Full Sail Partners Blog

Creating the Right Content to Attract Ideal A/E/C Clients

Posted by Ryan Felkel on January 19, 2022

Creating content that attracts the ideal client is a crucial part of a digital marketing program. This content educates the potential client through the process and highlights the firm as the best choice for the project.

Driving Growth with Digital Marketing 3

Through the “Driving Growth with Digital Marketing” series, we’ve learned about creating personas (ideal client), setting goals, and outlining a content strategy. Now it’s time to create new content to fill in the gaps from the previously completed Content Audit.

Brainstorming with an Inbound Focus

Marketers may already have a sense of what type of topics to cover in their new content development. These ideas might have been thought of in proposal or presentation preparation, interactions with business developers or project managers, or observing industry trends.

However, take these ideas a few steps further by brainstorming with an inbound focus. Identifying what would attract an ideal client to the content draws them into the digital platforms like the firm’s website or social media channels. During the brainstorming sessions, ask the following questions when evaluating topic ideas:

  • Who will be reading the content? For how many audiences will you be creating content? This goes back to the persona development and creating content that appeals to the persona(s).
  • What problem will you be solving for the ideal client(s)? Ideally, your firm provides services to solve the clients’ challenges. The marketing content should educate this same audience as they begin to pinpoint and address their issues. Refer to the decision-making funnel to identify the questions for each step in the funnel.
  • What makes your firm or point of view unique? How is your firm different from the other A/E/C firms in town? Do you have a unique offering, specialist, technology, or brand voice? Maybe it’s how or why your firm approaches a design challenge a certain way? If it’s difficult to decide what makes your firm unique, try taking a piece of industry news or trend then applying your firm’s point of view or opinion about it. This combines trending content, while allowing the firm to stand out.
  • What content formats will be the focus? It’s not about what content format your firm WANTS to create but meeting the audience (ideal clients) where they are. That’s why the persona development work is so important. For example, marketers may be tempted to create a firm podcast, but learn that the targeted persona prefers to read. Knowing this before launching the podcast may save the firm time and resources.
  • What channels will be used to share the content? Just like the content formats mentioned above, determining the social media channels should be based on where the ideal clients are, not where your firm wants to be.

This focused brainstorming technique will result in the content development plan.

Writing a Content Development Plan

Once the list of topics for new content is developed, now it’s time to get to work. Writing a content development plan and treating it just like any project or proposal plan is the best way to ensure it gets done.

Items to outline in a content development plan include:

  • Who’s creating what piece?
  • Who’s contributing to the piece (the subject matter expert)?
  • What additional resources or skillsets are needed?
  • What type of graphics or media is needed?
  • Where is it going to be published?
  • When it’s going live?

In smaller firms, this may all be completed by one or two people. In larger firms, this might be managed by an entire department. Either way, it eventually gets put into a plan and publishing schedule.

Keeping SEO in Mind

There is so much information about search-engine optimization (SEO). In fact, a future article in this series is going to be dedicated to SEO. But it’s worth thinking about SEO while brainstorming and creating new content.

One method for brainstorming new content ideas is to do keyword research. Ideal clients are most likely searching for answers on search engines, like Google. And those search engines along with tools like Moz and Semrush can provide marketers with keywords to help with new content ideas.

As the new content is being developed, make sure that those keywords and phrases are used in the content titles, body, images, etc. when it’s published.

Getting Started

Hopefully, you now have some ideas on how to create the right content to attract ideal A/E/C clients. You know how to brainstorm new content ideas, write a content development plan, and keep SEO in mind as new content is created. It can feel overwhelming, but firms don’t need to create a lot of content, just high-quality content that helps the ideal client move through the decision-making funnel. Focus on creating the amount of content your firm has the resources for. In the next installment of the “Driving Growth with Digital Marketing” series, you’ll learn ways to repurpose that content to extend its life. It’s about working smarter, not harder.

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Level Up Your AE Firm’s Business

Posted by Ryan Felkel on January 12, 2022

For all businesses, earning a nice profit is the expected goal. Yet for some AE firms, stagnant earnings, increasing costs and expenses, low new client acquisition, and deteriorating workplace culture may have become the new normal. What was once a business bursting at the seams and barely able to take on more work, has now become complacent and satisfied with mediocrity. However, there is something that can be done to change the current course. Take a quick read through the following tips to help create ideas for ways to get started.

man walking up steps

Create and Stick to a Plan

Get SMART and create a strategic business plan that provides clear direction and expected results. For some AE firms, this may be as simple as reviewing the existing plan and making updates to meet current business needs. In other cases, it may be best to scrap the existing plan and start over from scratch. Either way, a solid business plan needs to be reinforced with SMART goals.

SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-based. To create SMART goals, begin by thinking about the entire firm and decide how to designate areas of responsibility and determine expected results. It is likely easiest to start at the department level and then work down from there. Additionally, goals need to focus on the desired result and need to be high level while remaining specific. If there seems to be an excessive number of goals, it is likely that they are too granular and focused on task level items and not the desired result. Lastly, goals need to be measurable and incorporated with time-based milestones.

Get Friendly with the Firm Numbers

It’s time to stop avoiding that uncomfortable relationship people seem to have with numbers. We are not all accountants. However, numbers can tell the ugly truth even when someone doesn’t want to hear it. Like that one friend we all keep around that inevitably reminds us of what we are trying to avoid in an effort to minimize the realities of a situation. So, what numbers are important? All of them.

