Full Sail Partners Blog (2)

Deltek ProjectCon 2022: Be There or Be Square

Posted by Cate Phillips on September 14, 2022

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After two virtual years, the annual Deltek conference is back in person. Wondering if your firm should attend this year’s Deltek ProjectCon conference (formerly known as Deltek Insight)? Well first off, let’s use some math logic, so hear me out. 

In project-based businesses, like engineers, architects, consulting firms, and other professional services organizations, it is usually important to hit the mark for a successful business. What is a mark? It’s a point different from nearby points; something to shoot at or a visible indication that distinguishes something. 

However, think of a project lifecycle. I would say that most of the time folks in our world visualize the life cycle of a project as a circle. In fact, go ahead and Google “the project life cycle” and check out the images…they pretty much all include a circle. A sphere doesn’t really have a point, and by its nature, the circle is not like other shapes. As we can agree that the project lifecycle is usually a circle and that circles don’t have points like other shapes, clearly the next logical step is that since your firm really can’t “be square” then you should be there at Deltek ProjectCon 2022!  

My logic is not convincing? Here are other reasons you should attend, and as I know you’ve been thinking about it, let's just say that the new name for Deltek’s annual conference will in no way change the “insight” you will get for attending. 

Gain Some Valuable Deltek Product Insight 

We all know conferences are for learning; that’s basically the entire business case and why you or your firm is paying to be there. So, get knee-deep in your Deltek knowledge at ProjectCon. Obtain a certification through a free Deltek University exam. Add more skills to your resume and get paid more. Learn how to solve your complex challenges using Deltek technology. 

Meet, Greet and Network with Insightful Experts  

Go and have some fun gosh darn it; you’ve earned it. You made it through a pandemic and can finally see your friends and business connections in person for the first time in over two years. There are networking events being thrown just for you at Deltek ProjectCon, so don’t turn down a free party! Even better, you can finally connect with the actual experts about Deltek products, not just your colleagues.  

Fresh Insights and Latest Trends 

Best practices are game changers for professional services firms. At Deltek ProjectCon, learn how your peers are getting things done and get all juiced up on innovative new technologies. Attend the keynote and learn what “The Power of Connectional Intelligence” means. Think about robots; artificial intelligence is the future not just in cars but also in data-driven organizations. 

Future Insights Through Product Roadmaps 

For many project-based firms, there are upgrade questions such as when is Vision's end of life? At ProjectCon, you can find out more from Deltek representatives and see the updated road map. Here you also have the opportunity to ask questions that would make the Deltek staff seriously consider adding your favorite missing feature to the next version of your software. It is critical to understand the journey your firm is on, and that’s hard to do without a map.  

Deltek Newbie? Acquire Insight, Historically Speaking 

There is no better way to meet seasoned groupies than to attend a conference like Deltek ProjectCon. You know you want to hear about what happened at this conference 20 years ago. Go soak up the old-timers’ knowledge or attend beginner sessions and feel less alone.  

Upcoming Insights from Full Sail Partners at ProjectCon ‘22 

Want to see us walk the walk and talk the talk? Join seven of our incomparable consultants as they lead the following sessions. You can search out the sessions by title, topic, presenter, etc. by visiting this page: Deltek ProjectCon 2022 | Project Success Starts Here | Session Catalog 

[VPSPON-03] Single Source of Truth Between Vantagepoint and ADP 

Discover how Vantagepoint and ADP can work together to enhance your payroll experience. During this session, learn how the Blackbox Connector offering from Full Sail Partners securely and seamlessly integrates 3rd party software platforms with Vantagepoint. The Vantagepoint Payroll Interface allows firms to efficiently move Vantagepoint project hours to ADP payroll hours based on business rules. Employee data can now be integrated between ADP Workforce Now and Vantagepoint with a single point of entry upon the employee hiring process. Presented by:

Scott Seal, VP of Consulting, Full Sail Partners 

Rick Childs, Principal Consultant, Full Sail Partners 

Jennifer Wilson, SQL Developer, Full Sail Partners 

[VP-66] New and Improved Vantagepoint Accounting Features to Automate Your Business 

Join this session to familiarize yourself with the new and improved features in Deltek Vantagepoint to help automate your accounting department and business. The presentation will cover the latest and greatest features including approvals, billing, AR, reporting, dashboard, and other features to improve your accounting processes. This is a must-attend session for your financial team to learn from two consultants that have spent more than 1,000 hours helping more than 100 companies upgrade from Vision to Vantagepoint. Presented by:

Terri Agnew, Principal Consultant, Full Sail Partners 

Theresa Depew, Senior Consultant, Full Sail Partners 

[VP-22] Create a More Collaborative and Efficient Team Environment with Vantagepoint: One Firm's Story 

Welcome to the future of managing the project lifecycle for professional services firms! With Deltek Vantagepoint, see how one firm created a more cohesive and streamlined method for operating project-based businesses. JCJ Architecture will take you on a journey through its new project lifecycle. Learn how their team reimagined their processes from pursuit identification to final project execution, resulting in a more collaborative team environment. Better data provided better analysis, which resulted in better decision-making and a better business! Presented by:

Rana Blair, Principal Consultant, Full Sail Partners 

Amanda Roussel, Senior Consultant, Full Sail Partners 

Michelle Chapman, Senior Project Accountant, JCJ Architecture 

Jeanne Muscolino, Principal | Hospitality Sector Leader | Business Development Manager, JCJ Architecture 

Register for 2022 ProjectCon Today 

With all of these reasons to attend ProjectCon, we know you are thinking about what to pack already. Don’t miss the Full Sail Partners’ booth in the XPO hall. For all the latest information about ProjectCon 2022, hit up Deltek ProjectCon 2022 | Project Success Starts Here. This year it’s in Nashville from November 15 – 18th. I hope the insights you gain and the fun you have inspire you to do more in your own spherical world of projects. 

 

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The 43rd Deltek A&E Clarity Study Predicts Positive Changes for Business Development

Posted by Amanda Roussel on September 07, 2022

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According to this year’s Deltek Clarity Architecture & Engineering (A&E) Industry Study, it is looking to be a landmark year for the architecture and engineering industry with net revenue growth forecasted to grow to 17.6%. A&E is doing quite well despite the pandemic with the highest net revenue growth in the last ten years at 11.4%. This increase is assisted by A&E’s market position, which is expected to either grow or remain steady in markets across the board. Most notably water/waste/stormwater, transportation, and industries that fall under the “other” category (such as life sciences and senior living) are predicted to see great increases. As a result, firms will not only need to strategically pursue the right projects but will also need to grow and develop a staff to deliver on these projects.

 

Top Business Development (BD) Challenges 

The ever-changing nature of the business world is continuing to keep firms on their toes with new challenges. Unlike the previous year, a majority of firms (78%) have identified that finding and retaining qualified staff has been a struggle for them. This is coupled with other mass-reported problems such as staffing shortages and difficulty retaining employees. Staffing challenges have a direct impact on business development, not only lacking adequate staff to conduct business development activities but also not being able to provide the most qualified teams to win and deliver on projects. 

Time to nurture client relationships is the top business development challenge for A&E firms according to the report. With favorable market conditions, new opportunities will be plentiful which poses a challenge for firms to keep up with their clients. Time is money and time is also in short supply. With the reporting firms revealing an average work backlog of nearly 9 months, it is clear that companies must find a way to increase productivity. Upskilling business development talent and streamlining the BD process will help to free up time to strategically nurture client relationships. 

Other top BD challenges from the study include increased competition and identifying prospects. Firms must differentiate and hone branding across thought leadership and social marketing channels to distinguish themselves in the marketplace. Additionally, with a positive industry outlook this year, firms will need to be more strategic in pursuits that work best for their company’s strengths. 

Increased Formal Business Development Process 

Of the companies surveyed, 45% have a formal business development process, which is an increase going up from 39% the previous year. Though this means that 55% of firms surveyed still do not have any formal business development process. In these cases, responsibility for business development tasks is most often pushed to the executive team, project managers, and marketing staff. While dedicated business development staff may not be necessary in every case, it is important not to overlook the kind of work they do. Most notably, they tend to client relationship development, proposal development and networking, but they have plenty of other duties as well. Their jobs help to create new business opportunities, and within the last year active client relationships, requests for proposals and networking placed in the top five sources of new opportunities in the surveyed firms. 

A Positive Year for Proposals Requires Evaluation 

As suggested by the Deltek Clarity study, operating in a market with limited resources but high demand, the go/no go process is significant to evaluate the projects firms will pursue. While the number of firms employing the go/no go process has increased in the last year, there is still a large population who do not utilize it in the slightest. Of the companies who reported, 22% don’t use any kind of go/no go process. Listed below are the top three questions that businesses ask when deciding whether or not to accept a proposal: 

  • Is it a good fit for the type of work we do? 
  • Do we have an existing relationship with the client? 
  • Do we have the staff to deliver the project?   

