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Wes Renfroe

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A How to Guide for Working Remotely

Posted by Wes Renfroe on Wed, Mar 18, 2020 @ 11:00 AM

Covid 19

With the recent health crisis of COVID-19 and the need for social distancing, we’ve noticed an uptick in companies’ interest in working from home. Therefore, important questions remain: What departments are feasible to work remotely? What services should be made available? How do you secure such an environment?

Setting up a Home Environment

The first thing you need to consider is if your employees are prepared to work from home? Do they have the necessary resources? Critical gear such adequate hardware and peripherals like full-sized keyboards and local printers may need to be provisioned and adequate internet connectivity both at home sites and the office should be evaluated.

Connecting to Work from Home

How will employees connect to work resources? If you are already using Office 365 or other software as a service then a good bit of the heavy lifting for email, files (SharePoint) as well as availability and collaboration (Teams) is already in place. Deltek Vision is a web based application and making it available remotely is a straightforward evolution our IT consultants can assist with or it can be moved to our Hosting environment. A virtual private network solution whereby each employee creates a connection back to his home office may be required for accessing large CAD or Engineering projects.

A new approach that Full Sail Partners and some of our clients are now using is Server and Desktops as a Service provided by Desktops2go. In this scenario, local desktops and file/licensing servers are hosted in the cloud and remote users simply connect to their workstation from wherever they are, and all workload/file access behaves as if the entire company is working from the same office. This solution also removes a remarkable load from company IT by reducing the need for purchasing high end servers and workstations for staff and provides a predictable monthly IT cost.

Other Considerations

Wide format drawings from a plotter are unlikely to work well from home. However, for drafts, we’ve seen some clients print to PDF, then use Adobe Reader’s ability to print out posterboard tiles until access to the plotters or print shop become available again. Office phones should be forwarded to cellphones or voice mail messages should be checked frequently to stay in contact with critical clients.

Keep Communication Going

From a managerial standpoint, we recommend frequent team and individual staff stand up meetings. Working from home can be disconcerting and isolating for some so additional consideration and contact may help keep morale and productivity up during challenging times. Full Sail Partners has been a virtual company since its inception with everyone working remotely. Please feel free to reach out to us to assist with your work from home needs!

Reach Full Sail Partners

Topics: Professional Services, Employees, Communication

The Benefits of Being in the Cloud

Posted by Wes Renfroe on Wed, Feb 26, 2020 @ 11:30 AM

Cloud Connection

What exactly is being in the cloud? Well, being in the cloud simply means running your firm’s ERP such as Deltek Vantagepoint or Vision on a remote server. Therefore, your firm does not need to concern itself with having the IT infrastructure on premises. Furthermore, being in the cloud allows your firm to focus on the more important matters of running your successful business leaving the IT responsibilities to the professionals. Let’s check out how your firm benefits from being in the cloud.

Cloud Means Lower IT Costs

Being in the cloud, your firm doesn’t have to worry about staying up to date with hardware and software. Simply stated, there is no need to buy additional servers, Windows operating systems, or SQL licenses if your ERP system is in the cloud. As a result, IT professionals managing your ERP system in the cloud will handle all of this for you so there are no additional costs incurred.

Cloud Security is Top Notch

With cloud management, your data is safe. Cloud professionals handle automatic updates and do multiple daily backups. Malware and virus scanning are also performed regularly. Most importantly, if there is a problem, business continuity is of the utmost importance. Cloud professionals work to ensure that your data is accessible as soon as possible in a disaster situation.

Reduced Burden

Being in the cloud, your firm does not have to deal with handling the setup or deployment of your ERP solution which ensures that it does what you are expecting. Cloud professionals have experience with the product you are using or are thinking of upgrading to in the cloud. Furthermore, a testing environment can be put in place for your firm to get comfortable with the ERP it wants to use. For example, you can try Vantagepoint thoroughly before committing the company to upgrade.

