Full Sail Partners Blog

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!

Reach Full Sail Partners

Topics: Technology Solutions, Professional Services, Deltek Vantagepoint

Technology Tips and Tricks to Help Your Kids with Digital Learning Series: Staying Organized

Posted by Jennifer Renfroe on Wed, Sep 16, 2020 @ 11:35 AM

Time management

Many students started the new school year online, and parents continue to navigate this new way of learning with their children. Across grade levels, many students are still struggling with the challenges of learning remotely. Without direct guidance and reinforcement from teachers face to face, it often becomes overwhelming to manage the expectations of classwork. In this installment of our series, we will address how parents can help their kids stay organized in the digital learning environment.

Non-Distracting Workspace

Children should have a designated workspace that has minimal distractions. Parents should not pick the bedroom for schoolwork because kids can be tempted to do their work on their beds which can reduce productivity. Having a room outside of the bedroom designated for school work is the better option. Dining tables have been a popular choice when spare rooms aren't an option. Phones, televisions and other sources of entertainment provide further disruption opportunities so should be removed from the workspace. When taking a break, kids can go back and enjoy the amenities of their bedroom.

Time Management

Regardless of which class management tool is used, staying organized is now a bit easier than in the past since assignment due dates can be tracked online. However, procrastination remains a real problem for many students which can lead to feeling overwhelmed. The best way for parents to help kids manage time is to make sure there is a set schedule and daily routine. Daily tasks should be written down and crossed off when completed. All work can be prioritized and chunked so that assignments can be accomplished several days in advance of due dates.

Protect School Work

One of the biggest frustrations with online learning is technology failures. After spending hours on an assignment, no one wants to risk losing that work. Parents can make sure this doesn’t happen by having kids do their work in the cloud using Google docs or another cloud service. If the computer shuts down, the work will still be accessible when it reboots. Additionally, besides using a flash drive, other methods of saving work include sending the work to another location via email, like parents’ email. This is a great option for assignments that use Microsoft Word or Excel. Always have a backup source so assignments can be submitted on time.

Ask for Help

Another means of staying organized is for parents to encourage their children to ask for help. One benefit of online learning is connectivity to teachers through tools like Canvas and school email like Microsoft Outlook. Rather than waste a lot of time being confused or worried about something, just email the teacher for clarification. While teachers may not be able to respond immediately, they usually will within the day. Once the request has been sent off, make sure kids move on to another question or assignment. It is often hard to wait for an answer, but without asking teachers, there will be no resolution which ends up causing more stress.

Stay Prepared with Digital Learning

Parents should use these recommendations to stay organized with digital learning. It is hard to balance “real” jobs and the extra responsibility of managing students’ work, but with these measures in place, routines will be well established, and it will all get done. Another reason to keep those kids organized is to make room for a little “me” time. Good luck!

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Topics: Tips, Technology Solutions

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

Value of the Deltek Vantagepoint Readiness Report

Posted by Amanda Roussel on Wed, Sep 02, 2020 @ 11:35 AM

Right direction

As the launchpad to Deltek Vantagepoint, the Full Sail Partners’ Vantagepoint Readiness Report can be used as a guide for your firm’s cleanup efforts and next steps. This valuable resource is such a strong starting point for firms as they consider when and how to upgrade from Deltek Vision to Vantagepoint.

How to Get There

Many AEC and professional services firms have buckled down on Deltek Vantagepoint conversations this year. We hear and understand the excitement, as well as the hesitation around the upgrade. Therefore, Full Sail Partners has developed beneficial solutions to help ease the transition from Deltek Vision to Vantagepoint. As consultants, we have received questions, such as:

          “What do I need to do prior to the upgrade?”

          “When should we do the upgrade?”

          “How will the upgrade impact our business?”

In all honesty, it all depends on your Deltek environment and the data it holds.

