Full Sail Partners Blog

Jennifer Renfroe

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The Benefits of an Applicant Tracking System for Project-Based Firms

Posted by Jennifer Renfroe on Wed, Oct 17, 2018 @ 02:30 PM

Now Hiring! It used to be that people needed companies - employees were loyal, jobs were scarce, and everyone accepted the standard employment package offered. Today, things are very different. Companies need people – talent is hard to find, few make long term commitments, and many are demanding a lot more than before. Project-based companies are particularly impacted since without the right people in place, projects suffer, customers suffer and so does the bottom line. Therefore, having an applicant tracking system is a necessity to deal with the challenges of talent acquisition.

Expediting Talent Acquisition

These days, companies are the ones trying to convince talent to join the firm while the competition is courting them as well. It is crucial that the time it takes from sourcing candidates to interviewing to offering positions is greatly shortened. An applicant tracking system provides a clearer picture of the entire process. It shows right away if any of the steps are taking longer than necessary and allows firms to be more efficient in the hiring process. Project-based companies need the right people available at the right time to keep projects running smoothly.

Talent Pools

With people moving around as much as they do today, firms should always have a reserve of potential talent. An applicant tracking system helps with creating and maintaining these pools of talent. When resumes are entered, HR can flag those candidates who would be good fits for future opportunities. So, if a project manager leaves unexpectedly or a new project is won, a talent pool is immediately available to contact which reduces the delay in staffing. Nothing is worse for project-based firms than having to put off a project start date because of lack of appropriate personnel.

Candidate Experience

Another benefit of an applicant tracking system is that it ensures a positive candidate experience. The candidate’s experience moving through the hiring process has a huge impact on whether an offer will be taken. Firms must make candidates feel that they are valued. An applicant tracking system makes it easier to stay connected with candidates, so they feel informed and not forgotten. Project-based firms will not only have excited quality talent coming on board from this positive experience, but word of mouth will spread creating a talent pool for future projects.

Invest in an Applicant Tracking System

Project-based firms make money when projects are done on time and to customer satisfaction. Without the right personnel on the project, firms are destined for failure. An applicant tracking system expedites the hiring process by reducing inefficiencies and encouraging quality talent. Firms can easily overcome the challenges of talent acquisition by investing in one today. What is your firm waiting for?

Talent Management  

Topics: HR, Professional Services

Business Intelligence and Key Performance Indicators: So Happy Together

Posted by Jennifer Renfroe on Wed, Oct 03, 2018 @ 11:00 AM

Business Intelligence and KPIs

Establishing meaningful key performance indicators (KPIs) is vital if your firm is committed to data-driven decision making. First, you will need to determine what most clearly correlates with your company’s goals. A simple way to think about KPIs is that you can only improve what can be measured, and using today’s business intelligence (BI) offerings, measuring KPIs can be especially precise and easy to do. Let’s look at some trends in BI and the connection to KPIs. 

Easier data discovery

It used to be that data discovery was only done by IT experts who created reports about crucial information regarding KPIs. This process could take many days, and by the time a report was generated, the information was irrelevant. With the continuing simplification of BI, more people can now have access to real-time analytics. Using simplified BI, anyone can drill down into the data and find answers to important questions which are related to KPIs.

Visual Analytics

For non-analytical people, visualizations are helpful to digest key information. They activate the brain’s recognition capabilities and enable people to detect patterns in charts and graphs. Rather than having to discover data buried in tables over multiple pages, visual analytics allow for decisions to be made quickly and are a much more efficient way to evaluate KPIs.

Self-service Business Intelligence

More and more business users are accessing BI solutions to make faster and better-informed decision. Each company has unique goals and so does each department. To measure specific KPIs, customized BI dashboards can be created with the features relevant to each user. These dashboards are viewed in a single screen providing immediate, accurate and up to date visual status reports.

Mobile Business Intelligence

Today’s fast paced business environment requires that people have access to critical BI anywhere, anytime. With increased accessibility and improved smartphones, BI can also be analyzed on mobile devices. Companies that use mobile BI can stay ahead of the competition because there is always access to important data for decision making and gauging KPIs.

