Full Sail Partners Blog

Revelations of the 42nd Annual Deltek Clarity Architecture & Engineering Study

Posted by Jennifer Renfroe on June 09, 2021

This year’s Deltek Clarity Architecture & Engineering (A&E) Study came on the heels of an unprecedented event with the global pandemic. However, the 42nd Annual Deltek Clarity A&E Study showed that despite the challenges presented in 2020, many firms were able to persevere by focusing on fundamentals, maintaining contact with clients and managing costs. The move to remote operations, changes in workplace policy, and greater use of technology identified new areas for improving processes. Additionally, the Clarity Study indicated that firms are optimistic about future opportunities and growth potential moving forward.

Deltek A&E Clarity Report lol

The 42nd Annual Deltek Clarity Study collected responses from A&E firms of all sizes in North America based on 2020 fiscal data. Here is an overall look at what was reported this year, but for more detail, the 42nd Clarity Study can be reviewed in its entirety.

Clarity on Technology Trends

Throughout 2020, firms continued technology adoption and deployment as well as migration to the cloud according to the 42nd Annual Deltek Clarity A&E Study. The top technology challenges included cost of technology, prioritizing which technologies would be most beneficial and dedicating a champion to evaluate which technologies would achieve firm goals. Furthermore, the Clarity Study noted that firms expect to increase investments in emerging technologies in project management and execution to reimagine ways of working to increase profitability. Not only will finding ways to leverage technologies in project management be important but also teams will need to be well versed in it to utilize it effectively and efficiently to bring significant returns.

Clarity on Financial Statements

Despite the use of tighter controls and leaner spending in 2020, the financial stability of firms was maintained according to this year’s Annual Deltek Clarity A&E Study. The results of the Study indicated that operating profits and utilization rates increased as net labor multiplier went down, and firms demonstrated no material drop-off in the ability to secure projects or maintain a strong pipeline. The key financial challenges for firms addressed in the report were finding and retaining top talent, in addition to driving and managing growth into the future. Learning during the last year, firms went back to basics and focused more on financials leading to improved operational efficiency and increased profitability.

Clarity on Business Development

The results of the 42nd Annual Deltek Clarity A&E Study noted that business development (BD) resources were being stretched with responsibilities shared among staff, and cross-training employees grew in importance. Another challenge to BD was finding ways to nurture client relationships as in-person meetings and events were cancelled. Furthermore, competition increased for pursuits which caused a slight decline in overall win rates yet electronic proposal submissions freed team members up to focus on other projects. Firms also indicated in this year’s Deltek Clarity Study that they needed to carefully target their marketing efforts to meet client interests and needs. Additionally, using business intelligence (BI) tools and investing in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems would help prevent missed opportunities better positioning firms to win.

Clarity on Project Management

As workers went remote during the pandemic, keeping projects on track became a great concern. Coordinating with clients and keeping teams connected virtually was a new concept and firms needed to come up with a project delivery system that focused on meeting client needs. 2020 did not allow for focusing on enhancing project management best practices or finding experienced talent. Based on the survey results of the 42nd Annual Deltek Clarity A&E Study, going forward, firms appear to be getting more serious about project management. Firms cannot afford to have project managers (PMs) without the necessary training, and clearly defined process for PMs will help improve project success. Moreover, visibility into and better understanding of project financials can help PMs analyze performance and manage projects proactively while integrating with accounting staff.

Clarity on Human Capital Management

According to this year’s Deltek Clarity A&E Study, Human Capital Management (HCM) KPI tracking decreased overall in 2020 most likely because managers were having to support a remote workforce. Talent acquisition continues to be a top HCM challenge and firms need to find the right balance between in-office and remote workforce practices. Any steps that firms can take to help make the work/life balance more attractive will benefit future recruiting efforts particularly after a year of remote working. Additionally, investments in talent acquisition and performance management tools will help to tackle the ongoing challenges of recruiting, onboarding and retaining quality staff.

The 42nd Annual Deltek Clarity A&E Study Reports Positive Conditions

Even after a very challenging year, the industry outlook and market conditions are positive based on this year’s Deltek Clarity Study. In order to maintain financial stability and keep projects on track, the study shows that A&E firms focused on the fundamentals and stayed close to their clients. From the experience of this past year, new opportunities for improvement have presented themselves across the board. Firms have shown an interest in investing in the training and development of their PMs which will greatly impact project profitability. Realigning strategic marketing initiatives to incorporate virtual interactions when face-to-face are not always feasible will help firms continue to connect with their clients. Furthermore, firms began to provide remote and flexible work options for their staff which going forward will only encourage retention and attract new talent.

