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Ryan Felkel

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

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

40th Annual AE Clarity Report

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

Business Development Challenges

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 If firms stay with this outdated model, this trend will unfortunately continue.

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

Revenue Growth Forecast Findings 

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

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

Key Takeaways from the 40th Annual AE Deltek Clarity Study 

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

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Topics: Professional Services, Deltek Clarity Report

Introducing the Vantagepoint Feature “Hey Deltek”

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

Deltek Vantagepoint-1

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

Add a New Lead

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

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

We All Need Reminders

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

Even Works with Projects

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

Moving Forward with Deltek Vantagepoint

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

Deltek Vantagepoint

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

Financial Trend Findings from the 40th Deltek AE Clarity Study

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

40th Annual AE Clarity Report

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

Hurdles that Firm Financial Leaders Experience

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

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

Key Financial Findings from the Deltek AE Clarity Study

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

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

Finding Ways to Overcome Financial Hurdles

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

Benchmark Your Firm Against the AE Industry

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

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Topics: Professional Services, Deltek Clarity Report

Get to Know the Deltek Learning Zone

Posted by Ryan Felkel on Thu, Aug 01, 2019 @ 01:36 PM

Deltek Learning Zone Have you ever wanted to learn how to get more out of your Deltek products? Well, Deltek has a solution for you! If you’re a go-getter, you’ll find the Deltek Learning Zone (DLZ) a great tool to expand your capabilities. Let’s take a look at how you can access what DLZ has to offer.

Gaining Access to the Deltek Learning Zone

Here’s some side information before we go to deep. For starters, Deltek Vantagepoint and Vision are offered in two versions. One being on-premise, which means your firm hosts Vantagepoint or Vision on their own servers. The other being software as a service (SaaS). This means your Deltek product is hosted in the cloud and maintained by Deltek IT staff which relieves your firm of the burden on maintaining your software and having to have hardware to store your data. So, why is this important?

If your firm is a SaaS Deltek client, there’s some good news! You have access to the DLZ at no additional charge. If your firm maintains their own Deltek database, you still have access to the DLZ. However, there is a nominal fee your firm will have to pay to gain access.

Benefits of the Deltek Learning Zone

For starters, the DLZ is a learning tool. It allows users to access information and training materials about the Deltek products your firm utilizes. These resources allow you to learn more about the products you use and how to maximize them to reap all the benefits to improve your work performance. But wait, there’s more!

Sure, you want to get the most out of the Deltek products you already have access to. However, is there an add-on module that can help your firm streamline more processes? Well, you probably know the answer is yes if you’re an avid Deltek user. But you may not be sure of how they work and how easy they are to use. Well, the DLZ offers a simple solution for you to learn how these additional modules work and how easy they are to navigate.

Even more, many Deltek Vision users are preparing to upgrade to the latest Deltek ERP, Vantagepoint. However, many people are hesitant to change which is a natural instinct. Therefore, the DLZ offers several training tools to help overcome fears and answer the questions you have before upgrading to Vantagepoint.

Here’s What is Offered in the Deltek Learning Zone

Deltek created DLZ with the core understanding that people learn in different ways. As a result, they created several ways for you to increase your knowledge and proficiency with your Deltek products. For starters, they organized the majority of the educational materials on a role-based library. Meaning that it’s easy to find the right materials and training information that is specific to your job at your firm.

Futhermore, one person might learn by reading a document or watching a video, while others may need a more interactive environment. The DLZ offers several types of training tools to help users of all skills and to meet the needs of how different individuals learn. When you log into the DLZ, you choose to register for an interactive class or download on-demand videos and documents to get instant answers to your challenges you experience on a daily basis.

Do More with the Deltek Learning Zone

If you haven’t explored what is offered in DLZ, you may want to start searching through the resources available. The reality is, you have created a career in the professional services industry and it’s likely you’ll be using Deltek products throughout your entire career. With that said, you should take a deep dive into the DLZ to see what new things you can learn to make yourself your firm’s go-to resource for any Deltek related questions.   

Deltek Learning Zone

Topics: Support, Technology Solutions, Deltek Vision

Improve Your Email Marketing Response Rates

Posted by Ryan Felkel on Wed, Jul 03, 2019 @ 11:35 AM

Email Marketing Over the past decade, email marketing has become a leading channel to generate brand and product awareness. Even better, unlike snail mail, marketers are able to get actual information about who opened the email and who followed the call to action. As a result, marketers can quickly determine what messaging is resonating with their target audience. Let’s take a look at some of the things you can do to increase the effectiveness of your email marketing efforts.

