Full Sail Partners Blog

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

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

The 41st Annual A&E Deltek Clarity Report: Project Management Trends

Posted by Rana Blair on Wed, Sep 23, 2020 @ 11:35 AM

Deltek Clarity 41st

Projects are the bread and butter of A&E firms and well executed ones are an absolute necessity to remain competitive. Based on the results of the 41st Annual Deltek Clarity Report, A&E firms are aware of the need for project management responsibilities to be more clearly defined. Project information processes must be improved and there should be more investment in project manager (PM) training. Additionally, PMs require more visibility into KPIs to meet performance expectations. Here are some snippets from this year’s report.

Project Management Challenges

The 41st Deltek Clarity Report showed the top three project management challenges facing firms to be the same for the third straight year. Those challenges are inexperienced PMs, staff shortages and competing priorities. PMs are at the center of project management, so they need to be better trained and be knowledgeable of firm and industry wide best practices. For firms to deliver successful projects, PMs across all projects should be keenly aware of their responsibilities. They should also become experts in their practice and to bring in other members that complement the team.

Project Status

According to this year’s report, the number of projects that came in on or under budget is slightly higher than last year. With a six-percentage point increase to 72% for architecture firms and high performers coming in with 75% of projects on target or under budget, project status appears positive. Additionally, two-thirds of projects were recorded as being current or ahead of schedule which is up two percentage points from last year. Visibility into project financials and KPIs plus targeted PM training positively impacts project execution.

Tracked KPIs for Project Management

In the survey, and consistent with last year, most A&E firms track profitability (92%) and net revenue (91%). Next is average collection period (87%) and multipliers (80%). The least-tracked KPIs remained on-time delivery, schedule variance and earned value management. The report again indicated, based on these findings, that there was a need for greater project visibility. Increasing efforts to track those KPIs would in fact improve project success, business performance and client satisfaction. In particular, the failure to track schedule variance would be reflected in the percentage of projects determined to be behind schedule.

Measuring Client Satisfaction

Based on the 41st Deltek Clarity Report, 54% of surveyed firms do measure client satisfaction. The majority of those which are not currently doing so are considering it for the coming year. Engineering firms are more inclined to evaluate client satisfaction, and the larger the business, the more likely it is considered. Of those firms that measure client satisfaction, 58% do so for all projects. Firms use a variety of means such as in person to electronic surveys. While the executive team is usually in charge of contacting clients (50%), large firms rely on the PMs (56%) to monitor client satisfaction. Lastly, firms that do not regularly measure client satisfaction will not be very effective with process improvement.

Well Executed Projects

As seen in the 41st Annual Deltek Clarity Report, A&E firms understand that improving project management training and providing access to KPIs will lead to improved project performance. Additionally, leveraging tools to streamline project delivery and investing in both PMs and the whole project team will make the process much more efficient. When projects are well executed, clients are likely more satisfied, and firms earn repeat business. This ultimately keeps firms competitive in the A&E industry.

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Topics: Project Management, Professional Services, Deltek Clarity Report

The 41st Annual A&E Deltek Clarity Report: Business Development Trends

Posted by Sarah Gonnella on Wed, Sep 09, 2020 @ 11:35 AM

Deltek Clarity 41st

“The only constant in life is change.” In the business development world, truer words have never been spoken. The 41st Annual A&E Deltek Clarity Report was conducted at the beginning of 2020 and shows how companies performed during the 2019 fiscal year. Since then, much has changed in the world. The United States is officially in a recession - defined as two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth. Recessions in the A&E industry have proven to be a high-pressure exercise in change management. So, what can we learn from the Clarity report and also from previous recessions in the A&E industry?

Business Development Trend Challenges

The Clarity report showed that challenges from a few years ago remain the same. Time is always a challenge, especially finding time to nurture client relationships. Competition for work continues to get tighter and many firms still struggle to identify new prospects. The A&E industry is overall accustomed to in-person interactions. That dynamic has changed drastically in 2020, requiring firms to identify new ways to develop connections and build relationships.

Getting into Position

Firms that participated in the study were asked to share in which markets they expect their firm’s position to grow, tread, or decline. Over the next 18 months, the transportation market takes the lead at 67% of firms expecting to grow there. Next up is the water/wastewater/stormwater market, followed by the health care market. Firms can remain flexible and be ready for a market shift given the election year and the global pandemic. Market research is always important, and now proves this notion even more.