This method of weeding out less profitable projects is more useful than ever, as a significant rise in the number of proposals submitted and the number awarded in firms of all sizes was observed. In-kind, the average win rate of proposals has increased in the last year to 49.2%, the highest it’s been since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The average capture rate is also up from the previous year, now standing at 48.5%. 

Marketing Techniques Present and Future 

A majority of businesses reported using social media posts for marketing, with only 16% not indicating any use. This was followed by client-specific marketing at 67%, trade shows/exhibits at 56%, email marketing at 54% and thought leadership at 42%. The order of these marketing methods is projected to change, however, with the study offering up that client-specific marketing could overtake social media marketing within the next five years. Thought leadership is predicted to advance to third place among important marketing techniques, with trade shows/exhibits and email marketing falling more and more by the wayside. 

Business Development Initiatives 

Based on this year’s study, some of the priority business development (BD) initiatives for A&E firms are hiring additional staff, earlier identification of opportunities and requirements and expanding geographically. Since BD has not been spared from staffing challenges, and firms are seeing more proposals, projects, and nurturing opportunities, the focus on obtaining the best-qualified staff is of tantamount importance. Another area that has grown in importance is the geographic expansion of firms requiring yet again additional staff. One more initiative to identify opportunities and their requirements remains top of the list as well. Teams shouldn’t be wasting time and their resources on projects that are not winnable. 

Final BD Outlook from Deltek Clarity 

The 43rd Deltek A&E Clarity study found that while the world still is not clear about the pandemic, things are looking up for the industry. The top problems of participating firms are not dire, and by focusing on the employee base and current client relationships, these issues can be fixed. This year’s Deltek Clarity report also noted that freeing up time is necessary to clear the obstacles in the way of each business regarding BD. To remedy this, employing the go/no go process and better utilizing the tools provided by Deltek to streamline the BD process is suggested. 

How does your company stack up to those that participated in the survey? For a more in-depth look at the data behind the 43rd Deltek A&E Clarity study, use the link below to receive the report for free right now! 

 

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Best Practices from Professional Services Firms Who've Upgraded from Deltek Vision to Vantagepoint

Posted by Lindsay Diven on August 31, 2022

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Having now partnered with hundreds of architecture and engineering firms to upgrade from Deltek Vision to Vantagepoint, Full Sail Partners has gathered a treasure trove of lessons learned and best practices. While professional services firms can certainly benefit from what has been discovered by Full Sail Partners, in this article, they can also hear directly from different engineering and architecture firms about their own experiences. Once again, firms looking to make the Vantagepoint transition can get advice as well as discover lessons learned and best practices from their counterparts’ Vantagepoint upgrade experiences. 

This is the third article in the series where professional services firms can “hear from their peers” who have either made the upgrade or talk about experiences during the upgrade process. The first article focused on preparing for the upgrade and the second article shared their users most loved new features of Vantagepoint. In this final article, the participants will share some best practices from their Vantagepoint upgrade experience. 

Featured Firms

The clients that are featured in this series are a mix of small, medium, and large firms. Also highlighted are specific contacts who serve in different roles within their firms. They each were in a different phase of the upgrade process when we met with them. The clients providing their feedback include the following:  

Argus Consulting, Inc. 
Nancy Smith, Project Controls  
Karen Pattison, Controller   

CSHQA 
Andrea Kier, Business Development 

RIOS 
Jessamyn Davis, Chief Operating Officer  

Structural Integrity Associates, Inc. 
Paul Arnone, Applications Support Manager  

Ware Malcomb 
Brad Mathias, Director, Financial Planning & Analysis  

Treat the Upgrade Like a Project 

Karen and Nancy from Argus Consulting approached the upgrade like a project. They assigned a project manager, in their case Nancy, to lead and she was the one person to be in charge of the efforts. Nancy also was sure to engage the end users, and she coordinated with people from marketing, project management, etc. She particularly worked hard on having a lot of interaction within each group along the way. 

Structural Integrity Associates took a similar approach in their upgrade. They established a task group to evaluate the entire upgrade. However, their task group was about 15 people who were on weekly calls including vice presidents and other executives. Paul now thinks it might have been more beneficial to have had smaller groups made of targeted areas depending on the meeting topic for that week. It might have helped the process move quicker and maximize everyone’s time.  

Communicate and Prioritize Across Departments 

Andrea from CSHQA recommends communicating and understanding what the users need from Vantagepoint and to ask a lot of questions. It is also important to realize that everyone is busy and that the upgrade tasks might not be their main job. So, it might take longer to review information and make decisions for the different end user groups.  