Use a Good Sender Name

Having a good sender name is extremely important. People are less likely to open an email that comes from a “no-reply” sender name and email address. Instead, use a sender name and an email address that the recipient might recognize. For example, if you’re emailing existing clients about a new product offering, consider using the name of their account representative from your company.

Have a Strong Subject Line

Upon receiving an email, the recipient usually looks first to see who sent it and then reads the subject line. The subject line can be the determining factor as to if the email recipient will actually even open and read the email. Email subject lines should get to the point and not be too long.  Furthermore, clearly state what information you are sharing inside the email. Consider using triggers words like “sale” and “proven” to increase interest in your messaging. Lastly, always use the preheader text field that is available in all email marketing platforms. The preheader text provides a place to add a summary of the email.

Use Catchy Graphics

Graphics are an important element to an email. Maybe it can be something fun that relates to the messaging of the email or it might just be company logo. Graphics help break up the text and make the email less overwhelming to the recipient. Another type of graphic to consider is an emoji. Emojis have become very popular over the past few years and they are a great way to communicate.

Format and Layout

“The best email I have gotten is one that is a giant block of text,” said no one ever. For the messaging of your email, text should be short and broken up to make the email scannable for the recipient. Some ways to break up text are to use short paragraphs, lists and bullet points. As mentioned before, use graphics to help break up the text. Also, make sure the call to action is clear to the recipient. It needs to stand out and should clarify the next steps for the reader.

Test Different Days and Times

With a 40-hour work week, there are several days and times you can chose to deploy your email. By breaking up your target list of recipients, you can test several different days and times to send your email to determine which time is best. For instance, you might find that your targets are more likely to open emails in the evening. If this is the case and let’s say the email is going to several time zones, you may consider breaking up the target list by time zone and deploying the email to ensure all recipients receive the email in the evening of their time zone.

Segment Your Email List

One of the last things you want to do is send an email with irrelevant content to a recipient. If you’re promoting a marketing product, it is less likely that an accountant is going to find your information useful. Additionally, you do not want to be sending the same people multiple emails a week, especially with irrelevant content. This will likely result in high unsubscribe rates.

Start Improving Your Email Success Rates

Now to the most important thing…testing, testing, and more testing. A/B testing is a marketer’s best friend. A/B testing involves creating two different subjects, graphics, messaging, and format/layout to determine what resonates with your audience. Once you have created two versions, segment your target list in two and send one half one version and the other half the other version. Then sit back and start to compare the success of each email to determine what increased your email success rate.

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Topics: Building Business, Marketing

How Do You Measure Your Firm’s Success?

Posted by Ryan Felkel on Wed, Jun 05, 2019 @ 01:18 PM

Metrics Measuring your firm’s achievements and shortcomings are important to ensure continued future success. However, many firms are unsure of what factors indicate the health of their business. Also, some firm leaders believe one indicator, such as financial reports, is more important than other areas like talent management. Well, that is not necessarily the case. Let’s take a look at some of the indicators your firm should use to make informed decisions to improve business performance.  

Employee Recruitment and Retention Rates

One of the largest factors affecting the growth of architectural and engineering (A&E) firms is human capital management. Having the right people working on the right projects has a significant impact on the profitability and overall success of an A&E firm. From highlighting experienced staff members during the RFP process to actually delivering the project, talent affects all aspects of your business. Looking at recruitment rates, employee turnover rates and several other talent management metrics is essential to evaluating and measuring success.

Measuring Business Development

Wasted time on winning new business is very costly. Measuring win rates, revenue from top clients and net revenue growth will prevent wasted time. For some, this seems like a logical thing to measure, but many firms don’t track this information and they should. If you’re tracking these numbers and they continue to decline, then you know you have some major issues. You can quickly change this trend by evaluating what types of projects you’re winning and losing, and why.

Financial Metrics

Without a doubt, financial metrics are extremely important. Knowing things like total employee cost, overhead rate, and total payroll multiplier are necessary to keeping your finger on the pulse of your business. Diving deeper, measuring performance using metrics like operating profit on net revenue, utilization rate and the net labor multiplier from previous years can provide a clear picture of the performance of your firm. If these numbers slip in a negative direction, other metrics mentioned in this article could provide useful insight.

Overlooked Technology Needs

Historically, the A&E industry has been hesitant to adopt new technology. As a result, firms continue to use outdated technology that lacks the abilities to keep up with the changing A&E industry. This has become the number one hurdle for little firms to keep up with larger and faster growing firms. A&E firms need to evaluate their current technology.  Are your systems connected or is there a lot of manual entry from one software tool to another? Is your software up to date? Being behind on technology can greatly hinder your ability to even measure performance indicators.