All Cloud Solutions Are Not the Same

Choosing the right partner to host your ERP system in the cloud is extremely important and not all cloud solution providers can be treated equally. Therefore, picking the right cloud partner is essential to ensure your ERP system is properly taken care of by the right professionals. For instance, you want to choose a partner that specializes in the ERP system you want to have hosted in the cloud. This ensures they know the ins and outs, and all the requirements to successfully maintain your ERP system.  

The Cloud Makes Running Your Business More Efficient

Leaving your IT issues to the professionals in the cloud, you can focus on the matters that really drive firm success. Moreover, with secure 24/7 access to your data from anywhere with an internet connection, you can ensure you have what you need when you need it enabling your firm to run efficiently. If your firm does choose to upgrade your ERP from Vision to Vantagepoint, being in the cloud would make it a much easier transition for your firm.

Thinking Out Cloud

Topics: Technology Solutions, Cloud, Professional Services

Thinking Outside of the Box?

Posted by Wes Renfroe on Wed, May 08, 2019 @ 11:35 AM

Custom Solutions Do you have an idea that hasn’t been done before? Full Sail Partners can leverage our expertise to help build a custom solution to your specifications. Just let us know what you have in mind and be as detailed as possible. It will be worth the effort since it will expedite getting your project to reality. Here’s all you need to do:

Go to Our Website

First off, just go to the Full Sail Partners website then click on the Services tab. Next, click on Deltek Product Solutions. At the bottom of that page, we have a link for “contact us today” for unique business needs. Just click there and it will bring you to the list of questions to help us understand how we can help.

Motivations for the Custom Solution

The first few questions let us know the gist of your idea including the type of project you have in mind. Is it report driven, data driven or something else? What has brought you to needing this custom solution? Finally, are there certain necessary components that need to be part of your custom solution?

Give Us the Details

We want to understand exactly what you are looking for with your idea. So, in this next part we need as many details typed into the box as possible. Also, we want to know if your Deltek Vantagepoint or Vision is hosted or if you are maintaining it on site. Full Sail Partners does Vision hosting, therefore if you are one of our clients already that is even better.

Send Screenshots

Lastly, screenshots of what you are looking to accomplish are a big time-saver. They give us a good visual of what you have in mind for your custom need. There are directions provided to help you get that screenshot to us. If there are any additional mock-ups or samples of your idea, send those to us as well.

Submit and Full Sail Partners Will Get Right on It

Custom solutions are available for Deltek Vision and are becoming available for Vantagepoint to help your firm get the most out of your ERP solution. The process is easy and the effort very worthwhile. We are looking forward to seeing what out of the box ideas your firm has today!

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Topics: Technology Solutions, Professional Services

Now is the Time to Move to the Cloud

Posted by Wes Renfroe on Wed, Jan 02, 2019 @ 11:30 AM

 

Move to the Cloud

As a small to medium business owner, IT management can be a big headache. Your real work is often disrupted by IT issues such as adding new employees, getting your staff’s machines and apps running, and updating software and support. Moving to the cloud with hosted apps and desktops is the best solution for your firm. Let’s look at the benefits of cloud hosting.

Mobilize the Workforce

With a hosted virtual desktop service, employees have access to apps, documents and other resources from anywhere. All that is necessary is an internet connection and an end point device. Employees can get work done on the go and feel like they never left their workstations.

Business Continuity

Data is safe and always available with a hosted service. If there is a power outage or natural disaster, the offsite data center provides firms with no disruption of service. Data is always secure in the virtual data center which ensures protection with built-in data encryption.

Reduced IT Costs

With a hosted solution, no IT expertise is needed by the firm. Firms will end up spending less on licensing fees and off-site data storage and backup. Anti-spam and virus management is also provided in addition to 24x7 help desk support.

Focus on Growing Your Business

Moving to the cloud with hosted apps and desktops leaves time for your firm to focus on your real work and growing your business. Using the cloud solution, the days of having to manage apps, desktops and servers are in the past. Instead, all the updates and patches are handled for you. Are you ready to move to the cloud?