Start with a High Impact Tool

As a Deltek Partner for more than two decades, our consultants have assisted and led many upgrades, implementations, conversions, migrations, etc. Some firms have started the process on their own by viewing our Preparing for Deltek Vantagepoint webinar series, accessing the Deltek Readiness Portal and participating in the Client Assistance Program (CAP). These are all useful resources. However, to truly understand the state of your database, we are encouraging Deltek Vision users to start with the Vantagepoint Readiness Report to assess what needs to be addressed and managed. Below are some of the many reasons to use this impactful tool:

  • Alleviate anxiety. The report provides a plan on the areas that need to be addressed and cleaned up. We know you have other responsibilities. Gain insight on your entire database to know where and how to start.
  • Quick and easy inventory of your database. Deltek administrators can spend countless hours sifting through data to find potential duplicates or inapplicable records. The Vantagepoint Readiness Report can highlight this data in 30 minutes or less. After all, time is money.
  • Consulting time is included with the report. The report can be overwhelming for many firms. Therefore, one of our consultants will spend an hour with your upgrade lead or team digesting the report findings and identifying next steps.
  • Eliminate some of the manual steps. In the time saved using an automatic inventory script, teams can better spend their time preparing data and the firm’s preview environment, rather than digging for the starting point.
  • View details specific to your Deltek environment. Many resources can guide firms to run their own analysis, but this one does the work for you.
  • Reveal the unknowns. Firms are treating Deltek Vantagepoint as a fresh start. There may be hidden data that administrators were not aware of that should be cleaned up prior to the upgrade. The Vantagepoint Readiness Report can unveil this “hidden” data that may have been collected in previously used modules.
  • Outlining next steps. No two firms use their system in the same manner, so the plan of action varies. Once completing the Vantagepoint Readiness Report, our consultants can help identify and prioritize your next steps in the upgrade process.
  • Count on Full Sail Partners. Our Deltek experts are here to cheer, guide, or lead you along your Deltek journey.

Benefit from the Results

The Vantagepoint Readiness Report identifies the areas that will need attention or discussion before upgrading. In fact, it is even better to run this before getting your preview environment. The simple process runs a script and produces an excel file for review. Below are some of the details this report provides:  

  • Identifies potential duplicate vendors and clients

  • Produces a list of all your workflows

  • Compiles a list of all your user defined fields and grids

  • Identifies custom report files in use

  • Identifies duplicate columns across vendors and clients and across leads and contacts

  • Displays all the key formats for various info centers

  • Shows labor cross charge; overhead allocation and revenue generation settings for all companies

  • Displays the database table size

  • Identifies unposted transactions; timesheets, expense reports, transaction center files

  • Identifies plans which do not comply with Vantagepoint (iAccess) requirements

  • Identifies info center numbering that differs from your key formats

Use Your Resources

We learn throughout our careers that we should use our resources to ease the burden of some projects and spend time more effectively elsewhere. This is one of those scenarios. Firms can eliminate a long list of questions and tasks by starting with the Vantagepoint Readiness Report. The turnaround time for the Vantagepoint Readiness Report has typically been two weeks, depending on how schedules line up.

So, let’s roll up our sleeves, let the report do the magic and review the results. You will then have the next steps identified and prioritized as you move forward with the upgrade to Vantagepoint. And it doesn’t stop there! Full Sail Partners has additional resources to assist with the Vantagepoint upgrade. Let us know when you are ready to get started!

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Topics: Support, Technology Solutions, Deltek Vantagepoint

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

Look Forward to the New Deltek Virtual Insight Experience

Posted by Amanda Roussel on Wed, Aug 12, 2020 @ 11:35 AM

Deltek Insight

As a Deltek Partner, Full Sail Partners looks forward to networking, teaching, and learning at Deltek Insight each year. However, due to current circumstances, this year’s Deltek Insight conference will be VIRTUAL and held on September 15th and 16th. Though the conference will look different as a virtual event, we know it will be a success. You may also notice that the dates are slightly earlier in the year than in years past. One benefit to that is having more time to incorporate new initiatives as 2021 nears. Even if your home or office may not look like a Gaylord resort, you will want to participate in all aspects of this FREE virtual experience. Let’s take a look at some of the incredible reasons why you should attend Deltek Insight this year.