Cloud Business Intelligence

While most BI software has been hosted on-premise, the increase in on-demand data access has led to cloud BI. There are many benefits of a cloud BI solution. It is easy to install because it is an internet-based software, adding new users is a simple and the cost is low. Cloud BI is an option for companies of all sizes within an industry that provides an instant way to assess KPIs.

Being Proactive with Business Intelligence

All firms strive to be successful and creating KPIs allows them to measure success and avoid potential negative outcomes. Using a BI solution, firms can be proactive by visually seeing KPIs and making quick decisions based upon critical information. The two go hand in hand and together they help firms make sense of it all.

Key Performance Indicators  

Topics: Technology Solutions, Professional Services

How to Reap the Benefits of Employee Engagement

Posted by Jennifer Renfroe on Wed, Sep 19, 2018 @ 01:37 PM

Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is the extent to which individuals are personally involved in the success of a business. Interestingly enough, it does not mean employee satisfaction. Employees can be satisfied in their jobs, but still not be engaged. The fact is engaged employees are invested in their company, and they have an emotional commitment to the organization and its goals, so they will go the extra mile for their firm.

Benefits of Employee Engagement

Gallup firm research shows that 68.5% of U.S. employees are not engaged in their current roles. This lack of engagement costs U.S. companies between $450-550 billion in lost productivity a year. When employees are engaged by their work, however, there are higher levels of productivity, a boost in the company’s bottom line, better retention rates, an increased sense of health and well-being and happier customers.

It is important that businesses create the conditions to engage employees. Doing so provides valuable loyalty inspiring experiences which will in the end drive profits. The best business leaders realize that an engaged workforce can propel innovation, increase performance, and grow the organization.

9 Key Areas of an Employee Engagement Strategy

  1. Purpose – This is the thing that drives the firm forward. A sense of purpose is crucial to creating the emotional bond between employees and their work. With a specific mission and clear company values, employees will become engaged.
  2. Communication – The emotional component of communication speaks to the basic human need to feel valued. When employees receive proper, frequent and constructive communication, they feel in the loop which establishes trust. It is critical to not rely too heavily on email in communication.
  3. Health and wellness – A Gallup study found 62% of engaged employees felt work positively affected their physical health. Established health and wellness campaigns play a role in creating emotional connections. Again, these emotional connections engage employees.
  4. Workspace and environment – How companies set up employee workspaces determines the feel of the environment. With functional and inspirational workspaces, a sense of pride is created along with a desire for employees to be there. Wanting to be at work increases performance.
  5. Well-defined roles – Defining roles connects the company’s mission with its employees’ daily activities. Firms must show how each employee’s efforts contribute to the overall mission. This identifies how each individual employee is thus responsible for the ultimate success of the firm.
  6. Relationship with colleagues – Numerous studies have shown that firms where friendships are common have more engaged employees and better business. Gallup research even found that people with a self-described best friend at work are seven times more likely to be fully engaged. Relationships create another emotional connection to the firm.
  7. Recognition and incentives – The act of being recognized for individual efforts makes employees feel like valued team members and creates another emotional connection. Also, certain monetary incentives like profit sharing activate an emotional response with a vested interest in making a profit. Engaged employees will financially benefit from their hard work.
  8. Buy-in from managers – According to SHRM, employees who trust their managers appear to have more pride in their firm. They are more likely to feel that they are applying their talents for both their own success and that of the organization. Management buy-in to encourage employee engagement is a necessity which goes hand in hand with frequent communication.
  9. Personal growth and development – Personal growth and development is the final emotional component that will support employee engagement. Employees need to know that they can advance in their firm, and they want opportunities for education and training. Seeing how they can progress in their contribution to the firm’s mission will also help maintain engagement. 

Benchmarking Employee Engagement

Having engaged employees is essential to a successful business. Creating and implementing an effective employee engagement strategy is crucial as well. What’s left to consider is how to benchmark the employee engagement. Using an employee engagement survey, firms can determine the types of activities employees want to participate in as well as their thoughts on the state of the workplace. Listening to the voices of your employees and sharing what you have learned will continue to encourage employee engagement and let your firm reap its benefits.

