Full Sail Partners Blog

What’s New with the Blackbox Connector

Posted by Peter Nuffer on Wed, Jul 10, 2019 @ 12:07 PM

Blackbox Connector For several years, Full Sail Partners has offered a variety of Blackbox Connectors to integrate Deltek Vision and Vantagepoint with many different 3rd party software packages. There are solutions for marketing/business development, finance, project management and leadership. Depending upon their specific needs, our Blackbox Connectors have been able to help firms save much time and money. Now with advancements in our technology, we can provide even more benefit to our clients. Let’s check out what has happened with the Blackbox Connector to make it even better.

In the Beginning

The first version of the Blackbox Connector necessitated facilitating structured point to point connectors with rigid workflows for operations that could not be modified if requirements fell outside of the predefined workflow steps. Changes were difficult and required developers to rewrite code on an instance by instance basis making customizations expensive for clients. Although the benefits of the Blackbox Connectors were worth the effort to clients, extending functionality or changing the manner in which data was transferred and specific actions in any given step was not as simple as we would have liked.

New Advancements in the Blackbox Connector

Version two (V2) has been crafted as a working tool set to allow developers to work with customers and their user story to rapidly build customer connections and workflows that meet the specifications of the individual organization’s requirements. Let’s say for example, connecting Deltek Vision and Concur, a client wishes to have additional steps taken to populate other list objects, or that in a Constant Contact campaign, a client would like to include additional customized data points held in custom grids or fields to facilitate the population routines of information in Constant Contact from Deltek Vision or in Deltek Vision from Constant Contact. The updated platform accommodates for customized mapping, transformation and translation so that data can flow between systems seamlessly and natively in near real-time.

Continued Benefit from Using a Blackbox Connector

V2 of the Blackbox Connector opens the doorway to enterprise class customizations to existing connectors as well as the development of new connectors. We can now quickly respond to changes to Deltek, for example, the upgraded Vision product, Vantagepoint, with painless transitions and minimized service interruption. Furthermore, as new versions of products become available, V2 will easily enable us to provide clients with whatever capabilities they desire keeping them running efficiently and successfully.

New Call-to-action

Topics: Building Business, Technology Solutions

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.

New Call-to-action

Topics: Building Business, Marketing

Track Business Development with Informer Business Intelligence

Posted by Jennifer Renfroe on Wed, Feb 20, 2019 @ 11:30 AM

 

Business Intelligence Business development is crucial to the future of any company. Therefore, efficiently tracking it should be a top priority. So why are so many firms still using outdated spreadsheets that require so much effort to review? Well, once they get their hands on the Informer business intelligence (BI) tool, executives, business developers and marketers alike will be asking themselves that very question. Let’s see how the Informer BI solution will add value to your firm.

Colorful Graphics Save Time

The days of having to spend hours reviewing the specifics of opportunities and the sales pipeline on black and white pieces of paper are over. With Informer, colorful graphics draw attention to the information you seek. Essentially, you can set up your graphical dashboard using whatever dash parts you feel are the most important and drill down into the details as needed. These dashboards refresh automatically to keep your data up to date.

Different Visual Options

With Informer BI, there are different visual options available. Based on the fields selected, Informer automatically creates different visuals and you can choose from a saved list. You can customize your chart visuals depending on what you would like to see and how you would like to see it. Chart types vary from trends to pie charts to bar graphs to scatter plots. There are even geographic heat maps that show where your core opportunities are and where your firm needs to do more business development.

Keep a Finger on the Pulse of Business Development

Business developers are concerned with the health of the sales pipeline. They, of course, want opportunities sold as fast as possible and a way to track the win rates. Another great feature of Informer BI is the option to set up alerts when opportunities are closed. When an alert comes in, you will be drawn back to your dashboard to see what has changed. Informer even allows you to set up comparison boards with side by side displays. You can track win rates from month to month, year to year or even by location.

