Full Sail Partners Blog

Project Management Trends Identified in the 40th Annual Deltek AE Clarity Study

Posted by Ryan Felkel on Wed, Oct 16, 2019 @ 11:35 AM

40th Annual AE Clarity Report

How well an engineering and architecture (AE) firm can deliver a project is core to the firm’s success. However, the 40th Annual Deltek AE Clarity Study found that AE firms still continue to have trouble with delivering great project management. Let’s take a deeper dive into these findings and identify areas your firm can improve on in regard to project delivery.

Top Project Management Hurdles

Surprisingly, the top three challenges reported by AE firms were the same as last year. We should take note so that these challenges do not repeat themselves in next year’s study. The leading challenge firms reported was the competing priorities of project managers. This entails managing and delivering projects while also being responsible for designing future projects and tasked with business development.

Even more, the second largest challenge AE firms have experienced with project management is staff shortages. If project managers are responsible for the aforementioned competing priorities, then it is clear the firms are understaffed. More allocated staff would balance the workload, so projects can be run more efficiently. In third place, AE firms reported that they are challenged with hiring and retaining experienced project managers with firms stating that inexperienced project managers actually hinder the successful delivery of projects.

Key Area of Need for Improvement

Project status visibility was identified as a key area of need for improvement. AE firms that participated in the study identified four areas to be improved regarding project management visibility. First, cost variance from original expected cost to deliver a project needs to be monitored closer. Secondly, ensuring projects are meeting predetermined KPIs throughout the project’s lifecycle needs to be a priority. Next, schedule variance from the original and proposed plan needs to be carefully watched. Finally, there needs to be a focus on client satisfaction.

If the top three areas are missing the target, then the client is going to have an unsatisfactory experience dealing with your firm. However, client perspective can be better managed if your firm uses the right tools. One tool that can help firms ensure client satisfaction is the Client Feedback Tool. Learn more about the Client Feedback Tool and how it integrates with Deltek Vantagepoint and Vision to give your firm better visibility into its project delivery. 

Projects are Busting Budgets

AE firms reported that 29% of projects ended up being over budget. Even more worrisome, this is a 9% increase from last year’s findings. Looking more into this finding, one might wonder if those responsible for managing projects have the information to keep project budgets on track. And let’s go deeper. Firms are also reporting that 36% of projects were behind schedule and only 58% of firms reported that they are confident in project reporting accuracy. These findings show that keeping to project budgets is a clear area of need for improvement for all AE firms.

Wrapping it All Up

For AE industry employees or executives, it is common knowledge that project management and delivery is the heart of their business. To continue to succeed in an extremely competitive industry, AE firms need to take a hard look at their project management processes. The challenges and areas identified in the 40th Annual Deltek AE Clarity Study can be easily addressed if they become a priority for firm leaders. You can check out all the details about project management challenges in the latest Clarity Study.

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Topics: Professional Services, Deltek Clarity Report

Ways to Improve Office Communication

Posted by Jennifer Renfroe on Wed, Oct 09, 2019 @ 11:12 AM

Connections Employees

In the workplace, communication is vital to success. Leaders must make sure that their team knows what is happening on a constant basis and what is expected from them. Not only does communication keep everyone abreast of the goings on, it also encourages relationship building which leads to a more productive and engaged workforce. So, how can you improve your office communication to make it the most effective?

Have Open Meetings      

Having team meetings in a common, open venue is a great way to encourage communication. It is a receptive environment offering the opportunity to discuss issues that are on team member’s minds. The face to face dialogue of open team meetings allows for matters to be actively addressed and some problem solving to occur. Additionally, all team members can contribute their input which provides various points of view.

Listen and Encourage Feedback

For effective communication to happen, leaders must listen to what their team members have to say. They must keep an open mind and really hear what is being said before following up with the team. They should also encourage feedback from the team to make sure that what they are trying to convey is being accurately digested. With the give and take of all parties, communication will thrive.

Keep Humor

Another trick for improving office communication is making it light and relaxed. When dealing with subjects that can otherwise be intense, keeping humor in the conversation makes the message easier to pass along to the team. This does not mean you have to become a stand-up comedian but just insert some humor into the discussions.