Expand Your Understanding

Deltek’s product line up is beneficial to professional services firms. Technology has truly helped firms continue operations and keep business flowing this year. Deltek products have played a vital role in that. The robust systems can streamline processes and increase efficiency for your teams. Conference sessions will help you better understand the many areas of Deltek. In addition, you will learn about many exciting features as firms upgrade from Deltek Vision to Vantagepoint and as Deltek enhances other products.

You will have ample opportunities to meet with Deltek experts throughout the conference. In addition, our experts at Full Sail Partners will be available at our virtual kiosk. We will have Rick Childs, Scott Seal, Scott Gailhouse and more to answer your questions about the finance side of Deltek; Kevin Hebblethwaite and Lindsay Diven will be online to cover CRM topics; and Rana Blair will have Resource Planning covered! Additionally, if you have questions about the transition from Deltek Vision to Vantagepoint, we have that covered as well.

If you need a little more help with a certain area, you can meet with a Deltek expert who can assist you. “Meet the Experts” is a 30-minute 1 on 1 session with a Deltek expert. These meetings are first come first serve and the slots fill up fast. Getting one on one expert advice provides new insight on your products and is another great reason to participate in Deltek Insight. For more information about these sessions click here.

Be Inspired

Deltek has secured some strong keynote speakers. As our business environments shift, you will want to hear the experiences and advice of Dr. Shirley Davis, Mike Robbins, and Mike Corkery. Here is a little about each:

  • Shirley Davis is a diversity & inclusion thought leader who will talk about embracing workplace diversity. She will share tips on how to work effectively in a diverse environment and manage workplace conflict.
  • Mike Robbins, host of this year’s Deltek Insight, will take the reign on navigating attendees through Deltek’s first-ever virtual Insight. He will also share his perspective on managing stress and enhancing mental and emotional well-being.
  • Mike Corkery, President and CEO of Deltek, will speak about persevering through uncertainty. He will share how Deltek has enabled customers to continue their success and address questions from attendees.

Network the 2020 Way

Everyone has had a different business experience than originally planned for 2020. Learn from each other and grow your skillsets as you talk with industry peers. Sponsors will have virtual kiosks so be sure to stop by each one! Be on the lookout for other networking opportunities as Deltek Insight nears.

One way to get some visibility is to shine on Deltek Project Nation’s Got Talent. This attendee participation event gives you the microphone and an opportunity to showcase your skills for a chance to win a $2,500 cash prize plus a $2,500 donation to a Deltek charity of your choice. Bring your talent on this one - singers, dancers, comedians, contortionists, and more! Submission deadline is August 21st, so get your acts in!

Register Now for Deltek Insight 2020

There’s so much to look forward to with this year’s virtual Deltek Insight. Be sure to register NOW for this FREE event! You can network with industry users, learn from the experts, collaborate with peers, and get a stronger grip on the Deltek ecosystem.

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Topics: Technology Solutions, Deltek Insight, Deltek Vantagepoint

Technology Tips and Tricks to Help Your Kids with Digital Learning Series: Keyboard Shortcuts

Posted by Sarah Gonnella on Wed, Jul 29, 2020 @ 11:35 AM

Keyboard shortcuts

Across the US, many parents have elected for their kids to do schooling at home, while others are only given the option of digital learning. Since working from a computer is not something many adults and kids are prepared to do, we decided to help out by starting a blog series on technology tips and tricks to adapt to this new environment. Our firm has been working remotely for more than two decades and the hope is that this series provides value to kids and adults alike. Please note that all of the tools mentioned in this first blog are geared towards a PC and Windows applications.