Employee Engagement  

Topics: Employees, HR

Theresa DePew Joins Full Sail Partners as Finance Consultant

Posted by Jennifer Renfroe on Tue, Sep 04, 2018 @ 11:35 AM

Theresa Depew Full Sail Partners is pleased to welcome Theresa DePew to our consulting team. As a Finance Consultant, she will be supporting Full Sail Partners’ clients across the United States regarding Deltek Vision and Deltek for Professional Services. Additionally, Theresa will be responsible for the implementation of Concur Expense & Invoice for those clients who choose this add on service.

Theresa has fifteen years of experience working in corporate accounting both as a Project Accountant and in accounts payable. Her past industry experience includes working with project managers and other staff to ensure projects are in budget and closed in a timely manner. Theresa has also previously assisted in the implementation of both Deltek Vision and Concur Expense software.

“Having been a Deltek Vision and Concur client on the firm side, I am so excited to work as part of the Full Sail Partners’ consulting team. Using my prior experience in corporate accounting, I feel like I can really understand the needs of Full Sail Partners’ clients,” said Theresa DePew.

With both Vision and Concur experience under her belt, Theresa will be able to immediately fill in our increasing Vision consulting services as well as be a Concur implementation expert. More and more Full Sail Partners’ clients are choosing to not only get the most out of their Deltek Vision systems, but also to streamline their processes with the Deltek Vision to Concur Blackbox Connector. It is an exciting time, and Theresa will fill a vital role in keeping up with client needs. 

“With our ever-increasing client requests for Deltek Vision consulting services and Blackbox Connector offerings, we were looking for a champion who could take on these efforts. In Theresa, we have found the perfect skill set with her knowledge of and experience with both Deltek Vision and Concur Expense. We are thrilled for her to be part of the consulting team at Full Sail Partners,” stated Scott Seal, VP of Consulting.

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

Topics: Press Release

Deltek PIM Changes the Way Professional Services Firms Manage Information

Posted by Jennifer Renfroe on Wed, Aug 29, 2018 @ 11:00 AM

Deltek PIM

Firms in the professional services industry often have a difficult time managing the large volumes of information that come with each project. Having access to all project information from emails to drawings to contracts is important and vital for effective project management. With information silos, disorganized yellow folders and different systems per team, there is a greater chance for a less than successful outcome on firm projects. Deltek Project Information Management, or PIM, changes the way professional services firms manage information.

PIM Challenges the Norm

Many professional services firms believe that using yellow folders to store project documentation is the best option. While they are certainly easy to create, these folder structures offer no options for controlling access to the most up to date project information. Critical project data can easily be missed, and uninformed decisions can be made without a central place to view all current documents like offered with PIM. 

Email Communication is Valuable Information

One of the biggest mistakes that project-based businesses make is not considering email communication valuable project information. Emails and their attachments have significant details that help keep track of the project progression. Issues crop up in email correspondence that are essential for project members to see. For the project to run smoothly, these emails must be stored appropriately as PIM provides. 

Benefits of Using Deltek PIM 

  • Organized project files improve efficiency – Users can store, manage, retrieve and share documents in a central hub
  • Better collaboration – Project communication is improved when all team members can see all the relevant information
  • Quickly find critical data – All key project information is available to monitor project progress and make better decisions
  • Protecting the firm – Risk can be reduced with greater visibility into project data
  • Mobile connection – Enables on-the-go field work where photos can be taken, or drawings can be viewed on site
  • Integration with Deltek ERP– Every critical piece of project information is in one location to manage budgets, schedules and resources for every project in Deltek 

Goodbye Yellow Folders, Hello Deltek PIM 

Deltek PIM offers a cohesive information management system which ensures that the correct knowledge is always available to all project team members. By implementing PIM, professional services firms can store, catalog and retrieve all essential project management documents from one place. If your firm is still managing project information using yellow folders or keeping information silos, the best decisions are not being made. PIM can help make better ones.