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

Accounting Made Easier for Project-based Firms with Deltek Vantagepoint 4.0

Posted by Scott Gailhouse on June 02, 2021

What is better than a purpose-built modern ERP with functionality to streamline and consolidate business processes? More features! With the latest release of Vantagepoint 4.0, Deltek offers even more features to make it easier for firms to deliver better projects, analyze business performance, and create more accurate invoices. Let’s check out some of these new features and see how they will be beneficial to Vantagepoint users.

Deltek Vantagepoint logo

Digital Markup of Draft Invoices

Clients have been asking for the ability to markup draft invoices for some time. Now with the latest Vantagepoint release, draft invoices can be digitally marked up. This allows the biller to view and edit annotations within interactive billing and markups are saved for future reference. As a result, the digital markup feature allows for improved collaboration between project managers and accounting.

Expanded Interactive Billing Capabilities

This newest version of Vantagepoint continues enhancing the user experience and ease of use. With enhanced interactive billing, you can view marked up drafts including comments from final invoices in prior periods. Also, when invoices are voided, Vantagepoint will keep a record of the void and the date the invoice was voided.

Store Final Invoices as PDFs in Vantagepoint

With Deltek Vantagepoint 4.0, final invoices can be stored as a PDF when they are accepted in interactive billing or final creation in batch billing. Since a PDF is created at the time of final invoice creation, you actually have a duplicate record of what you sent to the client originally. Now, with this enhancement, all invoices stored in Vantagepoint will exactly match the invoices that you sent to your client.

New Expense Report Screen Designer Capabilities

Deltek Vantagepoint 4.0 features now help with increasing expense report accuracy. Now, the Expense Report has a “lite” screen designer. This allows users to build in business rules within the expense report. Also, you can add additional columns or choose the columns you want to display on the expense report and change their descriptions. You can even make tool tips to help with accurate reporting by users. Additionally, screen designer changes apply to mobile expenses as well.

Expanded Expense Approval Features

The latest version of Vantagepoint focuses on increased usability. For expense report approvals, there is a new toggle to show all approval types or completed approvals. This gives the approver the ability to just see expense reports that need to be approved. Also, there is a new Print Lines Approval Report button for both timesheets and expense reports. This report gives the approver, at a glance, line items that still require approval.

Timesheet Status Update with Floor Checks

Vantagepoint 4.0 also helps with managing employee timesheet completion. If you are responsible for making sure employee time entry is completed on time, you can do a “floor check” to review the status of time entry for your employees for a specific timesheet period or day. This feature allows users to quickly see which employees still have outstanding timesheets and includes the ability to create a reminder email template to send to employees.

Mobile Enhancements Including Biometrics

In previous versions of Deltek Vantagepoint, users could upload receipts from a mobile device using Intelligent Character Recognition (ICR). With 4.0, users can now automatically match a line created from a receipt with a credit card charge. Biometric authentication has also been added to Time & Expense and CRM mobile capabilities. Using this new feature, users can now utilize fingerprint ID or face recognition to make it more convenient and more secure to access their Vantagepoint system. These new enhancements simplify the process making it easier for end users to complete their expense reports. Therefore, allowing for more accurate reports which benefits accounting.

Dashboard Enhancements for Clearer Insights

With Vantagepoint 4.0, Deltek continues to provide more improvements to filters, dashparts, and dashboards for ease of use for the end user. The latest release provides further visibility into project details and labor planning. One of those enhancements to dashparts is the ability to drilldown to the details to see unposted labor hours at cost and/or billing rates.

Always Looking Forward with Deltek Vantagepoint 4.0 

With each release of Vantagepoint, Deltek seeks to reimagine functionality and leverage innovation to provide usable and practical value for accounting. The latest release steps up with features that work on improving user experience, ease of use and accuracy. As always, the newest Vantagepoint 4.0 enhancements make managing and delivering projects that much better for all users and there are many more to come.

Link to webinar about Vantagepoint 4.0

Is My Firm Getting the Most Out of Deltek Vantagepoint?

Posted by Theresa Depew on May 26, 2021

Congratulations for upgrading to Deltek Vantagepoint, the reimagined and greater version of Vision! For starters, you’ve probably already noticed that Vantagepoint is different from Vision in its appearance. This new and greatly improved user interface just scratches the surface though. Did you know that there are several process enhancements designed to streamline your firm’s day-to-day operations?

questions marks in bubbles

 

While Deltek Vision was the gold standard for project-based ERP systems, its successor, Vantagepoint, is raising the benchmark. Check out what you may not know Vantagepoint can do to improve your firm’s processes.

Did you know Deltek Vantagepoint can…?

Did you know you can customize the timesheet approval process?

Do you need one or more approval steps? No problem!  Do you need line-item approval? No problem!  

Using a Vantagepoint timesheet approval workflow is simple and flexible. Additionally, using an approval workflow tends to shorten the time it takes to get timesheets approved and posted, everything is done electronically either from a desktop or on a mobile device. Timesheet approvals have never been easier!