Tracking the Hit Rate

The Clarity report shows that there’s room for improvement in how firms can use hit rate as a valuable metric. The six-year trend has varied from a 40% - 50% hit rate. Recently, more small and medium-sized firms have formalized a go/no go process, but consistency may be the biggest challenge. Formalizing the system can streamline processes, dedicate resources effectively, and drive the hit rate up. Firms should push business development teams to focus on quality of pursuits, rather than quantity. This is even more important when resources are limited to avoid burnout.

Bringing in the Work

As seen in the 41st Annual Deltek Clarity report, most roles within a firm have some level of responsibility for business development. Executive teams take the lead on the responsibility along with business development staff if that is an option. Marketing groups seem to lead some efforts and the seller/doer model is common in A&E firms. Regardless of who is bringing in the business, only 41% of firms have a formal business development process. Streamlined processes could ensure teams are working efficiently and communicating effectively.

As part of broader marketing efforts, the study asked about marketing techniques for the first time. The survey showed social media posts are the primary marketing technique used by 87% of firms. Traditional trade shows and exhibits are a primary technique for 65% of firms. From there, thought leadership and content marketing are of importance as this showcases the industry experts. This will be a good one to track year after year to see where the trends take us. The survey also asked about the importance of these techniques over the next five years. Social media remains at the top, followed by thought leadership. Trade shows and exhibits surprisingly bump down to the number four spot. In today’s marketing, focusing on your online presence is even more critical.

The Outlook for Business Development

Change brings opportunities. Now more than ever, business development teams should concentrate on strategic planning to narrow in on how to refocus existing business opportunities and develop new business prospects. Firms focused on being flexible and adaptable will continue to flourish in our ever-changing world.

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Topics: Marketing, Technology Solutions, Professional Services, Deltek Clarity Report

Technology Tips and Tricks to Help Your Kids with Digital Learning Series: Presentations in Google Slides

Posted by Sarah Gonnella on Wed, Aug 26, 2020 @ 11:35 AM

Google Slides

Many students started the new school year with digital learning. As parents navigate the most efficient way to support their children during the school day, we have launched a digital learning series to help both parents and students. Follow along for technology tips and tricks as families adapt to this new environment. This addition to our series features Google Slides. 

Creating Presentations in Google Slides

Many students across various grade levels are tasked with creating presentations as part of their assignments. There are several programs to choose from, but two of the more popular ones are Microsoft PowerPoint and Google Slides. Google Slides is gaining popularity within school systems. Check out this video to learn about time savers, such as master slides, as well as some tips that can improve the presentation creation experience.

 

Get Prepared for Digital Learning

We hope you found this vlog in our series helpful. Templates and shortcuts can make better use of time when creating Google Slides and PowerPoint presentations. Therefore, this automation can be beneficial for both students and parents. If you have a technology topic you would like to see covered in the digital learning series, let us know.

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Topics: Tips, Technology Solutions, Professional Services

The 41st Annual A&E Deltek Clarity Report: Technology Trends

Posted by Wes Renfroe on Wed, Aug 19, 2020 @ 11:35 AM

Deltek Clarity 41st

Technology is something that all firms must embrace to stay competitive. Project based firms both large and small especially benefit from investments in technology. According to the results of the 41st Annual Deltek Clarity Report, A&E firms understand the necessity of technology yet are primarily applying it to project execution and management as part of strategic plans to gain a return on investment. The report also addressed challenges to the adoption of technology and the initiatives to overcome these challenges.

Applying Technology Trends

Based on Clarity results, A&E firms have identified the value of applying technology to their core operations and have invested in solutions that streamline project execution (60%) and project management (59%). Nonetheless, investments in other integrated functions like business administration, human capital management, resource and financial management all have shown modest declines year-over-year. With projects as the focal point for A&E firms, they have yet to take advantage of technology for integrated administrative functions. Not only can these technologies improve business processes, but they can also attract new employees with a forward-thinking attitude.

Technology Trend Challenges

The Clarity report showed the ranking of the top technology trend challenges facing firms in an upcoming three-year period. The challenges were like those from last report, with the top three being: 1. cost of technology, 2. prioritizing which trends were most applicable to business, and 3. employee education on trends and their application to A/E/C. However, this year firms appeared to be less challenged by a lack of time to invest in learning about technology trends, and more due to the lack of a champion to lead a technology initiative.