Get Informer Now

There is no need to waste any more time with those old fashioned and dated spreadsheets. Informer BI shows you exactly what you need to know about your business development as the opportunities unfold. Even more, Informer integrates with Deltek Vantagepoint and Vision. So, what are you waiting for?

Blackbox Connector for Informer  

Topics: Building Business, Marketing, Technology Solutions

Email Marketing: The Truth Revealed

Posted by Ryan Felkel on Wed, Feb 13, 2019 @ 05:02 PM

 

Email Marketing Blog 2.13.19Digital marketing, which includes email marketing, is a very effective strategy to growing your business. Most significantly, email marketing and outreach allows you to gain valuable insights into what information and messaging is important to your prospective and current clients. With each email sent, marketers can see open and click rates, and who opened and clicked on a link in the email. As a result, prospects can be easily identified, and messaging modified to grab the attention of other targets.

Email Marketing is Alive and Well

For many people, mainly the non-marketing folks, understanding how email marketing is effective can be difficult. In fact, many believe that email marketing is ineffective since they get so much spam and find it to be an annoyance. However, this is not the case. Email marketing actually has a very positive impact on your business. Here some are staggering facts about email marketing:

  • There are 3.7 billion email users in the world and that will increase to 4.1 billion by 2021 (Statista)
  • Email marketing has a 28.5% ROI compared to snail mail which has a 7% ROI on average (Chief Marketer)
  • 59% of marketers agree that email marketing generates their biggest source of ROI (Emma)
  • Email marketing is 40 times more effective at acquiring new clients than Facebook or Twitter (McKinsey)
  • 72% of people prefer to receive promotional information via email compared to 17% who prefer social media channels (MarketingSherpa)
  • Email marketing is 6 times more likely to result in a click-through than a tweet (Campaign Monitor)
  • 90% of people said they will opt-in to receive a newsletter to obtain updates about a company while 10% elected Facebook (Nielsen Norman Group)
  • 70% of B2B marketers agree that increasing their email list quality is their top priority (Delivra)
  • The average office employee checks their email 30 times per hour (Marketing Insider Group)
  • Checking email is the number 1 activity on the internet (Marketo)
  • Companies in the United States will spend more than $350 million dollars on email marketing in 2019 (Statista)
  • Email marketing drives on average $44 for every $1 spent (Campaign Monitor)

Email Marketing has a Bright Future

With all of these facts about email marketing, it is evident that the strategy works. While your firm is probably using email marketing as part of your overall digital marketing strategy, are you seeing the ROI and maximizing the benefits? Learn more about tracking and measuring email marketing success rates here!

New Call-to-action 

Topics: Building Business, Marketing, Technology Solutions

Organizations Professional Services Firms Should Join

Posted by Jennifer Renfroe on Wed, Dec 19, 2018 @ 11:30 AM

 

 

Professional Organizations Professional services firms focus on specific industries and provide a plethora of knowledge to their clients in the projects they undertake. For existing clients, professional services firms must continue to stay abreast of the most recent events or rules impacting that industry. They must also continue to build their client base with business development. There are numerous organizations available to professional services firms and many benefits to join them. Let’s take a look at some.

SMPS

The Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS) provides a creative and inspiring community to exchange ideas. Members can connect with A/E/C professionals from other firms and disciplines across the country. The information gleaned from networking with like-minded professionals can be applied to your firm’s business. Also, sharing your firm’s best practices can establish your company as a thought leader in the A/E/C industry. Additionally, the new connections in the A/E/C community that you make from SMPS can lead to future business opportunities for your firm. 

PSMJ Resources Inc.

The mission of PSMJ is to improve the business performance of A/E/C organizations worldwide. Membership in this organization provides several advantages. First off, member firms are offered advisory services from expert consultants who serve as coaches pushing firms to achieve greater success. Next, these experts annually conduct hundreds of bootcamps, workshops, roundtables, and networking conferences which provide industry education and a chance for business development. There are also numerous publications available such as articles and books which give solutions to A/E/C challenges. Finally, surveys are performed presenting accurate and relevant industry metrics that firm leaders rely on in making decisions. 