Thinking Out Cloud  

Topics: Accounting

Using Business Intelligence for Successful Firm Performance

Posted by Wes Renfroe on Wed, Mar 28, 2018 @ 11:00 AM

Business Intelligence Technically, business intelligence or BI has been around for centuries. It is simply the review/analysis of business data. Traditionally, this review had been focused on the past performance of financial data which was easiest to access. As this was financial data, the only people who had access were senior management teams and lower level employees were provided little, if any information. Fortunately, we have come a long way since the old days.

Old Days No More

Financial trends have become easier to access and report against, and we have gotten better at creating and using tools to let us peer into the murky future. Solutions such as resource (people) planning, project planning and CRM (client relationship management) now allow us to track what we see on our immediate horizons. With a combination of these past-looking and forward-looking tools, we can provide a comprehensive view of our performance and where we see upcoming opportunities.

New Problem with Amount of Available Data

So, here’s the new problem. We have access to so much information that it is easy to get overwhelmed. There needs to be a way to draw our eye to a potential “opportunity.” We have also restructured enough that simply having a team who looks at the information and communicates the “opportunity” down the channels isn’t enough. We now require everyone in the company to see the potential and act on it. 

Power of Modern BI Tools

Modern BI tools are the solution to this problem. They allow for consolidation of information into a single data warehouse, so management can see the trends, but this information can also be maintained ‘real-time’ or very close to it depending on the situation. The information can then be presented in a cohesive format that provides an easy view of how the company is performing against its goals.

Furthermore, this information can be disseminated through all the employees (as appropriate) so they can then make informed decisions about their day to day priorities. Additionally, with our mobile workforce, modern BI provides people access to what they need when they need it. Ultimately, the best BI will offer a visual that will call out an issue (or opportunity to improve) and then allow direct access to the data to see what the detail is. 

Example of How Modern BI Works

Below is an actual Division Manager view that shows her the team’s utilization, backlog and outstanding AR. She might look at the AR third column (with the big past due amount) and want to see the specifics:

BI Blog Image 1.png

A simple click of a button will drill down to the clients and let her know there really is only one problem:

BI Blog Image 2.png

She can even go down further to the detail level and see more:

BI Blog Image 3.png

This information will be available to her at the job site, the soccer match or while she grabs a coffee on the way to work. Modern BI tools are very convenient and effective.

Ensuring Successful Firm Performance with Modern BI Tools

Today’s BI is the best way to stay in touch with your company’s performance. A responsive, well thought out BI tool will allow the company to focus on performance metrics that can easily be drilled down to the individual and rolled up to the management team. This modern BI will enable everyone on the team to pull in the same direction and ensure success for the entire company.

Blackbox Connector for Informer 5 and Deltek Vision

Topics: Building Business, Marketing, Technology Solutions

Complete Cloud Solutions – Does Your Technology Have the Ability To Evolve?

Posted by Wes Renfroe on Wed, Feb 11, 2015 @ 01:05 PM

COMPLETE CLOUD SOLUTIONSIn the modern business environment, decision makers observe daily how technology is driving business transformation. More and more CFOs, CMOs and business leaders with IT leadership roles are having the conversation about how their businesses are growing and the impact the cloud is having on their organizational IT plans.

I often speak with customers about the ways we are helping organizations transform into digital businesses and how that enables greater responsiveness in a mobile-driven, cloud-first world. As there becomes less separation between our digital work and digital life, enabling experiences delivered across devices and through the complete cloud is vital.

But what is the ‘complete cloud’? While it is tempting to think of the cloud as a single-entity consisting of raw processing power; the truth is that the complete cloud is more of an ecosystem with many distinctive parts that interact with each other.  To take things a step further, the complete cloud allows you access to your entire technology setup, and all of your data, from anywhere, on any device!

Complete Cloud Solutions - What does this even mean?

So, how is the complete cloud changing the way firms do business? Let’s first examine three aspects that define what exactly a complete cloud solution is:

  • A truly complete cloud offering includes everything from SPAM protection to server intrastructure and software in one package.

