New Year’s resolutions your professional services firm may consider enacting:

  • Clean up your favorite personal and global reports and searches
  • Find a business intelligence solution that can provide your firm with actionable insights
  • Set up a reminder one month prior to year-end for project and department managers to validate unbilled services
  • Ensure you are taking advantage of all the formatting options for Invoice Templates and review them to make sure that all are up to date with addresses, images, etc. 
  • Consider using Resource Planning for more than project budgeting for things like revenue projections and calculating earned value management
  • Embrace client feedback to improve relationships and create more repeat business
  • Make sure that Opportunities are only associated with one Regular Project Record and one Promo Project Record
  • Review your database for duplicate records and records that require updating
  • Have billable employees update their timesheets on a more frequent and consistent basis
  • Begin preparing to upgrade from Deltek Vision to Vantagepoint using this webinar series

Start the New Year off Right!

With the start of a new year, it’s common to reflect on the previous year to identify areas and things that went well and to evaluate what could have been done better. Looking forward, firm leaders need to pinpoint ways to improve future performance by establishing specific initiatives which are best for the firm’s needs. Therefore, start this year off right and implement change that will guarantee your and your firm’s future success!

Reach Full Sail Partners

Topics: Tips, Support, Building Business

Spend Management Reporting Made Easy

Posted by Full Sail Partners on Wed, May 09, 2018 @ 11:30 AM

Spend Management ReportingFinancial reports are essential to every organization for providing information about the health of a business to internal stakeholders as well as interested outside parties. For many firms, this is a manual process which requires significant time and resources to collect expense and invoice details, code them to the ledger, and then organize high-level summary information. Your accounting staff shouldn’t be spending their time organizing data, but instead analyzing the data to help your firm make better business decisions.

What’s the Solution?

To get started, SAP Concur has organized the key information into many standard dashboards, tiles and over 180 reports available in the standard report catalog. Many of the standard dashboards include the bulk of information your teams need, but they can also be personalized to meet specific requirements or preferences. These dashboards, tiles, and reports can be used to assist managers in tracking budgets and forecasting for future cashflow management. Tracking elements include spend by expense type, time-period, and project or department.

Why SAP Concur Reporting?

To budget for future spending and forecast future cash needs, you need to understand what you have spent in the past and what spend is still outstanding. Firms often use the processed spend data from within their financial or enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. However, the challenge firms face is real time access to spend and accrual data that hasn’t yet been submitted into their ERP system. Concur Analytics Data is available in real time and is available before the expense report or invoice is submitted for payment.

Get to Know Tiles

Tiles in Concur can be used by themselves or pulled into dashboards for a more comprehensive view of spend.

  • Top 5 Spend by Category allows users to easily view where your spend has been incurred. This lets you quickly determine if it is incurred in the expected categories, if spending needs to be reduced, and where might make the greatest impact. Accountants can then utilize the Spend Analysis dashboard or Expense Entry Analysis Details report to drill further into the categories and spend by vendor to help negotiate better pricing with your top vendors.

Concur 1

  • Top 5 Entry Exceptions by Category enables users to easily view exceptions. This allows your team to identify the impact of any policy changes and see the policies with the most violations that should be investigated further. For even more visibility, they can then drill down into the Policy Exception Detail or Spend Analysis dashboard as well as the Expense Exception Analysis for both Report Level and Report Entry Level reports.Top 5 Entry Exceptions by Category
  • Accrual Detail lets you identify the largest opportunity to take action on with outstanding spend, and specifically which individuals carry the largest value of outstanding spend. Your managers can either find training opportunities with these top individuals or focused spending cuts. For your accounting staff, this tile will help you determine the impact to future cashflow during tight budget cycles.

Accrual Detail

  • Credit Card Transaction Report is one of the best features since it enables you to easily regain hours or even days’ worth of your accounting staff’s time. Although it may not be the sexiest feature, it is critical for keeping your data in compliance. This report lists all credit card transaction details imported into Concur. It can be used as a comprehensive listing or as an ad hoc exception report to look at certain subsets of credit card transactions. Organizations with a corporate card program need to reconcile their credit card transactions with the card statement to ensure all expenses are being processed, and this report can assist with that reconciliation. Also, this report can be grouped by Employee, then sorted by Posted Date to mirror the format of the credit card statement for simplified reconciliation. Another version of this report, the Unassigned Credit Card Transaction report, can help you quickly find those expenses which have been accrued are not yet assigned to an expense report.

Credit Card Transactions

Take a Deep Dive with Reports

For more in-depth analysis and details, reports can help streamline your workflows and drill down into the data you need. Custom reports can also be created by the Concur team if your requirements fall outside of the standard options.