Did you know that Vantagepoint now allows for draft invoice markup?

Say goodbye to emailing and/or printing draft invoices for approval! With the new “Markup on Draft Invoices” feature, approvers can review, markup and approve directly in Vantagepoint. The draft invoice will show all the information needed for an approver to verify billing. The approver can also use the PDF editor that is built into Vantagepoint so they can make notes right on the draft and resubmit. Waiting days or weeks for invoice approval a thing of the past!

Did you know that you no longer need to post batch transactions?

Have you ever wanted to post one Voucher or one Cash Receipt without creating a whole batch? With Vantagepoint’s new “Single Transaction Posting” option, this is now possible. If this option is enabled, control totals will no longer be needed. As a result, there is no need to leave the transaction entry screen to post, just enter your data and click post. With Vantagepoint, entering and posting transactions has never been this quick and easy!

Did you know that you can have multiple dashboards in Vantagepoint?

Since Project Managers often wear multiple hats in a firm, they can now have different dashboards to represent those different hats. For example, there can be a dashboard for business development activities and pipeline management in addition to a separate dashboard for project financials. Thus, allowing Project Managers or other firm employees that wear multiple hats to have critical decision-making information at their fingertips.

Did you know that information from the project budget and project planning tool are in one view?

In the Project Hub in Vantagepoint, the Project Review option allows project managers to view the Contract Fee, EAC Budgeted Cost, ETC Planned Cost and the Planned Profit in one single view. Additionally, Key Performance Indicators can be tracked on the same view and are continuously tracked and updated as information is changed in the budget and project tool.

Did you know that the professional licenses that your employees hold can be tracked in Deltek Vantagepoint?

For professional services firms, there are often credentials that must be held for some types of work. Examples include professional engineer, professional land surveyor, registered architect, and more. It’s imperative that licenses such as these and other certifications are kept active. Some firms rely on the employees to maintain their licensures while other firms may ask their human resources or marketing teams to capture this information.

Deltek Vantagepoint allows users to capture and track this information in the Credentials grid in the Employee Hub. Available fields cover the credential description, type of credential, license number, state and country, date earned, expiration date, last renewed date, and a check box for proposal use. With the use of workflows, employees can be notified 60 days, 30 days, or another chosen number of days prior to an expiration date.

Did you know that Vantagepoint has a seamless transition process from project pursuit to award?

In Vantagepoint, there are no more mapping exercises after a project is won. You can enter estimates, plans, budgets and contract amounts at any tine in the project lifecycle. As a result, project information is already captured and ready to use at the start of the project.

Get the Most out of Deltek Vantagepoint!

Simplifying and improving your firm’s operations is the intent and purpose of Deltek Vantagepoint. But with anything new, a lot of these enhancements may never be utilized if firms are unaware that they exist. If you’re interested in learning more about the features and tools that are part of Vantagepoint, check out our Vantagepoint video demonstration series. Additionally, make sure to read our monthly newsletter with a new “Did You Know” in each edition.

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How to Use Client Feedback to Improve Client Experience

Posted by Ryan Felkel on May 19, 2021

In a recent study by Dimension Data, 84% of companies that strive to improve their client experience (CX) report increases in their revenue. Another survey completed by Gartner found that 81% of businesses compete primarily on CX. Even more, PWC found that 32% of customers are willing to walk away from a brand they favor because of one negative experience. While there are endless amounts of statistics that directly correlate CX to company revenue and growth, many companies are still falling short in terms of their clients’ standards.

Client taking survey

 

Typically, the common denominator for businesses that are providing subpar CX is the lack of asking for feedback from clients. Certainly, your firm’s team members are meeting with clients and sharing ideas about their projects and expectations, but these conversations are merely that…just talk. However, creating a formalized client feedback process can revolutionize the CX and take your firm’s brand to the next level.

Understanding What to Measure

For professional services (PS) firms, measuring a client’s satisfaction with the final product ignores the process of delivering a project from start to finish. Therefore, the quality of the process is what determines CX for project-based firms. In other words, PS firms need to be more focused on asking for feedback about the project delivery process. When determining what questions to ask about the process, it’s important to keep in mind that there are two categories that need to be evaluated about the process, subjective- relationship metrics and objective-deliverable metrics.

In terms of subjective or relationship questions, firms need to understand how helpful they were during the process. Additionally, they need to ask for feedback regarding how the client felt about their responsiveness and their abilities to make the right decisions at critical moments during the project.

For objective or deliverable feedback, PS firms need to know how clients feel about their ability to manage budgets and schedules. Overall, objective feedback measures the accuracy of quantifiable standards and expectations that were set prior to the project starting.

Cadence of Asking for Client Feedback

Waiting until a project is completed to ask for feedback is too late. At this point, fixing any negative perspectives is a moot point as it’s hard to correct something in the past. For PS firms, it is critical to ask for feedback early on and often.

