Full Sail Partners Blog

The Value of Vantagepoint for Project Managers

Posted by Rana Blair on Wed, Nov 18, 2020 @ 11:35 AM

Project management view

Project success is vital to any professional services organization, so project managers must be given every resource to ensure their projects are done on time and within budget. In Deltek Vantagepoint, there are numerous dashboards and ways to view information easily so project managers can access what they need to ensure that projects run smoothly and are on target. Let’s check out the benefits of Vantagepoint for project managers.

Greater Visibility

Deltek Vantagepoint offers enhanced visibility to all users. Vantagepoint provides a major way to engage people with the system, specifically non-accounting users like project managers. With built in dashboards showing important numbers and graphs, plus a more intuitive reporting interface, every role in the project team can participate with the details regarding projects to ensure they are managed efficiently.

Focus on Project Health

The planning application itself is the most efficient tool to review project health and activity. Here, users can review profitability or billing multipliers with instant feedback while updating resource assignments. Additionally, Vantagepoint has detailed reports as well as a variety of standard dashparts to provide relevant information.

Flexible Project Management

Resource forecasting is all in the same house with Vantagepoint. With the resource view, project managers can control the resources for each project. In addition, with the Vantagepoint heat map, utilization of staff can be evaluated, and action can be taken based on those utilizations. Now there is a whole new interface for resource planning, and resources can be added from several different places. For example, resources can be added using the Resource view or the Project view. With these flexible options, project managers can easily see all details and can focus on resources and proper management of those resources.

Future Forward

Resource planning early in the process allows for better forecasts for resource allocation. With Deltek Vantagepoint, project managers can look at resources in line with awarded projects and pursuit projects out six or eight or even ten months. Also, there is a redesigned project review which is easier to read and has KPIs with calculations that make sense. Project managers have a one stop shop where they can see the performance of their projects which can be done in Project View.

Improve Collaboration with Deltek Vantagepoint

Deltek Vantagepoint has been designed to be more approachable, with simplified processes, enhanced visibility, and improved accessibility which has created a new willingness to contribute by all users. With a variety of dashboards and different ways to access important data regarding projects, project managers now have a much easier time keeping an eye on their projects. They can quickly see the results of their contributions to project management and rest assured that their projects will be successful.

Deltek Vantagepoint Visuals

Topics: Project Management, Professional Services, Deltek Vantagepoint

The 41st Annual A&E Deltek Clarity Report: Financial Statements

Posted by Nicole Temple on Wed, Nov 11, 2020 @ 11:35 AM

Deltek Clarity 41st

Financial statement data is vital for leadership teams. This data is the basis for measuring firm performance and influencing decisions regarding the firm’s future. There are several financial metrics that businesses track and rely on. Based on the findings of the 41st Annual Deltek Clarity A&E Report, operating profit on net revenue has increased for ten years consecutively to 15.8%. This is a 1.4-point jump year-over-year. A variety of other important metrics were addressed in this year’s Clarity report as well. The Clarity report reveals where things measured up for 2019.

Top Financial Challenges

The financial challenges have remained similar year-over-year. This year the trend is towards challenges with increasing profitability, finding and retaining qualified staff, and managing firm growth. Although, finding qualified personnel and keeping turnover low is second to increasing profitability. It is also noteworthy that qualified staff is at the top of the list for greater than half of the respondents. Cash flow is floating in the ranks, but it seems that firms are managing it better than in years past. The unpredictable spending environment was only at 11% for 2019, though that is likely to change given the challenges many firms faced in 2020.

Building on Success

While there is economic uncertainty in the year 2020, the results show that firms strengthened their operations in 2019. Operating profit continues to rise steadily, as it has over the last decade. Of note, small businesses saw a strong increase, rising to 15.9% operating profit, up 3.5% from the prior year. The net labor multiplier has seen a minor increase as well, reaching 3.03 last year. That’s the highest multiplier measured for the industry in ten years.

Another significant metric tracked by firms is the utilization rate. It is calculated as cost of labor charged divided by total labor cost. This metric remained steady with the prior two years, except for Architecture firms that showed an increase of 2.3% points year-over-year. Employee retention is a factor within this metric. Firms with higher utilization also tend to show lower turnover rates as well as higher net revenue by employee. Does this show us that working employees are happy employees? Findings will show that investments in technology and training can keep employees engaged and productive in producing revenue.