A good place to start is with cash flow. There’s no way around it, businesses with limited cash reserves and low cash flow will inevitably shut down. Also, get friendly with the firm’s overall net profit and the profit performance of the firm’s projects. Keep in mind that great profits don’t always equate to positive cash flow which is required to bill overhead expenses and salaries. Lastly, check the firm’s credit score to make sure the firm can get a loan with favorable terms if cash flow becomes a temporary issue or new assets need to be purchased. Many firms are finding that a solid business intelligence solution provides the best insights into numbers. Learn more in this past webinar.

Embrace the Multi-Generation Workforce

Move over generation MTV, the kids are entering the workforce. Seriously, there are now four generations in the modern workforce. To put this into perspective, there are employees that remember sharing work computers, and there are employees that got their first personal computer at eight years old. To say the least, there are some differences in expectations when it comes to the way work gets done.

Sure, it’s easiest to just say conform to our ways or else. But the reality is that the members of the younger generations are the leaders of the future. Therefore, it’s important for firms to start adjusting to accommodate these differences. For help, check out this white paper.

Engage and Interact with Clients in More Ways

Welcome to the 21st century, where that must-have fancy technology is out of date before most of the world even knows that it exists. We are now in the digital era which has transformed the way we communicate and consume information. Now, we have personal computers in the form of mobile phones that mostly fit in our pockets. As a result, people have become accustomed to receiving notifications and obtaining information using these digital formats.

A lot, if not all AE firms, have websites, but some of these websites were created and last updated over a decade ago. Furthermore, even those firms that have a modern website still likely only have a small digital footprint. Therefore, AE firms need to evaluate their current digital marketing efforts to decide which areas need improvement. To help AE firms, Full Sail Partners is publishing a blog series titled “Driving Growth with Digital Marketing” that is specifically geared towards AEC companies. Find a listing for all the articles and signup for notifications about new articles and other content here.  

Take Your AE Firm to the Next Level

Ready to improve your AE firm? Putting SMART Goals in place, confronting the inevitable numbers, accommodating workplace differences, and engaging in the digital era will move firms from stagnant to reinvigorated. These efforts will result in a visible positive impact. Additionally, Full Sail Partners can aid in identifying areas of opportunity for improvement via a Navigational Analysis. Use the link button below to contact us to learn more.

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Common CRM Adoption Challenges for Professional Services Firms

Posted by Ryan Felkel on January 06, 2022

For professional services firms to be successful, they need a client relationship management (CRM) system to help them focus their business development strategies to identify prospective projects and to nurture client relationships to ensure they win new projects. Furthermore, an effective CRM system requires firm employees to use the system and this is not just directed to the business development team. This requires the entire firm to be updating client records to ensure the most up-to-date information is available for business development. However, firms that have invested in a CRM system seem to have a common hurdle which is employee adoption. Here are a few things that can negatively impact user adoption at your firm.

Adopt CRM

The Lack of Defined Processes

Time and time again, firms roll out a new CRM system with the assumption that it’s just requires switching it on, and it’ll take care of itself. However, this is not the case. Firms need to first start off by identifying what goals they want to achieve so they can actually see results. Once they have their goals identified, a formal process needs to be outlined to ensure the CRM system is utilized in a way the benefits firm and aligns with current marketing and business development procedures. Here are some things to consider when defining a process:

  • What is a lead and when does a lead become an opportunity?
  • Who has the information at your firm that needs to be entered about a contact?
  • Who can update contacts and what can they update?
  • What role is responsible for cleaning up the CRM database?
  • What reports are required for different roles?

Misguided Goals

Goal setting for business development teams are far too often focused on dollar amounts and win rates. However, this thought process ignores setting goals that align with the firm’s strategy for achieving their targeted dollar amounts and win rates. For example, the sales cycle to win a project for many professional services firms can be months to years depending on the industry. Therefore, having a goal that helps the business development team keep up with touchpoints helps ensure client relationships are being properly managed. So when considering goals, it’s important to develop goals that align with your firm’s strategic client management process.

Picking the Wrong CRM Solution for Your Firm

There are several things to consider when selecting a CRM solution for your firm. Firstly, not all CRM systems are the same and have different capabilities to support different industries. For instance, having a CRM system that integrates with your firm’s accounting and project management platforms is essential for professional services firms. Especially if you want all your firm’s data in one central location and your desire is for people to utilize the CRM system. An example of this is a firm that uses Deltek Vantagepoint or Vision for their accounting and project management, the obvious CRM system selection is Deltek CRM.

Additionally, system integration is great, but having a CRM system that has a friendly user interface is important as well to increase user adoption. By selecting a system that is intuitive and well designed, implementing a CRM adoption directive will most likely succeed across your firm.

Increase CRM Adoption

Many firms struggle with getting employees to adopt a new system. However, this does not have to be the case. By setting goals and processes for different teams within your organization to encourage use, your employees will be able to see the value of the CRM system. Lastly, make sure to point out the fact that a CRM system will help your firm continue to grow and be successful in the future.   

Grow Revenue with a CRM

A Walk Down Memory Lane as Full Sail Partners Celebrates 10 Years!

Posted by Sarah Gonnella on January 05, 2022

We are excited to celebrate our 10-year anniversary! Clients, partners, employees, and family have all embarked on this journey with us, and in so many ways, we have grown together. For this reason, we plan to recognize this big accomplishment and continue to make great strides together in 2022! Cheers to another amazing year full of fantastic projects and collaboration! We invite you to be the first to see our new 10-year anniversary logo and check out our new resource pages providing you content by role.