Remember, it’s Just an Upgrade, not a New ERP Implementation 

Jessamyn’s big take away from RIOS upgrading to Deltek Vantagepoint is to remember that this is just an upgrade. It’s not a migration to a new system. Most of Vantagepoint works the same as Vision, except that it’s in the browser. She wants firms to not be intimated by upgrading to Vantagepoint. While it is a lot of work, it is definitely nothing compared to migrating to an entirely new ERP system.  

Utilize the Expertise of a Trusted Partner & the Vantagepoint Readiness Report 

The best practice that Brad from Ware Malcomb recommends is to get the help of a trusted Deltek Partner. In his case, they used the services of Full Sail Partners and the Vantagepoint Readiness Report. The Vantagepoint Readiness Report identified everything that was needed for their upgrade instead of having to figure it out on their own.  

Start Cleaning Data, Even if the Upgrade is Far Away 

Another important thing that Brad always recommends is reviewing the data in Vision, especially if the firm has been using the system for a long time, like Ware Malcomb. Their data wasn’t necessarily bad data but there was a lot of duplicate data. Having the data as clean as possible will make the upgrade process go even smoother.  

Want to Hear More From Your Peers?  

As this article is the last one in a three-part series, be sure to check out the other “hear from your peers” topics.  In part one, different project-based firms shared their Deltek Vision to Vantagepoint upgrade experiences. Then in part two, the same firms shared their most liked new features of Vantagepoint. Hearing from peers is a great way for professional services firms to get comfortable with the transition from Deltek Vision to Vantagepoint. Take advantage of their experiences and learn how to make the move go smoothly. 

To listen to their upgrade experience, watch the webinar that is linked below. 

 

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Tips to Address Top HR Challenges from the 43rd Deltek Clarity Study

Posted by Tasia Grant, PHR on August 24, 2022

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Finding, recruiting and retaining top talent affects nearly every part of architecture and engineering (A&E) firms, as evident in the 43rd Deltek Clarity Study. In a previous blog article, we dove into the specific human capital management (HCM) challenges. Today’s focus will be on sharing tips that A&E firms can use to address those challenges.  

 

Acquisition & Retention Connection 

The number one initiative that respondents to the survey were considering taking was improving the opinion of their organization in the marketplace to attract better talent. Firms should be thinking about their brand as a sum total of all of their processes, actions and culture. It’s not just a mission statement on a website. It’s critical to start with the firm’s brand and ensure it’s authentic.  

How well does the firm’s brand display authenticity and empathy, as well as showcase modernization with firm processes and utilizing technology? Also, it’s not enough to just focus on the brand. Firms have to additionally communicate the brand outwardly, and not just by the firm’s employees, but by clients and customers who know other people in the marketplace.  

Another tip is to review the firm’s hiring process. Ensure everybody in the hiring process understands the experience the firm’s trying to create and follows through on. Candidates will drop out of the process and/or won’t accept positions because they weren’t treated well throughout the process. The firm should create an experience specific to the acquisition process. Everyone involved in the firm’s hiring process should understand the critical role that getting the offer accepted depends upon creating a great experience and following through on commitments. Every touchpoint with the candidate is a way to demonstrate the firm’s culture. 

Onboarding talent effectively is another tip to address HCM challenges. According to the Clarity study, it’s taking around four months from when the job is posted to the new hire producing billable work. So, the better the firm is at its onboarding program not only will that new hire be quicker to bill work, but it’s also a key time to keep that person’s retention and engagement high. New hires are already excited about coming onboard, and if there’s a lag in their training and they don’t feel like they’re having an impact on the business, their engagement level can drop quickly.  

Acquisition and retention are connected. If the firm can create a good retention strategy, especially through branding, it will have less need for acquisition and thus fewer acquisition costs. This frees up more budgets to continue with retention and engagement programs which in turn helps increase retention.  

Culture & Communication 

One of the most important things to the modern workforce is relationships, specifically, relationship-focused employment experiences. So how do A&E firms get to that? Here are a few strategies: 

  • Continuous Feedback Discussions – The relationship between employee and manager is pivotal.  Annual performance reviews can be expensive and not many people get a lot out of them. Firms should maybe at least supplement their annual review process with continuous feedback discussions. These are times when people can connect frequently and start to feel value.  
  • Pulse Surveys – Pulse surveys are a way to demonstrate an interest in employees’ perspectives. 
  • Authenticity & Empathy – The modern workforce craves this, and this can be demonstrated through continuous feedback discussions and frequent interactions between employees, project teams, project managers and direct supervisors. People want to work for somebody they connect with, somebody they align with, and it’s never been more important. From a modernized performance management perspective, firms should implement processes that allow for frequent connection and allow opportunities to display authenticity and convey empathy. 
  • News & Information – Employees desire company news and information and want to know how the firm is doing. They also want to know where they stand. In the absence of information, people create their own, and when they don’t know how the firm is doing, they start to think that maybe things aren’t going well. How can the firm create a great culture and engagement by just making sure it’s transparent as possible? Furthermore, how can the firm make sure that information is shared frequently and consistently? 