Emerging Technology

As part of the study, firms were asked to identify the importance of emerging technology to their business. The Internet of Things (IoT), geo location and augmented/virtual reality were chosen as the most important emerging technology. Though not at the top, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and wearable technology saw a considerable increase from last year. It is interesting to note that larger firms showed a broader focus on and higher interest in emerging technology trends.

Strategic Plan for Implementing Technology

In the survey, 73% of respondents indicated that creating a strategic plan for implementing technology trends was a high priority. Educating staff on technology trends is key to moving the initiative forward. Looking at the Clarity report’s top technology trend initiatives, businesses want to identify and develop subject matter experts to help with deployment and adoption within their firms. Businesses are also prioritizing the development of budgets for investments to manage costs.

Overcoming the Digital Transformation Dilemma

As seen in the 41st Annual Deltek Clarity report, while some A&E companies are slow to accept technology, a greater openness to adoption and investing in solutions that will streamline business processes will bring forward a digital transformation. Projects will be delivered, and businesses will operate more efficiently. In the end, customers will be satisfied thus protecting the bottom line.

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Topics: Technology Solutions, Professional Services, Deltek Vantagepoint

Improve Project Planning with Deltek Vantagepoint

Posted by Ryan Felkel on Wed, Apr 29, 2020 @ 11:35 AM

Project planning tools

For professional services firms, having a reliable project planning tool is critical to ensuring projects are profitable. Therefore, a project planning tool needs to be intuitive for users and must improve project scheduling and resource planning. With Deltek Vantagepoint, project planning has been taken to the next level with a focus on the features and functionality that project managers need. Here are some key features of Vantagepoint that will assist project managers with delivering successful and profitable projects.

Use Project Templates in Deltek Vantagepoint

Before your firm actually starts a project, it must first propose how it will deliver the project for the prospective client. Therefore, a project plan must be created during the project proposal development process. Furthermore, your firm will want to ensure its proposed project plan is aligned with its typical project delivery method. With project templates, firms can quickly create a project plan based on the type of work being requested by the client.

Aside from the ease of creating a project plan, using a project template ensures that project managers are using the correct work breakdown structure (WBS) that aligns with their firm’s project delivery model. In addition to containing all the WBS levels, the plan created from the project template will include all the required pre-defined data fields. In summary, project templates:

  • Save time when you create new project records
  • Guarantee data uniformity in your project records
  • Ensure new projects are set up with the proper WBS

Take Advantage of Labor Codes in Deltek Vantagepoint

With Deltek Vantagepoint, the ability to plan labor resources down to the labor code on a project is now possible. This additional functionality, which is seldomly seen in other project planning tools, allows project managers to better manage their project labor planning. With this increased level of granularity, firms can more accurately create internal budgets and improve labor tracking by department, service, or staff level.

The benefit of using labor codes is that the same labor codes are used across the board for all projects. As a result, project reports can include additional and meaningful labor detail that can be sorted by labor code. Additionally, firms that use labor codes can allow employees to bill time at multiple rates if they perform different jobs during a project.

Adjust Project Timelines with the Interactive Gannt Chart

Gantt charts are a great visual assistance tool for project managers, and Deltek has gone a step further by making them interactive in Vantagepoint. For those that are unfamiliar with Gantt charts, they use bars to illustrate a project schedule which can also include dependency relationships between activities and their scheduled time. With the project Gantt chart in Vantagepoint, project managers can adjust the project schedule from any level of the project by simply dragging and dropping the timeline bars.

As a result, project managers now have an easier way to adjust dates as changes to the project occur. Additionally, Deltek has included the ability to export the project Gantt chart in various formats. Among the options are PDF and PNG, and all can simply be attached in a project contract or proposal.

Take Control of Your Project with Deltek Vantagepoint 

As you can see, there are several valuable features in Deltek Vantagepoint’s project planning capabilities that other project planning tools are still lacking. From providing project templates, to offering labor codes to the interactive Gannt chart, Vantagepoint is taking project planning and delivery to the next level. Now is the time to step up your project planning and delivery with Deltek Vantagepoint.