Must Know Keyboard Shortcuts

  1. Create Browser Shortcuts – First things first. Create a bookmark for the applications that need to be accessed daily by navigating to the page you want to save and click Ctrl+D or click the “Star” next to the website address. Name the bookmark with a clear title. Now you have a quick link to access, so you don’t have to remember where to go each morning. 
  2. Copy, Cut & Paste – Some of the most commonly used keyboard shortcuts are copy, cut and paste. They can save tons of typing time. To copy text, highlight the text and press the Ctrl+C buttons simultaneously. To paste the text, put your cursor where you want the text to go and press the Ctrl+V buttons simultaneously. To cut text, highlight the text you want to remove and press the Ctrl+X keys simultaneously. Pro trick: If you want to remove the style and paste as plain text, add the Shift button: Ctrl+Alt+V.
  3. Select All, Undo & Redo – If you want to highlight an entire section of text, use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+A and it will highlight the entire section of text. This is commonly used in combination with cutting or copying text. If you want to undo an action, press the Ctrl+Z to quickly reverse the previous action. This is commonly used when you accidentally remove text you want back or apply a style that you no longer want. If you would like to redo an action, press the Ctrl+Y keys. This is commonly used to apply a style again or insert an action you just did like a new column or row. These tricks can help you save mouse clicks.
  4. Minimize All Windows – If you quickly want to view the desktop and minimize all windows, you can click on the Windows button + D. This is a helpful trick to minimize it all. Another quick way to minimize is to go to the bottom right hand on the task bar. To the far right there is a bar next to the time. When you click on it, all windows will minimize.
  5. Moving Between Programs – When your work requires multiple applications to be open, it can sometimes be difficult to minimize and reopen the right application. One easy way to find your document or application is to use the Alt+Tab key. It will open all of your applications and allow you to tab over to the one you want with ease. Pro Tip: Add Shift to move to the previous tab (Alt+Shift+Tab).
  6. Finding Information – Many times it is difficult to find the information you are wanting on a page. As long as the page is not an image, you can search for words on a webpage, pdf, etc. by clicking Ctrl+F. Then type in the word you are searching.
  7. Revisit a Browser Tab That Was Accidentally Closed– If you accidentally closed out of a browser tab, there is a simple keyboard shortcut that can quickly bring it back open. Simply click Ctrl+Shift+T.
  8. Format Painter – The format painter applies all attributions. Think of it as copying and pasting for formatting styles. Highlight the text, row, column, or graphic you want to apply to another object and click on the Format Painter icon under the Clipboard. From there, highlight the object you would like to apply the format to. Pro Tip: You can also click Ctrl+Shift+C to copy all formatting and Ctrl+Shift+V to apply the formatting.
  9. Screenshot – To take a screenshot of the entire screen, click the Ctrl+PrtSc. If you only want to take a screenshot of the application or dialogue box that is up, click on that application or dialogue box and click the Alt+PrtSc. Chromebook Tip: Many schools are providing Chromebooks. It is important to note the instructions are different. Here is an article for Chromebook users: https://www.theverge.com/2020/1/14/21065295/chromebook-screenshots-how-to-take-keyboard-keys.
  10. Screen Freeze – Many times when your computer is not responding, one program is causing an issue. A keyboard shortcut that all users should learn about is Ctrl+Shift+Esc. Many of you may have used Ctrl+Alt+Delete in the past and it still works, but Ctrl+Shift+Esc is a quicker way to pull up the Task Manager and see what programs are using CPU memory or which programs are not responding. Once you determine which program, you can close just that program down.
  11. Dictation Tool - It isn’t a keyboard shortcut, but this button is a life saver for kids that don’t know how to type and struggle with spelling. In each Office product, there is a Dictation tool. An important reminder is to make sure they go back and re-read what they wrote. It might be good to have an adult review before an assignment is submitted, too.

Get Prepared for Digital Learning

We hope you found the first blog in our series helpful. Understanding keyboard shortcuts helps expedite the learning process and makes it easier to execute homework and assignments for both students and parents. If you have a technology topic you would like to see covered to help the digital learning process, let us know.