Deltek PIM  

Topics: Professional Services, HR, Project Information Management (PIM)

Full Sail Partners Announces the Hire of Joel Slater as Product Sales Manager

Posted by Jennifer Renfroe on Tue, Aug 28, 2018 @ 11:35 AM

Joel Slater Full Sail Partners, a Concur and Deltek Platinum Partner, is excited to announce that Joel Slater has joined the firm as Product Sales Manager. In this newly created role, he will oversee all Full Sail Partners’ product sales. The firm’s product offerings include Deltek Vision, Deltek for Professional Services and Blackbox Connector solutions which integrate multiple best of breed software applications like Entrinsik Informer 5 business intelligence and Concur Expense and Invoice.

Joel comes to Full Sail Partners with more than ten years of experience selling ERP and finance-related software applications to project-based firms. Also, having been a Sales Executive for both Concur and Deltek, Joel has ample knowledge of Full Sail Partners’ product offerings. With this exceptional background, he will be able to ensure Full Sail Partners’ clients are provided with the right tools within their stated budget to help them streamline their operations. 

“I’m excited to continue my career working with project-oriented firms, and with a continued focus on a product set which I truly believe in,” stated Joel Slater. “This new role provides an ideal setting for utilizing my past experience to help our clients advance successfully into the future.” 

As Product Sales Manager, Joel will work with clients directly on any Full Sail Partners’ product offering, but he will also be available to assist the account management and the Blackbox Connector sales teams. Our account management and Blackbox Connector sales teams are located across the country allowing us to provide better service to clients throughout the United States. Joel will be a great asset in working with them to offer the solution that best fits the individual client’s needs.   

“Joel is a highly-regarded sales person in the Deltek and Concur ecosystem. We are thrilled to have him join the Full Sail Partners’ team as our new Product Sales Manager,” stated Sarah Gonnella, VP of Marketing & Sales. “In addition to his strong selling background, Joel is known for mentoring other sales colleagues. As a growing sales group, this is vital to our firm’s success and we look forward to his knowledge and expertise to grow the company.”

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

Topics: Press Release

Full Sail Partners Promotes Amy Balassone to Relationship Manager

Posted by Jennifer Renfroe on Tue, Aug 21, 2018 @ 11:05 AM

Amy Balassone

Full Sail Partners, a Concur and Deltek Platinum Partner, is pleased to announce that Amy Balassone has been promoted to Relationship Manager. As Relationship Manager, she will focus on cultivating new clients through referrals, building relationships with existing clients, promoting brand awareness of the Blackbox Connector and demonstrating measurable business results for clients. In her new role, Amy is responsible for managing more than 100 relationships with Concur representatives and coordinating efforts with prospective clients.

Formerly serving as a Direct Marketing Associate, Amy has been part of the marketing and business development team at Full Sail Partners for almost 3 years. During this time, she has gained an in-depth knowledge of the products Full Sail Partners offers and helped to solve common problems our clients face. Prior to joining Full Sail Partners, Amy worked as a program liaison to healthcare providers working directly with clients to ensure cost effective outcomes. 

“I have such a customer-focused mentality. I am very excited that in my new position I get the chance to continue building relationships with clients while offering a larger variety of products and services to meet their needs,” noted Amy Balassone. 

With the continued growth of Full Sail Partners’ Blackbox Connector offerings to include the business intelligence tool Entrinsik Informer 5, in addition to Concur, the firm needed a key person to help clients with these specific solutions. Firms interested in connecting Deltek Vision or Deltek for Professional Services to Concur Expense and Invoice or to Informer 5 now have a point of contact in Amy. 

“Amy has demonstrated a willingness to continuously grow and learn. We are so excited to promote Amy to Relationship Manager working with our Blackbox Connector team and helping clients gain insight into our ever-growing portfolio of solutions. With Amy’s excellent customer service, clients will now have a great resource in Amy,” stated Sarah Gonnella, VP of Marketing and Sales.

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

Topics: Press Release

Full Sail Partners Recognized on Accounting Today’s 2018 VAR 100 List

Posted by Jennifer Renfroe on Thu, Aug 16, 2018 @ 05:30 PM

VAR 100 2018Full Sail Partners, a Deltek Platinum Partner, is excited to announce that it has been recognized by Accounting Today on the top 100 VAR list for 2018. Every year Accounting Today picks the top value-added resellers (VARs) of accounting software, and Full Sail Partners has been ranked in the top 100 again this year. In fact, it has increased in ranking by ten, which is a 25-position increase over the last two years.  