Full Sail Partners 10 Year Anniversary Logo

Since the creation of Full Sail Partners in 2012, the number of our employees has expanded 131% allowing us to become the technology provider when it comes to project-based solutions. Over those 10 years, our viewership has expanded 785% and we have received almost 23k website submissions. We have shared more than 540 blog articles, 293 web pages, and 132 webinars. So, in celebration, we are listing the top content based on viewership. Enjoy!

Most Viewed Thought Leadership Blog 

>>>7 Ways to Overcome Obstacles<<<

Maybe it shouldn’t be surprising that the most viewed thought leadership blog was about overcoming obstacles? These past several years brought many challenges to our work and personal lives. When faced with adversity, it sometimes can be hard to breakdown how to handle it. In this blog, we discussed 7 tips to overcome obstacles.

Most Downloaded Whitepaper 

>>>Deltek AE Clarity Report<<<

As a Deltek Platinum Partner, we promote Deltek’s annual survey focused on the Architecture and Engineering (A&E) industry. The report is one of the world’s most sought-after A&E research findings each year providing in-depth analysis about the industry’s financial condition and market outlook. 

Most Webinar Submissions 

>>>Things We Love About Deltek Vantagepoint So Far<<<

Our webinar with the most submissions was a presentation back in 2019. This webinar is still getting a lot of attention! Firms were excited about the release of Deltek Vantagepoint, and this still holds true today. During the webinar, we covered the Top 10 Features along with some honorable mentions. The webinar was so well attended, we were asked to do an updated version a year later: Deltek Vantagepoint: The Best All In One.

Webinar with the Largest Attendance 

>>>The Project Lifecycle of Deltek Vantagepoint<<<

Professional services firms need a system that takes them through the entire project lifecycle from lead identification to pursuit and final project execution. So, it makes sense that this webinar had the largest attendance in our 10-year history, especially with the enthusiasm surrounding Deltek Vantagepoint. The webinar took firms from beginning to end and compared the similarities and differences between Vantagepoint and Vision. 

Most Viewed Webpage 

>>>Our Crew<<<

Other than our home page, our most viewed webpage is about our crew. Just like with every professional services firm, our employees are the heart and soul of our company. More than 31,000 people have checked out our staff, which averages out to about 7 people a day. Everyone at our company believes we are the best at what we do! We have an amazing, collaborative, and talented team that also makes work fun. This is best illustrated by our professional and fun photos showing another side to our team.

Most Requested Blackbox Connector Solution

>>>Quick Insight to Maintain Contacts<<<

Everyone loves FREE stuff, which probably explains why our newest solution on our Blackbox Connector page sky rocketed to become our most requested page. Full Sail Partners presented on a contact and email management tool for Deltek Vantagepoint in December, 2021, to help firms clean-up their data. The tool searches for duplicate email addresses, duplicate names, and emails with bad formatting to help users target records needing clean-up. The best part is this tool can be used whether you have Vantagepoint CRM or not!

Most Time Spent on a Blog 

>>>Exception Reporting<<<

Research shows the average time spent on a website page is about 45 seconds. So, when you have a blog that users are spending on average 7.4 minutes reviewing, you know you have content worth reading. It might seem ironic that the blog that had the most time spent on it was about how to spend less time analyzing data. However, that doesn’t come as a revelation to us. The most common complaint amongst professionals is they don’t have time to analyze the data, since they need to just get the job done. If you haven’t checked it out yet, learn more about how exception reporting can save firm leaders and their employee’s valuable time.

Blog with the Most Social Media Shares

>>>9 Ways to Connect with Employees<<<

Each employee has different needs from a job and an employer. Sometimes those needs are in alignment with their employer and sometimes they aren’t. How can employers best connect and create a culture that empowers their employees? In this article, we discussed 9 ways to connect with employees to ensure they feel valued and enthusiastic about their position.

We hope you enjoyed being taken down memory lane or even discovered content that you may have missed. From the inception of Full Sail Partners, our goals were to ensure we had a passionate, dedicated, and collaborative team and to be known for valuable content amongst the project-based industry. Based on comments from our employees and clients, we think we have lived up to those goals. Thank you for joining us on our journey, and we look forward to continuing our endeavor with you and to see what the future holds.

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Key Takeaways from the 42nd Deltek AE Clarity Report - Project Management Edition

Posted by Ryan Felkel on December 22, 2021

Managing and delivering successful projects is the goal of every architecture and engineering (AE) firm. For most, it’s nearly a repeatable process that requires some minor adjustments to the work breakdown structure to meet the unique needs of a project’s scope. Year after year, AE firms continued with this same process while making improvements based on lessons learned. Then all of a sudden, everything in our world was altered, including the way AE firms manage and deliver successful projects.

Woman managing a time clock

However, it’s not all gloom and doom. There’s actually good news to report! According to the 42nd Deltek AE Clarity Report, firms of all sizes dealt with the uncertainty and unexpected changes very well.

Clarity on Project Management Success    

Overall, the majority of firms that responded to the Deltek AE Clarity Survey indicated that their projects stayed on schedule with some being ahead. This is great to hear, and there is more. Most of the respondents also indicated that projects remained on or under budget in 2020. This is a consistent result year after year in the AE Clarity Study findings. As 2020 was filled with uncertainty with no clear end in sight, staying on or under budget is an amazing accomplishment. Kudos to those firms!

