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Financial Management Trends from the 44th Deltek Clarity A&E Study

Posted by Evan Creech-Pritchett on November 30, 2023

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Welcome to the final installment of our comprehensive series recap of the 44th Annual Deltek Clarity Architecture and Engineering (A&E) Study. Today, we embark on an in-depth exploration of the financial management trends found in the newest Deltek Clarity A&E Industry Report which focused on 2022 fiscal data. This report offers a rich tapestry of insights, shedding light on the critical financial dynamics that are currently influencing the industry.   

Join us as we dissect the key findings and trends, providing you with a better understanding of the financial landscape in the architecture and engineer

 

A Year of Remarkable Financial Success

In 2022, A&E firms achieved remarkable financial success, building on the bullish goals they set for themselves in 2021. One of the standout trends in the industry was the ability of firms to leverage direct labor costs and subconsultants effectively to drive increased revenues in 2022, leading to substantial improvements in operating profit (EBIT). Notably, revenue growth outpaced growth in headcount and wages, and firms achieved gains across various financial metrics.

This indicates the ability of A&E firms to make strategic investments during favorable economic conditions. On average, firms’ financial performance outshone expectations. To sustain this momentum, firms must continue to focus on key financial management trends and top financial initiatives.

Addressing Top Financial Challenges

As we look into the financial landscape of 2023, it's important to note that the most prominent challenges faced by A&E firms remain consistent with those of previous years.

  • Finding and Retaining Qualified Staff: This is the most prominent financial challenge identified by firms in 2022 and it remains the top concern, with 65% of A&E firms identifying it as one of their top three challenges.
  • Increasing Profitability: 45% of respondents indicated that increasing profitability was one of their top challenges. To handle this, A&E firms continue to refine their strategies and use technology and process improvements to reduce project delivery costs, particularly for time-intensive and manual tasks.
  • Managing Growth: Tied with increasing profitability, growth management is a concern for 45% of companies in the A&E sector. Firms must address the challenge of managing growth effectively by balancing robust pipelines of new projects with existing resources to ensure profitable project delivery despite rising costs.

Financial Improvement Initiatives

Once again, this year’s financial improvement initiatives are very similar to the previous year. Below are some of the critical initiatives that A&E firms have highlighted as requiring attention throughout the current year and into the next:

  • Business Process Improvements: The most significant initiative of the year, as indicated by over half of the firms surveyed (55%), is prioritizing business process improvements in their financial strategies.
  • Training Project Managers on Financials: Ensuring that project managers have a strong understanding of financial management principles is essential for optimizing project delivery. This initiative was the leader in last year's results, but it has dropped to a close second this year with 52% of A&E firms citing a need for improvement.
  • Increase Talent Spending: Investing in hiring and retaining top talent is critical to achieving sustainable growth. By attracting and retaining the industry's brightest minds, A&E firms not only ensure their competitive edge but also foster a culture of innovation and excellence that permeates every project they undertake.
  • Better Managing Growth: A&E firms recognize the need to drive efficiency and effectiveness in pipeline management, talent development, project execution, and cash flow management. Streamlining these critical aspects of their operations allows them to not only meet client demands but also adapt swiftly to industry changes, ensuring long-term viability in an ever-evolving market.
  • Business Process Improvements: By identifying and implementing process improvements, sucA&E firms can reduce time-consuming manual tasks, minimize errors, and enhance productivity, ultimately freeing up resources to focus on strategic initiatives that drive growth and innovation.

The Path Forward for Financial Management

This section of the 44th Deltek Clarity A&E Industry study delved deep into the financial management trends within the A&E industry, offering a comprehensive view of the financial dynamics shaping this sector. This year we witnessed remarkable financial success, with firms strategically leveraging their resources to achieve impressive revenue growth, outpacing the expansion of their workforce and wage costs. As they continue to navigate the ever-changing economic landscape, these A&E firms must remain vigilant in their approach to financial management.

To gain a more comprehensive understanding of this year's financial trends and their implications for the architecture and engineering sector, we encourage you to explore the complete 44th Annual Deltek Clarity A&E Report. It provides an in-depth analysis and a wealth of insights, serving as an invaluable resource for professionals and organizations in this ever-evolving industry.

 

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Deltek Vision and Vantagepoint Year-End Preparedness - Are You Ready?

Posted by Scott Gailhouse on November 16, 2023

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As we approach the end of 2023, there is no time like the present to prepare for the year-end close which marks the final accounting process to wrap up the fiscal year. Advanced planning and organization can significantly ease this process for your accounting team, assuring a seamless transition into the new year. In this blog, let’s go over some of the most important items to help ensure a smooth transition to the new fiscal year in Deltek Vantagepoint and Vision.  


Document and Organize Your Procedures

Start by meticulously documenting your year-end procedures, encompassing not only tasks performed in Deltek Vantagepoint and Vision but all accounting functions. This comprehensive reference guide will not only assist your team this year but also in the years to come. Additionally, when creating your accounting calendar, ensure that it covers a wide spectrum of financial activities, not just limited to year-end tasks. This holistic approach is key to ensuring that all aspects of your financial management are well organized. It is also essential to share the accounting calendar with the entire staff so that they understand expectations. This is particularly necessary, especially surrounding timesheet and expense report deadlines.

Common Year-End Tasks

Year-end tasks are crucial for maintaining financial integrity. Here are some common practices among professional services firms:

  • Reconcile All Cash Accounts: This crucial task ensures that your financial records accurately match your bank statements. It's a good practice to not only verify transactions but also check for any unusual or unexpected entries that might need adjustments.
  • Credit Card Reconciliations: In the digital age, credit card transactions are commonplace. Ensure that you capture all credit card transactions, making expense reporting a priority. An accurate representation of these expenses is vital for your financial health.
  • File Reconciliation Report: Regular monitoring is the key to catching discrepancies between your general ledger and subledger reports. A monthly check helps in identifying issues early, making year-end reconciliation smoother.
  • Final Invoicing: Efficiently processing all client invoices ensures that you're not leaving any revenue on the table. It's the last opportunity to capture income for the fiscal year.
  • Review Outstanding Accounts Receivables: Diligently following up with clients who have outstanding accounts receivable beyond 30 days can improve your cash flow. Sending past-due statements and making personal contact can expedite collection efforts.
  • Review Unbilled Detail: Properly addressing time and expense transactions that cannot be invoiced helps in accurately reflecting your financial position. Writing off these unbillable expenses is an important step to keep your records accurate.
  • Fixed Assets: Beyond the regular tasks, don't overlook the assessment of fixed assets. Verify their ownership and depreciation, making necessary adjustments. This action ensures that your balance sheet reflects the current state of your assets.
  • Employee Expenses and Accounts Payable: Ensuring that all accounts payable vouchers are recorded accurately is vital. Making contributions to retirement plans and paying vendors and employee expense reports promptly is also a best practice for year-end.
  • Notes Payable: Maintaining alignment between your balance sheet and lender statements is essential. This step can prevent errors or discrepancies in your financial statements.
  • 1099 Forms: Ordering 1099 forms is just the beginning. Make certain that you have collected W-9 forms from vendors or contractors who met the $600 threshold during the year. Timely mailing of 1099 forms is important for compliance with tax regulations.
  • W-2s: If you handle payroll, don't forget to order and mail W-2 forms by the January 31st deadline. Timely distribution of these forms ensures that employees can file their taxes without delays.
  • Budget for Next Year: Setting up your general ledger budget for the upcoming year is a crucial financial planning step. It helps in aligning your financial goals with your operational strategy.

Deltek Customer Care Access

Each year Deltek puts together a year-end guide and checklist. Authorized users would log into Customer Care. Under the section "Learn", click on the option called Year-End Resources. You will then select your product, Vision or Vantagepoint and press "Go". There are Year-End Documentation and Year-End Videos. These complimentary, informative year-end videos are available on-demand viewing 24/7. The training sessions will guide you on how to perform year-end closing for general ledger, accounts payable and payroll, troubleshoot any issues that may arise during the year-end close process, and answer frequently asked questions. 

Be Prepared to Close Out the Year

Ensuring a smooth transition to the new fiscal year in Deltek Vantagepoint and Vision is an important part of the process. When opening the first period of your fiscal year, you're simultaneously launching the new fiscal year.

Several initialization utilities are required based on your professional services firm’s accounting calendar including Open New Period, Open New Benefit Year, 1099 Initialization, and Open a New W-2 Quarter/year. It's important to follow through with these utilities meticulously. If your firm’s database is configured for Multicompany, these utilities would have to be performed in each active company.

Be on the lookout for Deltek's Year-End update at the end of December, which contains tax updates for payroll users. Additionally, refer to Deltek's Vision and Vantagepoint Year-End guide for more detailed information on the year-end closing process. Planning and organization are key to ensuring a smooth year-end close and preparing for a successful start to the new fiscal year. With these additional tasks and tips, you'll be well-prepared for a seamless year-end transition and can confidently set your sights on the financial year ahead.

 

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Deltek Vantagepoint How To: Accessing the Time & Expense and CRM Mobile Apps

Posted by Evan Creech-Pritchett on November 09, 2023

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In today's rapidly evolving business landscape, the demand for seamless remote access to critical data is paramount for professional services firms. You may already have encountered the Deltek Touch Time and CRM mobile applications and have a strong desire to empower your employees while they’re on the go, allowing them to leverage the capabilities of these apps to access your Deltek Vantagepoint data remotely. Whether you envision your staff accessing data from the comfort of their homes and abroad, or you foresee the immense value it can bring to project managers working in the field, we understand that venturing into Deltek Touch Time and CRM mobile applications to access from the web can seem like a daunting prospect. So, in this blog, let us address your concerns and delve into the benefits and safety measures involved for your professional services firm and try to allay your fears.  


Safety and Security

First and foremost, we realize that security is of the utmost importance to your professional services firm. However, when properly deployed with Secure HTTP and a robust password policy, accessing your Deltek Vantagepoint data from anywhere becomes as secure as accessing your online banking information. Your professional services firm’s data integrity remains intact, and you can trust that your business information is protected.

Cost-Effectiveness

Furthermore, for professional services firms, we know that the financial aspect of offering another feature is always a big concern. Yet, with Deltek Touch Time, the cost implications are minimal. The primary expense lies in the initial setup, generally taking no more than an hour or two. The foundation for this access is already embedded in your existing Deltek Vantagepoint installation. So, you can rest assured that the transition to remote access is cost-effective and well worth the investment.

Ease of Configuration

Moreover, configuring Deltek Touch Time for web access is a straightforward process, especially for a single server installation. It can be executed with minimal downtime or even scheduled for after-hours operation with careful planning. In cases where multi-tier installations are involved, there may be a bit of added complexity, but these nuances are well-understood and can be expertly addressed. The Full Sail Partners’ team has a wealth of experience assisting numerous professional services firms in navigating this transition, and we encourage you to reach out to us for any necessary support.

How Can You Access These Features?

Finally, you may be wondering, how do you open Deltek Vantagepoint to the internet to allow your professional services firm’s employees access to new features like Deltek Touch? It’s easy, just follow these steps:

  • Modify your Firewall: Adjust your firewall rules to permit port 443, which facilitates secure HTTP traffic, to be forwarded to your Vantagepoint server. We advise that you test the setup at this point by visiting your Vantagepoint login page, ensuring that everything is still functioning correctly.
  • Checking Domain Accessibility: Verify that the Fully Qualified Domain Name (FQDN) is accessible both internally and externally. Minor adjustments to your Domain Name System (DNS) settings may be necessary to achieve this.

By following these steps, you will seamlessly enable access to Deltek Vantagepoint from both onsite and offsite locations. Once this is confirmed, you can promptly inform all users to utilize the Touch links for their Deltek Vantagepoint requirements. How convenient is that?

Access to Data from Anywhere is Within Your Grasp

The transformation to accessing Deltek Vantagepoint data from anywhere, at any time, is well within your professional services firm’s grasp. You can enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing your data is securely protected while remaining readily accessible to all your employees whenever it is needed. We encourage you to share your thoughts regarding having seamless remote access to your essential data with us, and if you require any assistance or guidance, do not hesitate to contact our knowledgeable team at Full Sail Partners.

 

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What's New in Deltek Vantagepoint 6.5

Posted by Evan Creech-Pritchett on November 02, 2023

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Deltek Vantagepoint announces an exciting new update, offering a wealth of tools and features to continue to increase collaboration and productivity for project-based firms. Vantagepoint 6.5 includes a substantial release filled with enhancements across multiple modules that benefits different user groups. In this article, I’ll be covering the top 5 features that I think will have the biggest impact in the daily usage. Without further ado, let’s jump right in! 