Modern Performance Management Tools 

Three modern performance management tools include continuous feedback, continuous goal management and recognition. Below is a summary of each. 

  • Continuous Feedback – Good continuous feedback discussions are not just “check-ins” but are opportunities to drive goal discussions, career development discussions, and improve engagement and retention. They can also serve as an opportunity to recognize people in a one-on-one setting. They are very highly desired by the modern workforce and can replace or supplement the appraisal process.  
  • Continuous Goal Management – This approach removes the time box traditionally associated with annual goals which is not how people work. Instead, this approach focuses purely on the alignment of the employee and the firm, driving them both mutually forward.  
  • Recognition – This is key to engagement, retention and boosting productivity, morale and happiness. When employees are recognized for good work, it releases dopamine in their brains and creates feelings of pride and pleasure. This then tells the brain that if they do more things like this, they’ll get more praise and recognition and feel this way again. As a result, the behavior starts to change, but be careful not to just recognize people haphazardly and constantly to a point where it’s meaningless. So, think about what a formal recognition program can do for not only the firm but from a brain chemistry standpoint.  

Learning & Development 

The two top initiatives for managing talent from the study were "create/improve success and career development planning" and "create/improve employee engagement programs." Here are some tips to take action on learning and development. 

  • Organizational Focus – Learning and development has to be a firmwide focus with buy-in from executive leadership. Managers need to promote learning, and time has to be devoted to it.  
  • Career Mobility – Firm leaders have to allow for career mobility. Retaining a great employee, at least in some aspect of the firm, is better than losing them totally.  
  • Development Plans – There should be plans for all levels supporting onboarding, employee growth and gap fills. 
  • Project Focused – There should be project-focused learning and development. Many survey respondents said that PM training is key. Firms should invest in that project management training. 
  • Upskill & Reskill – This strategy supports career mobility, improves employee engagement and retention and improves productivity. Watch this webinar to learn more about how to deploy upskilling and reskilling at your firm. 

Dig Deeper into the 43rd Annual Deltek Clarity Report 

Hopefully, A&E firms will consider all of these useful tips to address their HCM challenges. To get more details on A&E firm HCM trends or other interesting findings, download the full Deltek A&E Clarity report. Click the image below to grab a free copy of the report along with a scorecard to chart the firm’s results. 

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Automated Bank Feeds with Deltek Vantagepoint for Professional Services Firms

Posted by Joel Slater on August 17, 2022

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Most likely of great interest to Vantagepoint users is that Deltek is continuing to roll out rapid enhancements to Vantagepoint in order to drive purposeful innovation and efficiency. One of the latest improvements being made possible is by a new partnership and integration with Plaid. This integration with Plaid offers professional services firms the ability to automate the update of transactions in Bank Reconciliation in Vantagepoint. Well, what is this all about, and how can professional services firms make this happen?

About Plaid

Plaid powers thousands of financial apps and this convenient integration will allow professional services firms to connect their banks to Deltek Vantagepoint in a secure way. With Plaid, firms can control whom their data is shared with and for how long. Additionally, whenever firms use a Plaid-powered app, their security is of the utmost importance meeting or exceeding industry standards. 

Bye-Bye Manual Entry 

Most Deltek Vision clients were already aware of the ability to manually upload a file from their bank to import bank transactions. The key word here, being MANUAL. Now check out the good news - with Deltek’s latest release of Vantagepoint, that process has now been vastly improved with automated bank feeds. That’s right! No more manual import is required. The integration currently supports over 11,000 banks across North America, with more being added regularly. As of the Vantagepoint 5.0 release, this integration is available to both on-premise and Deltek Cloud clients. There is no separate purchase or licensing required.   

 Instead of the more time-consuming, manually administered import process, a professional services firm’s latest bank transactions are seamlessly imported into the accounting system. After import, they are reflected in the Bank Reconciliation record. It is then taken a step further by automatically matching imported records to posted payments and cash receipts.  

Setup Using the Plaid Assistant 

Most Deltek Vantagepoint clients can get started with this convenient solution today. They will first need to connect their supported bank within Vantagepoint settings (Settings > Cash Management > Banks). From there, that process will guide them through selecting their bank, logging in using their existing bank credentials, and then selecting the account that they want to connect to all using the Plaid setup assistant.  