Clarity on Challenges for Project Managers

Interesting enough, it is hard to link the effects of the pandemic to the findings in the Deltek AE Clarity Study. Overall, project status visibility issues continue to be reported as a common challenge for project managers over the past few years. Furthermore, visibility into project cost variance remains a top reason for not being able to identify project overruns before it is too late.

Highlighting other challenges AE firms experienced in 2020, tracking project KPIs continues to hinder project managers and jeopardize the successful outcome of projects. This is followed by schedule variance visibility, which only had a small upward change from previous AE Clarity Study findings. In summary, project visibility issues remain problematic but can be easily resolved by using a project management software built specifically for AE firms.

Clarity on Client Satisfaction

Mentioned, but less of a focus for project managers, is visibility into client satisfaction throughout the project life cycle. In the survey, only 40% of firms stated that they measured and tracked client satisfaction. What makes this troubling is that it is a fact that the client experience (CX) and client satisfaction has a direct impact on the ability to win future work.

For many firms, this is an unaddressed problem because they have neither a formalized CX initiative nor a solution to help track client satisfaction. This is likely because these firms are unaware that there are resources to improve their CX. Full Sail Partners is an active partner with Client Savvy, the creators of the Client Feedback Tool and the CXPS Community and can help firms to acquire these needed CX resources.

Clarity on Future Project Management Initiatives

AE firms historically have embraced a business model that forces project managers to wear multiple hats at the firm. However, this seems to be changing with more firms stating they want to:

  • Clearly define responsibilities for project management, business development and design work.
  • Invest in internal project manager training.
  • Develop internal project management best practices.

Surprisingly, all respondents to the AE Clarity Study indicated one of these as a top priority at their firm. Further down on the list of the top initiatives for AE firms is the need to hire more qualified talent. Noted in the Human Capital Management section of the AE Clarity Study, firms stated that the availability of good talent is a top acquisition challenge.

AE Clarity on the Future of Project Management

AE firms looking for future success have recognized the need to pay more attention to the discipline of project management. Moving forward, project managers need to focus on delivering successful projects. Firm leaders need to find others to share or take on the work of business development and let designers focus on creating. In other words, firms need to give the discipline of project management the respect and attention it deserves.

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

With all the uncertainty of 2020, AE firms remained resilient when faced with adversity. This says a lot about an industry that is directly affected by economic ups and downs. Overcoming what could have been an industry crippling situation, firms adapted, and project managers stepped up to continue to deliver great projects.

The Deltek AE Clarity Report is an insightful study that firm leaders should review each year. Additionally, firm leaders should use the available scorecard to benchmark their firm’s results with the rest of the industry. Get a free copy of the Study and the scorecard using the button link below.

Link to download the 42nd Deltek A&E Clarity Report

Building a Content Strategy for A/E/C Firms

Posted by Lindsay Diven on December 15, 2021

The initial steps in putting together an online marketing program include defining personas and setting goals. Once those are set, it’s time to begin creating content. But what types of content need to be created? How does an A/E/C firm come up with content ideas that attract potential clients?

In this article, we will walk through the answers to these questions and go over the process of building a content strategy. And it’s the next step in the Full Sail Partners’ Driving Growth with Digital Marketing series.

Driving Growth with Digital Marketing for A/E/C Firms

First let’s define what a content strategy is. A content strategy is a plan in which firms use content to achieve business and marketing goals. A successful content strategy will attract ideal clients and decision makers at different stages of their buying decisions. Below are the steps to help A/E/C firms to develop a content strategy.

Step 1: Formulate the Decision-Making Funnel

In every sales transaction, buyers go on a journey that begins the moment they decide they need services to when the contract is eventually signed. This is also referred to as the funnel. Marketers often group the funnel into the following phases as shown in the graphic below.

Content Marketing Funnel

The funnel stages are described below along with the content intent for each. A/E/C firms should formulate their own decision-making funnel for their clients and potential clients.

  • Awareness – Is the uppermost part of the funnel. Potential clients are drawn into the funnel through marketing campaigns that include content, events, advertising, trade shows/conferences, social media, and more. In this stage, content is developed to capture new leads and to pull those leads into a CRM system for nurturing further through the funnel.
  • Interest – Once leads are collected, they are then moved into the interest stage. Content for this stage should be more about the firm, its services, and case studies and best practices. This is typically shared through email newsletters and performs best when it can be more targeted to the leads around their industries, markets, or locations.
  • Consideration – In this stage, the lead has become more qualified to become a prospective client. For A/E/C firms, this may mean that the potential client has a project in the future or obtained funding such as a bond. Content developed in this phase is even more specific to that potential upcoming project or service offering. The content should also highlight the firm’s differentiation and value proposition. It might also be sent directly by project managers or business developers.
  • Evaluation – Decision makers move into this stage when there is a procurement event taking place. This will range from a client issuing an RFP or invitation to bid to just a meeting to negotiate. Typically, at this point marketing is working with a project manager or business developer to develop content to convince the client to select their firm.
  • Purchase Decision – The ultimate goal is to get the win! To have the client select your A/E/C firm. The prospect is now a client.

A content strategy should be a mix of content for all phases of the decision-making funnel. And, it’s possible to have different funnels for different personas identified for the firm because the decision making might be different.

Step 2: Run a Content Audit

Knowing what content is already available is a great place to start. Once you know what content is already created, the new content that needs to be created is just filling in the gaps. Take the time to gather all the available content, look through everything and tag it with the stage of the funnel it could work for.