To get even more specific, when you utilize a complete cloud solution, your technology package should minimally include hardware like an LCD monitor, a cloud-computer with the latest operating system, virus and SPAM filtering, and Microsoft Office. You should also be given unlimited storage with a server plant fit to run all of your business applications.

CLOUD 

  • Ability to unite all of your systems and processes with one single contact.

Wouldn’t it be nice not to have to wade through several phone numbers when you have a problem, negotiate with several vendors when costs start to rise, or read through mountains of separate manuals when you need specific product help?  When you have one phone number for all your IT needs, the gift of time is given back to you.  

  • Managed by a true partner whom has your best interest in mind.

It’s more than just throwing together a list.  It’s really about vendor management.  Being that partner who works on your behalf.  A partner who is technologically proficient to make sure you’re getting the best technology and services available allowing you to focus your energies on what you do best.  And what’s more is having a partner who knows your business, your industry so that the IT offerings in your complete cloud solution truly reflect what you need to get your work done.  

So, what is all the hype about with the complete cloud?

Now that we’ve discussed what real, complete cloud solutions are, let’s talk about the benefits:

  • Reliability – 24/7 access

In-house problems:  Systems go down but your IT department can only work so many hours OR disaster strikes in the form of Mother Nature.  How long will it take to get everyone working again?

Complete cloud solutions You know those factories that put up signs indicating how long it has been accident free?  That same concept exists in the technology world – except they are virtual signs denoting the complete lack of interruption in service.  In this world, they take 24/7 seriously.  And as a complete cloud customer, you will never lose access, have data issues, or lag times.  Never.

  • Mobility – access anywhere, anytime.

In house problem:  Ever been in front of a client trying to answer a question, but you can’t access your data either because the VPN is lagging or the data isn’t synchronized?

Complete cloud solutions: We live in a mobile world.  We have tablets, smart phones, and virtual offices.  We need access from anywhere – Carolina to California – at any time.  We need systems that are optimized for uniform performance with no lag or data conflicts, as if we are in HQ with our servers next door.  With the complete cloud, your data is, in fact, accessible wherever you are.  

  • Fixed cost – no surprises.

In house problem:  How often did you think you were getting an all-inclusive cost?  Or, how difficult is it to manage the contracts and costs of multiple IT vendors; pay thousands of dollars in technology upgrade costs, licensing fees, and unexpected technology replacements (printer died, monitor cracked, etc.); or cope with expensive IT management issues (human, technology, and vendor)?

Complete cloud solutions:  With a complete cloud solution, all costs are detailed up front. Period.  No surprises, no emergent expenses. 

Evolve with the future

Business is evolving, so should your technology! Server flexibility, storage and memory are the life-force that drives modern business. Successful business leaders have identified the need to be able to react to the changing requirements of their technological environment. Lack of resources can impact business, and stump growth. Today, the complete cloud solution is the perfect marriage of business with modern technology.
 

Thinking Out Cloud

 

 

IT Consultant, Cloud Solution, Cost Savings … Oh My!

Posted by Wes Renfroe on Wed, Apr 16, 2014 @ 02:00 PM

Cloud Solution, IT ConsultantJust like Dorothy in the Land of Oz, we are all searching for the great and powerful wizard to handle our problems, like computing.  Instead of the brave lion, the full-of-heart tin man, or the intelligent scarecrow, our companions to this all-powerful place are IT Consultants who lead us to today’s version of the Land of Oz … the Cloud Solution. 

What is a Cloud Solution?

First, let’s talk about this land that, to many people, seems amorphous and far away – the Cloud Solution for your IT problems.  The cloud is really a symbol for an ever available electronic network that relieves you of managing your IT infrastructure.  To bring it closer to earth … the cloud is really a partnership where another company manages all of your IT needs including securely storing your computer data, handling all hardware and software needs, and allowing you continuous access to your computing.  

The cloud takes the IT infrastructure burden off you

and allows you to focus your energies on what you do best.