It is often encouraged to begin the feedback process at the project kick-off. During this time, the project teams need to make sure milestones and KPIs are aligned, and all parties are clear on the path to success. Once the first milestone has been met, there is now an opportunity to request client feedback and to begin to assess the process your firm is using to deliver a project. As the project continues and various milestones or percent complete points have been met, feedback can once again be requested. Finally, client feedback needs to be requested upon project completion.

Asking Clients the Right Feedback Questions

Providing a great CX requires asking the right questions to gain feedback about the project delivery process. Additionally, each client feedback inquiry should include six to eight questions that are shorter than 12 words. Questions should also be different for each phase of the project, and they also need to be tailored to the role each stakeholder has in the project. Most importantly, the goal is to create a great CX, therefore questions need to be geared toward measuring expectations and not satisfaction. Since satisfaction cannot be controlled, but expectations can be managed.

Moreover, avoid questions about an individual since they are only part of the process. Also, ask questions about things you can control and change. For instance, asking a client if they think a budget is sufficient is pointless since the budget was predetermined prior to the project. Most importantly, reevaluate questions that use the word “and” as this is usually becoming two questions with the use of a conjunction connecting two clauses or thoughts.

Take Action on Client Feedback

Well, now you’ve asked for feedback which means you likely need to respond and address the client feedback. In many cases, positive feedback only requires a small acknowledgement. When the feedback indicates expectations are not being met, it is imperative to reach out to the survey respondent to understand why they feel the process is falling short of expectations.

It is equally important to note that the person requesting client feedback needs to the person reaching out and acknowledging the responses whether they are positive or negative. Additionally, the person requesting feedback needs to not take the information personally since the questions and responses are about the process. Lastly, when discussing feedback with a client, the person requesting feedback needs to practice empathy as to avoid creating a conversation filled with attacks and defenses.

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When Should My Firm Upgrade to Deltek Vantagepoint?

Posted by Amanda Roussel on May 12, 2021

Is my firm ready to make the transition from Deltek Vision to Vantagepoint? The answer to this trending question remains the same – it depends on your firm’s needs since there are several factors that should be taken into consideration when determining your upgrade timeline. Deltek has recently shared that Vision will be supported beyond January 2023. Which means firms can upgrade in a timeframe that aligns with their calendars and needs. Let’s take a look at some of the factors that are affecting decisions around a target upgrade date.

 

Is it time to upgrade

Team Capacity

 

We all have various times of the year that are busier than others. Upgrading to Deltek Vantagepoint isn’t necessarily hard. However, readying your firm for the upgrade does take time, important conversations need to take place, and impactful decisions have to be made.

 

The upgrade is ultimately a project that stakeholders must spend time on and converse about process improvements. Consider the timeframe of year-end processes. End of year processes can consume finance teams for weeks, or even months. Therefore, choosing a time where the finance team has some schedule flexibility is very important. For some firms, this may affect the timing in the first quarter as well.

 

Additionally, marketing and project management teams rely heavily on the system as they use CRM and Resource Planning. As processes are tweaked and reestablished, also think about end-user training. How will you train power users and end-users? Would that be in your preview environment or after going live in Vantagepoint? The answers to these questions vary from firm to firm. However, one trend noticed is that many firms are committing resources and time to education and training as they go through the upgrade process. This is all in an effort to equip their teams with the latest technology as they manage and deliver projects.

 

System Complexity

Deltek Vision and Vantagepoint have impactful features out-of-the-box. There are often times where firms need to add fields, workflows, and custom hubs. Depending on the amount of customization, that can affect the length of their transition timeline. This may include workflows, custom fields, and robust processes.

 

In addition, some firms integrate their Deltek system with third-party systems to streamline processes and data entry. Examples include payroll services, email marketing platforms, external expense and invoicing services, firm intranets, and more. Firms should seek confirmation from their third-party solutions that they, too, are ready for the upgrade. These integrations can impact the timing of a firm’s upgrade and testing should be incorporated into the timeline.  

 

The complexity in which a firm uses Deltek can also affect a firm’s upgrade date. The time a team spends in the preview environment should be measured. Whether it’s in screen designer, security, rebuilding reports, or creating useful dashboards, that work won’t automatically carry forward to a data refresh or going live. Instead, those settings would rewind to the default. There is a tool called transition copy scripts that can copy and apply those configurations and settings forward.

 

Firm Culture

Many firms are leveraging the upgrade as a time to evaluate and modify processes. Although some view these changes as improvements, others may become intimidated. For some features, the changes can actually be incorporated in Deltek Vision and put into action now. Other improvements, including new module implementations, may be more efficiently put into practice after going live in Vantagepoint.