ACEC

The American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) is another organization providing great value to professional services firms. ACEC’s mission is to strengthen the business environment for member firms through government advocacy, political action and business education. This organization addresses key issues impacting A/E/C firms and provides online classes and seminars. Additionally, there are networking conferences for firm leaders to develop relationships. ACEC communications cover important legislative matters, and a magazine with thought provoking articles on advocacy and other business interests is published bimonthly. 

Deltek User Groups

There are many Deltek User groups offered across the United States. The Large Firm User Group (LFUG), the Power User Group (PUG) and regional groups by state are ideal networking environments for all Deltek users. These venues provide great opportunities for users to network, trade Deltek experiences and examine best business practices. In these forums, users can grow both professionally and personally gaining information on industry trends, new product features and business processes. 

Join Some Organizations

Professional services firms have much to gain by signing up with a variety of organizations. From firm leaders, to marketers to regulatory specialists, everyone can benefit from being members of these groups. Take some time and think about which organizations are the best match for your firm needs. Once you know, joining is just a click away!

New Call-to-action 

Topics: Building Business, Professional Services

Breaking Down the Early Stages of the Project Lifecycle

Posted by Michael Kessler, PMP on Wed, Aug 08, 2018 @ 03:05 PM

Project Lifecycle For professional services firms, having the right project lifecycle is essential to having a profitable company. Even more, the processes that drive your firm’s project lifecycle must be in sync with the systems you use to manage them. There are several stages in the project lifecycle and evaluating your processes requires breaking down the steps. In this blog, we’ll look at the initial and most overlooked phase of the project lifecycle…winning the work.

Leads and Opportunities

Here’s where many firms go wrong when examining their project lifecycle…to start a project, you must first win the job. So, evaluating the lead to opportunity process is an essential component and must be considered in the project lifecycle.

When a new lead is acquired, it needs to be captured in a system that provides visibility to the entire company. As a business development person learns more information from the lead, it is input into the system and analyzed to see if the firm can meet the requirements to win the project. Once the decision is made that your firm can win the work then the lead becomes an opportunity.

If you are using Deltek Vision or Deltek for Professional Services (DPS), it is recommended that you create a “proposal project” to track the time to prepare the proposal. By using a proposal project, your firm will have the analytics regarding the cost of winning and losing work as well as the total cost of the business development efforts.

Fee Proposal Development

Developing the fee proposal is another important step to the business development portion of the project lifecycle. The fee proposal will eventually become the basis for the project budget. It will include what your firm is being paid for the various stages of the project. This may also include bonuses or penalties for meeting or failing to meet certain milestones.

It is recommended for Deltek Vision and DPS users to develop the fee proposal using the resource planning module. This will allow you to incorporate previous performance from similar projects to ensure you are charging the right amounts and including the correct milestones. Additionally, firms should continuously check the scope of work and make sure it’s in line with the fee proposal you are developing.

Fee Negotiation and Finalizing a Budget

Once the client indicates it has a desire to move forward with your firm, the fee negotiation and budget finalization phase of the project lifecycle begins. Things to keep in mind during this stage are possible changes to scope, schedule and fees. The budget created during this process will serve as the guide for the project manager to execute the work.

Next Steps to the Project Lifecycle

This blog discussed the business development piece of the project lifecycle. Remember that periodic reviews of your firm’s project lifecycle are a must to ensure that the process is still in line with how your firm has evolved. Stay tuned for more blogs about project execution and project closeout.

Deltek Vision Navigational Analysis 

Topics: Project Management, Building Business, Professional Services

Make Smarter Decisions with the Informer 5 Business Intelligence Tool

Posted by Matt McCauley on Wed, Apr 11, 2018 @ 11:35 AM

Informer 5Business analytics has become increasingly important for professional services firms. However, finding a business intelligence (BI) tool that works with Deltek Vision and gives us the analytics we want has been challenging. We need flexibility, customization and ease of use to answer important questions about our firms yet often we find that this type of analysis is not accessible in Vision. Thus, we are faced with the export/import/number crunch process in an external tool like Excel plus countless hours spent doing the calculations over and over. We need a better solution, instant access, and easy updates.