Quick Access with Dashboards

You can start with one of many pre-built dashboards or create your own from scratch by adding tiles and reports to existing templates. While there are many dashboards available, some of the top ones include the Expense Overview dashboard and Policy Compliance dashboard. 

The Expense Overview dashboard is a perfect starting point for budget, cashflow management, and policy compliance all in one place. This dashboard can be used as a starting point to create a new custom “Spend Management” dashboard. Managers can use this detail for budget and forecasting purposes. Personalization recommendations are to retain the Spend, Accruals, and Top 5 Spend by Category tiles as well as adding additional tiles: Spend Summary Trends, Spend Change by Category, and Accrual Detail.

Expense Overview

The Spend Analysis dashboard is an incredibly functional dashboard that offers users an in-depth analysis on total spend for a given period along with a summary breakdown of that spend by Expense Type and associated detail. This dashboard can be easily filtered to show specific Spend Categories, Expense Types, or Employees for total spend analysis or grouped and sorted in ways that are meaningful for specific tasks. It allows leaders to identify what their teams have spent in a given period. They can even track individual spending patterns to identify specific areas for follow-up or track improvements in spending behaviors. This report is versatile in that it can be filtered to show trends in spending patterns or behaviors. If more detailed analysis is required, use the Expense Entry Analysis Detail report.

It is recommended that an organization review their travel policy once a year and adjust as needed. It is important to consider the potential impact of a policy change before one is implemented. If an organization does not have a limit on cell phone reimbursement, but needs to create a policy on this expense, the Spend Analysis dashboard can be reviewed to identify average reimbursement rates to establish a baseline for a new policy. This dashboard can also be used to assess the impact of such a policy change to identify how many individuals would have been out of policy if the value was changed.

Spend Analysis

SAP Concur is a Complete Spend Management Solution

With over 180 reports available in the standard report catalog, Concur can help you quickly and easily analyze your Travel, Expense, and AP automation program to gain valuable insight into how to proactively manage all aspects of your business’s finances. It’s been said that knowledge is power, but having too much information can be as bad as not having enough. You need to be able to see spend clearly so you have more time to run your business. As your business and reporting needs evolve, let Concur and Full Sail Partners help you capture and monitor the data you need.

Concur Spend Management

Topics: Accounting, Technology Solutions

STOP THE MADNESS with AP Automation

Posted by Full Sail Partners on Wed, Apr 04, 2018 @ 11:35 AM

Invoice In almost every business we walk into, AP is the cause of significant, but often overlooked, strain and costs. From sorting through emailed or paper invoices and tracking checks to manually entering accounting information often requiring corrections, these tasks are huge time consumers. Do you know how many people are managing this in your business, and how many hours they spend each week/month? Think about what else they could be doing with this time and how much money could be saved.

Just the Facts

Did you know that 77% of invoices received by companies are in a manual format – either hard copies, PDFs, emails or faxes? The average cost to manually process just one invoice is $34. Using a manual system, there is limited visibility into who needs to get paid what and when, not to mention the possibility of late fees or the dreaded double payment. To add to this issue, any disruptions or delays in payments can jeopardize critical vendor relationships.

By automating your invoices into and through your system and eliminating errors, the average cost per invoice is 80% less. Multiply that times all your invoices and see how much you can save. It just makes financial sense to go with AP automation.

Using AP Automation

With AP Automation, you can connect every step from purchase requests to processing and payment with one solution eliminating paper and costly mistakes. Invoices of all types get captured electronically and matched against POs and goods received before being automatically routed for approval.

The process is a very simple one. The vendor sends an invoice to an email you provide that automatically routes into Concur. The Concur system uses optical character recognition (OCR) to read the invoice and fills in the:

  • Vendor information
  • Payment request type
  • Request name
  • Invoice date
  • Net payment terms
  • Invoice & PO number with invoice received date
  • Currency type and amount
  • Shipping and tax
  • Line item descriptions, quantities, and unit price 

Your staff simply reviews the invoice, makes any corrections necessary, fills out the Project, Phase & Task information, as well as Expense Type, then submits the invoice to be routed through your process. Your firm can also establish policies to automatically route invoices from specific vendors or projects to the appropriate staff members and to code those invoices and flag exceptions.

Your firm’s approval process can be as simple or complicated as you need. The approver has the ability to approve, approve and forward or send back to the submitter. A comment can also be added that will communicate the reason for not approving. The communication thread is maintained with the invoice as it flows through the system and even after it is paid. You can always see what was discussed during the approval flow.