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Topics: Tips, Technology Solutions

Easily Capture Project Information Using Deltek Vantagepoint

Posted by Lindsay Diven on Wed, Jul 22, 2020 @ 11:35 AM

Project information checklist

Have you ever noticed how the proposal process tends to fly by leaving you scrambling as the deadline nears? When producing proposals, project-related information needs to be found quickly. Of course, speed is important in the search, but data accuracy is imperative. Gathering accurate project details in a timely manner is a challenge I hear of nearly every day from marketing and proposal managers at project-based firms. Fortunately, with Deltek Vantagepoint, your teams can easily capture project information and reference it quickly when it matters most– during proposal crunch time. Let’s dive a little deeper.

Identify the Key Project Information You Need for Proposals

The Deltek Vantagepoint Projects Hub will become your one source of truth for the project information you need to rely on to produce winning proposals. The image below shows a project experience page created using Deltek Vantagepoint Custom Proposals. The page was built based on information captured in the Projects Hub and includes fields such as project name, project description, client name, project manager, and square footage along with a few project images.

Project experience page

 

Capture Information While Pursuing the Project

Using Deltek Vantagepoint, capturing critical project information begins in the pursuit stage. Because Deltek Vantagepoint has one project record that is maintained from opportunity to pursuit to proposal and eventually to a regular project record, the information captured during the pursuit never gets lost or goes unused.

Project in pursuit stage

The image above is showing a project in a pursuit stage. We can tell this record is in a pursuit stage because the coloring in the left-hand summary pane is gold and the Stage is labeled as Pending. During this stage, there is common key project information that is typically collected as part of the proposal process.

Much of the information you will eventually need for your project cut sheets and proposals is typically known during the pursuit stage, and thus can be collected and stored inside the project record in Deltek Vantagepoint.

Examples of common key project information include:

  • Project Name
  • Primary Client and Contact
  • Project Location
  • Key Team Members, such as Principal-in-Charge, Project Manager

You can also identify other team members, both internal and external to your firm, for the project. See image below.

Project team

Over on the Dates & Costs tab, you can begin to capture the estimated project start and completion dates.

Project dates & costs

You may even have some information about the project from the RFP or client description of the project. Deltek Vantagepoint allows you to easily store an initial project description on the Proposals tab.

Project description

 

Move From Pursuit to Billable Project Without Losing Key Information

Now you might be thinking, why would I want to store this information into a record that is in pursuit? Well, Deltek Vantagepoint makes it seamless to move from a pursuit stage to an awarded project stage. When you make that move, all of the information captured in the pursuit stage stays with the awarded project record. This makes the process more efficient. Information is entered only once and is used throughout the project lifecycle.

Pursuit to Billable Project

 

Access the Data You Need When You Need It

Once you have won the project and are performing the work, you can easily continue to enter and access key project data:

Key Team Members

Over on the Team tab, Employees are automatically added to the project when they charge time to that project on their timesheet. Then, you can easily update their role on the project.

Team members

In the image above, you can also see the number of hours employees have charged to this project. Additionally on the Team tab, you can add external contacts that should be associated with the project. You can even identify who should be the project reference (for future proposals, of course).

Project Descriptions

As the project evolves, you will have more details to include in the project description. That information can quickly be added to Deltek Vantagepoint on the Proposals tab. Deltek Vantagepoint allows you to store different types of project descriptions that you may need for different uses. Examples may include short description, long description, key features, etc.

Firms often have a primary project description that is used on project cut sheets, but then may need a project description that is shorter. The shorter descriptions might be good for resumes or when page limits are tight. You can mark one description as the default by checking the default checkbox. No matter how you use your project descriptions, Deltek Vantagepoint makes it easy to store and use project descriptions for proposals.

Description options

Track Project Awards

Chances are you have some award-winning projects. Vantagepoint makes it easy to track what awards your projects win in the Awards grid as shown in the image above.

Project Photos

If you want to use project photos in your proposals, Deltek Vantagepoint allows you to store and manage images and other project related documents on the Files & Links tab.

Files & Links tab

Information Specific to Your Firm’s Projects

If there is information that is specific to your firm’s project, Deltek Vantagepoint allows you to create custom fields, grids, and tabs. The image below is showing a custom tab called Project Information. On this, I have added custom fields like square footage or number of floors. Other popular custom fields are around tracking sustainability goals such as LEED Certifications.