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Topics: Project Management, Professional Services, Deltek Vantagepoint

What Metrics are Important for Your Firm to Track?

Posted by Amanda Roussel on Wed, Apr 08, 2020 @ 11:30 AM

business metrics

“What gets measured gets done” is a common phrase heard in the business world. This thought process relies on business metrics that can be tracked and focused on within an organization. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are the critical measurements which business leaders pay close attention to consistently. There are many leading and lagging indicators that can be analyzed to gauge a company’s health and employee productivity. So, what are KPIs that leaders and employees use to determine if their firm is operating effectively?  

Leading Indicators Look Forward

Firm leaders must always be looking to the future. New business is crucial to maintain a successful operation of a company. Likewise, appropriate staffing is necessary to ensure employee productivity.

New Business Pipeline – This measures the opportunities in the pipeline throughout the business development or sales process. The process typically covers efforts to attract clients, engage clients, then secure clients. How is a pipeline goal determined? Look at the firm’s hit rate – the ratio of wins to the number of projects pursued – and work backwards to determine the number of calls, meetings, and proposals needed to meet pipeline goals. Other metrics include client touch points, new leads, web visits, blog views, and dollar of proposals submitted, which all feed into the new business pipeline.

Full-Time Equivalent – This number shows if a firm is properly staffed for current and future work. The concept includes hours worked by part-time employees and full-time employees to determine the full-time equivalent (FTE). A firm can look at the total number of hours worked by all staff combined for a given time period and divide it by the number of working hours in that same time period. The FTE metric could trigger human resources to ramp up recruiting efforts or signal to business developers to target work for a specific time to keep utilization where it should be.  

Lagging Indicators Evaluate the Past

To keep a firm running successfully, business leaders must constantly measure results against goals. Were the goals met? Why or why not? There are a number of factors leaders analyze here.

Utilization Rate – Many firms use utilization goals as the benchmark for employee productivity. These goals are usually set by team managers and consider billable time, employee development, and administrative time. Employees can bring their highest value to the firm when they are operating at their optimal billable utilization goal. This metric is widely used at the individual employee level and group level.

Overhead Rate – This measures a firm’s non-billable costs compared to billable costs. Overhead expenses can be monitored and adjusted if this number is higher than desired. Examples of non-billable, or overhead, costs include leases, supplies, and non-billable professional hours, to name a few.

Revenue – This popular metric is the number that sits at the top of the income statement and measures the income a firm generates before subtracting expenses. This can be measured against revenue goals to determine how the company is performing. This number is important, but it should not be the only source of motivation.

Gross Profit Margin – This metric tells the firm’s process efficiency. The higher the number, the more efficiently the work is being completed. This can be measured overall for the firm as well as at the project level.

Revenue Growth – Is your firm on the desired growth path? This comprehensive view shows leaders the growth trajectory year-over-year. If it’s not on the desired path, course corrections can be made to get back on track.

Ongoing Pulse Checks Monitor the Present

It is also important to keep abreast of the general attitude towards your firm by both clients and employees. Both clients and employees contribute to the ultimate success of your firm. Thus, both should be assessed for current satisfaction levels.

Client retention and satisfaction – Repeat clients are vital to a firm’s success and can be tracked against new clients. Keeping clients satisfied helps ensure they will continue using the firm’s services. Tools such as the Client Feedback Tool can be used to gauge how satisfied clients are with the firm’s work and communication. The Client Feedback Tool can also be used to the employee’s advantage, learning where improvements can be made, or assistance requested.  

Employee satisfaction – The employee experience is just as important as the client experience. Satisfied employees are typically more productive, resulting in a stronger bottom line. It is best to keep lines of communication open and engage with, survey, and collaborate with employees regularly.

Using Metrics Ensures Firm Success

There are hundreds of metrics that can be tracked on a daily, weekly, monthly, and annual basis. It is key to find the proper balance of metrics that works for your firm type and structure. Knowing how to get the right data is also important. Solutions such as Deltek Vision, Vantagepoint, and Informer can provide business intelligence showing real-time KPIs, giving leadership teams the data necessary for effective decision making and business management. Clear data can be used to identify the most successful areas as well as those that need attention and improvement. This is the most effective way to regularly stay on top of your firm’s performance.

Key Performance Indicators

Topics: Technology Solutions, Professional Services, Business Intelligence