Gain Visibility into the AP Process

All this is great, you say, but I still need visibility. With Concur, you get all these benefits plus easy to access reports and dashboards that allow you to track many KPIs, including:

  • Invoice accruals
  • Invoice cycle time
  • Top vendors by spend - to help give you visibility into where you can negotiate to lower your costs 

If you’re also using Concur for your expense reports, you can truly capture your entire firm spend with one solution and view reports and data across all areas in one place. Below is a diagram that demonstrates the Concur Invoice process: 

Concur AP Invoice Process

Concur Integrates with Deltek Vision

How does this all get back into Deltek Vision, you ask? With the Blackbox Connector, integrating Vision and Concur is simple. Of course, there are some mandatory fields that must be synced – for example, the Vendor ID and name. However, you can choose what additional data is synced.

Do you need to send the vendor type to Concur? Have you added a custom field you wish to include? The Blackbox Connector mapping will allow you to sync the fields you want with a simple click and drag. This works on any field from Vision into Concur. All you do is ensure that a field is in Vision and is in Concur to hold the data. Within some limits, you can also control what comes back into Vision for the AP transaction file including the images associated to the invoices.

Your accounting team will likely be concerned about everything going to the correct GL Account. Concur uses Expense types for the entry data. The Blackbox Connector for Vision to Concur allows for these Expense Types to be translated into Vision GL Accounts based on the project type used, which allows for your GL coding to be automated and standardized, significantly reducing errors.

What about the periods? How do you control what period this goes in? Simple, the AP transactions go into Vision as an unposted status. This gives you the ability to post the transaction to the correct period.

Stop the Madness

AP Automation is a simple phrase that, as you can see, solves a not so simple challenge facing almost every firm. In addition to lowering your costs, you also get the added benefits of better control over and improved visibility into your spending. Automate AP and free up your team to take on bigger challenges and make a greater impact on your firm!

Vision Integrates with Concur

Topics: Accounting, Technology Solutions

Marketing Analytics: Understanding the Value of Marketing Efforts

Posted by Full Sail Partners on Wed, Nov 01, 2017 @ 11:45 AM

Marketing is tough. Marketers are expected to be jacks of all trades:  Brand manager, technology expert, social butterfly and head collaborator. Yet at the end of the day marketing is often a thankless job. Unfortunately the fruits of our labors are often six degrees of separation removed from our actual efforts. We do not directly sell and there is no physical doo-dad at the end of the day that we can point to in order to justify our existence. Enter the world of ‘marketing analytics.’

What the heck are marketing analytics? Marketing analytics are the lifeblood of your efforts. You spend countless hours working on integrated marketing content – blogs, newsletters, infographics, proposals and much more! Yet at the end of the day can you honestly claim to understand the impact of these efforts? Marketing analytics are not only the indicators of our successes but the learning blocks of our mistakes.

Don’t fool yourself! Know what metrics are worth tracking.

Like many things in life, we can often get caught focusing too much on the nice-pretty red herring rather than digging deep and identifying what truly matters. Metrics are no different! Marketers often get caught looking at superficial statistics rather than focusing in on metrics strengthen our business case. To better understand what kind of metrics you should focus on let’s identify the two main data types:

Vanity Metrics | these metrics often look good – and make you feel good – at first glance. Unfortunately, vanity metrics focus on pumping up our ego – not our business. I often equate these metrics to a high school popularity contest: All that matters is how many people sign my yearbook. But don’t be fooled, these metrics are not your friends. So what are some examples of these metrics?

  • Total website visits
  • Page views
  • Number of subscribers or followers

As you can see, these metrics look good at first. But do they actually provide actionable data that allows you to drive your business case forward? The ambiguity of these analytics leaves your marketing efforts reactive rather than proactive.

Action Metrics | meaningful metrics are the bread and butter of your efforts. To be able to leverage marketing analytics to improve your marketing campaigns you must be able to understand the customer behavior represented by these metrics. Using the above high school analogy, these action metrics are representative of the number of people that invite you to their party. These metrics do not only want to know you – they want to hang out with you! Examples include:

  • Site behaviors – what are people actually viewing and consuming on your website
  • Who is converting; is there a common buyer persona?
  • Customer acquisition costs

These metrics actually mean something to your business. They are not only indicative of your efforts, but reflective of your results.

How do we track marketing analytics?

So now that we understand what we want to track we must figure out how to track our desired marketing analytics. Luckily for you, there are hundreds of tools out there. Highlighted below are examples of each type of tool you will want to add to your marketing arsenal.