Be Appreciative of Efforts

A necessity for business leaders who want to have improved communication with their teams is to show appreciation for their team efforts. When they attend a meeting and offer feedback, thank them for their time. Being respectful towards your team shows that you care, and in the end, will make them more engaged with your firm.

Update Frequently

Frequent updates are certainly required to improve communication. When communicating more boilerplate information, they can be done in one of two ways - either by email or via an internal newsletter. While emails are good for quick reminders, internal newsletters impart much larger amounts of general information to all team members.

Effective Office Communication Helps with Retention

When firm leaders use effective office communication, they are engaging their teams. Engagement is a big reason that employees choose to stay employed with a firm. So, by improving office communication, you are not only helping with productivity but ultimately staff retention as well.

Talent Management

Topics: Technology Solutions, Professional Services, Office Support, Communication

Why Clear Business Intelligence is Important for Future Success

Posted by Jennifer Renfroe on Wed, Oct 02, 2019 @ 11:35 AM

Business Intelligence

Business leaders cannot run their firms successfully if they don’t have all relevant information at their fingertips. With clear business intelligence, data can be consistently analyzed and interpreted allowing for the creation of actionable goals. KPI dashboards can also be set up by all department heads enabling them to focus on their specific needs. With all departments having the insight to work more efficiently and effectively, there will be an across the board positive impact on the firm. Let’s see how clear business intelligence can ensure firm success.

Ensuring Productivity

By tracking sales or marketing progress in business intelligence dashboards, firm leaders can keep a pulse on their staff’s efficiency. If the numbers are not meeting expectations, managers can meet with teams to recalibrate the strategies to improve them. Firms will operate successfully if inefficiencies are eliminated and sales goals are met in a timely manner. Ultimately, using business intelligence will accelerate the firm’s ROI.

Improving Customer Satisfaction

Business intelligence can be used to improve the firm’s ability to meet customer needs. It can first be used to identify the target audience or the most valuable customers. Then it can track the customer interactions making sure they are receiving the support and resources necessary for them to be satisfied. Pinpointing the proper prospects for growth and ensuring current clients are getting what they need will ensure future success.

Managing Risk

Being able to see data on a constant basis allows those in charge to identify problem areas before they become disastrous for the firm. With graphs and charts in the dashboards showing the significant data in real-time, leaders can evaluate current situations noting any red flags. Being proactive and tracking this information allows for corrective action to be taken before the matter is unmanageable.

Making Smart Decisions

Overall, it is crucial for firms to have a full understanding of the organization’s entire operation in order to make informed decisions. Whether it is to determine long term staffing for a new project or evaluate the efficiency of marketing campaigns, seeing complete data is necessary to make smart firm decisions. Business intelligence allows firms to see all aspects of the operation and make choices leading to firm success.

Blackbox Connector for Informer

Topics: Project Management, Building Business, Professional Services

Improve Business Development with Technology

Posted by Madeline O'Connor on Wed, Sep 25, 2019 @ 01:22 PM

Build Business

Business development can be a challenge especially when firms are already busy with day to day activities. Leaders must figure out what is worth putting effort and money into to get the pay-off they want. Fortunately, Deltek and Full Sail Partners offer many different solutions that are technology forward and can help make business development easier for you. Let’s take a look at some of these and see how they support business development.

Deltek Vantagepoint

Deltek has recently revamped Vision, creating a more powerful and user focused system that is designed for professional services firms. Deltek Vantagepoint can be used to improve productivity, increase profitability and make smarter business decisions. It also allows business development teams to quickly put together proposals that will give them an edge over the competition. So, by using Deltek Vantagepoint, you will have a platform that promotes business development with easy to use tools.

Blackbox Connector

Blackbox Connector provides the opportunity to connect Deltek Vision and Vantagepoint to 3rd party software. For business development purposes, Constant Contact and Mailchimp Blackbox Connectors will help make it easier to nurture relationships with potential new business. What is sent out via Constant Contact or Mailchimp is brought back into Vision or Vantagepoint with the Blackbox Connector making it convenient for you to track your marketing efforts which leads to new business.