Here’s an example … let’s say you’re a small construction engineering firm.  Your engineers can create CAD designs that are a thing of beauty.  But managing an internal network, updating software and hardware, and troubleshooting issues are just not in their skill set.  Furthermore, researching and buying all those computers and other technical devices is a massive non-revenue generating responsibility.  You need someone to take care of all this – you need a Cloud Solution that will eliminate headaches, and provide benefits: 

  • Reduce costs – managing your entire IT hardware and software structure and all labor with people whose first skill and interest is taking care of your computing.  
  • Be disaster safe – with disasters like hurricanes and wildfires, it’s nice to know that your data is housed in a facility specifically designed to protect the hardware and software from these types of occurrences.  Is your building that safe?
  • Be green – these days, we’re all trying to do our part in taking care of our planet; the less energy we use and the fewer old computers that end up in a landfill is a big part of that.  Cloud computing manages this far more effectively than many businesses are designed to do.
  • But most importantly, allow secure access to your data from anywhere, at any time on any device.  

Yes, literally.  Access.  Anywhere.  Anytime.  Anything.

What does a good IT Consultant do?

“Sounds good,” you say, “But who will get me started?”  That’s where you work with an IT Consultant from Full Sail Partners.  According to Forbes.com, “Be the Best Consultant Ever:  6 Things That Will Make You Great” (11/05/13), a successful consultant will:

  • Do exactly what they say they are going to do
  • Pay attention to details which produce error-free deliverables
  • Truly be the “expert”
  • Think critically through all possible solutions
  • Be resourceful
  • Probe effectively and listen critically

In short, a good IT Consultant is there for YOU. 

So when we pulled back those drapes and learned the great and powerful Oz is, in fact, Full Sail Partners, all fears vanished.  Full Sail offers the consulting expertise and a free webinar to further help solidify the benefits of cloud consulting.  And, luckily, there is no need to click our heels three times to find that consultant – one click of a mouse and you’re on your way.  

And, yes, you can keep the ruby red slippers … you’re welcome!

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Topics: Tips, Technology Solutions, Cloud

5 Best Collaboration Tools in 2014

Posted by Wes Renfroe on Wed, Jan 15, 2014 @ 08:30 AM

collaboration toolsNot all business buzzwords are created equal. For example, “collaboration” is red-hot among buzzwords today — but unlike other momentarily popular topics, the concept has been around a long time, but is now being addressed via technology designed to leverage the Internet. Collaboration apps and platforms typically take advantage of the Internet to enable the sharing of documents, ideas, calendars and more with colleagues. In fact, the more one embraces collaboration, the more implications one can find for teamwork, innovation and growth.

Here’s a quick look at the 5 best collaboration tools available today.

Kona

Kona is a cloud-based social collaboration/productivity platform for individuals and groups that enables file sharing, task/event management, and comments and conversations via Skype and instant messaging. It also integrates easily with other collaboration platforms and products, including Dropbox, iCloud, Google Docs and even SharePoint (if that’s your collaborative bag). 

In addition, Kona includes templates to expedite repeatable projects and processes, and can function as a company’s Private Social Network and shared calendar. Even better, Kona’s mobile app compliments its desktop functionalities, letting users track work from anywhere. Take it for a test drive by checking out the free trial version.

join.me

JoinMe is an elegantly simple (at least, simple to the end user) solution that allows you to share screens with anyone anywhere over an Internet connection. JoinMe can accommodate up to 10 meeting participants, and allows the meeting initiator to choose which items to share with whom, and enables chatting with one participant at a time or all at once. Keep in mind that these features are all in the free version — a fact that helped it land on our list of the 5 best collaboration tools.

Doodle

Doodle is a handy meeting scheduling/tracking tool for Android device users. Designed to integrate seamlessly with Google Calendar, Doodle makes it easy to find the right date and time for a group of people to meet. You can use the basic service for free at doodle.com, without the need to register or install software. With easy-to-use polling capabilities and real-time commenting tools, it’s also available as a low cost app for Android devices.