Content Management System (CMS) | a content management system will allow you to seamlessly optimize all of your integrated marketing efforts within your website. Gone are the days of fumbling with html and css codes. While in the day-to-day trenches of marketing you need the ability to quickly and easily access the living data regarding your marketing campaigns – and this is precisely what a CMS allows you to do.

Examples of CMS include:

  • Act-On
  • Hubspot
  • Marketo

Whatever CMS you decide is right for you, make sure that it integrated with all of your other business systems and processes to provide you with maximum visibility.

Web Analytics Platform| integrating your website with a Web analytics platform is essential for taking the step from analytics-shmoe to analytics-pro. Yes, you already get analytics from your CMS. However, think of a CMS as fast food and a full Web analytics platform as a five-course meal. Your Web analytics platform is your go-to asset when you need the full meat and potatoes of reporting.

Examples of Web analytics platforms include:

  • Google analytics
  • Mixpanel
  • Webtrends

Understanding a full Web analytics platform can be intimidating. Luckily you can often find free training. For example, Google offers a free analytics certification course that you can complete at your own leisure!

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) System | what good are all of these marketing analytics if you can’t actually do anything with them? A CRM system will allow you to better understand your leads, holistically track your marketing campaigns and most importantly provide you with the tools needed to build meaningful relationships. Our CRM recommendation for professional-services firms is Deltek Vision.

Go forth and spread your analytical marketing wings!

Gone are the days where you fear that your marketing efforts will be glossed over. You now have the tools and knowledge needed to go out and make something of your marketing campaigns! We hope that you take this new found knowledge and prove your resolve by becoming an analytical marketing guru!

Why Architectural and Engineering Firms Need To Properly Manage Their Documents

Posted by Full Sail Partners on Fri, Jul 28, 2017 @ 09:49 AM

Document Management

It is interesting to note that most document management systems are designed for the Architectural and Engineering (A&E) world where document management is quite the opposite of most other industries. Whereas typical industry documents are standardized and repeatable, with templates that rarely ever change, those required of the A&E environment are not. Here, every drawing is unique, and workflows require systems specifically designed to meet the needs of the A&E space. Here are some examples of the differences for standard businesses and project-based business.

Standard businesses

  • Documents are standardized and repeatable
  • Minimal revision control with unidirectional workflows
  • Basic transmittals
  • Simple file naming

Architectural & Engineering Firms

  • Every drawing is unique
  • Revision control is crucial due to edit-review-rework flows
  • Transmittals can include documents, drawings, xref images, specs and more
  • Complex naming schemes including: Project & Client Name, Discipline, Floor or Phase of Project, Sheet Category, Drawing # and more

Do You Have More than One Version of the Truth?

Employees can spend hours or days updating a drawing. If an obsolete version is used, then that work must be repeated, costing your firm time and money. Also, using the incorrect version of an engineering document can leave your firm vulnerable to increased corporate risk, failed audits, cost overruns that can extend into the millions of dollars, not to mention significant risks to safety, schedules, and reputation.

Furthermore, manual methods of version control are difficult and prone to error. In most companies, you can find multiple versions of files, one on the server, on a user’s hard drive, in email, and even a paper copy. Using a document management system creates a central point for document access which ensures users across the organization always can obtain the latest version. Document management systems also store previous versions and maintain the historical metadata for auditing the document history.

Are Transmittals Weighing You Down?

Gathering files, ensuring the correct version, attaching xrefs, specs, and any other necessary files are all very time consuming and tedious. Because it is a manual process, there is always a high risk for missing information. Once you include creating, sending, and tracking transmittals, this process becomes a very large, time-intensive process. 

A good A&E document management system provides automatic cover sheet creation and a built-in address book for quickly adding recipients. It also automatically tracks sending, receiving, editing, and routing so you can easily maintain the relationship between the cover sheet and all the files and data you send.

Are Your Naming Conventions Working?

Many companies try to impose naming standards, but without a way to enforce or automate these standards, all it takes is one person choosing to name a document in a way that makes sense to them, and an important file could be irretrievable. When more than one department or branch is involved, or new businesses are acquired, chaos can ensue!

An A&E focused document management system will auto-generate number sequences, include fixed width text place holders for user entered text, predefined data from drop down lists, user entered free texts, and delimiters. In addition, file names would not be the only way to search for files…using metadata either manually tagged to the document or found within it, would be a key part of your file storing and searchability. 

Where Are Your Critical Communication Documents?

Are your firms’ critical communications being housed in email boxes and scattered throughout your organization? What happens when someone is out of the office, or leaves the company? Do you or your staff spend hours trying to locate that critical communication?