Deltek PIM

Efficiency is one of the leading attributes to great business development. Deltek PIM offers your employees one place to access all your files across all aspects of your business. With all emails and documents in one place, it is simple to research and determine where new business might be found saving you a lot of discovery time. This can be an asset when trying to advance your firm’s business development.

Informer

Informer is a business intelligence tool which allows your firm to collect data and analyze it. Business intelligence provides insight you can use to make better business decisions and evaluate areas for business development. Visual options in dashboards can display a variety of charts and graphs which give you vital information. For instance, you can identify which clients have used your services the most and may require further assistance. Informer thus allows you to pinpoint business development potential.

Deltek Learning Zone

Deltek Learning Zone is a great resource to find out more about tools that can help your firm further its business development efforts. DLZ offers virtual live classes, self-paced classes, support videos, infographics, and many more ways to learn. You can find experts that have a lot of knowledge regarding the best way to target business development using Deltek products. This will help your firm plan a course of action for your business development strategy.

Making Business Development Easy

Time is a precious commodity to all firms. With the many offerings from Deltek and Full Sail Partners, your business development efforts can be handled more efficiently and effectively. It is crucial to target business development if you want to set your firm apart from the competition. Use these resources and stay on top of the business development game.

Deltek Vision Workflows

Topics: Tips, Building Business, Professional Services

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

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

40th Annual AE Clarity Report

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

Business Development Challenges

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

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

Revenue Growth Forecast Findings 

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

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

Key Takeaways from the 40th Annual AE Deltek Clarity Study 

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

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Topics: Professional Services, Deltek Clarity Report

Financial Trend Findings from the 40th Deltek AE Clarity Study

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

40th Annual AE Clarity Report

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

Hurdles that Firm Financial Leaders Experience

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

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

Key Financial Findings from the Deltek AE Clarity Study

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

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

Finding Ways to Overcome Financial Hurdles

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

Benchmark Your Firm Against the AE Industry

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

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Topics: Professional Services, Deltek Clarity Report

What’s New in Deltek Vantagepoint?

Posted by Jennifer Renfroe on Wed, Aug 14, 2019 @ 11:35 AM

Deltek Vantagepoint

If you haven’t heard yet, Deltek has reimagined Vision to create a more powerful and user focused ERP system specifically for professional services firms. Deltek Vantagepoint’s 360-degree view of a firm’s projects offers improved productivity, increased profitability and significantly improved strategic business decision making capabilities. Vantagepoint is an incredible upgrade from Vision and is continuing to grow with each new version. The latest release of Vantagepoint has even more enhancements which will allow firms to deliver even better projects. Let’s take a look at what’s new with Deltek Vantagepoint.

New Proposal Builder

With the new Vantagepoint proposal builder, business development teams can quickly put together impressive proposals to stay ahead of the competition. This new visual proposal builder provides a drag and drop option for images, allows project descriptions to be taken directly from project records and offers the ability to easily create resumes. Within the new proposal builder, there are also reusable templates, boilerplates and master elements to ensure your branding is correct. Having the ability to quickly create uniformed proposals allows business development teams to focus on the other activities required to create new business opportunities. 

Combined Opportunities and Projects

Project information is now consolidated into one hub making it easier to create, manage and deliver projects. By combining opportunities and projects, all project details can be monitored in one place. Having one location for project information prevents duplicate records, simplifies project administration and provides complete visibility into projects.

Streamlined Billing and Invoicing

Enhancements have been made to the billing and invoicing processes with the latest Vantagepoint release saving time for accounting teams. Deltek realized that having billing and invoicing in one place will greatly improve the user experience. With Vantagepoint, users can view project details that include billing information in the new Projects hub. As part of this enhanced capability, draft invoices can be reviewed and approved by project managers directly from their projects. Therefore, the overall time from draft to final invoice is cut short with this interactive billing process. Accounting teams and financial managers can analyze financial information and email final invoices more efficiently and improve cash flow.