1. Accounts Payable (AP) Invoice Approvals Enhancements

This update brings significant time-saving enhancements to AP Invoice Approvals, including improvements to Intelligent Character Recognition (ICR), the introduction of a new field, and more. 

  • Intelligent Character Recognition (ICR): One of the standout features of this update is the integration of ICR for AP Invoice Approvals. With ICR, Vantagepoint can read details from uploaded AP Invoice files and automatically populate several key fields in the AP Invoice Approval form. These fields include Vendor, Address, Invoice, Invoice Date, Invoice Amount, and even Currency if you work with multiple currencies.  
  • Streamlined AP Invoice File Uploads: When you upload an AP Invoice file, the system provides a preview pane on the right side of the AP Invoice Approvals form, displaying the uploaded document. While this update may seem small, it’s incredibly helpful when managing multiple files within the same AP Invoice.  
  • Invoice Amount Field: ICR automatically populates the Invoice Amount field on the AP Invoice Approvals form with the total amount from the uploaded file. This field is now always editable, ensuring that the value matches the total amount in the Project Information grid. If there's a discrepancy, the system will display a warning message upon submission. 
  • Adjustable Right Pane: In the Transaction Center, when viewing the AP Invoice Approvals form in Detail View, you can now display a PDF of the AP invoice in a preview pane on the right side. This convenient feature allows you to simultaneously review the invoice while making edits to the invoice and project information. 

2. Smoother Vantagepoint Connections with API Enhancements 

Deltek Vantagepoint 6.5 introduces an array of powerful API enhancements to streamline your workflow. With new AP Invoice Approval API Endpoints, Third-Party Integrations API Endpoints, and the PUT Post Timesheet Entry API Endpoint, integrating with Vantagepoint has never been smoother. 

  • AP Invoice Approval API Endpoints: For those integrating with Vantagepoint, new API endpoints for AP invoice approvals are now available. These endpoints adhere to existing validations, restrictions, and security requirements at the application level, ensuring seamless integration. 
  • Third-Party Integrations API Endpoints: Another API-related enhancement is the introduction of Third-Party Integrations API endpoints. Just like the AP Invoice Approval endpoints, these follow established validation, restriction, and security protocols. 
  • PUT Post Timesheet Entry API Endpoint: To simplify timesheet management, the new PUT Post Timesheet Entry API endpoint allows you to post timesheets for individual employees or multiple employees at once. This API endpoint respects existing validations, restrictions, and security measures. 

3. Long-Awaited Dashparts Types  

The latest additions to Vantagepoint Dashparts offer customized metric presentations, extended role-based security, and improved functionality, streamlining operations for efficient data access and evaluation. 

  • Key Performance Indicator (KPI) Dashpart Type: With this new dashpart type, you can highlight crucial metrics for better data evaluation. Other customization features include changing the background and text colors, turning on/off sorting, selecting the date ranges, adding calculations, adding filters, and more. Even more, you can use the conditional formatting that will dynamically change the tile color when comparing KPI values to static values. 
  • Firm Dashpart Base: This new dashpart base displays firm-related information from the Firms hub, including vendors, clients, competitors, or government agencies. This enables quick access to relevant firm data directly from your dashboard. 
  • Role-Based Security for More Dashpart Bases: Role-based security settings, previously available for Employee dashparts, are now extended to several other dashpart bases, including AR Detail, Project, Project Detail, and Firm. This enhances data security and access control within your organization. 
  • Timesheet Floor Check System Dashpart: This new dashpart empowers you to perform employee timesheet floor checks directly from your dashboard. This feature replicates all actions available in the Floor Check dialog box in the Timesheets module, such as sending reminders, opening or printing timesheets, and checking timesheets from different periods. 
  • Dashpart Calculations: You can now create dashpart calculations based on selected columns in the current dashpart. These calculations respect filters and date ranges applied to the columns, allowing for more precise data analysis. Dashpart calculations are different from calculated fields, which are formulated from all available fields of a dashpart base. 
  • New Columns for the Project Detail Dashpart Base: Additional columns have been added to the Project Detail dashpart base to enhance cash flow visibility for clients using Paid when Paid (PWP) payment terms. These columns provide insights into invoice status, discounts taken, payment dates, and more. 
  • Update to the AR Comment Column: Users can now add or edit AR comments directly from drill-to dashparts with the AR Detail dashpart base, simplifying AR management. 

4. Improved Labor Resource Assignments and Unit Planning 

Deltek Vantagepoint 6.5 brings notable enhancements to the Planning module, aimed at improving the management of labor resources and unit planning within your projects. 

  • Fill Labor Resource Assignments with Planned Hours: On the Labor tab of the Plan form, a new feature called "Fill Hours Per Day" empowers you to assign planned hours to workdays for labor resources based on specific criteria. You can choose to allocate hours based on a set number of hours per workday or a percentage of the employee's hours per day. This streamlines the process of planning labor resources and ensures more accurate assignments. 
  • Unit Planning Enhancements: Unit Planning has also received improvements, allowing you to view planned, actual, and baseline unit data more effectively. This includes the ability to display sub-rows for unit quantities, cost, billing amounts, and allocation in each calendar period of your project plan. Additionally, you can now specify unit planning data export settings based on the desired timescale, whether by day, week, or month. 
  • Plan Expenses and Consultants in Calendar Periods: For companies using the Resource Planning module and planning expenses and consultants, Vantagepoint 6.5 introduces the ability to plan expense and consultant amounts in calendar periods within the Plan module. This feature enhances the granularity of your planning capabilities. System administrators can configure these options in Settings, and individuals can modify them for specific plans if they have the appropriate access rights. 
  • Show the Critical Path on the Gantt Chart: When it comes to project scheduling, understanding the critical path is crucial for project managers. In Deltek Vantagepoint 6.5, you can now visualize the critical path of your project directly on the Gantt chart within the Schedule tab of the Plan form. The critical path represents the sequence of tasks or phases that cannot be delayed without affecting the project's completion date. By toggling on the "Show Critical Path" option above the schedule grid, tasks or phases on the critical path are highlighted in red, making it easier to identify and manage them.