Each year a select group of 100 organizations are honored for their accomplishments as VARs. The top VARs are chosen from firms focused on sales and implementation of accounting and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software. Criteria used to determine the winners include 2017 revenue, number of offices, and staff size.

“Just four years ago we were listed as one of the VARs to watch and returned to the list in 2015. Each year since then we keep leaping up the rankings. We are thrilled to continually move up on Accounting Today’s VAR 100 list,” stated Sarah Gonnella, VP of Marketing & Sales at Full Sail Partners. “As Deltek end-users too, we share our clients’ desires of wanting a robust project-based ERP system like Deltek offers with the flexibility to choose other best of breed solutions to help automate end-to-end processes. This provides us a unique perspective that many VARs do not have. With the creation of our Blackbox Connector we are bringing data together and streamlining the integration process.”

Accounting Today’s VAR 100 also indicated that a cloud offering is a must for VAR clients, and these clients are actively seeking higher-level capabilities from their technology. They are asking for analytics, intelligence and automation. Conveniently, Full Sail Partners has positioned itself to respond to these exact needs. With its Blackbox Connector capabilities and emerging business intelligence offerings, Full Sail Partners intends to keep developing solutions to fit client growth and desires.

Here is the full 2018 VAR list: https://www.accountingtoday.com/the-2018-var-100

Accounting Today is a leading provider of online business news for the accounting community, offering breaking news, in-depth features, and a host of resources and services. The VAR 100 list is an annual report developed to rank the top technology resellers in the accounting and ERP spaces.  

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

Topics: Press Release

The Value of Continuous Employee Feedback

Posted by Jennifer Renfroe on Wed, Jul 25, 2018 @ 11:35 AM

Employee Feedback

Annual review time is often seen by many employees as a stressor. For even the most productive employee, the question of what hasn’t been said until this one point in the year causes concern. From the manager’s perspective, how is it even possible to clearly remember a year’s worth of employee performance? It makes much more sense to offer feedback consistently throughout the year. Let’s take a closer look at the value of continuous employee feedback especially for project-based firms.

Employee Engagement

With continuous employee feedback, managers can initiate employee engagement which leads to further discussions. The more opinions and ideas that are gathered will ultimately improve the project and ensure that it is done efficiently and on budget. If issues crop up, as they often do, engaging employees frequently will allow for proactive problem resolution instead of reactive analysis down the road. 

Good Balance

Keeping a balance between positive and negative feedback is another benefit of continuous employee feedback. While an employee’s performance may have to be corrected over some issue during a project, other things that have been done well can be provided to offer encouragement. This way, employees are still motivated to do their best work and don’t react negatively to the one matter that needed improvement.

Actionable Feedback

Continuous feedback provides actionable items that are mutually beneficial to managers and employees. Freshly addressing the situation at hand allows managers to respond and employees to correct immediately rather than reacting to what has already transpired and cannot be changed. Employees can also be given proper training to improve their efficiency and the outcome of the project. 

Goal Setting

Talking regularly about performance allows employees to set goals for themselves. When employees see how they are contributing to a project and know they will be a part of the positive outcome, they are inspired to perform better than before. Goal setting benefits managers and employees alike. 

Learn from Feedback

Offering continuous feedback is a way for employees to learn, grow and develop. It is a much better strategy for project-based businesses than annual performance reviews. Consistent feedback encourages conversations, goal mastery and efficiently run projects which is a win for everyone in your firm.

Continuous Feedback and Goals  

Topics: HR, Professional Services

The 39th Annual Deltek A/E Clarity Report is Now Available

Posted by Jennifer Renfroe on Wed, Jul 11, 2018 @ 11:35 AM

39th Annual Deltek AE Clarity Report Each year Deltek conducts a survey of firms in the architecture and engineering industry to identify key issues impacting the market, highlight bright spots, and forecast future trends. Guided by industry experts, the survey focuses on financial statements, business development, project management, human capital management, and technology trends. This year, in total, 952 individuals took the survey, and nearly 450 companies provided input. Firms in this study are of varying sizes and headquartered across the US and Canada.