Enter Informer 5

Introducing Informer 5, the BI tool which works with Deltek Vision to make instant analytics readily available. Informer 5 is an integrated customizable interface to Vision data for use in various analytical scenarios. Using the Blackbox Connector, direct integration with Vision is now a reality.  

You simply select the data fields you want in your database including standard Vision fields, User Defined Fields, and User Defined Info Centers, and you’ll quickly be able to visually see project metrics, employee measurements, marketing results, and firm forecasting. You’ll be able to answer questions such as: 

  • How are my projects performing?
  • How is that new branch office doing?
  • Are my employees billing enough hours?
  • How is the firm doing compared to the last three years?

Also, remember those spreadsheets with all that data we built over the past years? Informer 5 can integrate this data with your Vision data. No need to reinvent the wheel, we can use it as a data source. Other data sources? Informer 5 can access those too.

Visualize Your Data with Informer 5

Are you interested in where your work is being done and where the profits are made? Well, Informer 5 also includes geographical presentations including maps. You can easily visualize and determine these specifics with Informer 5.

You can even find the numbers behind the pictures. Informer 5 has built in drill down capabilities that can take you directly to the detail data. From Profit Center to Project Manager, Project Manager to Project, and all the way down to line item detail, data can be acquired with Informer 5, and all of this can be gathered from the same graph with no need to run additional reports.

Make Smarter Decisions with Informer 5

On a final note, the Informer 5 package includes set calculations for many of our industry standard metrics. Additional calculations can be added to customize this solution for any firm. Also, firm data can be updated regularly on schedule or updated on demand from Vision. It is up to you. So, with all of these awesome features of Informer 5 and its integration with Vision, isn’t it time for your firm to start making smarter decisions?

Blackbox Connector for Informer 5 and Deltek Vision

Topics: Building Business, Technology Solutions, Professional Services

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

5 Things you Didn’t Know iAccess Could do for Marketing and Business Development

Posted by Lindsay Diven on Fri, Mar 23, 2018 @ 11:46 AM

Deltek iAccessAcquiring and maintaining accurate client data is absolutely necessary for both marketers and business developers. Marketers need it to provide valuable content to clients and business developers for a successful sales pipeline. Additionally, as with any other firm department, both marketers and business developers need a way to track their efficiency and effectiveness. With iAccess, this all can be achieved. Here are five things you probably weren’t aware of that iAccess can do for marketing and business development:

1. On the Go CRM Without an App

Business developers and marketers spend lots of time on the go rather than at their desks. With iAccess, you can use the web browser in your mobile devices to update your CRM and keep data current. We recommend saving it as a bookmark or using the “Add to Home Screen” option for even quicker access on the go. 

Furthermore, the iAccess Business Development workspace enables you to contribute and maintain key pipeline information wherever you are as long as you have an internet connection. 

2. Enter and Edit Contacts, Opportunities, and Touch Points

Using iAccess, you can work with Contacts and Opportunities as well as set up touch points. Under the Contacts tab, you can perform basic searches and add contacts. The contact area provides quick access to key information for your contacts such as title, phone numbers, company, location and email address. You can even add image links into contact records.

From the Opportunities tab, you can view all your current opportunities as well as add new opportunities. You can easily change and view data such as the opportunity stage or see what client you are working on. Additionally, you can view and update the touch points as well as quickly add a touch point within any of the tabs by clicking on add touchpoint under the Touchpoint tab.

If the standard saved searches don’t provide the information you need, you can create a custom search. When you create a custom search, you can save it for the future, so you do not have to continually recreate the search parameters. 

3. Easily Sort, Filter, and Export Opportunity Reports

Opportunities are found within the Business Development workspace of iAccess. Here you have critical information at your fingertips. You have the option to sort opportunities by active opportunities, all opportunities or just those that you are associated with as part of the team. See the opportunities instantly as you filter and organize. These reports can then be exported to wherever you want them to go.