5. New Workflow Functionality

The workflow functionality in Deltek Vantagepoint has been enhanced with two significant features: 

  • After Completion Workflow Type: Vantagepoint 6.5 introduces the "After Completion" workflow type for Application workflows. This workflow type allows you to define additional actions that should occur on a transaction after it has been successfully posted to the database. This feature enhances automation and customization capabilities within your workflows, enabling post-processing actions tailored to your organization's needs. 
  • Support for Alternate Approvers: In the Approval workflows, a new set of options has been introduced to support alternate approvers. These options include "Do Not Allow Employees to Approve More than Once," which prevents an assigned approver from approving a record more than once, and "Do Not Allow Employees to Approve Records They Have Created," which prevents approvers from approving records they themselves created. These options enhance workflow management, impartiality, and control in the approval process. 

Enhancements Abound with Deltek Vantagepoint 6.5

Deltek Vantagepoint 6.5 introduces a wide range of enhancements and features designed to streamline operations, enhance security, and improve functionality across various modules. These updates empower organizations to make more informed decisions, increase efficiency, and maintain data accuracy in their day-to-day operations. With these improvements, Vantagepoint continues to evolve as a powerful and versatile solution for project-based businesses. To see these improvements and more, make sure to watch our “What’s New in Vantagepoint 6.5 Webinar” by clicking the image below.

 

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6 Reasons for Project Based Firms to Have an Integrated CRM and ERP

Posted by Amanda Roussel on October 26, 2023

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For many years, project-based firms have utilized multiple technology platforms to track different pieces of crucial information. Perhaps human resources, finance, marketing, and project managers all have been using a separate platform at the same firm. How does information flow? Is it a manual process, are the systems integrated, or does everything stay siloed? There are numerous benefits to housing enterprise resource planning (ERP) and client relationship management (CRM) information in ONE accessible platform. Here in this blog, let’s check out 6 reasons for project-based firms to have an integrated CRM and ERP.

#1 Simplify, Streamline, and Save

We all want to streamline relevant business and project-based matters where we can, right? Having all CRM and ERP data in one platform, the information only needs to be entered once. ONE TIME. The data entry point can vary from browser to app, to Outlook, or to another platform, but it ultimately only gets typed in once. When integrating CRM and ERP, gone are the days of having to search through multitudes of emails to find out who last spoke to the pertinent client to get important details.

Additionally, having ERP and CRM systems together as one may be a cost savings as well. There's no additional hosting, no, or less, integrations to manage, and no additional platform to learn, maintain, and train on. This is a prime example of the concept that "less is more."

#2 Find the Latest Information with Less Noise

Just think of employee-client interactions and the information that is gathered as a firm resource. Business resources, especially for project-based firms, are meant to be shared efficiently, and that information should be available when others need it. Furthermore, new information is constantly coming in and a CRM tool provides your teams a platform to document and share this information, keeping everyone informed. With one clear space to keep this information organized, you can expect fewer logins, fewer emails, and less noise. Moreover, if CRM data is captured timely and correctly, it takes significantly less time to research the latest communications with clients. This activity tracking can help keep pursuits and projects on track.

#3 Increased Collaboration

Roles within a project-based firm sometimes have a defined description, and oftentimes the same information can be significant to different roles within the business. Whether it's key performance indicators (KPIs), pipeline reports, win rates, resume information, or contact lists, having ERP and CRM data in one place promotes collaboration between departments. This is especially true with human resources, finance, and marketing groups. This sharing of data located in one place allows understanding of other areas of the company, thereby creating a healthier collaborative environment firm-wide.

#4 Transparency Allows for Productivity

Executives, managers, leaders, and even staff, in project-based firms, want to know what work may be coming up. While they all may have their specific reasons for this knowledge, they shouldn't have to rely on someone else to distribute the information that they are looking for when they need it for their own purposes. Transparency can keep employees at all levels informed and therefore productive. And why not allow them to see this information on the platform in which they are already working? 

Whether it's timesheets or project records, most employees are in their firm's ERP daily and should be able to quickly access what information they desire in one place. Employees should have the ability to see the big picture as well as drill down to their specific information.

Take for example, that according to the 44th Annual Deltek Clarity A&E Industry Study, win rates were strong among A&E firms, but there was a decline in the number of proposals submitted. Having the visibility of win rates certainly allows for a stronger Go/No-go process, which allows project-based firms to be selective, and effective, in the work they pursue.

#5 Use Accountability to Create Consistency 

With transparency comes accountability. Principals, seller-doers, and business developers with project-based firms should be held accountable for keeping their colleagues informed. Winning work is imperative for project-based firms, and communications and pursuits are firm resources. For this to be successful, however, there needs to be support and enforcement from all levels of leadership. With an integrated CRM and ERP, information about upcoming pursuits or projects flows freely and everyone can be held accountable. Consistency is crucial to success.

#6 Leap Toward Digital Maturity

Another finding in the 44th Deltek Clarity Study is that more than 82% of A&E firms anticipate being “advanced” or "digitally mature” in the next five years. Strategic technological improvements are a big focus for both project management and financial management. Is your project-based firm part of this trend? Having CRM and ERP woven together is certainly a step toward digital maturity.

Now is the Time to Integrate Your CRM and ERP

These six compelling reasons clearly show the value of integrating your CRM and ERP into one system. You’d agree that every project-based firm would benefit from cost savings and increased collaboration firm-wide among other benefits. Is your firm ready to make the move? If so, one of our CRM consultants would be happy to discuss it with you!

 

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Navigating the Future: Technology Trends in the A&E Sector

Posted by Evan Creech-Pritchett on October 19, 2023

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As part of our ongoing commitment to exploring the latest industry insights, Full Sail Partners has been diligently examining the data from the Deltek Clarity Report, and this blog represents another installment in our series dedicated to this topic. The 44th Annual Deltek A&E Clarity Study is a beacon, illuminating the crucial technology trends that are reshaping the Architecture and Engineering (A&E) sector. Firms are strategically leveraging technology to achieve digital maturity, enhance cybersecurity, and refine business processes. In this blog, we'll dissect key findings from the study's Technology Trends section to provide valuable insights for industry professionals.  