Net revenue per employee is yet another metric to see a positive increase. This could be attributed again to the investment in technology and training, an already high productivity amongst employees, increased rates, or possibly better efficiency driving projects to completion. Since obtaining qualified staff remains difficult, firms are working with existing teams to accomplish more. Burn-out should be a consideration and cutting associated costs or wages could be disadvantageous.

With employee cost being a possible factor in retention it is important to track trends and analyze total employee cost as a metric. This is calculated as the sum of total labor and other labor related costs, (such as fringe benefits and taxes but excluding bonuses) divided by the average number of employees during a year. This returned data shows that there was not an overall noticeable change. Payroll expenses and employee numbers increased at higher percentages which in turn drove the decrease in overall cost. Where the year prior it had showed a small decline, we may see a more drastic change in 2020.

The average collection period calculation divides accounts receivable by annual total revenue, multiplied by 365. This is an important metric for cash flow stability and deserves a great deal of attention. There has been small improvement or decline in average days amongst all firms. In comparison, small businesses and high performers stand out as having notably improved. It is important to stay on top of the outstanding accounts receivable to maintain cash flow performance stability.

Preparing for the Future 

A&E firms have largely agreed that business process improvements and project management training have a strong impact on a firm’s financial health. In addition to those areas, better forecasting should continue to be a top focus area. Addressing and improving these key components can be the key to continued success, even in difficult and uncertain economic times. To read more about financial statement findings, visit the full Clarity report. 

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Topics: Professional Services, finance, Deltek Clarity Report

The Value of Vantagepoint for Executives

Posted by Sarah Gonnella on Wed, Nov 04, 2020 @ 11:35 AM

Vantagepoint Value  for Executives

As an Executive, we carry a lot on our minds and plates these days to ensure our companies are running smoothly. Unifying our teams and simplifying our business processes is a key challenge all executives are looking to resolve. When searching for tools to help staff, it is important to find systems that will grow with your business. This is why thousands of firms rely on Deltek products. For professional services firms, executives are turning to Deltek Vantagepoint to track growth, performance, and profits throughout the project lifecycle. Let’s explore the value of Vantagepoint for executives.

Creating Value for Your Team

Deltek Vantagepoint provides 360-degree visibility into your projects to drive business success. Creating value is not done magically. It requires thinking about the end users’ experience and understanding their business. With Deltek Vantagepoint, much of that work has been done for you. Deltek Vantagepoint was designed by thinking about how each person within your firm will interact within their role and creating efficiency around their interaction with the solution.

Some of the key benefits important to executives include:  

  • Sharing mission-critical data easily across your team while eliminating roadblocks and redundancies
  • Creating a collaborative systematic business process to ensure teams are able to quickly share information across the company
  • Visibility into your team resources company-wide to determine how best to avoid missed milestones
  • Driving home accountability to help maximize productivity and improve efficiency
  • Streamlining cash flow management by capturing timely expenses and captured billable hours with targeted alerts and accurate invoices
  • Simplifying and protecting work in the cloud with a secure, sophisticated infrastructure

Perfect Fit for All Sizes of Project-Based Firms

Deltek Vantagepoint is perfect for project-based firms of all sizes. Interestingly, the majority of firms Full Sail Partners serves are under 50 employees (57%) which coincides with the typical size of project-based firms across the United States. So, as your firm continues to grow, the solution should grow with you. What is most important is choosing a solution that fits your staff’s needs and provides leaders the information necessary to make business decisions about your firm’s growth plans. For firms that have more complex needs, the solution also includes robust features like multi-currency, multi-company, multi-language capabilities and much more that can be enabled.