Custom tab and fields

 

Drive Success with Deltek Vantagepoint

As you can see, Deltek Vantagepoint allows you to easily track key project information through the entire project lifecycle, from initial lead to project completion. That information can then be quickly used to build winning proposals that drive success for your firm. 

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Topics: Technology Solutions, CRM, Deltek Vantagepoint

Key Findings from the 41st Annual Deltek AE Clarity Report

Posted by Rick Childs on Wed, Jul 15, 2020 @ 11:35 AM

Deltek Clarity

Every year, Deltek collaborates with ACEC, ACEC Canada, AIA and SMPS to conduct a study to measure the health of the AE industry. The 41st Deltek AE Clarity Report provides a comprehensive assessment of the 2019 performance of AE firms. Furthermore, the study collected responses from more than 415 firms of all sizes within the AE industry. While many of you will eventually read over the findings, here is a summary of what you will discover in detail.

Clarity on AE Technology Trends

With no surprise, technology is a leading focus for AE firms. It seems like this is a trend every year, and it is now becoming even more important for AE firms to invest in technology to be competitive. Surprisingly, augmented and virtual reality is driving a deeper interest into technology investments for AE firms. Even more, firms that have been challenged by the costs of emerging technologies are finding them more affordable as they become more mainstream. According to responses from the Deltek Clarity survey, firms have accepted that the cost of investing in technology has a significant and beneficial impact on the efficiency of their operations.

Clarity on Financial Statements

2019 proved to be another great year for the AE industry in regard to financial performance. The report explains that over the past 10 years, the financial stability of the AE industry has remained strong and has shown growth. While many of the core metrics measuring financial strength demonstrate small changes from year to year, the changes are continuously positive. A significant finding is that operating profit on net revenue and net fixed assets per employee did rise in 2019. Furthermore, the benchmarks for operating profit on net revenue and net labor both surpassed the high performer thresholds which backs the findings of financial stability in the AE industry.

Clarity on Business Development

This section has some interesting findings. Win rates were down and so was revenue from the firm’s top three clients. However, there may be some factors that can explain these results. Is it because firms are lacking a formal go/no go process to improve new business pursuits, or are firms pursuing business in new markets? Are your firm’s top three clients doing less work? Perhaps it is a combination of all these things. But one thing remains certain, that business development continues to be a challenge for AE firms.

Clarity on Project Management

What, what, what? The 41st Deltek Clarity Report found that AE firms, which are project-based businesses, have recognized they need to improve their project management capabilities. Yes, you read that right. Many AE firms are reporting they need to better define responsibilities and processes, develop better practices, and invest in project management training. How fantastic that AE firms are recognizing that project management and delivery is hindering the overall performance of their firm and acknowledging there is a need for change.

Clarity on Human Capital Management

Human Capital Management is a not a problem unique to the AE industry, and it affects nearly every profession. For AE firms, talent acquisition is the top challenge leaders face each year. Since a firm is only as good as the people it employs, acquiring and retaining top talent is essential to staying competitive. Unfortunately, talent acquisition is going to continue to be a challenge for AE firms since the number of available experts is limited. Also, AE firms continue to fall short due to lack of succession planning. This is something AE firms should evaluate as we approach a generational change and baby boomer retirements.

Learn More with the 41st Deltek Clarity Report

For many, the Annual Deltek AE Clarity Report is a valuable tool used to benchmark the performance of your firm. It’s important to keep in mind that using this report from 2019 to compare to your current fiscal year of 2020 may give you skewed results as the global pandemic’s effects are still unseen and predicting the impact is nearly impossible. Good news though, you can still compare your 2019 results against the report findings, and Deltek plans on releasing the 42nd Annual Clarity Report in 2021, which will most certainly shine light on the impact of the global pandemic.
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Topics: Project Management, Client Relationships, Technology Solutions, Deltek Clarity Report