If their banks require multi-factor authentication or OAuth, the process will be similar, while still incorporating those additional security steps to enter needed credentials. For step-by-step instructions, professional services firms can reference this video, or the relevant Deltek Vantagepoint help file 

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After the connection is established, transactions which have cleared a professional services firm’s bank will automatically feed into Deltek Vantagepoint Bank Reconciliation on a nightly basis. System administrators can change the date on which Vantagepoint starts the daily transaction import into Bank Reconciliation in addition to the time of day that the import is run. Firms also have the flexibility to manually refresh transactions through the day.  

Automatic Bank Feeds in Vantagepoint

Need More Help with Bank Feed? 

 If there is ever an error related to a firm’s bank connection with Plaid, there are some messages now displayed in Vantagepoint to help with troubleshooting. Firms should note the IDs and let Deltek customer care know. Here are some common scenarios that have been dealt with already. 

Streamlined Bank Reconciliation  

Professional services firms using Deltek Vantagepoint now really have it made in the shade. With the Plaid integration and ensuing automatic bank feeds, bank reconciliation has become even more streamlined. Without the need for manual downloads, firms now have much more time to manage other financial matters, ensuring improved efficiency. Firms should get started with this latest enhancement today! 

 

Click the image below to learn about how Deltek Vantagepoint powers project-based firms. 

 

Image button link to the Project Lifecycle of Deltek Vantagepoint webinar

Top A&E Firm Human Capital Management Challenges from the 43rd Annual Deltek Clarity Study

Posted by Tasia Grant, PHR on August 10, 2022

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It’s no surprise that finding and retaining top talent is a challenge facing every architecture and engineering (A&E) firm in North America but what specific human capital management (HCM) challenges are there? How do firms compare to the industry and what do the numbers really tell them? This overview is the first piece in a two-part series that will dig into the HCM specific challenges revealed from the 43rd Annual Deltek Clarity Study.  

Every Department Impacted by Staffing Shortages

Almost every area of the Deltek Clarity Study cited human capital management (HCM) towards the top, if not the number one challenge to growth. Many industries, including A&E, have been affected by the great resignation. Specifically, firms are saying it’s hard for them to win more business because they’re not necessarily certain that they can go ahead and staff projects. Hiring additional staff has become of paramount concern for A&E firms right now.  

The top financial challenges indicated from the Clarity study are finding and retaining qualified staff. This isn’t about a certain number of staff, but really finding qualified people that can handle the type of work and the different projects the firms have. This need is leading to more career development and training initiatives by A&E firms.  

Similar top challenges are cited in the project management area, including staff shortages and inexperienced project managers. So, how do firms develop project managers? How do they get the project managers up and running so they manage projects effectively? Part of the solution is hiring more experienced project managers, but other top initiatives include developing internal project manager best practices and investing in internal project manager training. 

Top Challenges for Human Resources 

The study asked what the top three challenges were for managing human resources. The number one response was retaining employees followed very closely by employee engagement/experience. Firms are realizing that they need to really become proactive in their retention and engagement efforts.  

No longer are firms just competing with companies in their own geographic region. With the rise of remote work, A&E firms are competing with other firms located across the country and talent is being recruited away from other areas. Other top challenges included career development, planning and performance management.  

Top Talent Acquisition Challenge 

The Deltek Clarity Study asked about the top acquisition challenges A&E firms are facing. The top response was the availability of good candidates in the marketplace. Based on this, it might be a good time for firms to step back to look at how they can change their practices or modernize their efforts to support recruiting.  

Specifically, this requires identifying what a good candidate means to the firm. The firm should ask what makes somebody who handles a role in the firm successful at it? Does the firm basically just review previous job descriptions or job profiles and reuse those? Has the firm really looked at what makes people successful in their specific role and in the firm as a whole from a culture perspective? 

After doing this initial analysis, the firm should evaluate what it is doing to diversify. Diversifying the talent pools makes sure that the firm is putting itself in the best position to find candidates that meet the profile developed. Also, the firm should consider what roles can be handled remotely. 

Firms should think about this from both angles – first doing a good job of understanding what makes people successful at the firm and then diversifying the talent pools to widen the marketplace. 