Modern, Intuitive and User Friendly

Vantagepoint is an intuitive, powerful solution that puts your people and projects at the center of your business. It is designed to help you manage the entire project lifecycle better than before. One of the focal points when the solution was created was to ensure the interface was modern, intuitive and user friendly. It is purpose-built to allow firms to access the solution from any device or browser. As Deltek looks to add new features, they include finding ways for users to utilize the solution more easily. Here are a handful of the cool, modern features within Deltek Vantagepoint:

  • Role-based Dashboards – Quickly access pre-built dashboards designed specifically for the different roles which users are involved in within the company.
  • Intelligent Character Recognition (ICR) – Provides users the ability to translate text from handwritten or typed format back into the solution. For example, taking a picture of a receipt and auto filling an expense report.
  • Outlook Add-in – Proactively manage client relationships from within Outlook and synchronize data between both solutions.
  • Calendar Synchronization – Synchronize your personal calendar to easily create touchpoints and timesheet entries.
  • Hey Deltek – Use a personal assistant to help locate, open or create new records.

Built for All Users

In addition to providing executives an at-a-glance look at the health of their business, Vantagepoint is also focused on each role within the firm down to individual employees. The solution was designed with the needs of every employee in mind which ultimately helps executives manage the company. The role Vantagepoint plays in other roles will be discussed in future blogs. Suffice it to say that Deltek Vantagepoint can do it all.

Bringing Everything and Everyone Together

Not only does the solution encourage a collaborative environment, but it brings all your firm’s critical business processes into one unified platform to ensure executives get value from their investment. All employees from project managers to finance to marketing and business development can benefit using Deltek Vantagepoint. Be sure to check out our entire Deltek Vantagepoint mini-series to see how the product can help your employees and firm.

Deltek Vantagepoint Visuals

Topics: Technology Solutions, ERP, finance, Deltek Vantagepoint

Full Sail Partners’ Ryan Felkel has become HubSpot Marketing Software Certified through HubSpot Academy

Posted by Jennifer Renfroe on Tue, Nov 03, 2020 @ 11:45 AM

Ryan Felkel's HubSpot Marketing Software Certification

HubSpot offers a marketing automation platform to help firms attract the right audience, convert more visitors into customers and run inbound marketing campaigns. There are over 86,000 users in over 120 countries increasing business with HubSpot. The mission of HubSpot Academy is to transform the way people and companies grow by offering free online trainings for the digital age. From quick, practical courses to comprehensive certifications, those interested can learn about cutting edge business topics and how HubSpot’s built in tools support these business growth strategies.

HubSpot offers a marketing automation platform to help firms attract the right audience, convert more visitors into customers and run inbound marketing campaigns. There are over 86,000 users in over 120 countries increasing business with HubSpot. The mission of HubSpot Academy is to transform the way people and companies grow by offering free online trainings for the digital age. From quick, practical courses to comprehensive certifications, those interested can learn about cutting edge business topics and how HubSpot’s built in tools support these business growth strategies.

“As a marketing professional and an avid HubSpot user, I use this powerful marketing platform to drive Full Sail Partners’ inbound marketing efforts,” stated Ryan Felkel. “Earning the HubSpot Marketing Software Certification demonstrates both mine and Full Sail Partners’ commitment to ensure clients find value from our content.”

On the verge of offering the HubSpot Blackbox Connector for Deltek Vantagepoint and Vision, Full Sail Partners is looking to help clients best utilize HubSpot together with Vantagepoint and Vision. With this certification, Ryan serves as an internal resource to lend his insights on how clients can benefit from using the product. The Blackbox Connector for HubSpot is scheduled to be released the first half of 2021.

“I am very pleased that Ryan chose to pursue the HubSpot Marketing Software Certification to elevate his ability to provide content that is beneficial to our clients and perspective clients. The knowledge he has acquired from the HubSpot Marketing Certification demonstrates his dedication to become an expert on the HubSpot marketing software platform and to provide guidance to our internal team as we finalize the development of our Blackbox Connector for HubSpot,” explained Sarah Gonnella, VP of Marketing and Sales.

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

Topics: Press Release

Value of the Deltek Vantagepoint Transition Copy Scripts

Posted by Amanda Roussel on Wed, Oct 28, 2020 @ 11:35 AM

Transition Copy Scirpts

Are you thinking about your Deltek Vantagepoint upgrade and what steps are required? If you haven't already, we recommend you take a look at Full Sail Partners’ 3-step process. An important fact to know is that Deltek has provided a conversion tool to allow all of your data to move over. No migration necessary. Does that mean I can move tomorrow? No, we do not recommend that. Just like with any upgrade, you need to make sure updates haven’t impacted your processes. This upgrade is a bit more extensive but rest assured Full Sail Partners has tools to make the process easier and more efficient. One of those tools is our Vantagepoint Transition Copy Scripts.