Addressing Top Technology Challenges

To overcome the paramount challenges presented by technology, firms must extend their focus beyond merely recognizing emerging trends. An essential component of success involves equipping their staff with the requisite knowledge and skills to harness these technologies effectively. Establishing a culture of comprehensive education throughout the operational staff is pivotal for the deployment of these solutions. Furthermore, firms can greatly enhance their technology adoption by fostering collaboration with external experts. These experts bring a wealth of experience and specialized knowledge, which can be instrumental in seamlessly and cost-effectively integrating technology solutions into the firm's existing workflows.

Strategic Technology Plans and Digital Maturity

Firms are prioritizing strategic technology plans to navigate challenges related to rising costs and talent management. They're investing in high-impact areas such as project management and financial management. However, an uptick in manual data entry indicates a potential gap between strategic goals and implementation. Despite this, firms are advancing digitally, bringing more operations in-house and empowering staff as technology champions.

Firms are increasingly confident about achieving digital maturity, with 32% now self-classifying as advanced or mature, up from 18% in 2021. Looking ahead, 82% envision advanced or mature stages in five years. However, realizing this vision requires a solid plan and actionable tactics to turn optimism into reality. For more information, take a look at the Digital Transformation Maturity Spectrum in the Deltek Clarity Architecture and Engineering Industry Study, linked at the bottom of this blog.

Managing Technology Costs

Rising technology costs are a significant concern for firms, underscoring the need for strategic evaluation of existing technology to align with overarching objectives. Prioritizing solutions that offer both immediate and long-term ROI is essential for cost-effective technology adoption. Internal champions play a pivotal role by facilitating seamless integration and inspiring colleagues, contributing to heightened employee engagement and retention rates. Cultivating a culture of technology champions ensures that firms maximize their technology investments while enhancing overall workforce effectiveness.

Overcoming Technology Adoption Hurdles

The adoption of emerging technologies presents several challenges, including concerns regarding their relevance, the absence of internal expertise, and potential knowledge gaps among employees. To effectively address these hurdles, firms are encouraged to proactively invest in upskilling their existing staff. This investment not only equips employees with the necessary skills but also fosters a culture of continuous learning and adaptability, crucial in today's dynamic technological landscape. Additionally, leveraging tech-savvy champions within the organization can be transformative. These champions serve as enthusiastic advocates for technology initiatives, bridging the gap between vision and implementation.

Data and Cybersecurity Concerns

Data and cybersecurity are paramount in the A&E industry, with 68% of firms citing it as a top IT operations challenge. Cybersecurity threats impact businesses, making robust security policies and procedures crucial. Ensuring the protection of sensitive information and maintaining clients' trust are central to the industry's continued success.

Redefining Digital Transformation

A&E firms are continually evolving their use of technology to gain a competitive edge. While digital maturity is on the rise in companies of all sizes, technology costs can be a significant barrier. Firms are encouraged to focus on upskilling staff and leveraging existing technology capabilities, as this strategic approach can not only drive operational excellence but also empower firms to navigate the challenges posed by the fast-paced technology landscape effectively. By investing in their workforce and maximizing the potential of their current technology solutions, companies can position themselves as industry leaders ready to embrace the future of technology.

Manual Data Entry: A Persistent Challenge

Even with advanced technological solutions at our disposal, many organizations still find themselves heavily dependent on labor-intensive manual data entry. This dependence spans across various departments, including administrative, accounting, finance, and operations, where human intervention remains a necessity. To optimize their operations and enhance efficiency, these businesses must pinpoint existing inefficiencies and begin to automate their workflows.

A closer look at the statistics reveals the extent of this reliance on manual data entry across key organizational departments:

  • A significant 72% of accounting and finance departments within firms rely anywhere from completely to moderately on manual data entry.
  • Similarly, a substantial 74% of Operations/Resource Management departments within these organizations are found to be anywhere from completely to moderately reliant on manual data entry.
  • Furthermore, a staggering 81% of Administrative/Management divisions within firms also exhibit a significant reliance on manual data entry.

These figures underscore the pressing need for organizations to embrace automation and technological advancements to alleviate the burdens of manual data entry and unlock the full potential of their workforce.

Embrace the Future of Technology

To flourish in this technology-driven era, firms must go beyond acknowledging emerging trends; they must empower their staff with the skills and knowledge needed to harness these technologies effectively. Cultivating a culture of comprehensive education across operational staff is pivotal for the successful deployment of these solutions, and collaboration with external experts can significantly amplify technology adoption.

As A&E firms strive for digital maturity and navigate the challenges of rising technology costs, they must continue investing in their workforce and maximizing the potential of their current technology solutions. This strategic approach not only drives operational excellence but also positions companies as industry leaders prepared to embrace the future of technology. Despite the persistence of manual data entry challenges, the industry's resilience and commitment to transformation ensure that the path forward remains illuminated by the beacon of technological progress.

For more details on Technology Trends from the 44th Clarity Study, read the entire report. 

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How Professional Services Firms Benefit from Multicompany in Deltek Vantagepoint

Posted by Scott Gailhouse on October 12, 2023

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Within Deltek Vantagepoint lies an extremely useful tool that, when enabled and configured, allows a professional services firm to manage multiple companies within a single Deltek Vantagepoint database. However, the benefits of multicompany functionality seem to elude many professional services firms that would gain the most from its capabilities. So, in this blog, let’s delve into this multicompany functionality and discuss why, when, and how firms should use this fantastic feature.

Why Use Deltek Vantagepoint Multicompany?

Basically, the need for a multicompany environment comes down to the ability to track entities with separate tax ID numbers in a single Deltek Vantagepoint database. Some of the scenarios that require multicompany management include:

  • Banking relationships
  • Investments and/or holding company requirements
  • Tax reporting
  • Professional licensing requirements
  • Foreign country reporting requirements

Additionally, the need for intercompany billing can occur when two or more related companies make payments on behalf of the other companies. The most common reason for intercompany billing is the sharing of labor resources between companies that have separate payrolls and/or vendor payments for another related company.

When a professional services firm decides to utilize multicompany functionality, it is recommended that sub-ledgers be enabled to track the due to and due from, and clear intercompany balances. With multicompany enabled, users can use both the Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable aging reports for intercompany balances.