A document management system allows you to save emails from Outlook to your projects, contacts and organizations, including version controls, with very few steps. It also saves just one copy of an email and eliminates duplicates to reduce storage and communication that must be sorted through and searched. These emails would then be stored centrally and permanently for audit and legal purposes, essentially preventing them from ever being deleted or lost, especially if a team member leaves the practice.

Why an A&E Document Management System?

A great document management system will provide documentation that is:

  • Accurate, current, and trusted
  • Easily found, even without knowing specific identifying information
  • Under control, using predetermined workflows
  • Easily communicated
  • Fully audited for changes

If users can bypass procedures to access and change files without proper auditing, you aren’t truly managing your documents. Document management software uses database tables to store both data and files and ensure compliance.

Document management systems cut costs. The time needed to locate a document using easy searches and metadata should drop to seconds. No walking, telephoning or emailing is required - just a connected computer. Errors from using incorrect documentation virtually disappear. Only the latest, approved and published versions are used.

Time spent manually moving files and attaching to emails is eliminated with file sharing. Instead, documents are displayed to the user as soon as they are found. Audit reports can be automatically generated. Knowledge recorded in markup is stored in the system, visible to all who need to know, and your staff are more productive when they know information is reliable.

Calculating the Costs of Disorganized Documentation…Are You Scared to Know the Truth?

Do you know how much time your staff spends naming, organizing, and then trying to find documents? Are you, like many, scared to really find out?

  • How much time is spent by users looking for drawings or other documentation?
  • How much time your staff spends helping others find what they need?
  • How much downtime is also a consequence of these delays?
  • How many occasions production has been lost and/or re-working was required due to use of incorrect or outdated documentation?

Multiply these hours by burdened rates and estimate the costs of incidents caused by inaccurate data to extrapolate a typical yearly cost. It appears to be very expensive. Without a good document management system in place, these situations put a true financial strain on your firm.

Are You Ready for a Document Management System?

Using a proper document management system will not only save time, which we know equates to money, but will also prevent the unnecessary headaches of having to constantly forage through numerous files trying to find needed documents. We all know that the A&E industry is a unique and specialized industry which requires organization for project management. It doesn’t need to be so challenging to manage your documents.

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Topics: Professional Services, Project Information Management (PIM)

Lower Costs and Risks with an Effective Spend Management Solution

Posted by Full Sail Partners on Wed, Apr 05, 2017 @ 11:00 AM

Spend ManagementSpend Management is a popular term, but what is it really? Spend Management can encompass anything from procurement, supply chain management, expense control, outsourcing and more. For most businesses, managing spending may not seem to provide a competitive advantage nor differentiate them from the competition. While this task doesn’t directly drive revenue, figuring out how to better manage and control your travel costs, expenses and invoicing does provide significant business value.

So, what exactly does a good Spend Management strategy need to accomplish? It should:

  • Simplify accounts payable (AP) workflows
  • Enhance the end user experience
  • Encourage mobility in the AP process
  • Improve compliance levels
  • Provide increased insight into spending
  • Allow for visibility of expenses before they are incurred

What Can All This Do for Your Firm?

Spend Management will lower your capital expense profile, increase employee productivity, lower costs for managing operational functions and drive new capabilities that have a direct impact on business performance. Accomplishing these goals allows your firm to continue to compete in this hypercompetitive environment that continually rewards sustained agility.

Organizations typically start with a manual process for managing purchasing, expense reports, and invoice management. As the company grows in size and complexity, workarounds like spreadsheets and physical reconciliation are simply no longer efficient and directly impact the further ability to grow and manage spending.

According to an IDC study (Document #US42246116 © 2017 IDC), implementing effective strategies can result in:

  • 68% less time processing invoices
  • Improving company procurement compliance by up to 14%
  • Increasing productivity by an average of 11% using mobile/OCR management tools
  • Reducing IT staff time to manage spend by 29%

How to Evaluate Solutions to Help Your Firm with Spend Management?

There are many factors to consider when evaluating a Spend Management solution. Here are some key things to contemplate:

  • Business ready: Solutions must be able to scale to accommodate your firm now and in the future, and must automatically link into existing accounting and ERP systems. These are secure, cloud-based solutions that fit within the CIO’s IT policy framework, are cost-effective and easy to deploy across the organization.
  • Business Intelligence: These solutions must be capable of providing greater business performance visibility and driving smarter decision-making. With a solution that offers more than automation, executives are armed with the insights to identify business opportunities that never existed before. What used to take days or weeks can now take hours.
  • Complete visibility: Encompassing all areas of spend in one solution, including travel costs, expenses and invoice management, is ideal. If you only see a piece of the puzzle, it is virtually impossible to view the entire picture. With solutions that can integrate all of the data and incorporate your firm’s spend management regulations, you can ensure there is maximum compliance and have the easiest adoption across the company with only one solution to learn.
  • End-user adoptability: As better financial performance rests with reducing accounts receivable turnover and achieving greater efficiency in cash flow management, businesses need to ensure that finance and accounting staff, as well as their employees, are able to quickly and accurately execute a modern, mobile process. When end users are satisfied and are able to employ solutions anywhere and anytime, this results in faster and increased adoption of the solutions and increased financial performance.