During the testing process, firms will need to address some key areas including workflows, saved searches, reports and configuration settings before moving forward with a production environment. Our Vantagepoint Transition Copy Scripts are a valuable resource to ensure the work you put into addressing issues doesn’t require rework when you move from test to test environment or to your final production environment. Let’s take a look at how this tool can help you with the upgrade process. 

Vantagepoint Preview Environment

Now that clean-up efforts have been identified and prioritized with the Vantagepoint Readiness Report, and clean-up efforts are nearing completion, it may be time to request a preview environment. Many firms are finding the upgrade process to be an opportune time to tidy-up data and fields that have been collected in Deltek Vision over the years. Here is the chance to get Vantagepoint started with best practices and processes.

Upon accessing a firm’s preview environment, you may notice that things look different. The data moves over from Vision to Vantagepoint, but some big areas are consolidated. For example, opportunities get consolidated into projects, and clients and vendors consolidate into the firm hub. As this takes place, you will see some field duplication. Fields may also be organized differently.

Vantagepoint Preview becomes Testing Environment

There are many changes that can be made in the testing environment. It’s important to know that any changes made - screen design properties, saved searches, reports, dashboard/dashparts, and more - will reset upon a preview refresh as well as go live. Full Sail Partners understands that this can be a burden on firms as they track and recreate each of the changes. Full Sail Partners' Transition Copy Scripts allow firms to retain these changes and eliminate redundancy and rework between each test upgrade and your your final conversion.

Below is a list of the available scripts in the transition copy script bundle:

Screen Designer:

  • Design layout location for User Defined Fields
  • Properties including: Hidden, Locked, Required Fields, Tool Tips
  • Resource Planning Configuration

Security:

  • Security user role for each employee
  • Security options for each user role
  • Email Configuration
Saved Searches
  • Private and Shared search options

Reports/Templates:

  • Private and Shared reports with options and selection criteria
  • Proposal templates
Dashboards/Dashparts:
  • Dashboard layout
  • Dashpart widgets
  • Dashpart calculations

Workflows:
  • Hub Workflows
  • Approval Engine Workflows

Newly Created Components and Values:

  • Standard field values and labels
  • Custom fields and labels
  • Custom grids and labels
  • Custom files
  • Custom tabs
  • Custom hubs
  • Navigation tree

Benefits of Using Transition Copy Scripts

Some firms may have a manageable list of changes to address on their own, but we understand that firms with more complex data spend measurable resources getting the test environment just as needed. Below are some of the many reasons to use this impactful tool:

Work efficiently and save time. Adjust fields right where you want them, build dashboards, and configure to meet your firm’s needs. No need to track every change made. These settings will be applied with transition copy scripts.
Test, test, test. Searches, reports, and workflows will need to be recreated and tested. Do so knowing that efforts will not be erased.
Train staff before going live. Once the test environment meets your firm’s needs, you can train staff prior to going live. This can give staff the confidence of using the cohesive system and promote a smoother adoption after going live.
Count on Full Sail Partners. Our Deltek experts are here to cheer, guide, or lead you along your Deltek journey. Our custom team works closely with you to apply the appropriate transition copy scripts

Utilize Your Resources

We understand that there are many other responsibilities needing to be addressed throughout the workday. Full Sail Partners' Transition Copy Scripts can alleviate the redundancy of Vantagepoint refreshes and live environment and spend your time more effectively.  

Wherever you may be in your Deltek journey, Full Sail Partners has additional resources to assist with the Vantagepoint upgrade. Let us help you get there the right way!

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Topics: Support, Technology Solutions, Deltek Vantagepoint

Focus on the Future with Sales Forecasting

Posted by Lindsay Diven on Wed, Oct 21, 2020 @ 11:35 AM

Forecasting

Are you simply betting that your future will be bright? Or are you using your data to plan for tomorrow? As my data-loving, gal-pal, Stacey Ho, CPSM, puts it: “Forecasting is a little bit of science, and a little bit of crystal ball.” In this blog, I’ll share what forecasting can tell you, and how to get started today using anything from Excel to a major ERP finance software system. Your firm, no matter what size, can take small steps to plan for a bright future.