A&E Industry HR Statistics  

To give some idea of how a firm fits within the North American A&E industry, here are some high-level statistics related to human resources from the 43rd Deltek A&E Study: 

  • Employee turnover has increased a little from the previous year and is at 13.6%. 
  • Staff growth overall is up to 3.2% which means that despite a higher turnover rate, firms are still growing.  
  • However, offers accepted decreased and is sitting at 77.4%.  
  • Only about 50% of firms in the survey had more open positions last year, while this year’s survey saw 65% of firms with more open positions.  
  • The time to fill positions is becoming longer and longer, with 50% of firms saying it’s taking 60+ days to fill open positions.  

Gen Y Has Taken Over 

The Deltek Clarity Study looked at both generational composition firm wide and by management level. Firm wide, the Millennials (Gen Y) have taken over the greatest portion of staff making up 39%. It’s important to note that Gen Z is coming right up behind which really starts to play into how firms develop their culture and organization.  

The top-level leadership roles in organizations are currently held by Gen X, nearly 70%, but the study reveals that in the first to lower-level management, the younger generations are beginning to take over a lot of those positions. This is great because firms are starting to see new thoughts, new processes, modernization, and a lot of variety and diversity. A&E firms will continue to see this trend in terms of those generational shifts to the younger generation from a management perspective which will affect recruiting, retention, and talent development.  

Top Tools Used to Develop Talent 

Firms cited coaching and mentoring, external education programs, and leadership development programs as their top three tools used to develop talent. The very top method is coaching and mentoring. Firms should ensure that coaches and mentors are available to make the best impression on employees. Firms should not just rely on who has been at the firm the longest for choosing their mentors and should make sure that these mentors are equipped with the right skills to bring other staff along.  

Engaging Employees Too Late 

The Clarity study showed that 86% of firms conduct exit interviews, but these interviews are often too late. Many times, these type of exit interviews are not as effective for getting honest responses from the employees because they are simply trying to get through the exit process and leave the firm. Unfortunately, many firms are spending a lot of time on this strategy rather than on other strategies such as stay interviews or pulse surveys.  

Only 30% of firms conduct pulse surveys. Pulse surveys are quick hit surveys where the firm can get answers. They can be sent to the recent hires on their onboarding experience, for example. The idea is to gauge the pulse in real time throughout the course of the year.  

Dig Deeper into the 43rd Annual Deltek Clarity Report 

To get more details on A&E firm HCM trends or other interesting findings, download the full Deltek A&E Clarity report. Click the image below to grab a free copy of the report along with a scorecard to chart the firm’s results. Don’t forget to stay tuned for the second installment in this series that will share some ways firms can use this information to improve processes and help meet some of these HCM challenges. 

 

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Project-Based Firms and Deltek Collaborate Through the Deltek Idea Portals

Posted by Scott Seal on August 03, 2022

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How many users have brainstormed good ideas regarding their Deltek Vantagepoint system that they wanted to share but didn’t know how? What about any suggestions for product enhancements that these same users would want to offer? Fortunately for these users, Deltek has recently launched the Deltek Idea Portals, a new online tool for submitting and promoting ideas to Deltek product management directly. Let’s check out how it works, the reasoning behind it and what Full Sail Partners’ consultants have to say about it. 

Using the Idea Portals 

The process for using the Idea Portals is that first, the Deltek Authorized Support Contacts (ASCs) at the firm would access the link for the Idea Portals within the Deltek Support Center (DSC). To determine a firm’s designated ASC, contact the firm’s Customer Success Manager. Next, the ASC would click on ‘Share Your Ideas’ and be taken to the links for certain Deltek products. For instance, users from Full Sail Partners’ clients which are project-based firms would choose the Vantagepoint/Vision idea portal. Once inside, ASCs can share ideas about their specific products, can vote and add insight on other ideas that have been presented. ASCs can subscribe to the item to receive status updates when those ideas move from being considered to planned and then released.  

Here is a quick screenshot of what users see when they go into the DSC. For more information, users can review the Idea Portals quick start guide. 

 

Promoting a Cooperative Effort  

From extensive research, Deltek learned that products developed without input from users are not successful when delivered in the end. So, the thought behind creating the Idea Portals was to provide one standard cooperative way for presenting ideas on Deltek products. This updated and convenient process promotes a two-way communication between project-based firms and the product management team at Deltek while ideas are vetted and prioritized. Not only can users see how their ideas are being received and processed by Deltek, but others interested in the subject matter can provide additional suggestions and input. 

 

Feedback from Full Sail Partners’ Consultants  

Full Sail Partners’ consultants have recently been visiting the Vantagepoint/Vision Deltek Idea Portal and offered the following feedback. 

One Full Sail Partners’ consultant really liked the focus on the statuses that Deltek is using to communicate where the idea offered was in the process. In particular, the statuses of “Likely to Implement” or “Planned” were interesting as was the status of “Released.” Below are some screenshots that this consultant took experimenting in the Idea Portals. From these images, Deltek users can catch a glimpse at what ideas are being considered and which statuses those ideas are being given.  