 

Getting teams on board and all on the same page may take some conversations around change management. Furthermore, be sure to include some of the “department cheerleaders” throughout the firm as you determine that will be leading the upgrade efforts. A variety or roles and experience is effective as it brings up new conversations, squashes “change” concerns, and breaks down silos that may exist.

 

Firms are also taking this opportunity to increase the potential of their Deltek solution and train their staff for more hands-on usage. In the past, Deltek may have been more heavily used for accounting functions. However, we are finding that some firms are now consolidating some outside resources and using features in Vantagepoint that have become more approachable and inviting.

 

Plan for Successful Vantagepoint Upgrade

Planning for the upgrade is of great importance, and it may be easier than you may think. There are many resources available to start familiarizing firms and teams with Deltek Vantagepoint. Deltek offers the Deltek Learning Zone (DLZ) and the Client Assistance Program (CAP) to help teams prepare for the upgrade.

At Full Sail Partners, we are taking a personalized approach with firms that are looking for some assistance with the upgrade. From planning efforts to training after going live in Vantagepoint (and everything in between), we are guiding firms through a successful upgrade. We also feel that education is key, so helping firms better understand and utilize Deltek Vantagepoint will stick with our clients far beyond the upgrade.

Vantagepoint Transition Services Webinar

Searching for Unicorns with Deltek Talent Management

Posted by Joel Slater on May 05, 2021

Imagine this scenario, it is Monday morning, and you’ve just been notified that your business development team has secured a major high dollar construction project due to start in three weeks. While a core project team has been assigned, certain significant positions crucial to this project are not yet filled. You’ve been asked to find these key players immediately to round out the project team, and you can tell that the needs are quite specific maybe even unicorns. You take a deep breath, process everything for a minute, and think I got this. Why? Well, you’ve got the power of resume searches in Deltek Talent Management.

 

unicorn resume

The Hunt Begins

Deltek Talent Acquisition, a part of Deltek Talent, offers a resume search which allows you to check out your entire database of resumes using whatever criteria you need. You can choose a key word, specific skill certification or license and just filter the information as you need. When looking for those unicorns, having the option to easily find them is important and a real time saver.

Unicorns Don’t Stay Out in the Wild for Long

Once you’ve identified the unicorns you are seeking, finding them requires quick action so having immediate access to certain resumes is a priority. The Deltek Talent main dashboard can be configured with a search resumes widget which allows you to quickly search for your desired resumes. Once you find your unicorns, you must be able to track them down and catch them as soon as possible.

Newly Discovered Species

At times, your tracked population of unicorns is missing in your current database, but other species do exist. So being able to be notified when another unicorn meeting the specific needs appears is a nice feature to have. Resume Search Agents let you save a specific search, and you can choose the frequency of the emails coming in when certain applicants match your criteria.

Additionally, in the case of an immediate need, you have access to other databases such as Monster and Career Builder from directly within Deltek Talent Acquisition. You can import resumes from other sources right into your database. These options give you a great chance of finding a new species of unicorn.

Tag the Unicorns in Your Research

Surprisingly, you’ve been able to find and capture the unicorns you were seeking. However, you may have discovered that you didn’t need all of them at once. Since they are rare and special, you want to make sure you can find them again. In Deltek Talent Management, resume pools can be created to tag candidates that are great choices for future openings. Your Resume Search Agents can automatically populate these pools for you, keeping a list of those with the skills you are desiring.

Don’t Forget to Feed the Unicorns

Fortunately, you’ve been able to find the unicorns you needed with the power of resume searches in Deltek Talent. Your project team is now ready to go, and you can breathe a sigh of relief. However, don’t forget to feed the unicorns and keep them happy, including the ones on your team, since they are a valuable resource. As for the candidates that you tagged for future openings, using Deltek Talent Relationship Management, you can keep in touch so hopefully they will come when you call them. Maybe have some sugar cubes ready?

Deltek Talent Candidate Engagement link to demo

Common Blunders Made by Marketing Teams

Posted by Full Sail Partners on April 28, 2021

What were they thinking? #SendNoods was a social media marketing campaign launched by Kraft foods in October 2020 to coincide with National Noodle Day to promote its famous macaroni and cheese. Back in 1985, Coca-Cola released a sweeter new formula known as “New Coke” to win back younger customers that switched to Pepsi only to be mocked for sacrificing its own identity. Then in 2010, Gap decided to redesign its beloved and established logo. After what must have been countless hours in meetings and who knows how much money, Gap released its new WordArt inspired logo. It caused a massive backlash from loyal customers and is known as one of the largest rebranding blunders in history. 

 

Whether your company is a big national brand or a small to medium sized business, everyone is prone to having a mishap when executing a marketing campaign. 

 

Perplexed by a blunder

Architecture and engineering firms are no different. Have you heard of the same firm submitting on the same proposal? Or, someone from your firm meeting with the same client the week before and you had no clue? 