What is forecasting?

Forecasting is a way to use your pipeline to demonstrate potential future sales. It helps your firm make smarter decisions or know when to course correct. Forecasting can tell you if you need to identify more work, improve your hit hate, recognize “must-win” opportunities, or even when to hire more staff.

Get Started with Forecasting

To get started with forecasting, you will need to set yourself up for success. This is done through aligning the right people, process, data, and technology:

PeopleYou will first want to have a good understanding of who is responsible for data collection, maintenance, input, etc. and who will be gathering and reporting on the data. Consider who has both the knowledge and the time to put the forecast together. Lastly, make sure you have buy-in from your firm leadership.

ProcessOnce you have the people identified, it is time to start working on the process. This includes setting sales goals for your firm, so you have them to compare the forecast to and which can be developed using a top-down or bottom-up approach. You will also want to determine the frequency in which you report the forecast and how often you will update it. The frequency can be weekly, monthly or quarterly. I recommend beginning with quarterly and eventually increasing to monthly for firms just starting to forecast, Additionally, you will need to decide how far out into the future your forecast goes. The two most common forecasts are the current calendar or fiscal year and a rolling 12-month report.

DataTo build your forecast you need data. This includes dates, dollars, and status. I will go into more detail regarding the minimum data you need to build a forecast in just a bit.

TechnologyOnce you have identified people, process, and data, you will have a pretty good idea of what type of technology is needed. CRM systems, like Deltek Vision and Vantagepoint, are developed specifically to make reporting forecasts seamless and automated. Once the information is entered into the system, you can build reports or dashboards easily, segment the data by office or market, and schedule the reports to be delivered automatically.

What are the Minimum Pieces of Information for Effective Forecasting?

Since a forecast is predicting your sales into the future, there are some minimum pieces of information you need to record to develop a forecast report. Those pieces of information are:

  • Opportunity or Potential Project Name – The report is a cumulation of all your future potential projects. So, ideally every opportunity or potential project would be entered into your CRM system.
  • Anticipated Fee – In order to forecast expected sales, you will need at least an estimate of anticipated fee for each opportunity.
  • Date – This can be a date for when you expect the contract, when the proposal is due, or when you expect to begin work on the project. Again, because the forecast is based on a date range, you need to input some date to base the report on. I would recommend capturing a contract or expected start date. No matter what type of date field you choose, be sure to enter and update that data field consistently among all your opportunities.

There are some other data fields that will make your forecast reports even better:

  • Probability – Chances are you are not going to win every opportunity you pursue, so I like to apply a probability to each opportunity. This probability is the likelihood your firm will win the opportunity.
  • Weighted Fee – Weighted fee is what you get when you multiply the estimated fee by the probability. When you calculate this, and use the weighted fee in your forecast, it is more conservative than just using the estimated fee. Sometimes, this gives you a better idea of what your sales will be.
  • Office or Market Segments – I like to develop my forecast reports around the same segments as the other financial reports my firm does. So, if your firm reports P&L around offices, divisions, or studios, then you can set up your forecast reports the same.

Maintaining the Forecast

Now that you have set up your initial forecast report, make sure you maintain it on whatever frequency you decided above. Maintenance encompasses:

  • Data Auditing – This includes routine data updates such as updating the contract or estimated start dates, updating estimated fees, and probabilities.
  • Actualizing – Data actualizing happens when you turn the opportunity into a sale. This involves marking opportunities as wins or losses, updating the estimated fee to the actual final negotiated contract amount, and changing wins to 100% probability if you are using a weighted fee.

How to Use Your Forecasts

While forecasting can tell your firm if it will meet its goals, there are some other uses of sales forecasting. In my experience, forecasts have been used to:

  • Identify your top 10 or “must-win” projects that will allow you to meet or beat your goals
  • Know where your future work is coming from, specifically what clients or markets
  • Understand how increasing your probability (chances of winning) can affect your entire forecast
  • Develop estimated plans of efforts for all your potential projects and combine those with your contracted backlog effort. You can assign resources (named or generic) and see how utilized your teams are.