First Determine the Internal Pricing Structure

Upon implementing multicompany functionality in Deltek Vantagepoint, professional services firms must first determine what internal pricing structure to adopt. The options are:

  • Re-class only - moves the transaction to intercompany Accounts Receivable/Accounts Payable at cost
  • Project Centric - leaves the transaction on the books of the project’s company with some amount of compensation also moving to keep the loaning organization whole
  • Employee Centric - moves the transaction back to the employee’s company with some amount of revenue moving back as well
  • High Accountability – which uses a work breakdown structure (WBS) to manage transactions and point directly to the company that owns the transaction

Keep in mind that there is considerable flexibility within the options above. Different methods can be configured for different transaction types. Also, by order of operation, the distinct options can be overwritten at the individual company level or by the project at the lowest WBS level.

Intercompany billing makes accounting’s job easier regarding multicompany transactions. When transactions are made to projects not in the home company (the company where the transaction is being posted), invoices and vouchers are created through a series of postings that are reflected in the general ledgers (GLs) of the respective companies. These invoices and vouchers also appear on the Accounts Receivable and Accounts Payable aging reports noted above. The Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable balances can then be cleared by using the standard check processing and cash receipt routines.

More Benefits of Multicompany

Using Deltek Vantagepoint’s multicompany functionality provides another benefit to firms with consolidated reporting. Consolidated reporting allows a view of the performance of all the companies within the database. Consolidated groupings can represent all companies or a cross-section of companies depending on the needs of company leadership. The consolidation process incorporates standard eliminations of configured control accounts and client-defined accounts, such as capital investments in related companies. Consolidations are “memo” entries and are not posted to the GL.

A multicompany database permits each company to maintain a unique GL while still only creating one set of shared GL account numbers. Furthermore, professional services firms can restrict GL account numbers, and other master records can be shared and/or restricted as well. Vendors (managed in the Vantagepoint Firms Hub) can be shared across the enterprise. However, the accounting tab is company-specific for account number and 1099 purposes.

In addition to the benefits mentioned above, the multi-currency application works in tandem with multicompany to allow companies to have a unique functional currency – the currency the company does business in. This is an excellent feature for professional services firms that work internationally. Lastly, the consolidation process can include Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) compliant currency translations and gains/losses entries.

Take Advantage of Deltek Vantagepoint Multicompany Functionality

Is the multicompany functionality in Deltek Vantagepoint the right fit for your professional services firm? Don't leave it to guesswork. Schedule a Navigational Analysis with Full Sail Partners today. We'll help you assess your firm's unique needs and guide you in determining if the multicompany feature is the best solution for you. Dive deeper, make informed decisions, and ensure your firm sails smoothly towards success. Contact us now and let's chart the best course for your business!

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Project Management Trends from the 44th Annual Deltek A&E Clarity Study

Posted by Evan Creech-Pritchett on October 05, 2023

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Full Sail Partners has been closely following the annual Deltek Clarity Architecture and Engineering Industry Study, and in our previous blogs, we've delved into various aspects of this comprehensive report. As we continue our exploration of this year's 44th Annual Deltek Clarity study, we shift our focus to the critical realm of project management within the architecture and engineering (A&E) industry. This sector struggles with numerous challenges daily, and the study offers valuable insights into the current trends and issues affecting project managers. In this blog, we will dissect key findings from the study, particularly homing in on project management challenges and the strategic initiatives poised to address them. 

Project Management Challenges 

In the ever-evolving realm of architecture and engineering, project management is the linchpin of success. However, it's not without its formidable challenges. In this section, we'll delve into these critical challenges, from gaining better visibility into KPIs to grappling with staffing shortages. Furthermore, we will discuss strategies for overcoming them to achieve project management excellence. 

Visibility into Project Management KPIs: Project managers grapple with obtaining clear insights into key performance indicators (KPIs) and the tools required to manage them effectively. This issue affects project performance and client satisfaction. 

Projects on or Ahead of Schedule: 59.76% of projects are on track for schedule and budget. Despite this, staffing challenges continue to persist and impact project outcomes. 

Competing Priorities: A&E firms with well-defined roles, responsibilities, and efficient tools are better equipped to manage project resources. Quality control hubs, such as Centers of Excellence (CoEs) and Project Management Offices (PMOs), are instrumental in driving best practices. 

Staff Shortages: The industry continues to struggle with hiring and retaining skilled staff, with 62% of firms identifying it in their top 3 concerns. Offering tools, training, and attractive work cultures can help attract and retain next-generation project managers. 

Project Management Solutions 

Navigating the intricate landscape of project management in the architecture and engineering industry demands not just an understanding of the challenges but also the strategies to overcome them. In this section, we'll explore proactive solutions that address the industry's top project management challenges. From upskilling and training to streamline project management to harnessing collaborative platforms for improved effectiveness, and investing in technology for seamless connectivity, we'll unravel the keys to project management success.  

Addressing Top Project Management Challenges: To overcome these challenges, A&E firms are reducing their reliance on new project manager hires. Instead, they are focusing on upskilling, training, promotion, and formal career development planning to maintain productivity and deliverable quality. 

Project Management Effectiveness: Staffing issues, strong pipelines, and backlogs combined with increased staffing costs and skill gaps can hinder project management effectiveness. Collaborative platforms and regular training can help bridge these gaps. 

Connecting Teams and Using Systems: A common challenge is connecting all relevant teams on the same platform and ensuring employees use these systems correctly. This requires investment in technology and proper training. 

Project Management KPIs 

Effective project management necessitates careful planning and monitoring through various KPIs. While financial KPIs such as net revenue, profitability, and multipliers are well-tracked, there's room for improvement in non-financial KPIs like client satisfaction, schedule variance, and earned value.  

Balancing Financial and Non-Financial KPIs: Top financial KPIs like net revenue, profitability, and multipliers continue to be tracked by most firms at 94%, 93% and 83% respectively. However, firms showed less reliance this year on the non-financial KPIs like client satisfaction and earned value, at only 36% and 18% of firms tracking these statistics. Achieving a balance between financial and non-financial KPIs is essential for successful project management. Focusing solely on financial metrics can lead to oversight of critical project aspects. 

Project Reporting Accuracy: While A&E firms are gaining confidence in reporting project costs accurately, there's still room for improvement in reporting project schedules. Accurate schedule reporting is crucial for project success. 

Project Management Initiatives 

As the architecture and engineering industry continues to evolve, it's imperative to not only identify challenges but also to proactively address them through strategic initiatives. In this section, we will explore how A&E firms are taking forward-looking steps to enhance project management. These initiatives encompass investing in internal project management expertise, defining roles more clearly, and harnessing the power of technology and software tools to pave the way for a more efficient future in project management.  