Places to look for content:

  • Blog articles on firm’s website
  • Blog articles written by subject matter experts (SMEs) for other websites
  • Published articles written by SMEs
  • Presentations given at conferences, webinars, etc.
  • Proposals
  • Shortlist presentations
  • Project award submittals
  • Firm award submittals
  • Press releases
  • Brochures
  • Statements of Qualifications (SOQ)

When firms run a content audit, they are often amazed at just how much content they already have created. Often, content developed for a specific pursuit can also be used in various stages of the funnel after a few edits.

After reviewing a firm’s own content, take it one step further by doing a competitive analysis. Review your competitor’s own website and social media content. This will help when creating content that is differentiated.

Step 3: Fill the Content Gaps

Once the decision-making funnel is formulated and the existing content is gathered, the gaps should be clear. Now, it’s time to develop the new content to fill in those gaps. Review each stage of the decision-making funnel and make sure there are content ideas for each stage. Some ways to formulate content ideas are:

  • Ask project managers and business developers what they get questioned the most about by clients and potential clients
  • Conduct keyword research. Keyword research is an essential foundation for a content strategy because it gives valuable topic ideas. Using keyword research tools like HubSpot, Ahrefs, and Semrush will uncover search topics and questions asked by prospective clients.
  • Use the above two actions to brainstorm new content topics. Brainstorm ways to approach old topics, combine two different ideas into one, give a unique perspective on an industry outlook, etc.

Putting it All Together

At this point, the firm should have a defined decision-making funnel or funnels depending on the firm’s different markets. The firm should also have a list of content already created and identified what stage of the funnel it can be used for. The content gaps have been identified and a list of new content to create has been written.

In the ongoing articles in this series, we’ll walk through how to develop new content, how to maximize it by repurposing, and the basics of search engine optimization (SEO). Sign up below to be notified when a new resource in the series becomes available.

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Controlling the Details with Deltek Vantagepoint Planning

Posted by Rana Blair on December 08, 2021

Successful project management requires more than having the right people on the right project. It requires having the right project management tool to control project delivery.

The Deltek Vantagepoint Resource Planning application has been designed to require only the simplest interactions to review and plan on a go-forward basis. The system will display all Job-to-Date (JTD) time through today to direct emphasis on what happens tomorrow. With Estimate to Complete (ETC) planning, the effort is focused on what will be spent in the future. As a result, there is no need to adjust planned hours in the past to understand the forecasted results.

Planning a professional services project

For those who want access to the past to adjust the planned hours or to see the JTD through a less current/more realistic lens, Vantagepoint 4.5 introduces new options and alternatives.

Adjustable Job-to-Date Basis

In Deltek Vantagepoint 4.5, system administrators can now choose the system JTD Date Basis. In previous versions and in Vision, the system assumed today’s date as the basis with the next day as the start for the ETC. This is problematic for firms where timesheet entry is not always as up to date as it should be.

Now firms can choose to show JTD details for Labor as of the end of the last week, the end of the last timesheet period, as of a specific date, or leave it as today. Whatever the choice, the ETC always begins on the next business day following today. This allows for planning in the time periods occurring since the JTD can utilize the date basis setting. Remember the ETC will reflect only those planned hours in the actual future from the date basis.

In the example below, “today” is November 12 and the previous Timesheet period ended on October 31. Using the JTD Date Basis setting, it is reasonable to assume that Heath’s time is complete through October 31 as indicated in the red square in the example below. Therefore, planning can be done based on what we expected since then and what we anticipate going forward.

Vantagepoint Planning 1Spreading the Variance between Planned and Actuals

Another Deltek Vantagepoint Planning feature, Redistribute Hours, has many applications and uses for project planners. Please note that this function can be made available only to selected Security Roles in Settings.

In this use case scenario, the plan below was scheduled with a two-month duration and 30 hours of Emily’s time. However, the project was delayed, and Emily posted 10 hours to the project before it was put on hold. The assignment end date of May 31 is in the past and there are no remaining ETC hours. However, Vantagepoint users do not need to worry.

Vantagepoint Planning 2

One way to correct this is to simply extend the end date with a Duration Change. If this is the chosen method, the resulting options will include respreading all the Planned Hours evenly over the entire Assignment period or not spreading them at all and replanning the remaining hours in the future. The first option will spread the hours backward in time. The second option will have the result of duplicating Planned Hours and muddying the expectations.

A more eloquent solution is to change the Assigned End Date to the new date and use the Redistribute Hours function to control how the remaining Planned Hours are spread. The Redistribute Hours function has many options and uses. The key is the Spread Differences Between Planned and Actual Hours tick box. In this example, the decision was made to spread the variance of 20 hours evenly into the period shown.

Vantagepoint Planning 3The result is now that the unused Planned Hours are spread into future time periods as shown in the following image. Therefore, the integrity of the Planned Hours has been maintained which will support the reliability on Planned Hours in timesheets and other reporting mechanisms.

Vantagepoint Planning 4Gain Project Control with Deltek Vantagepoint

Projects rarely go according to the original plan and being able to adjust for unpredictable changes is a must. Whether it’s looking back at JTD or looking forward with ETC, Deltek Vantagepoint allows project managers to truly control the details of their projects.

Wondering what the differences in Vision Planning and Vantagepoint Planning are? Use the button link below to hear from Rana Blair about how these two systems compare.

Link to learn the differences between Deltek Vision and Vantagepoint planning

Deltek 42nd AE Clarity Study Reveals an Evolving AE Workforce

Posted by Ryan Felkel on December 01, 2021

Starting with the obvious, all departments and roles at AE firms were directly impacted by the global pandemic. This is emphasized in each section of the 42nd Deltek AE Clarity Study. However, the Human Capital Management (HCM) segment highlights another challenge firms are facing – a multigenerational workforce.