Get a Clear Picture of the Future

Stop guessing what the future will look like for your firm by developing a sales forecast. With some minimum information that is tracked in a CRM like Deltek Vision or Vantagepoint, you can easily build a forecast report that will give your firm a clear picture of the future. Ready to get started?

Deltek Vantagepoint Visuals

Topics: Marketing, Professional Services

2020 Premier Award for Client Satisfaction from PSMJ Resources and Client Savvy Presented to Full Sail Partners

Posted by Jennifer Renfroe on Mon, Oct 19, 2020 @ 11:30 AM

2019 Premier Award for Client Satisfaction

Full Sail Partners is excited to announce that it has been chosen again as a recipient of the 2020 Premier Award for Client Satisfaction by PSMJ Resources and Client Savvy, creator of the Client Feedback Tool. This impressive recognition is given to firms in the AEC industry who have gone above and beyond to deliver a truly exceptional client experience. Full Sail Partners is proud of its commitment to provide client-focused technology solutions and services always considering what would work best for each individual firm.

The Premier Award for Client Satisfaction winners are chosen using data from surveys from over 300 firms. Based upon the surveys, firms which really stand out regarding client feedback are given this prestigious distinction. Award recipients are honored at the 2020 PSMJ A/E/C THRIVE – The Growth, Profit, and Performance Summit on October 14-16th which is held live and online this year.

“Full Sail Partners constantly monitors client feedback through the Client Feedback Tool and knows that a positive client experience can create repeat business and loyalty. However, it’s important to ensure the purpose of the feedback is always about the client. The real power of obtaining client feedback is when clients know you will take the suggestions, learn and apply them,” stated Sarah Gonnella, VP of Marketing and Sales. “We are greatly honored to be one of only 25 firms to be recognized with this Premier Award for Client Satisfaction and continue to look at ways we can improve.”

For more than 40 years, PSMJ Resources, Inc. has been recognized as the leading publishing, executive education, and advisory group devoted completely to improving the business performance of A/E/C organizations worldwide.

Client Savvy works with professional services organizations whose success depends on strong client relationships. Their commitment to clients is to help them align their client experience (CX) strategy, implementation, and measurement initiatives with their top strategic priorities.

“Since 2009, Client Savvy has partnered with PSMJ to recognize the professional services firms around the globe that achieve the highest standards of excellence by the metric hardest to achieve: excellence recognized by a firm’s clients. Of the hundreds of firms that participate in this benchmarking each year, only the top 30 are recognized. Full Sail Partners began their journey several years ago and has now been recognized three years in a row. Full Sail Partners sets the bar by asking for more feedback per staff consultant than any firm we’ve encountered,” stated Ryan Suydam, Chief Experience Officer at Client Savvy.

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

Topics: Press Release

The 41st Annual A&E Deltek Clarity Report: Human Capital Management

Posted by Joel Slater on Wed, Oct 14, 2020 @ 11:35 AM

Deltek Clarity 41st

Human Capital Management (HCM) is a vital process that must be taken seriously for firms to be successful. There are many aspects to HCM from talent acquisition, to employee learning and professional development to succession planning. Based on the findings of the 41st Annual Deltek Clarity A&E Report, talent acquisition remains a major challenge for A&E firms and they must embrace technology and improve practices to attract the best candidates. This year’s Clarity report also addressed a variety of other hot HCM topics for A&E firms.

Tracked KPIs for Human Capital Management

According to the results of the report, the top four KPIs tracked by A&E firms included revenue per full-time equivalent (FTE), voluntary turnover, involuntary turnover, and employee retention. Identifying these particular KPIs shows that firms are concerned with retaining employees once they are hired. As a matter of fact, 74% of firms tracked revenue per FTE which indicates that financial-related metrics are being connected to HCM. However, only a minority of firms tracked other financial-related metrics. Those firms willing to look at the whole hiring and retention process will ultimately have less costly HCM systems thus making them more successful.

Managing Talent

Seeing that the top KPIs tracked are regarding turnover, it is no surprise that employers continue to focus on their initiatives for managing talent. The report stated that the top two talent management initiatives remained the same, develop more formal career development programs and create/improve succession and career development planning. Creating and improving mentorship programs moved to the third spot going from 28% to 45%. It is becoming clear to firms that knowledge must be transferred to those employees with less experience if they are to continue operating successfully. Unfortunately, however, only 10% of firms prioritized investing in a HCM solution even though 40% of firms currently use outdated HR solutions.