 

However, it seems like many of these marketing snafus were avoidable if more due diligence was practiced. Reflecting upon the aforementioned marketing blunders, here are some common areas marketing teams overlook when creating an effective marketing campaign.  

 

Not Really Knowing Your Clients 

 

Thinking you know what your clients like and want can quickly upend any marketing effort before it begins. Because believe it or not, your assumptions are likely wrong. However, you can gain insight into your clients by practicing some due diligence by asking about feedback on previous marketing efforts and having conversations with key decision makers about their experience with your firm. What you thought your firm excelled at might actually be one of its biggest downfalls and this is something you surely do not want to promote as it will lead to future failures.  

 

At A/E firms it’s common to make assumptions about what’s really important to a client for a particular project. Your marketing and business development teams may craft an entire message campaign, including the proposal and presentation, based on those assumptions. What happens if you made the wrong assumption? Getting that feedback directly from the client helps to minimize the risk of making assumptions. 

 

Unclear Messaging 

 

Convincing a consumer to make a purchase is already difficult enough. Adding confusion with misleading or hard to comprehend information is for certain a marketing campaign killer. When creating your core messaging, you need to identify what problem you are solving with your product and how this benefits the end user. Additionally, this needs to be tested and optimized to resonate with your audience in a clear and concise fashion.  

 

Common in our industry is messaging that includes industry jargon and overusing acronyms. To ensure a more effective message, make sure the content can be understood by even those with no technical background. 

 

Using Bad (or No) Data 

 

Today, great marketing efforts are formulated around data. There is so much data out there and your firm probably collects and stores endless amounts of information about your clients, contacts, and projects. However, if your data is poorly organized and maintained, it’s likely old and misleading. In other words, bad data is just as bad if not worse than having no data.  

 

Having a robust CRM system, like Deltek Vantagepoint, will allow you to organize your data, and be able to analyze and find trends you can use to strengthen your marketing efforts. A CRM system also allows you to track what potential projects your firm is pursuing and contact interactions. This helps avoid the embarrassment of multiple people from your firm bidding on the same project! 

 

Testing 123... 

 

Great marketing campaigns are the result of trial and error. Even the brightest of marketing minds will agree that not all great ideas are effective. However, there are things that can be learned by testing that can be incorporated into a strong and impactful marketing campaign. Furthermore, most marketers use a A/B testing which uses two forms of something to learn which is more effective. This testing allows marketers to ensure their messaging resonates with their audience and does not offend anyone. 

 

Failing to Follow RFP Instructions  

 

In the AEC industry, many proposals are crafted with a focus on team qualifications rather than fee. Strong proposals can take countless hours and may never be “perfect.” The hope is that your client will read your proposal and select your team for the work. However, what if it never makes it to the review team?  

 

When a request for proposals is advertised, there are often fine-print details regarding the deliverable, such as font size, spacing, and page limitations. Even one page too many could disqualify your team from the review process. Before you put countless hours into that large, or small, proposal, be sure you read, reread, and understand the submittal details before getting started.   

 

Learning from Past Experiences 

 

Doing the same thing over and over again is considered insanity to many people. Well, if anything, it will probably drive you insane to continue to see the same poor results repeatedly. During the execution of a marketing campaign, it’s important to keep track of what is and isn’t working, and noting lessons learned that can be applied to future marketing efforts.   

 

Noting the results and best practices in a marketing campaign record is easy with Vantagepoint. This way your entire marketing and business development team can access and learn from the past experiences.  

 

Are You Willing to Share?  

 

Have you experienced a marketing blunder at your firm? Or, seen one in the industry? Share your experience in the comments below so we can learn from each other.

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Pick the Winning RFP with Deltek Vantagepoint CRM

Posted by Ryan Felkel on April 21, 2021

It seems like déjà vu and it should. It’s the same scenario played out over and over again for every proposal professional. Sitting in a dimly lit room with a lukewarm cup of coffee behind stacks of RFPs with pages upon pages to read. This entire process seems to be on constant repeat as you extract important details to determine which RFP is the winning one for your firm. However daunting and looming the task seems, the process is necessary.

decision making

For a proposal professional, the repetitive preparatory tasks are important since they are the gatekeeper that determine which RFPs receive a response. As a result, this responsibility requires analyzing specific metrics and information to determine which RFP your firm can win. In doing so, they utilize the infamous go/no go process to compare the details within the RFP to determine which opportunity is the best fit for their firm. But what if there was a solution that can help select the winning RFP for your firm? Well, there is since Deltek Vantagepoint CRM is more than your average CRM.