Improved Dashboards

Without being able to visualize your data in several formats, it is difficult to make fast and actionable decisions. With Vantagepoint, dashboards have been enhanced to provide improved business intelligence and offer more actionable insight. Now there are new chart dashparts and better ways to sort, group and filter data. Multiple dashboards for users can be created and configured to meet specific user needs allowing for even more effective business management.

Get Ready to Upgrade to Deltek Vantagepoint

With all these features offered by the newest release of Deltek Vantagepoint, professional services firms can run their projects even more effectively. Deltek strives to power project success and will continue to seek out more improvements to help project-based firms run at their best. Are you ready to upgrade to Deltek Vantagepoint today? Check the official Deltek Vantagepoint Readiness Portal to learn more about the requirements and when you should start considering upgrading to Vantagepoint.

  Deltek Vantagepoint

Topics: Technology Solutions, Professional Services, Deltek Vantagepoint

Top Talent Acquisition KPIs

Posted by Jennifer Renfroe on Wed, Jul 17, 2019 @ 11:30 AM

Talent Acquisition

To stay competitive in the talent market for the A&E industry, HR professionals and business leaders must pinpoint core recruiting strategies that work best for their firms. To identify these strategies, they must first capture and analyze talent acquisition data. By using key performance indicators in their recruiting metrics, they can evaluate which strategies are worth keeping and which are not beneficial. So, let’s look at some of these top talent acquisition KPIs.

Application Completion Rates

The number of completed applications by prospective employees shows how well your application process is set up. If more applications are incomplete versus complete, it means that your process is too cumbersome or confusing for potential talent. A good recruiting strategy incorporates an easy to use application system ensuring the best talent is found quickly.

Sourcing Effectiveness

It is crucial for recruiters to pick the most effective sourcing channels for top talent. Analyzing which sources deliver the best results is significant to a successful recruiting strategy. Seeing these metrics, talent acquisition managers and leaders can be more informed when determining which sources are worth their time and effort.

Retention Rates

Once talent is brought on board, it is significant to see how long the employment lasts. Looking at retention rates allows firms to see which positions are difficult to keep filled. Hopefully these metrics will provide some revelation as to what can be done to improve retention for the future. Perhaps certain talent targets can be better honed to prevent attrition.

Offer Acceptance Ratio

The entire talent acquisition process is futile if offers are not accepted. This KPI identifies how many offers are extended versus how many are accepted. If the acceptance ratio is low, then there are clearly problems with the recruitment strategies in place. Maybe it is taking too long to make an offer, or the compensation package is not competitive enough.

Workforce Diversity

Having a diverse workforce has demonstrated benefits including increased innovation and greater collaboration. Talent acquisition managers and leaders should track the levels of diversity in their hires. If your numbers are not diverse, it means that your recruitment strategy needs some adjustment.

Improve Recruitment Strategies Using KPIs

Talent acquisition KPIs provide much needed insight into choosing which recruitment strategies yield the top talent your firm needs to ensure future success. By evaluating what these metrics mean for your firm, much time and effort will be saved in the recruiting process. In the end, less recruiting equals less expense for your firm which positively affects the bottom line.

Talent Management

Topics: Professional Services, HR

The Various Forms of Percent Complete

Posted by Michael Kessler, PMP on Wed, Jun 19, 2019 @ 01:28 PM

Revenue At the beginning of 2019, Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) jointly implemented the Accounting Standards Codification (ASC) 606, Revenue from Contracts with Customers. Essentially, ASC 606 now requires forms to recognize revenue from contracts with customers when goods or services are transferred. For professional services firms that use their expertise to sell their time, this has a significant impact on how firms recognize revenue.

About FASB ASC 606

With the new guidelines in ASC 606, firms must recognize revenue in their income statement during the period in which the revenue is earned and not when it is billed. Since professional services firms manage projects that can span across multiple periods, they might not bill until the project is complete. As a result, firms must use a form of percent complete for the project to determine how much revenue to state on their income statement for that period. For example, if during a specific period a firm completes 25% of the project, they must recognize 25% of the revenue that will be earned from the contract for that period.