Surveys of Employee Engagement

Again, focused on the topic of retention, this annual Clarity report addressed employee engagement surveys. The results from the report indicated that 81% of firms conduct employee exit interviews and surveys. Only 60% of firms stated that they do annual employee surveys which means that the opportunity to address employee concerns is often missed. If those concerns were heard and addressed, then turnover could be reduced. Gauging employee sentiment is important to keep retention high so firms should move away from more traditional methods of survey towards more frequent survey models.

Talent Acquisition

Back to the issue of talent acquisition, the top talent acquisition initiative reported in the survey was improving the perception of the firm (54%) which is important since reputation helps attract the best candidates. Additionally, 41% of respondents picked improving onboarding processes and procedures which went up from 37% the prior year. On the other hand, the report showed that only 40% of firms were considering an enhanced compensation offering. Besides compensation, firms should consider leveraging technology to offer flexible/remote work options to attract candidates.

Firms Care About Human Capital Management

Despite a tough labor market, it does appear that A&E firms continue to improve their HCM processes. Acquiring and retaining top talent remains a priority for firms. They must continue to improve talent acquisition by tracking KPIs, considering enhanced compensation and leveraging technology. There should also be focus on succession planning and career development to ensure employee engagement and retention. For more detailed information on the 41st Annual Deltek Clarity A&E Report, review it in full.

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Topics: Professional Services, HR, Deltek Clarity Report

Marketing Plays Well with Others

Posted by Amanda Roussel on Wed, Oct 07, 2020 @ 11:35 AM

Marketing can integrate

Those in marketing for professional services have a level of knowledge they had to build, likely for a field they did not pursue, and use that knowledge of services to build a brand. In doing so, marketers paint a picture of the firm that they promote. Usually marketing professionals find themselves helping many departments throughout the firm. Not only is collateral client-facing, but marketers often have a responsibility to market to the firm internally. Over the years, I have found many marketers to be integrators in a firm so let’s check out how marketing plays well with others:

Know the Brand

The brand is more than the firm’s identity and reputation. According to an SMPS article, “…strong branding is viewed through three lenses: overall firm branding, personal branding, and employer branding. All three are crucial to a strong brand foundation—and all three are connected in important ways that contribute directly to your firm’s success.”

Marketing has the fun responsibility of viewing the firm with a broader lens and shining the best light on firm strengths. As marketers believe in the services the firm can provide, they can use various channels to get the right message to the right audience. Therefore, knowing internal teams is just as integral as knowing clients.

A lot can change in a firm, whether it be people, services, or goals, and marketers need to be in the know of company happenings to properly communicate the appropriate message. After all, the only constant is change. Marketers find themselves having to be very flexible with messaging as well as keeping up with the dynamic structure of the firm.

Master the Service Lineup

Professional services firms typically have printed material, a digital footprint, and many proposals created for specific clients. Marketers must have knowledge of the firm’s services and a strong bond with technical staff to collaborate and create content. While a majority of technical staff has vast knowledge of what services its group offers, it’s important to educate everyone on all of the firm’s offerings, even if at a very high level. This can lead to more aware project managers as well as cross selling. All marketers should take advantage of education opportunities.

Knowing that many marketers have a great understanding of the firm’s services, they can become integrators within the firm, matching up employees that can benefit from bigger discussions. Collaborations do not stop with technical departments.

Recruit Like a Pro

Great minds come together for the greater good when human resources and marketing collaborate. Recruiting can be quite time-consuming; however, attracting top talent can tighten the candidate funnel. Pulling together human resources’ knowledge, the firm’s brand, and creatively crafting the right message can yield strong new recruits for consideration.

To that note, a firm’s digital footprint can play a huge role in a candidate’s interest. Using social media as a recruiting strategy can have phenomenal results. According to harver.com, 92% of recruiters use social media in their efforts. It is a way to engage passive candidates and employees, make connections, and share quality content.

Naturally, recruits or potential candidates google the firm and can be quick to judge on initial findings. It is imperative that a firm’s brand stand out on social media, such as LinkedIn, and on the firm’s website and network.