The best systems provide better visibility and insight into non-PO spend, P-card spend, and corporate card spend as well as meet employees where they are. They allow for visibility into spend before the money has been spent (PO management) and follow through to auditing with full details completely integrated into your firm’s ERP system. They also can incorporate all of these areas of spend into one solution so it’s easy to quantify spend across all areas.

Gain Control of Your Spend Management

Expectations and demands for employees, especially finance staff, have never been higher. The cost of lower productivity, employee turnover, and inefficient financial operations is now even more critical to a firm’s success and must be addressed. Employees require mobile, efficient solutions to increase their overall satisfaction and productivity. With increased industry compliance regulations, accurate reporting is now a necessity instead of a luxury. Now is the time to get control with a Spend Management solution.

 Vision Integrates with Concur

Topics: Accounting, Technology Solutions, Deltek Vision

Adobe Creative Cloud

Posted by Full Sail Partners on Wed, Mar 01, 2017 @ 11:44 AM

Last year Adobe released their comprehensive new cloud offering, Adobe Creative Cloud’. The Adobe Creative Cloud provides users full access to all of Adobe’s creative offerings, in addition to exclusive features and products only available to subscribers. With this new bundle, companies are able to take their design capabilities to a new level!    

Many small A/E firms struggle with the decision to empower their marketing team with the various Adobe offerings. This usually is not a decision based on product functionality, but rather a decision based on economics. Let’s be honest, Adobe products are not cheap! But like many things in life, you get what you pay for.

Adobe has realized this hurdle that many small business face, and they answered with the Creative Cloud! Rather than outright purchasing an Adobe license (Photoshop, Illustrator, etc.), a large one-time expense, Cloud members pay a monthly fee of $49.99 – yearly costs are about equal to purchasing one Adobe product outright. This is a pretty fair deal if you ask me: You are ensured to always have the most up to date software, you gain access to every Adobe product, and you avoid costly upgrades!

In addition to limiting your company’s investment, the Adobe Creative Cloud also provides the following features and offerings:

  1. Creative Cloud users get 20 gigs of online storage.  This space is great for sharing files with clients, storing files while on the go, and creating online backups of critical design files.  Many times designers are working in off-site locations and collaborating over the web.  Use this storage space to share important project files like font types, swatches, templates and more!
  2. In addition to acting like a storage locker, the Creative Cloud also acts as an information desk.  Upload files from Photoshop, InDesign or Illustrator and get important file information not provided in other browsers.  Quickly see what font types are used, color schemes and layers.  The cloud interface even allows users to turn off layers, previewing the changes without having to open Adobe!  This is a great way of sharing file previews with someone that does not have Adobe!
  3. Host and manage your websites!  That’s right; Creative Cloud membership comes with hosting for five websites.  This is a great feature for small firms that are trying to optimize their marketing efforts, on a restricted budget.
  4. Training library.  Adobe has always been known to have great training resources via their website.  Creative Cloud members gain access to additional valuable training content from industry experts at Kelby Training, video2brain, Attain & Adobe.  Training material is broken down in to three main categories:  Adobe products, specific workflows, and creative fields.
  5. Install your Adobe products on more than one computer!  A major complaint from business development professionals is that they simply cannot afford to put Adobe on their home machine.  Unless your company has provided you with a laptop, you must be in the office to work on that proposal with an upcoming deadline.  Not with Adobe Creative Suite!  Install the products on two computers, MAC or PC, and use the programs freely as long as the computers are not running at the same time. 

Marketers are constantly looking for more ways to get value out of their tools and efforts. These ancillary features from the Adobe Creative Cloud better help professional services firms tackle day to day functions.

If your firm is looking to take proposals to the next level -- or if you have already made the transition to Adobe and its time to upgrade -- check out the Creative Suite.

Have You Seen the Newest Features in Constant Contact?

Posted by Full Sail Partners on Wed, Feb 22, 2017 @ 02:47 PM

newest-features-in-constant-contact.pngIf you have been wondering about the newest features of Constant Contact, then look no further, this blog is for you! As the people over at Constant Contact like to say, “New year, new features.” Trust me, there are a whole heck of a lot of new features in Constant Contact. Let’s go ahead and dive right in!

