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?

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Topics: Marketing, Professional Services

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

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

2019 Premier Award for Client Satisfaction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Topics: Press Release

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

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

Deltek Clarity 41st

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

Tracked KPIs for Human Capital Management

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

Managing Talent

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

Surveys of Employee Engagement

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

Talent Acquisition

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

Firms Care About Human Capital Management

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

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Topics: Professional Services, HR, Deltek Clarity Report

Marketing Plays Well with Others

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

Marketing can integrate

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

Know the Brand

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

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

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

Master the Service Lineup

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

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

Recruit Like a Pro

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

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

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

Set Standards from the Start

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

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

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

Own that Hat Closet

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

Talent Management

Topics: Marketing, Professional Services, HR

What is Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning?

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

Artificial Intelligence

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

Getting Smart with Artificial Intelligence

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

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

Be Efficient with Machine Learning

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

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

Do More with Deltek Vantagepoint

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

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

It’s Time to Embrace AI and Machine Learning

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

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Topics: Technology Solutions, Professional Services, Deltek Vantagepoint

Accounting Today’s 2020 VAR 100 List Once Again Includes Full Sail Partners

Posted by Ryan Felkel on Thu, Sep 24, 2020 @ 11:45 AM

2020 VAR 100

Accounting Today has recognized Full Sail Partners as one of the top 100 value-added resellers (VARs) for 2020. Being distinguished as a top 100 VAR indicates that Accounting Today is overwhelmingly confident with the firm’s services and knowledge of business accounting principles and the software required to support operations. Each year Accounting Today selects 100 VARs to acknowledge their accomplishments in the accounting software industry. The top VARs are chosen from firms focused on sales and implementation of accounting and enterprise resources planning (ERP) software. Accounting Today uses criteria such as revenue, number of offices, and staff size to generate the list of top VARs. 

According to Accounting Today, VARs on the 2020 list noted that this is the year that has pushed the cloud over the tipping point. Furthermore, the VARs have overwhelmingly echoed each other’s sentiments stating that this year more clients than ever have inquired about cloud and software-as-a-services options. One reason the cloud demand is so high is the peer pressure from others within their industry adopting the cloud. This is a clear example of the benefits and the need to keep up with the competition. For more information about this year’s findings, click here. Also, for the full list of the 100 Top VARs, click here.

“Full Sail Partners is once again pleased to be recognized by Accounting Today as a Top 100 VAR for 2020. Additionally, Full Sail Partners has found that 2020 is the year that the cloud has become a leading topic for our clients. With several of our clients preparing to upgrade from Deltek Vision to Vantagepoint, they have also decided to take advantage of the benefits afforded them by moving their on-premise solution to the cloud,” stated Sarah Gonnella, VP of Sales and Marketing at Full Sail Partners. “We anticipate this trend to continue well past 2021.”

Accounting Today is a leading provider of online business news for the accounting community, offering breaking news, in-depth features, and a host of resources and services. The VAR 100 list is an annual report developed to rank the top technology resellers in the accounting and ERP spaces.  

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

Topics: Press Release

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

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