Set Standards from the Start

After an offer is accepted, it is also beneficial to include marketing in onboarding efforts to educate the new hire on the following, at a minimum:

  • Branding guidelines (colors, logos, firm names, and more)
  • Branded swag
  • Proposal resume building
  • Email signature
  • Collateral that covers all firm services

As marketers share branding guidelines and set brand expectations from the start, new hires are immediately in the know when it comes to firm resources that are client-facing.

Own that Hat Closet

Marketers may notice that they wear many hats as time passes at a professional services firm. Each hat will give different insight into the firm and potentially challenge the “norm.” There are conversations with all roles of the firm, from C-suite to staff level. All of these collaborations help build the firm’s message that is distributed through email campaigns, mailers, proposals, onboarding, and both digital and social content. With each hat that is worn, many areas are weaved together for a more cohesive firm and a stronger brand.  

Talent Management

Topics: Marketing, Professional Services, HR

What is Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning?

Posted by Ryan Felkel on Wed, Sep 30, 2020 @ 11:30 AM

Artificial Intelligence

Just the terms artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning can cause some confusion as many relate these with robotics. Based upon common knowledge, this is a rational thought, but in actuality, AI and machine learning technologies are being incorporated into numerous software applications and personal assistant tools such as Siri and Alexa. It is important to note that AI and machine learning have some slight differences. Let’s take a look at how Deltek is using these technologies to improve the experience for Deltek Vantagepoint users.

Getting Smart with Artificial Intelligence

Simply stated, AI is the principle that machines can make smart decisions and complete tasks using logical intelligence. In theory, this means that machines using AI exhibit cognitive functions like those performed in human minds. AI works by using algorithms, and in many cases, multiple complex algorithms stacked on top of each other. Typically, these algorithms can learn from data enhancing the ability to make smarter decisions.

The late Larry Tesler, a computer scientist who worked for many major corporations, tried to define AI. His theorem stated that “AI is whatever hasn’t been done yet” meaning that intelligence is ever changing. However, once something becomes common, it transitions to machine learning. Tesler’s theorem is often referred to when discussing the difference between AI and machine learning.

Be Efficient with Machine Learning

So, based on Tesler’s theorem, machine learning is a subcategory of AI and focuses more on the idea that machines are able to learn and adapt through experience. Like AI, machine learning uses algorithms to perform tasks without being programmed to, but it achieves goals by learning and figuring things out over time. In machine learning, the commonly accepted approaches are divided into three categories:

  • Reinforcement learning – a computer program navigates a dynamic environment to achieve a goal. For instance, the computer-controlled players on your team when playing a video game.
  • Supervised learning – the program is given inputs and desired outputs and then it creates the connections. An example of this is creating models to predict the weather.
  • Unsupervised learning – As the name suggests, the program is given no pre-existing labels and left to figure out patterns in the data on its own. This technique is often used in marketing to identify clusters of potential customers.

Do More with Deltek Vantagepoint

Now that the difference between AI and machine learning has been clarified, it should help users better understand these types of computer sciences as used in Vantagepoint. Currently, Deltek is adding AI capabilities to Vantagepoint that will be available in later versions. According to Deltek, AI will be able to analyze data across the project lifecycle. As a result, the AI tool will provide unbiased insights into the health of projects addressing any needed changes to ensure project success.

Deltek has also announced plans for machine learning technology. One effort is to simplify the expense submittal process. Deltek has announced that Vantagepoint’s Time and Expense will have an Intelligent Character Recognition (ICR) capability. The ICR technology will give users the ability to take a picture of a receipt needed to expense and Vantagepoint will be able to recognize characters no matter the font or if it’s handwritten or typed. The machine learning will recognize groups of data like food cost, taxes and tips, and then it will total those numbers.

It’s Time to Embrace AI and Machine Learning

Identifying and clarifying the difference between AI and machine learning is important since you’ll likely be hearing these terms used interchangeably from now on and far into the future. Even more, you’re likely only to benefit as a Deltek Vantagepoint user if Deltek continues to invest and take real advantage of these technologies. If you use apps on your phone like Lyft and Uber on a daily basis, you actually already do benefit from these technologies!

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Topics: Technology Solutions, Professional Services, Deltek Vantagepoint