The Newest Features in Constant Contact

  • Connect with new prospects using the welcome email | Constant Contact’s new welcome email functionality allows you to enable your website forms with the power of Constant Contact. When new contacts submit a web signup form, they will receive an automatic welcome email. This functionality allows your firm to make the right first impression by sending new contacts relevant and targeted emails. Doing so will allow you to reach out to the contacts when their interest levels are at their highest point.

  • Utilize previously sent emails | The days of starting from scratch with each email campaign are long behind us. You can save time and avoid hassle by intuitively copying previously sent emails.

    Here is how it works:
    1. Select a previously sent campaign in Constant Contact
    2. Under the Actions Menu select ‘edit’
    3. Click ‘copy’ in the dialogue pop-up box
    4. Newly created email is now ready to go through your edit process
  • Create stunning emails with background patterns | Are you looking for new ways to spice up your email? You can choose one of Constant Contact’s new templates with a background pattern. It is easy to customize your background pattern by selecting the design and color of the pattern directly from the visual editor.

  • RSVPs made easy with the RSVP block | Are you planning on hosting a lunch and learn or some other kind of industry event? You can quickly get a head count by using Constant Contact’s “RSVP block.” You will be able to streamline your event planning by capturing RSVP responses from contacts in a single click. The RSVP block can be fully customizable with your specific event details, allowing you to avoid using complicated sign-up forms.

    Here is how it works:
    1. Click on the ‘build’ tab on the left hand design menu in Constant Contact
    2. Select the ‘add-ons’ option
    3. Drag the ‘RSVP’ widget into your email
    4. Click on the new block in your email, select the ‘edit’ button and customize the information for your event
  • Introducing the video block | Sharing videos in your email campaigns has never been easier. You can increase reader engagement by providing your videos directly in the body of your email!

    Here is how it works:
    1. Simply copy your video link from YouTube
    2. Click on the ‘build’ tab on the left hand design menu in Constant Contact
    3. Drag the ‘video’ widget into any part of your email template
    4. Click on the new block within your email, and select the ‘edit’ button
    5. Paste your video link from YouTube and select ‘insert’
  • Image options | We all know that images are one of the best ways to engage our audience. Now you can enjoy additional functionality with images! You can utilize images to link your reader’s out to important PDF documents or link directly to an email address.

    Here is how it works:
    1. Click on an image within the body of your email
    2. Click on the 'link' button that appears within the popup dialogue box
    3. Use the dropdown menu the select 'email address' or 'document'

Get Started with the Newest Features in Constant Contact

Are you ready to get started with these new features in Constant Contact? Here is the great news! These features are already available for all existing Constant Contact users.

You’re not already a Constant Contact subscriber? That is no problem! You can just click on the link below to sign-up for a 60-day free trial and see how the world’s leading email marketing platform can help you take your outbound marketing to the next level.

Constant Contact Free Trial

Topics: Marketing, Technology Solutions

Bid / No Bid – When to Decide During the Proposal Process

Posted by Full Sail Partners on Wed, Feb 15, 2017 @ 03:33 PM

Deltek Kona, Deltek Vision, Win ProjectsIn today’s day and age of fast changing technology, firms must stay abreast of all available solutions to better compete with competition, and win work. Since the ‘great recession’ of 2009, competition on winning work has increased exponentially. Successful firms have combated this increased competition by staying current with technology, and using well thought out techniques to win projects. Included below are five tips that will help your firm better impress clients, and ultimately win more work.

  1. Collaboratively share information with your project team. When responding to a client request / RFP, sharing data can become a cumbersome task in itself when working with remote teaming partners or staff. Often, the ability to seamlessly coordinate tasks/assignments, or share large files amongst your team can be the difference in winning or losing the work. To avoid these types of hiccups, leverage collaborative sharing tools such as Deltek Kona to keep your project team on the same page. Deltek Kona allows users to share files, and schedule important dates, seamlessly as though the users were all working in the same centralized office. You will be amazed at how Kona will empower your project team!
     
  2. Hasten your proposals process through the use of templates. Unfortunately, many times firms will find out a about a project that they are a perfect fit for days before the due date. These time restrictions can ensnare the proposal process and make it difficult to respond sufficiently. Empower your marketing/business development department by creating templates that will allow you to export your information from Deltek Vision CRM to Microsoft Word or InDesign. This will allow you to streamline the proposal process, and concentrate on the areas of the proposal that require custom attention.
     