Investing in Internal Project Management: A key priority for A&E firms is investing in internal project management, replacing the focus on hiring more qualified staff. Developing best practices and clearly defining roles for project management are also top priorities. 

Leveraging Technology: While technology can provide substantial support in project management, only a small percentage of firms are prioritizing investments in better software tools. Maximizing the value of existing tools and technology is crucial. 

Facing Challenges with Project Management Head on  

The A&E industry faces ongoing challenges in project management, including visibility into KPIs, staffing shortages, and maintaining project schedules and budgets. However, A&E firms are proactively addressing these challenges by investing in training, upskilling, and improved project management processes. Balancing financial and non-financial KPIs, accurate reporting, and leveraging technology will be essential for future success in the industry. By nurturing a culture of continuous improvement and transparency, A&E firms can enhance project management effectiveness and, ultimately, client satisfaction. 

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The How-To Guide for Understanding Capacity Calculations in Deltek Vantagepoint Resource Management

Posted by Terri Agnew, CPA on September 28, 2023

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Using the Resource View in Deltek Vantagepoint is a quick and easy tool for project-based firms to determine which employees are properly scheduled or utilized, and/or those who may not have enough or too many hours planned. This view has a lot of valuable information on one screen and can sometimes seem a bit overwhelming. So, the content provided here in this blog, which is utilized with Resource Planning licensing, will assist you with the questions like “What do the blue/red/grey colors mean?” or “How is the utilization % calculated” and help make this form one of the most important tools in your firm’s resource management toolbox.  

Three Show Capacity Views 

There are three different options to monitor your resources: Planned Hours, Scheduled %, and Utilization %. Below you will find illustrations showing how these three views are calculated for you to better understand the information Resource View is displaying. 

Planned Hours 

Planned Hours is the simplest of the calculations as it is what it says it is – all planned hours! Use this view to simply check each selected resource's total planned hours for the time period shown in the Forecast Range. Planned hours will be shown for all published plans for ALL types of projects – overhead, promotional, and regular projects. Planned hours will show even if the project is showing a capacity calculation of excluded from scheduled and utilized % on the project’s summary pane. 

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Scheduled %

When you change the view from Planned Hours to Scheduled %, you will notice the “heat map” will appear. This “heat map” is used to visually draw a user’s attention to which resources are properly scheduled (grey), under scheduled (blue), or over scheduled (red) based on the firm’s chosen thresholds (Settings > Resource Planning > Resource Settings). 

ResourceMgmt_02

The Scheduled % is a calculation of Planned Hours divided by Available Hours for the resource. This view is great to use to get an understanding of if a resource is too busy (red) or has availability to be assigned to more projects (blue) or if they are appropriately scheduled during the timeframe (grey). 

  • Planned Hours - this calculation will include all types of projects (regular, promotional, & overhead). However, if a project shows as “Excluded from Scheduled and Utilization” on the Project’s Summary tab, those planned hours will not be used in this calculation. Note that excluded hours will still show the hours when the details are expanded for the resource. 
  • Available Hours - these are calculated using the employee’s standard hours from their employee hub, less any non-workdays as indicated in Settings > Resource Planning > non-Workdays. 

In the example shown below, I will break down the calculation for the week of 9/4 – 9/10 where Amy Allen is showing over scheduled at 138%. 

Planned Hours / Available Hours = Scheduled %      =     44 / 32 = 138% 

Planned Hours = 59 total hours planned less 15 hours for Greenhouse Café Remodel as that project is currently set to “Exclude from Scheduled and Utilization” in the project. The numerator is 59 -15 = 44 hours. 

*Note when you click on the blue link of each project, a small summary box for the project will appear where you can easily see if a project is “included” or “excluded” from Scheduled and Utilization. 

ResourceMgmt_03

Available Hours – Amy Allen’s standard hours are set as 8 hours per day in her employee hub, which is typical for a full-time 40-hour/week employee. The week of 9/4 – 9/10 contains a Labor Day Holiday in the company’s non-workday settings. As discussed earlier, holiday hours are excluded from available hours. Therefore, the denominator is 40 – 8 = 32.  

 *Note that when you click on a resource’s name, the Employee Card will appear. On that employee card, you will find the Hours/Day in the bottom right of the Profile Tab. 

Now, the shading!  What is this heat map telling you?   

Understandably, being scheduled at 138% would seem to be over scheduled just because it is a relatively large number, but the system is compared to the firm’s Resource Planning Settings. In my demo database shown here, the blue shading indicates under scheduled as under 90%, and the red shading for over schedule when over 105%. Grey is “just right” of 90 – 105%, which this firm has indicated as appropriately scheduled.    

In summary, in my database, a full-time, 40-hour/week employee would show as properly scheduled (grey) if the scheduled hours are between 36 (90% x 40) and 42 hours, under-scheduled would be less than 36 hours (blue) and over scheduled as over 42 hours (red). 

Utilization %

The Utilization % will show the percentage of the planned hours for billable projects (regular/won projects) and those In Pursuit projects marked as “included in scheduled and utilization”. Use this view to show how an employee is tracking against their Target Utilization. Even if an employee is well scheduled, in the example above, if several of the projects are either overhead or In Pursuit and not included in scheduled and utilization, the employee may be shown as under-utilized.  

ResourceMgmt_04

Utilization % is a calculation of Total Billable Planned Hours divided by Available Hours (same calculation as above). 

Total Billable Planned Hours only includes regular projects, no promotional projects nor overhead projects. Regular projects will be all those in the Stage Step of Won and any In Pursuit that are “Included in Scheduled & Utilization” Capacity calculations. 

For this example, I will be showing the calculation for the week of 9/11 – 9/17 from the picture above. In this view, I am also showing a few additional columns in the middle grid that help demonstrate if a project is “billable” or not.   

As you can see, I have one project that is a Lead Stage – Greenhouse Café Remodel, and as discussed above, that project is Excluded from Scheduled and Utilization so those hours will not be included in the numerator. Additionally, there is one project that is overhead (no stage listed), which is PTO.   

Total Billable Planned Hours / Available Hours = Utilization %      =     22 / 40 = 55% 

Total Billable Planned Hours = 53 total hours planned less 15 hours for Greenhouse Café Remodel as that project is currently set to “Exclude from Scheduled and Utilization” in the project, less the PTO hours of 16. The numerator is 53 -31 = 22 hours. 