4. Track Your Department Spending

Another nice feature of iAccess is that you can use it to track department spending and can make sure you are being effective and efficient with your resources. If you set up budgets for Promotional Projects, you can easily see where you are Job to Date (JTD) and Year to Date (YTD) for that project. In that project record using the Project Management workspace, iAccess provides visuals to  see the labor and expenses that have been charged to the promo number and what budget is left.

5. Update Contact Notes Using Talk to Text 

A final iAccess benefit is that you can use “talk to text” to update Contact and Opportunity records. When you open iAccess using your mobile devices (explained above), you can use the talk to text feature to update any field. We like to update touch points and notes using this talk to text method. There couldn’t be an easier way to provide a meeting summary after visiting a contact. 

Let iAccess Work for Marketing and Business Development 

Now that you have discovered five things that iAccess can do for marketing and business development, are you ready to try it out? For more information, check out these past webinars to get an introduction to iAccess for business developers and to learn how to connect to Vision from anywhere with iAccess. Lastly, if you’re attending the SMPS Southwest Regional Conference, make sure to attend Lindsay Diven’s pre-conference Vision CRM workshop.

New Call-to-action

Topics: Building Business, Marketing, Deltek Vision

How to Know if Your Email Marketing is Successful

Posted by Ryan Felkel on Tue, Feb 27, 2018 @ 05:59 PM

Email Marketing Image.png

You’ve just spent hours creating a clever email with an enticing subject line to send your clients and prospects. As you prepare to push the button to send this email, you hope for a positive outcome of your campaign. Over the next 24 to 72 hours, you will log into your email marketing platform, such as Constant Contact or MailChimp, to check the performance of this email. But, which numbers really determine the success of an email marketing campaign? Let’s take a look.

Open Rate

The open rate is simple to understand but quite important. This is the percentage of the recipients that opened the email. Knowing how many people opened your email is significant because it will show you if your subject line drew enough attention to make opening it worth their time. Of course, the higher the open rate, the better.

Click-through Rate

Here’s probably the most important metric that allows you to know how successful your email marketing campaign has been. The click-through rate lets you know who actually read your email and took action by clicking on the included link. Seeing who clicked on the email allows you to know who’s interested in your content. This tells you who to target in the next stage of your marketing campaign. In other words, the more click- throughs, the more potential leads that have moved further into your marketing funnel.  

Bounce Rate

The bounce rate tells you how many of the intended recipients did not receive the email at all. There are two types of bounces, a soft bounce and a hard bounce. A soft bounce happens when the recipient’s mailbox is full, the server is down, or the email is too large for the inbox. On the other hand, a hard bounce means the message is permanently rejected because the email address is invalid or doesn’t exist. Obviously, the more bounces, the less potential for exposure to the email content.    

Unsubscribes

Like click-through rates, unsubscribes allow you to assess the quality of your content. If a person signs up to receive your emails and newsletters but unsubscribes, it is usually because the content is not what they expected. So, unsubscribes can show you how many recipients have determined that the content is not valuable or interesting.

Spam Reports

While unsubscribes are bad, being reported as spam is worse. This usually happens for one of two reasons. Either you send emails to people that never signed up to receive them or you send emails to people with irrelevant content. Email marketing platforms can and will suspend accounts that have a high spam rate. Therefore, not spamming is a priority in your email marketing campaign.

Refining Your Email Marketing Campaigns

Using A/B testing is a great way to improve your email marketing campaigns. This is a controlled experiment that compares two versions of the same content to determine which messaging improves your email marketing success rates. There can be a variation of the subject lines, the messaging in the email and the verbiage used in the call-to-action. Remember, in the end, the main goal is to get your email marketing campaign through to its intended audience and have it be well received. How you accomplish this is up to you.

  New Call-to-action

Topics: Client Relationships, Building Business, Marketing