  3. Avoid boring old PowerPoint presentation. Many firms make it to the short-list process only to utterly disappoint the client through the use of a boring, stale PowerPoint presentation. If you are unable to separate yourself from your competition, you are not doing your best to win projects. PowerPoint has been around since the late 1990’s, and sadly a large majority of presentations look like they came out of that same era. By using presentation software such as Prezi or PreZentit, your firm can immediately stand apart from your competition. With that said, don’t forget the importance of impressing the client by being personable and demonstrating your understanding the project. Overly relying on the use of presentation software is one of the quickest ways to lose a client’s attention.
     
  4. Use a CRM solution to track relationships. We have all heard the saying, “It’s not what you know, but who you know!” This begs the question; does your firm know who it knows? If you are not tracking your relationships through CRM software such as Deltek Vision, then you are simply throwing darts at a board, blindfolded. A CRM solution will allow you to track who you know, recent conversations, and other important relationship data such as birthdays or anniversaries. This type of knowledge insight is important for creating meaningful relationships between your company, and your clients.
     
  5. Optimize information for smart devices. If you own a smart device, and you have not optimized your marketing contact the device, you are not working smart! You never know when, or where, you might bump in to a perspective client. If you are unable to demonstrate your firms expertise at the drop of a hat, expect to lose out on a lot of potential work. Your firms website should be optimized for smart devices (iPhones, Androids, Tablets, Everything!) allowing you to be ready to show off how great your firm is, at a moment’s notice! In addition to optimizing your website for these smart devices, take the initiative to pre-load content on to your smart phone, in case you are unable to get internet service! By doing this, you will not only impress the client with all of your great works, but you will also demonstrate your ability to think ahead and be ready for the unexpected.

    If your firm is utilizing Deltek Vision CRM, make sure to check out Vision Unleashed. Vision Unleashed will allow you to access your full Vision system on teh go, from a mobile device. It also allows MAC users to access Vision without the need for running parallels or bootcamp. This allows MAC users to utilize their workstation to it maximum potential without dedicating resources to addition process just to access Vision!

I hope you learned something from this blog. Some of these technologies or techniques might seem obvious, but unfortunately many times it’s the obvious omissions that cause us to lose out on winning new work. If you use any of the concepts highlighted in this blog, make sure to comment below and let us know. We love to hear success stories!

Once you win your next project, make sure to review these project management concepts.

Topics: Collaboration Software Tool, Tips, Technology Solutions, CRM, Kona, Deltek Vision, Mobile, Professional Services

From Zero to Hero: 4 Ways to Start Winning the Battle for the Inbox

Posted by Full Sail Partners on Wed, Jan 25, 2017 @ 12:39 PM

Email List+Envelope.pngEmail marketing is one of the most cost-effective tactics for acquiring new clients and re-engaging existing customers. So why is it that so many firms are resistant to adopting a dedicated email marketing strategy? Failure to implement a dedicated email marketing strategy focused around best practices can lead firms to experience lackluster email results. This blog is going to dissect the most common reasons emails sit unread and collect dust. Apply these tips to start winning the battle for the inbox!

Common Mistakes Keeping You from Winning the Battle for the Inbox

  1. Unclear subject lines | Did you know that 33% of email recipients open email based on subject line alone [source: Convince & Convert]? Experience greater success with your emails by providing your audience with a compelling reason to open your email. In other words, make the subject line attractive to your intended target so that they want to read your email!
  2. Missing the mark on content | Not every member of your audience is interested in the same content. The foundation of a successful email marketing campaign is grounded in keeping content relevant to your readership. Utilize your CRM system to drill down your segment list and keep your content relevant to your audience.
  3. One way flow of communication | Have you ever received an email from a ‘do not reply’ email address? This type of tactic comes off as impersonal and will leave a sour taste in a recipient’s mouth. When companies send out mailers from a ‘do not reply’ address they tell their audience that they don’t care to have a real conversation. Give your audience the impression that you are receptive to feedback and you will be amazed at how active your subscribers become.
  4. Too many links, not a clear enough call-to-action | Links to important content can be helpful and convenient for readers. As a content provider it is important to tread carefully here! Too many links can detract from more important content and confuse your readers. Focus on your message at hand and optimize your emails to drive viewers to engage in your call-to-action.

Get the Most Out of Your Email Marketing Campaigns

We hope that you have learned something from this blog that can be applied to your email marketing efforts. Remember that each email campaign is an additional opportunity for you to attract and delight your audience. Following these best practices can make a huge impact on your outbound efforts and lead to increased conversions and growth in your subscription base.

Interested in learning more about winning the battle for the inbox? Join us on February 8th to learn how to take your email marketing efforts to the next level.

Email marketing, battle for the inbox

Topics: Marketing