There are three distinct ways to calculate percent complete:

  1. Billing Percent Complete
  2. Financial Percent Complete
  3. Physical Percent Complete

Billing Percent Complete

Using billing percent complete is the most common method. Typically, this is driven by the project manager during the invoicing process. There are two options:

  • Overall percent applied to the total contract value
  • Percent complete by phase used to invoice based on the various components of scope/deliverables and these phases are broken down using either internal or external contract value

For many firms, this also drives revenue or earnings. Furthermore, it is recommended for people to review the current FASB 606 regulations. This will explain why earning what you invoiced may not be an acceptable solution any longer.

Financial Percent Complete

Another common technique is the financial percent complete. The formula for this method is job to date/job to date + estimate to complete. This indicates how much of the total estimate at completion has been spent or burned. When applied to the contract value, we can calculate revenue. Deltek Vision can facilitate this calculation using Resource Planning.

Physical Percent Complete

Lastly, physical percent complete can be utilized. This is usually calculated when the user or project manager has entered and can provide the following:

  • Compared to financial percent complete, indicated whether the project’s progress is tracking with the financial burn
  • When begin to drive earned value
  • Have control earnings based upon contractual stipulations such as deliverables which can accelerate or slow down earnings and at the same time drive Work in Process (WIP) in tandem but that is separate from invoicing

Which Form is Right for Your Firm?

Let’s do some homework. Using a project your firm is executing, calculate/stipulate all three forms of percent complete and compare them. Then write a business case elaborating on the project’s health from these three statistics. You might surprise yourself with the results.  

Get Prepared for ASC 606

Topics: Professional Services, FASB 606

Preparing to Upgrade to Deltek Vantagepoint

Posted by Nicole Temple on Wed, Jun 12, 2019 @ 12:56 PM

Deltek VantagepointGreat news! Deltek Vantagepoint is continuing to expand its capabilities and more Deltek Vision users are able to upgrade from Vision to Vantagepoint. However, it seems some are either unaware of what Vantagepoint is or they’re hesitant to accepting change. Therefore, let’s take a moment to inform people about what Vantagepoint is and why you should be extremely excited about transitioning to Vantagepoint in the near future.

What is Deltek Vantagepoint?

In short, Deltek Vantagepoint is a Vision reimagined with several enhancements. When using Vantagepoint, users will find its new functionality easy to navigate. As a result, managing projects and driving business development will be much easier with more streamlined processes and workflows. With Vantagepoint, project-based business will see an increase in efficiency in all aspects of their business.

New Look and Feel

Deltek Vantagepoint is a web-browser based ERP that is built on the iAccess for Deltek Vision platform. When Deltek was creating Vantagepoint, a top consideration for them was creating a product that has a great user interface (UI). Studies have found that software products with an intuitive UI have a significant increase in user adoption. Therefore, Deltek knew that having a high-quality UI was essential, but they took it one step further.

“Hey Deltek”

Deltek is taking simple functionality to the next step. In today’s world, hey…Siri, Google, and Alexa are common features we use to access information from our smart device or the internet. Well, Deltek has created “Hey Deltek” to help users search through their database using voice commands. “Hey Deltek” utilizes natural language commands to help locate, open or create a new hub record, log activities and create reminders using a common phrase. Keep in mind, this product is still in development and the capabilities of “Hey Deltek” will continue to grow and allow users to update timesheets, expenses and more using voice commands. 

Improved Dashboards and Dashparts

Start seeing the information that is important for your role in colorful graphs and charts right on your dashboards. With an improved UI, Vantagepoint users can easily setup dashparts that allow them to make actionable decisions faster. Furthermore, they can select how they want to see the information. Now there are several ways to see your data. Users can select from different types of graphs and bar charts and tables to better visualize data.   

Get Prepared for Deltek Vantagepoint

While change can be scary, it shouldn’t be the case when upgrading to Deltek Vantagepoint. Deltek has taken very meticulous steps to ensure Vantagepoint is a vastly improved ERP product that is focused completely on helping project-based businesses improve their performance. If you’re a current Vision user, it is highly recommended that you start using iAccess (if your firm has it enabled) to get yourself comfortable with navigating around Vantagepoint as these are similar interfaces.   

Deltek Vantagepoint

Topics: Professional Services, Deltek Vantagepoint