Key Findings in This Year’s Deltek A/E Clarity Report

Financial Statements

Firms’ financial statements reveal year-over-year stability in the industry, with most impacts appearing to be driven by talent management and staffing changes.

  • Average operating profit on net revenue was 13.2%, up just slightly from last year’s 13% and the previous year’s 12.8%.
  • Utilization rates dropped slightly to 59.4% from 60.0% last year.
  • The net labor multiplier saw a decrease to an average of 2.96, down quite significantly from a spike of 3.02 last year and back in line with 2015.
  • Firms reversed a five-year decline in overhead rate, increasing from 154% to 155%.
  • The average collection period dropped by one day to 71 days, although high performers increased by two days to a 67-day average.

Business Development

Firms are looking to diversify opportunities and their business development efforts to stay ahead in a competitive market.

  • Net revenue growth forecast was 5.2%, down just slightly from last year’s 5.3%.
  • Firms are using a diverse array of staff for business development, with 19% of firms using dedicated business development staff only, 31% sellers/doers only, and 50% using a mixture of both. However, only 46% of firms had a formal business development process for their staff.
  • Win rates improved to 50.0%, rising 9.8 percentage points from last year’s 40.2%.
  • The percentage of firms with a formal go/no-go process decreased from 75% last year to 67% this year.
  • More firms expect growth in surveying/geographic information systems (GIS), transportation, and commercial markets than any other industry, whereas nearly 60% of firms expect their position to stay the same or decline in the residential, education, and hospitality markets.

Project Management

Firms need to continue to focus on improving the project management discipline and increasing client satisfaction.

  • Two-thirds of all firms have a high level of visibility on cost variance, whereas more than half of all firms stated that they had low or moderate visibility into schedule variance and client satisfaction. Compared to last year, client satisfaction visibility decreased from 53% to 45%.
  • Firms this year reported that 20% of their projects were over budget and 25% of their projects were behind schedule.
  • Sixty-one percent of firms had high confidence in their overall project reporting abilities, down from 72% last year. More than 90% of firms felt confident they were accurately reporting the actual cost and budget of their projects, whereas only 69% of firms felt the same about the accuracy of their schedule reporting.
  • In terms of discipline maturity, only 47% of firms used a formal project management process for three-fourths or more of their projects. Overall, 18% of firms had a PMO or center of excellence. Additionally, only 39% of firms have less than one-quarter of staff with formal project management training.
  • Eighty-one percent of firms are measuring client satisfaction, and of these firms, 45% are conducting these measures for all projects and 49% for strategic projects only. The majority are measuring client satisfaction irregularly, compared to 22% of firms that do so at key project milestones. 

Human Capital Management

Firms are experiencing growth, but employee turnover—particularly voluntary turnover—has increased, making staff retention and improved talent acquisition imperative.

  • Staff growth is 4.3%, declining from 6.9% last year.
  • Employee turnover increased to 12.8%, up from 11% last year.
  • 34% of firms had more open positions, compared with only 15% with fewer open positions.
  • The average time to fill positions was 31–60 days, although for 15% of firms, it takes an average of 90 or more days to fill positions. Compared to last year, there was a 7-percentage-point decrease in firms that filled positions in less than 30 days.
  • Of all firms, 43% have a formal succession plan. For 68% of firms, their succession plan applies only to current leaders and next-in-line leaders, whereas for 7% it applies to all employees.

Technology Trends

In the first year tracking technology trends, firms are looking for better ways to collect data that can be leveraged for strategic decisions.

  • Geolocation and the Internet of Things (IoT) were the most important technology trends.
  • Most firms did not rank artificial intelligence (AI) or wearable technology as technology trends they are focused on, but it can significantly change the way we run our businesses when the time is right.

Benchmark Your Firm with the Deltek A/E Clarity Report 

While these are the highlights of the 39th Annual Deltek A/E Clarity study, the report goes into much more detail. Using these results, you can see how your firm has been doing not only compared to your previous year, but also to other comparable firms in your industry. With these industry insights, you can develop future goals to help your firm stand out against the growing wave of competition. For an in-depth view of everything included in the 39th Annual Deltek A/E Clarity report, download your copy today.

39th Annual Deltek AE Clarity Report  

Topics: Deltek Clarity Report, Professional Services