Comparing Your Firm to Others

Ok, let’s assume your firm will measure these metrics and keep track of them. Even better, it will use current metrics and compare them to historical metrics to notice trends. However, does it compare itself to other A&E firms to determine where it stands in the industry? Well, it can. Make sure to download the Deltek A&E Clarity Industry Study to see how your firm stacks up against your competition. The Deltek A&E Clarity Industry Study is created in collaboration with ACEC, the Association Consulting Engineering Companies Canada, SMPS and AIA. The data collected comes from 386 US and Canadian firms and draws from over 250,000 data points.

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Topics: Professional Services, Deltek Clarity Report

2019 Mergers and Acquisitions Trends

Posted by Ryan Felkel on Wed, May 22, 2019 @ 01:45 PM

Mergers and AcquisitionsWith growing global political tensions, trade wars and volatile markets, one would assume that mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity would slow down. However, this has not been the case.  As a result of US tax reforms and a reduction in the US regulatory climate, firms are retaining larger amounts of cash reserves. Furthermore, according to a recent Deloitte survey, M&A activity will continue to increase throughout 2019. Here are some reasons for this trend.

Need to Diversify

Architecture and engineering (A&E) firms must diversify their service offerings to continue to win new business. Diversifying in the A&E industry is usually in reference to purchasing or merging with another firm that has a different set of skills. For instance, an engineering firm specializing in soil science has a desire to offer a different service like water control which requires it to acquire or merge with another firm. Therefore, M&A activity will continue to grow to meet these needs. 

Generate Firm Growth

Historically, firms have used excess cash flow to pay down debt, purchase shares back or simply retain cash reserves as a backup. However, A&E firms are now finding that acquiring another firm is a simple and lucrative way to grow business. Essentially, this allows a firm to increase its market share and acquire a competitor’s client base.

Demographics are Changing

Many A&E firms are private companies owned by baby boomers. These owners are starting to look for an exit strategy, and an easy solution is to put the business on the market. By doing so, owners can request for bids to purchase their firms and obtain a fair market value. As a result, owners can capitalize on their success and enjoy retirement with a nice-sized nest egg.

Preparing Your Firm for a Merger or Acquisition

A&E firms desiring to take the M&A path need to make sure they have their internal records clearly documented. This includes providing understandable project financial reports, presenting any risks a buyer should evaluate, and having records that are easily auditable. Lastly, and probably most importantly, firm leadership should communicate their intentions and the expected results of the merger or acquisition with their employees. Is your firm ready?

 Mergers and Acquisitions

Topics: Professional Services, Mergers and Acquisitions

What Makes a Quality Business Software Solution?

Posted by Ryan Felkel on Wed, May 01, 2019 @ 02:56 PM

Business Software

For those of you reading this, I’m glad that you have a desire to expand your knowledge. While you might be a great accountant, business development person, project manager, HR professional, or C-level executive, you might not have a high level of IT knowledge. Yet, you are the professionals that must use your company’s business software solutions. Therefore, you need to ensure these business solutions are allowing you to be more productive. So, let’s see if your current business software solution is a quality one or not.

Simple to Understand

This sounds like a no brainer-but how simple is the software solution you use? Simplicity is more than a friendly user interface. When thinking about simplicity, you need to imagine inputting data and extracting actionable information.

Even more, it means being able to share information with others within and outside your firm. Taking this further, how many clicks does it take to get to your destination? And let’s not forget being able to easily obtain support from the software provider with quick resolution for your problem.

Pleasant User Interface

Software companies have entire teams of professionals dedicated to human-computer interaction, or in other words, how humans interact with machines. A quality user interface does make a software solution simpler, but more importantly, it entices users to want to use the solution. A software interface should be visually appealing and provide an intuitive environment. The better the user interface, the more likely employees will adopt using the software.

Integrates with Other Software Solutions

The fact of the matter is that businesses usually use more than one software to deliver services. For example, business intelligence (BI) software, like Entrinsik’s Informer BI tool, is becoming a leading software product used by companies to better analyze data. However, a core software must be able to integrate with a BI software to be able to extract the data.

Moreover, businesses also often use piecemealed together systems that are created as a business grows and/or a new gap needs to be filled. As a result, these individual solutions must be integrated together so they can communicate. If they are not integrated, employees will then have to manually input information from one system to another which waste time and is more prone to errors.     