Deltek Vantagepoint is Your Source of Truth

A major benefit to starting the go/no go process with the Deltek Vantagepoint is that it already contains project pursuit and opportunity information. By using Vantagepoint early on in the process, you can:

  • Identify available internal resources to assist with the RFP response
  • Compare previous wins/losses and apply lessons learned for better decision making
  • Quantify the go/no go process to make more objective decisions
  • Avoid high risk pursuits and projects
  • Improve your overall win rate
  • Use automatic notifications to stakeholders to inform them of the go/no go decision and next steps

Utilize Vantagepoint User Defined Fields and Workflows

With user defined fields, a go/no go process can be created based on your firm’s needs. From simple to complex, Vantagepoint can be aligned to meet your business goals. User defined fields allow your firm to capture intel during the go/no go process and even apply a numeric score to criteria your firm uses to make a final decision. If your firm chooses to use a numeric score, a workflow in Vantagepoint can be created to determine whether or not to pursue an opportunity. A short list of some great areas to track using a numeric score that can be calculated using a workflow are:

  • Experience with type of work in the RFP
  • Client relationship type
  • Client relationship status
  • Past project performance for client
  • Amount of work to be subbed
  • When did you learn about the opportunity (before advertised, etc.)
  • Does the project align with the firm’s strategic plan
  • Can we compete with known competition
  • Number of competitors
  • Is there an incumbent

Implementing Deltek Vantagepoint CRM for the Go/No Go Process

When adding Vantagepoint CRM into your firm’s go/no go process, it’s important to thoroughly evaluate:

  • If you’re asking the correct questions and weighting them appropriately
  • Past wins and losses to identify what questions you could have asked to make a better go /no go decision
  • Ways to simplify the process for others in your firm like project managers and senior management
  • Collaborate with others at your firm on questions and metrics that should be included
  • Test, test and test again to fine-tune the go/no go process

Start picking the winning RFP for your firm by using Vantagepoint CRM in your go/no go process.

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Setting the Tone for the Candidate Interview Process

Posted by Tasia Grant, PHR on April 14, 2021

After the countless interviews I have done over the last twenty years, one of the greatest compliments I’ve received from a hiring manager was, “You bring an energy that makes candidates feel comfortable enough to be themselves.” With every interview opportunity comes the ability to explore a match for a candidate with the position and firm. When candidates are prepared and at ease during an interview, much can be learned about their personalities and potential to fill open positions. As the interviewer, you want to know with confidence that you’ve taken the time to make the whole process positive and done your due diligence when selecting the “right fit,” not just on paper. 

 

Employee Interview

 

Initiate Attraction

The job description for an open position is a very significant piece of the pre-interview process, and if written well, it transitions nicely into the actual interview. Oftentimes, job descriptions get recycled over and over while the job itself has gone through many evolutions. Many factors can impact the scope of a position like change in the size of the team or leadership, new technology, and change in the needs and goals of the company. In the AEC industry, particularly, industry standards and regulations can impact the requirements for certain job titles.

So, in preparation for interviewing for a specific position, the job description must be clearly written to reflect the qualifications expected of top talent. Candidates should then be able to see exactly what is required by the job description in advance and come to the interview able to prove how they match the needs and fit in the overall organizational plan. Interviewers having previously provided what they are looking for in a clear job description will receive candidates that are ready to showcase what they bring to the table and make the interview process flow easily and successfully.

Make a Good First Impression

If candidates are able to come into the office, they should feel not only welcomed but excited about sharing their qualifications with you. Greetings and initial contact in person should be done with polite professionalism such as acknowledging their interview time and offering water or a place to sit and wait for their time slot. The interviewer should come out and walk candidates back to the pre-set-up room and inquire as to any needs they have before the interview begins. For a Zoom or phone call, candidates should still be greeted on time with a positive attitude and made to feel that their time is valuable.

Break the Ice and Establish the Mood

As the interview begins, candidates should be encouraged to relax with some comforting initial conversational questions. Afterwards, they should be reminded to take their time and think through their answers asking for clarity if a question isn’t understood. With most interviews these days being conducted virtually, you want to create an environment that removes the technical barrier and gives the same energy you would if you were in-person. For the interview questions, minimize the predictable, classic, broad questions like “Tell me your strengths and weaknesses,” or “Do you work well with others?”

Remember the goal is to find out who the person is, not just what they think you want to hear. You should ask Behavioral Questions that allow candidates to talk about their past work experiences. Behavioral-based interview questions focus on how they previously handled various work situations such as “Tell me a situation which was challenging and how you handled it?” Especially for highly technical and labor-based industries, like AEC, ensure that the questions are specific to the position and structured to reveal the candidates’ skills, abilities, and thought processes.

Candidates, having reviewed your job description in advance and feeling at ease with the interviewer, should be able to relate to the needs of the open position and provide some good examples of their past experiences. As mentioned before, a well written job description pre-interview should provide top talent the chance to come to the interview prepared for identifying their skills. You should wrap up the interview by allowing the candidates to ask any other questions and give them an overview of the remaining steps in the candidate selection process including the approximate date you have targeted to have the position filled.