Today, an AE firm’s workforce can include members of up to four generations. This infusion of differing opinions about professionalism, work-life balance, and overall expectations of an employer has pushed many company leaders to shift their culture to embrace these differences. While some firms have accepted this multigenerational workforce, others have chosen to keep up their traditional methods – until now.

manager demonstrating poor human capital management practices

When the COVID-19 global pandemic struck, expectations of flexible schedules, more casual work environments, and telecommute options were thrust upon everyone without warning. Even those that were steadfastly against the idea of hybrid workers. Now, we are at the crossroads of two seemingly unrelated challenges that have a common solution, and the pros and cons of this evolving workforce dynamic are highlighted in the 42nd Deltek AE Clarity Study.

New Human Capital Management Challenges

Great workforce management requires consistency, which is everything that work, and life hasn’t been since 2020. As a result, this imbalance has created a new leading challenge for AE firms in terms of HCM. According to the 42nd Deltek AE Clarity Study, succession and career development planning jumped to first place from third place in the previous study. Subsequently, performance management and employee engagement fell to second and third place.

On the surface, these challenges are expected in the given circumstances. Taking a deeper dive, learning and development programs ranked fourth overall and was considered a top three challenge for forty-eight percent of survey respondents. Looking below the surface, succession and career development planning, and learning and development programs are closely linked. Therefore, it’s logical that the increase in ranking in both these challenges goes hand in hand.

Employee Turnover and Staffing Levels

Overall, survey respondents reported that employee turnover rate went down over one percent. This may seem like a small change, but it goes against trends documented in past surveys. In previous years, AE firms reported increases in employee turnover rates. Likely because of the strong economy. Since 2020, it has been likely that employees preferred to stay with their existing employer for stability instead of taking a leap of faith with a new company during uncertain times.

In terms of personnel growth over the previous year, firm respondents stated that they had an increase of 0.5% which is nearly 3% less than reported in the 41st Deltek Clarity Study. This is likely the result of hiring freezes during uncertain times. Additionally, thirty-three percent of firms reported having more open positions at the time of the survey and fifty percent had fewer open positions. Encouraging is the fact that forty-eight percent of respondents state the reason for open positions is solely because of firm growth.

Talent Acquisition Challenges

One of the least surprising findings of the 42nd Deltek AE Clarity Study is that the availability of good candidates in the marketplace once again ranked number one in terms of top talent acquisition challenges. The simple cause and effect assumption is to connect this finding to the decrease in employee turnover rates and other factors like uncertainty about the future economy. But what impact will the pandemic and a new hybrid workforce has on talent acquisition challenges.

For years, firms have competed for talent within their local geographies. However, the global pandemic has allowed firms to embrace their evolving workforce, and employee can be an effective member of the team whether they are at the office or at their home. When taking into consideration the changes created by the pandemic, the challenges of the past, such as matching qualified candidates to open positions and offering competitive compensation will likely become minute in comparison to the other challenges listed in the Clarity Study.

Focusing on Managing and Retaining Talent

Providing a clear career path with training goals and milestones helps keep employees engaged and ultimately retain talent. For AE firms, this strategy helps them plan for the future to make sure the firm can remain successful. Apparently, this is no secret. Respondents to the 42nd Deltek AE Clarity Study overwhelmingly ranked create or improve succession and career development planning as a top initiative. Closely followed by developing more formal career development programs. Being leading areas of opportunity for improvement, these initiatives and the others that are highlighted in the 42nd Deltek AE Clarity Study are things firms should evaluate closely.

Clarity for the Future

Reflecting back, it’s impossible to avoid including the impacts of the global pandemic on businesses. For human resource professionals and AE firm leaders, they sure got the “short end of the stick” with having to adapt and quickly create policies to ensure business can continue as normal and employees are aware of the new expectations. Fortunately, the world is getting back to some sense of normality and those tasked with overseeing their firm’s HCM strategy can get back focusing on hiring and retaining talent, and developing training and succession plans.

Link to download the 42nd Deltek A&E Clarity Report

Take a Deep Breathe: 5 Tips for a Calm Deltek Vision to Vantagepoint Upgrade

Posted by Sarah Gonnella on November 17, 2021

Full Sail Partners has worked with 200+ firms related to their Deltek Vision to Vantagepoint upgrade process in different capacities over the past two years. Full Sail Partners’ goal is to help our clients gain more insight on how to have a smooth and successful upgrade. From the experience and insight gleamed from helping these firms, these five tips have been developed to keep your firm calm.

However, there are two big caveats to consider before diving into the tips for a calm upgrade process.

Person working on Deltek Vantagepoint upgrade

One of the biggest challenges faced when working with clients is misinformation. It’s like the game telephone. Someone whispers something to the person next to them and it keeps going down the line. By the time it gets to the end person, the information is completely different. This is happening with information regarding Deltek Vantagepoint. Full Sail Partners strongly encourages firms to get their information from the source. Ask Deltek, Full Sail Partners, or another approved Deltek partner.

Next, is to take a deep breath. Some of our clients come to us in a complete panic. Some clients are concerned about how they will get through the Vision to Vantagepoint upgrade process. Some other clients are worried non-stop. So, let’s all take a deep breath. Understand that firms are not alone. Remember, Full Sail Partners is here to help as a trusted partner.

To quote Martha Lira with Impact Sciences that upgraded from Vision to Vantagepoint. “It was easier than I thought. It was smoother than I thought.”