Dropbox

Currently in use by over 200 million people, Dropbox is a cloud-based platform for file sharing and accessing. Users designate a special folder on their computer that Dropbox synchronizes with similar folders the user creates on their other computers and devices. Any files that the user places in the Dropbox folder also are accessible through a website and mobile phone applications. Available for Windows, Macintosh and Linux desktop operating systems, Dropbox also offers apps for iPhone, iPad, Android, and BlackBerry devices. Options range from a free version to DropBox for Business ($15/user/month).

Skype

Skype enables free video and voice calling to anyone else using Skype, as well as instant messaging and file sharing. Alternatively, a modestly-priced version of Skype includes low rates on calls to mobile devices and landlines worldwide, text messaging and group video calls for up to 10 people. Users can take part in Skype calls using a wide variety of devices, from desktop computers and mobile devices to home phones, certain TVs, and even devices you might not think of as collaboration tools, such as PlayStations Vitas and iPod Touches.

Join the collaborative world

As you can see from the 5 best collaboration tools mentioned above, the world of collaboration choices and tools is exploding. But before you jump in and start rubbing virtual elbows with colleagues on the other side of the world, keep in mind two bits of advice:

  1. As attractive as their price tags may be, the free versions of all of these apps and platforms have limitations. For example, you may be limited in the number of participants you can accommodate and the amount of data you can share — and you may have to endure the occasional advertisement as well.
  2. Remember that integration with your existing apps (especially your calendar) as well as other collaboration apps is critical. Some of these apps, such as Kona, play well with almost all of the apps mentioned above; others, not so much. The more seamless the integration between your various collaboration apps, the bigger the impact on productivity and ease of use.

Despite those caveats, each of these tools can truly transform aspects of the way you work with colleagues. The result could be better ideas, more effective teams, and possibly even a better quality of life. Just imagine how nice it would be to cut down the time you spend setting up, going to and from, and sitting in meetings — not to mention, take part in them from the comfort of your own home, cubicle, or coffee shop! 

 

Deltek Kona, Social Collaboration

Topics: Collaboration Software Tool, Building Business, Technology Solutions

Deltek Vision Timesheet Activity Automation

Posted by Wes Renfroe on Tue, Aug 20, 2013 @ 04:00 PM

Activities provide a greater way to gain visibility into communication efforts across the firm about a client. They provide a detailed view of what is going on with a project/firm/opportunity and are critical for providing team backup and covering your backside.  You are probably aware of three main ways to create activities in Deltek Vision – Manually (slow), Using MODI (faster but limited), and CMO (even faster but costs more $$).  The innovation team here at Full Sail Partners has developed a fourth way, the fastest, easiest, most convenient way to create activities so far:  Just do your timesheet and let the activities be created for you! 

The way it works is quite simple, just enter your hours, as well as, a detailed comment regarding work done for a project on your timesheet and make sure the first character in the comment is a tilde symbol (~).  Save your entry and close your Deltek Vision timesheet.  Overnight all the timesheets will be scanned and those that start with the special character will have activities generated for them.  Additionally the leading character will be changed from the tilde to a carot (^) to signal that an activity has been created for this entry.  Once your Deltek Vision timesheets are closed out and before billing is run all special characters are removed. 

So just by adding one additional character to my timesheet, this: 

Deltek Vision Timesheet

Becomes this:

Deltek Vision Activity 

This is a great way for you to “kill two birds with one stone” (well maim them maybe) – Keeping your timesheet up-to-date and relevant (making accounting happy) and providing the CYA and team insight into your progress on the project (making management happy). Want to learn more about this and other Full Sail Partners solutions?

Deltek Vision Timesheet Customization Solution

Topics: Tips, Accounting, Technology Solutions, CRM, Deltek Vision

Deltek Vision How-To: Applying Hotfixes to Deltek Vision

Posted by Wes Renfroe on Fri, May 31, 2013 @ 10:12 AM
describe the imageIn this Deltek Vision How-To Video, we will demonstrate how to apply hotfixes to your Deltek Vision server.  Thanks to the introduction of cumulative updates, applying hotfixes is easier than ever.

Topics: Tips, Video, Deltek Vision