Get Your Job Done More Efficiently

Does your current solution meet the needs of your business? Does your software help you better serve your clients and streamline your business processes? Lastly, will the software solutions you use be able to grow with you and your firm? If the answer to any of these questions is no, let Full Sail Partners help!

Reach Full Sail Partners

Topics: Technology Solutions, Professional Services

The Value of Email Communication Management with Deltek PIM

Posted by Ryan Felkel on Wed, Apr 10, 2019 @ 03:15 PM

Deltek PIM

Project-based firms do experience challenges during the project lifecycle from ensuring a project remains on schedule to keeping the client satisfied. With these challenges, however, there is one common denominator…communication. Communication is key to the success of a project whether it’s with the client or with your own project team. One of the most common forms of communication is email, but if you’re not included on every email that pertains to a project, how can you know what is going on? With Deltek PIM, the communication problem is solved, and your firm will reap the benefits.

Centralized Email Communication

With a simple click, an email can be stored within the project in Vantagepoint or Vision. Therefore, every employee working on a particular project can quickly access the email communications that contain important information about the project. This saves time and improves project communication. With Deltek PIM, an employee might notice a change to the project and can quickly search through the emails to see who made the change and why.

Improved Decision Making

Using Deltek PIM increases the collaborative work environment since everyone has access to project related communication. With more insight into the project information, team members can make informed and quick decisions. The impact of this efficiency is significant for project-based firms in the form of a higher profit on each project.

Quick User Adoption

If your firm is already using Deltek Vantagepoint or Vision, PIM easily integrates with these project management platforms. Even better, this integration makes it easy to use which increases user adoption. As a result, an investment into Deltek PIM offers value since firm employees will actually use this product as they are already managing projects in Vantagepoint or Vision.

Deltek PIM Does More

Not only does Deltek PIM provide centralized email, but it also allows for all project related files to be stored directly in the project in Vantagepoint or Vision. With PIM, you can store emails, all types of documents, easily organize drawings, and improve sharing since all these things are in one location. If you haven’t seen PIM, make sure to check our webinar listing page to view upcoming and past PIM webinars.

Deltek PIM 

Topics: Technology Solutions, Project Information Management (PIM)

Top Trends in the AEC Industry

Posted by Ryan Felkel on Wed, Mar 20, 2019 @ 02:10 PM

Cloud ComputingOut of all industries and professional disciplines, architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) leads in innovation. Not just in building design, but in how construction projects are completed. Among other efforts, the AEC industry is embracing modern technology to make projects and overall business more successful. Let’s take a look at some trends.

Moving to the Cloud

Taking your software to the cloud is becoming an extremely cheaper alternative to hosting your own software tools. Software/Desktop as a Service (SaaS/DaaS) is changing the AEC industry for the better. SaaS/DaaS gives employees the ability to access the software products they use from anywhere with an internet connection. As a result, it’s allowing firms to become more efficient and mobile.

Business development teams can retrieve important CRM information about their clients and prospects on-the-go. Project managers can update project records while they are on-site at the project. For AEC firms to stay competitive, they need to embrace SaaS/DaaS solutions to keep up with the changing times. Check out this link to learn more.

BIM Technology

Building information modeling (BIM) technology is not just for large firms anymore. It has now become economical for small firms and even the self-employed. With BIM, AEC firms can create digital models of structures…but it’s not just a 3D representation of a structure; it’s more like 6D. Whereas 3D is width, height and depth, the 4th D is time, the 5th D is cost, and the 6th D evaluates the environment and sustainability of the structure. 

Even more, it’s a shared knowledge base of project information. By using BIM, companies will be apprised of a project’s status by instant access to all project information, even emails. Want to take Deltek Vantagepoint and Vision even further with project management? Check out Deltek PIM here for more information.

Software Integrations Using the Blackbox Connector

Third party software solutions can now be integrated with Deltek Vantagepoint and Vision. Using the Blackbox Connector for Constant Contact or Mailchimp, email marketing efforts are automatically updated in Vantagepoint or Vision. Instead of relying on plain spreadsheets for company business intelligence, firm employees can easily create real-time graphical dashboards with the Informer integration for Vantagepoint or Vision. Learn more about the Blackbox Connector options for Deltek here.

Stay Ahead of the Competition

Many AEC firm leaders are hesitant to make an investment into new technology. However, evaluating current practices and exploring ways to use technology to help streamline your business processes can prove to have a true return on investment. How can Full Sail Partners help you embrace modern technology?

Reach Full Sail Partners  

Topics: Project Management, Technology Solutions, Cloud