Tip #1 – This is an Upgrade, Not a Migration

One thing to remember is this is an upgrade not a migration. This is a key point to understand and communicate to the rest of the company. Misinformation can come from anywhere. It’s important that the company’s primary contact is communicating to others within the organization.

Furthermore, there is an installer that allows the company to push every single Vision field over to Vantagepoint. This even includes custom field, tabs, and user defined info centers. There is work involved, but significantly less than there is when starting from scratch for a migration.

For finance the processes are very similar. There might be some things that are moved around and there are added enhancements to make it easier, but the learning curve is minimal for finance.

For project managers and CRM users, Deltek has been listening. All the things you have been asking for over the years are being answered. Items like:

  • Streamlined flow for project managers,
  • Improved usability,
  • User-friendly, modern look and feel,
  • Improved Outlook integration; and
  • AI capabilities with Hey Deltek! to make doing tasks easier.

Tip #2 – Take Advantage of All the Resources Available

Deltek and Full Sail Partners have many resources, most of them free. If you haven’t viewed any resources, you are doing yourself and team a disservice. Share the resources to all departments of your company. These resources include:

  • Deltek’s Vantagepoint Readiness Portal | Firms can access this through their customer care login. Inside there is an upgrade checklist along with training videos by role and Vantagepoint updates.
  • Preparing for the Upgrade Series by Full Sail Partners | This is a webinar series that provides clients with the answers and clarification on how the upgrade will impact their firm.
  • Client Assistance Program (CAP) Program | This program, hosted by Deltek, reviews the upgrade checklists found in the readiness portal. Over several weeks, it covers each area of Vantagepoint and how to prepare in moving from Vision to Vantagepoint.
  • Powering Project Success Mini Demonstrations created by Full Sail Partners | Not only has Deltek provided videos available on the readiness portal, but Full Sail Partners has taken it a step further. Mini demonstration videos range from four to 21 minutes and show different areas of the system and how different users would utilize those areas. The videos focus on sharing new features and functions.
  • Vantagepoint Upgrade page | Visit this page to find all the resources in on place including those mentioned above and to schedule a consultation with a member of the Full Sail Partners Crew.

Tip #3 - Engage All User Groups

This is the opportunity to become the “hero” of collaboration by bringing in other departments and users. This is done by understanding that the upgrade from Vision to Vantagepoint is less technical and more about inclusion. Vantagepoint is a complete ERP and ERP is about the company, so every role needs to participate to have a calm upgrade process.

Engage with them by sharing the resources in Tip #2 that are related to their responsibilities. Require users in all departments to view and engage with those resources. Take time to understand how each team member will be part of the project lifecycle. Some may be at the beginning. Some at the middle or others at the end. Making sure each of them understands how their information and actions impact others–from marketing to project managers to accounting.

This is a great opportunity to get new employees and people not previously involved with Vision to become ‘bought-in’ and advocates for Vantagepoint.

Tip #4 – Trust the Process

In assisting 200+ firms in their Deltek Vision to Vantagepoint upgrades over the past two years, Full Sail Partners has fine tuned the upgrade process for firms. While each client’s process is specific for them, Full Sail Partners has worked hard to remove the mystery to create a transparent process. This process includes:

  1. Personalized Readiness Report - Readiness Report – This is a tool run against Vision and reports the specific things that the firm needs to address. Every firm is different. The report shows exactly what to clean up. Firms have found this priceless.
  2. Train the Team and Make Adjustments – Get your system in gear and refine the team’s knowledge of managing Vantagepoint for a seamless transition.
  3. Make the Shift to Full Production – Leverage transition copy scripts to automate the conversion process from preview environment to production.

Tip #5 – Manage Attitudes and Messaging

With every process, change management is always important to plan for. A big part of change management is attitude. The attitude impacts the success or failure of the change. And, when firm leaderships approaches change negatively, the team will pick up on that attitude. If leadership approaches it positively, the team will feel more confident about the change. Success is impacted by the attitude displayed when approaching the change. Promote this change positively because it’s really a good change. Get others excited. The only ways things can be successful is excitement, positivity and getting people to understand benefits they get that will help them in their role. Deltek has been listening, and these changes with Vantagepoint are happening because of feedback from firms like yours.

Next is to prepare the internal teams. Communicate to them that it’s important to understand that this isn’t a month-long process. Take a deep breath and remove the worry first by taking the time to know what needs to be tackled as part of the upgrade process. Use the Readiness Report to know the areas to be addressed and outline the steps required. Identify team members responsible and a target date of completion. Then start working on cleaning up data, as needed. It’s always better to tackle dirty data sooner rather than later. With the upgrade, firms can clean up data before or after the upgrade, but Full Sail Partners has found it better to do it before. Don’t forget to outline training and remember this is a great time to take time to make your processes even better.

Make sure to celebrate milestones and the end success. This can be done by letting others in the firm know about those accomplishments and be sure to thank those that dedicated their time and effort along the way.

Keep Calm and Just Breathe

Often, users tend to build up unnecessary worry and think things are going to be worse than they really are. The best way to tackle worry is to write down the challenge and then break it down into smaller steps. Hopefully using these five tips will show the way to a calm Vision to Vantagepoint upgrade.