Available Hours (as stated above) are calculated using the employee’s standard hours from the employee hub, less any non-workdays. This week does not have a holiday and this employee’s standard hours are 8 hours/day so the Available Hours = 40. 

Shading for Utilization %: 

To understand the heat map for the Utilization %, the formula considers each employee’s Utilization Target, which is set in the Employee Hub. This employee, Amy Allen, has a Utilization Target of 75%. 

The threshold calculation is the Utilization % divided by the employee’s Utilization Target. 

For the week ending 9/17, Amy’s planned Utilization % is 55% divided by the target of 75% equals 73%. In my demo database shown here, the blue shading will be under-utilized if the utilization % is under 90%, red shading over 105%, and “just right” or grey is between 90 – 105%. Therefore, since Amy’s threshold calculation is 73%, she is showing blue as that is under-utilized in my database. 

Capacity Calculations Made Easy with Resource View 

So, in summary, the Resource View in Deltek Vantagepoint has a lot of valuable information on one screen. You can use it to navigate to three different views to understand (1) how many hours an employee has planned in total (Planned Hours), (2) if the employee is over/under scheduled (Scheduled %), and (3) if the employee is over/under utilized by simply navigating between the three options in “Show Capacity”. Project based firms should be making the most of the resource management tools available within Deltek Vantagepoint! To learn more about this feature and other Resource Management tools, please visit our webinars located here: Webinars for Project Manager Rockstars! 

 

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What to Look for in an Outsourced HR Consultant: Tips for Professional Services Firms

Posted by Tasia Grant, PHR on September 21, 2023

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In my years of experience as an HR Consultant, I have seen many professional services firms struggling with a variety of HR issues. Let's take this one example for instance - the HR Administrator at a professional services firm has the responsibility of performing complete benefits administration for employees. She has found herself bogged down with benefit administration duties like monthly bill reconciliation, employee enrollments and terminations, and employee questions on coverage and claims processing, etc. She has been spending so much time handling benefit issues that she has not been able to effectively manage the employees’ performance and productivity.   

So, in order to handle this situation, this professional services firm decided to hire an outsourced HR Consultant to assist with Benefits Administration to complete the benefits lifecycle from open enrollment and plan changes to billing and terminations.The HR consulting services freed up time and focus for the HR Administrator to manage other employee affairs more efficiently.  

Determine Firm’s Needs for Outsourced HR 

Outsourcing has become increasingly necessary as HR professionals seek ways to reduce time and resources spent on transactions and administration, so they can concentrate on more strategic activities. According to an article on Essential HR Outsourcing Statistics by ZipDo, June 13, 2023, 56% of organizations have outsourced at least one HR task and 39.8% of businesses outsource HR functions to improve their focus on core business areas. Furthermore, 68% of companies accept that outsourcing their HR functions improved their employees’ overall experience. 

However, it is important initially to understand what the ultimate objective is for each professional services firm to determine how the HR consultant will help you meet that objective. To determine what services you will need, look at your main employee-related pain points and deficiencies as well as your professional services firm’s growth plan.   

Are there very specific issues that need pointed focus like Recruiting/Talent Acquisition, Employee Relations/Employment Law, or Compensation Analysis, or is there a need for an overall evaluation or overhaul of the HR function in general? This will help you determine if you need a consultant or agency with global HR experience or a more specialized HR professional, such as one who specializes in Employment Law or Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I), etc. It is also beneficial to find an HR partner who understands your industry or even geographic area to provide more relevant and accurate guidance.

Do Your Research  

Once the outsourcing HR needs have been determined, then the hunt for the right Outsourced HR Consultant begins. It is important to research Outsourced HR Consultants that offer the level of service you are seeking based on the scope of the task(s) and desired outcomes for your professional services firm that you have determined based on the assessment of the services needed. Look for HR consultants who have a proven track record or reputation for delivering desired results. This can be acquired from client referrals and research from reputable HR-related or specific industry sources, like SHRM, HRCI, and industry websites, Glassdoor, etc. You should additionally consult with other companies in your industry for referrals.   

Establish a Budget 

HR leaders and the executive committee must also determine the budget designated for Human Capital Management (HCM). It is not always necessary to spend an excessive amount of money on Outsourced HR consulting services. You must take into consideration if the consulting will be on an as-needed General Services Agreement (GSA) basis, which will let you pick and choose your services or even come in to help you with specific projects and training topics. Some may offer the option to call when you have an urgent question or concern. Another choice is a full-scope project contract or agreement with pre-determined goals and targets. The available options per consultant will also help to narrow down the right consultant choices for your professional services firm. 

Get Proposals When Looking for an Outsourced HR Consultant 

We recommend that you request proposals from interested HR consultants. The proposal should include a clearly stated overall objective to ensure it is in line with the professional services firm’s expectation, specific details about what tasks they will complete, the steps involved in accomplishing this goal, estimated time for each task, and final completion target date, and estimated costs of services delivered.  

The HR leaders and the executive committee should compare the proposals and determine which proposal overall best meets the needs of the firm. Then they should conduct interviews to gather details about their services, confirm their ability and desire to meet the expectations of the company, availability, and costs, and obtain references. Be sure to give specific situations that your professional services firm is experiencing to see how they would handle those real situations.  

Find the Best Match for Your Firm 

When looking for the right Outsourced HR Consulting situation, you should have a clear understanding of your company's culture, values, and overall vision. It is very important that as you are vetting consultants, you should communicate this information to them to determine if they would work well with the structure/culture of your professional services firm. All of this should be taken into consideration as they assess and advise the firm. It’s important that you find a consultant that respects the culture you’ve built and won’t disrupt the current dynamic or morale.   

Get Ready to Start Looking for Your Outsourced HR Consultant 

Based on the same ZipDo statistics article referenced above, companies that outsource HR management can see an average cost savings of 20-30% and can save an average of 18 hours per week on paperwork and administrative tasks. Moreover, 60% of businesses with outsourced HR processes have been successful at improving employee morale. These statistics provide compelling evidence of the numerous advantages that come with outsourcing your HR functions. With these insights, you should be motivated and prepared to begin your search for the perfect HR consultant. Want to hear more about the Full Sail Partners’ Outsourced HR Consulting Services? Click the image below to get started.

 

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