Carefully Choose Your Match

When possible, conduct post-interview discussions immediately after the interviews or within a few days so that impressions and thoughts about the candidates are still fresh in the mind. Many companies use a rating system to rank the candidates’ interview performances. Using the ranking system can work in conjunction with post-interview discussions, and it provides measurable data to support the final decision.

After all interviews have been completed, make the selection of your candidate a priority. Efforts to determine who will move to the next step or to choose the final selection should be made within a week to increase the probability that your top choices are still available when you are ready to extend an offer. Every interview that is completed requires a follow-up indicating the status in the selection process or thanking candidates for their time if not chosen.

Keep in mind that those candidates that are not picked for current positions might be good matches for future positions, so it is important to have open communications all the way through to the end. Also, maintaining these connections will ensure good public relations going forward. You never know when a position will open up again so setting the right tone for the entire candidate interview process is a must in order to attract and find the best fit for your firm.

Automate Job Postings

 

Read This Before Deciding to Attend a Virtual Conference

Posted by Ryan Felkel on April 07, 2021

Handshakes, large group lunches, and late nights mingling with strangers that will likely become longtime professional connections and even friends are highlights of attending professional conferences. Ahhhh just remembering those days…excuse me while I reminisce on my past experiences that made attending in-person conferences fun and exciting and not just educational. While I’m sure many of us can relate and probably add to the list of things we love about in-person conferences, many of those perks have disappeared with conferences being forced to move to a virtual or hybrid approach.

Now, reflecting upon my recent experience with the new virtual/hybrid format for conferences, I can say for certain that participating in a virtual conference is a different experience in comparison to the traditional in-person conferences most of us are accustomed to attending. However, by understanding the benefits of attending a virtual conference and applying some best practices, you can ensure your virtual participation is a success.

Man Standing in front of virtual audience

 

The Advantages to Attending Virtual Conferences

We all have a list of things we loath and find extremely annoying. For me, I like traveling to places that require air transportation, but the whole routine of going to the airport, arriving early, waiting in long TSA lines, and walking all over the place just to find a restroom seems to put a damper on the entire trip. The list can go on when you think about the ups and downs of staying in a hotel. So, while there are perks to traveling, nothing beats staying in the comfort of your own home with your family.

By eliminating travel, virtual conferences also provide other benefits. Instead of wasting time hustling around the airport and wandering around hotels, you can spend more time on your actual work which we all know doesn’t complete itself while you’re attending a conference. Even more, since there are no associated travel expenses with virtual conferences, the company would be more willing to approve them over in-person events.

Prepare Yourself for the Virtual Conference

Attending a conference in-person or virtually, you should always take time prior to the conference to review conference schedules, register for educational sessions and other activities, and learn about resources that are available to attendees. Additionally, review the format of the conference as it seems to vary from conference to conference. Last year alone, I attended or participated in numerous virtual conferences. Some were 2 to 3 all-day events and others were a series of half-day events. Others even included ongoing monthly meetings to encourage continued conversations about topics presented at the conference itself. So, make sure you are familiar with the conference format and able to commit time to attending and participating.

Most importantly, update your work calendar. I recommend blocking out your calendar for the entire time you plan on attending the conference. I even take it one-step further by adding the sessions I plan on attending to my calendar with related links included in the body of the appointment. 

Be Seen by Being Present

You may ask, “If it’s virtual, how am I going to be seen?” Great question! First, let your professional network know you are attending by posting to LinkedIn. A simple message with a link to the conference letting people know what you are excited to learn about is a great way to be seen virtually.

During the conference, avoid distractions by closing your email and messaging tools and treat the conference like you are there in-person. If you typically take notes with pen and paper at in-person conferences, do the same while at your desk. Furthermore, virtual conferences that are worth attending will have a great communication platform for attendees and presenters. So, don’t be shy! Be seen by asking engaging questions during sessions, tour the virtual sponsor expo hall and chat with vendors, and participate in conference events and contest like dance-offs, trivia games, or other fun activities. In other words, find ways to network and be camera ready.

Do Your Homework

The conference might be over, but your opportunities to learn and network have just begun! One of my favorite things to do after a conference is send out LinkedIn connection invites to my new contacts. Additionally, I include a note with the connection invite that mentions how we met and a highlight of something we discussed. This is a convenient way to keep track of how you have met people in your LinkedIn network.

It’s also a great idea to follow up with your favorite speakers by sending them a LinkedIn message or an email. Let them know what you liked about their presentation and how it impacted you personally. Then include a question you did not ask during the live session or one you thought of afterwards. Believe it or not, speakers generally and truly enjoy receiving messages from audience members like you.

So, get out there…virtually that is…and attend professional conferences to continue to build your skills and network!

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