Image button link to Tips from Your Peers video on YouTube

Reasons to be Thankful for Deltek Vantagepoint

Posted by Lindsay Diven on November 10, 2021

Deltek’s new Vantagepoint product has been completely reimagined. It’s a true showstopper. Why? Because it supports the entire project lifecycle from start to finish. And the Full Sail Partners Crew is proud and thankful to give project-based firms the power and the tools they’ve been seeking, all thanks to the power of Deltek Vantagepoint.

Fall Image with Thankful for Deltek Vantagepoint text

More specifically, the Full Sail Partners Crew was asked about the specific Vantagepoint features they were most thankful, and this article shares some of those.

Ability to Get Vantagepoint CRM Insight in the Email Inbox

“I am thankful for Vantagepoint Outlook Connect to see the history of clients and ability to log emails while in Outlook.” Sarah Gonnella, Vice President of Marketing and Sales

With the Deltek Vantagepoint Outlook Connect, users can see the interaction history between contacts, clients, and projects as well as quickly log emails into Vantagepoint. Basically, this feature allows users to bring Vantagepoint into their Outlook inboxes. And this tool comes with other features like the ability to sync calendars and schedule meetings while saving them in Vantagepoint at the same time.

To learn more about the Vantagepoint Outlook Connect, watch this video.

Simple, Intuitive User Experience

“I’m thankful for the modern look and feel of Deltek Vantagepoint.” Cate Phillips, Relationship Manager

“I am thankful for browser agnostic access, so we are not tied to Internet Explorer anymore.” Heath Harris, IT Consultant

“I am thankful for the navigation tree menu search. It makes getting around in the system so much easier and faster!” Nicole Temple, Principal Consultant

“The left summary pane in each hub keeps the most relevant information in view. This is helpful to keep high level information in view when tabbing through records.” Amanda Roussel, Senior Consultant

It’s no surprise that several Crew members were thankful for the modern design and accessibility of Deltek Vantagepoint. It is truly a solution that is a more efficient way to work. Vantagepoint enables teamwork and collaboration via a single tool and empowers users with a simple, intuitive experience.

Access Information to Make Better, Faster Business Decisions

“I am thankful for all reporting options in one area with filtering capabilities.” Terri Agnew, Senior Consultant

“I’m thankful for out-of-the-box, role-based dashboards!” Rick Childs, Principal Consultant

Deltek Vantagepoint allows firms to monitor the health of the business in one place. It provides complete visibility into every aspect of the business by measuring performance by project, client, team and more. As a result, firms can make faster, better decisions with all the information in a single view on interactive dashboards.

See how to quickly business intuitive reporting in this mini-demo.

Vantagepoint Streamlines Expense Report Creation

I’m grateful of the fact that Deltek Vantagepoint can automatically match credit card charges with expense items. It’s functionality that many clients out there have come to expect and Deltek can now deliver directly.” Joel Slater, Product Sales Manager

With Deltek Vantagepoint, users can automatically match credit card charges with expense items. They can do this using a desktop, a tablet, or a mobile device. Once matched, Vantagepoint makes recommendation for close dates, amounts, etc. Users can also add the expenses to existing reports or create new reports.

“Along the same lines of Expense Reporting, I’m also grateful that Deltek Vantagepoint has included ICR functionality. Today it’s only available for expense receipts, but who knows what the future holds for this capability.” Joel Slater, Product Sales Manager

Intelligent Character Recognition (ICR) for expenses simplifies expenses and improves the accuracy of expense reports. It does this by reading text from receipts and populates the expense in the Vantagepoint mobile app. It also reads handwriting and leverages machine learning.

To learn more about ICR and why Joel is so excited about the future possibilities of ICR, read this blog article.

Easily See Remaining Effort on Projects, without Complex Reports

“Easy planning focused on the remaining effort and its ability to report very clearly on all I need to manage the financials on a project without running a report!” Rana Blair, Principal Consultant

The key to ensuring that the most current data is visible to other users is to allow project mangers the ability to update their projects quickly. When project managers act, such as changes to dates, resources, and scope, beneficiaries can rest assured they are reviewing the most current information.

Check out this mini demonstration, to see how project managers and accountants can quickly update components of the project and plan while instantly updating the results in project performance and Resource Utilization.

One Project Record, Fosters Collaboration Across Departments

“One project record from the earliest pursuit through project closeout and beyond. This brings numerous groups together within a firm and removes many information barriers.” Amanda Roussel, Senior Consultant

Projects are critical to the success of professional services firms. Deltek Vantagepoint gives these firms insight to into the entire project lifecycle. With the project command center, all the project information is in one place—from pursuit and proposal, through project planning and financial management.

Create Timesheet Entries from Outlook Calendar

“I’m thankful that you can create timesheet entries from your Outlook calendar.” Gina Stamper, Account Manager

Employees have countless tasks that they are responsible for including keeping timesheets up to date. Even more, staying organized with meetings and client appointments adds to the burden. However, Deltek Vantagepoint’s calendar feature will help eliminate these struggles.

The Deltek Vantagepoint Calendar allows users to keep track of their billable engagements and allows this information to easily be added to a timesheet with a few clicks. See it in action in this mini demonstration.

Thankful for Deltek Vantagepoint

There are a wide variety of features added to Deltek Vantagepoint that maximize productivity, boost collaboration, improve efficiency, and increase profitability. And the Full Sail Partners Crew highlights just a few of the features they are thankful for, many of which improve the work lives of multiple departments in the firm.

If you’ve already upgraded to Vantagepoint, share the feature you’re most thankful for in the comments below.

If you’re still considering Vantagepoint, feel free to watch the Powering Project Success with Deltek Vantagepoint demo series.

See Deltek Vantagepoint now!