In this initial screenshot, on the right side in the highlight, there is “Filter by Status” where users can see what the available options are for statuses of idea consideration. Look at the 2090 ideas for future consideration. That is certainly a lot of ideas coming from project-based firms. 

In these other screenshots, Deltek users can see the types of ideas that are being offered, how many people voted on those ideas and the status that the idea was given by Deltek product management. 

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Here is an example of what users will receive when they subscribe, and an idea is voted on. In this case, the idea was “Update the PTO Plan when an absence request is approved.” Look in the comments section to see where other users can make their contributions to help these ideas move forward with product development. 

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Another Full Sail Partners’ consultant has gone even further in really utilizing the Vantagepoint/Vision Idea Portal. She decided that when interesting and relevant topics come up with her clients, she takes them directly to the idea portal if they have never been before. Then she teaches them how to search for what ideas they are interested in offering to Deltek product management and how to enter their ideas if they are new. This is a screenshot of where users add their ideas for consideration. 

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With her observations and discovery, she has learned that many of her and her client’s desired items are already there, and it would be a great idea to create an email to Deltek at VantagepointIdeasPortal@deltek.com documenting the cases that seem the same. For example, as she searched for specific ideas and voted on ones already in the portal, she found duplicates like “credit card reconciliation update to make it more dynamic for payments” which was found twice or “controlling how to create a project” which appeared similar to three other user’s ideas. From what this consultant was told, Deltek is combining them when they are found. 

This same consultant also indicated that when she voted on an idea in the Vantagepoint/Vision portal, in her case it was for the “ability to update scheduled reports without having to unschedule, update the report and reschedule,” she received a survey from Deltek. This survey asked her about use cases and the most needed reasons for updating etc. This showed her that Deltek was really listening and trying to make effective changes. 

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work 

With time and collaboration, these Idea Portals should ensure that a plethora of ideas are heard and evaluated by Deltek product management, and from these suggestions, users should be provided with many of their needed solutions. Any good idea, no matter how small, should be offered to Deltek using this process. Remember, “you can’t win, if you don’t play.” 

 

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More Features of Deltek Vantagepoint 5.0

Posted by Terri Agnew, CPA on July 27, 2022

 

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In a previous blog, we discussed many of the amazing features of Deltek 5.0. However, there are even more features of Deltek Vantagepoint 5.0 available to include new mobile capabilities and ways to manage contacts. Here we will review those additional features and see the improvements made particularly in resource planning. 

 

Multiple Rows in Labor Grid for Resource Planning 

This enhancement provides more parity to the Deltek Vision Resource Planning. With this enhancement, users can change the view of the resource plan itself. The project manager can add multiple sub rows (as shown below) to the labor grid in planning. Choices include: 

Note: The Resource Planning Module is required for this feature. 

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The ability to be able to change this view and select sub-row settings is set up on a global level. The firm can decide what’s allowed in Resource Planning Settings. Meaning if the firm doesn’t want to use baseline, for instance, this sub-row could be turned off in Settings.   

Add Assignments Under Inactive Levels in Resource Planning 

This new feature allows firms to add resource or generic assignments to inactive project levels and their respective “child row” if it’s not dormant. The dormant levels will remain closed for adding resources and their respective “child rows” and will keep the “no add” icon.  

Firms do not need to have the Resource Planning module to take advantage of this new feature. 

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Expanded Resource View in Resource Management 

In Deltek Vantagepoint 5.0, users can search for resources with additional field options inside Resource View. This feature does require the Resource Planning module.  

The additional fields that are now available in Resource View are any standard drop-down or look-up fields in the Employee Hub as well as any user-defined drop-down or look-up fields.  

Controlling which fields are allowed is a Global option that is configured in the Resource Planning settings. However, Hub Security is not honored. So, for example, if a user doesn’t have access to the Travel Preferences field in the Employee Hub, but it’s made available in Resource View, that user will be able to see that information.  

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New Projects Filter and Expanded Column Options in Resource Management 

In Resource View, users now have the ability to filter projects at the very top of the grid itself. There are several options to filter the projects including: 

  • Project status
  • Charge type
  • Project manager
  • Project organization
  • Stage
  • Stage step
  • Probability 

Note: The Resource Planning Module is required for this feature. 

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Mobile Enhancements 

There have been enhancements to both the CRM and Time & Expense (T&E) mobile apps in Deltek Vantagepoint 5.0. Those enhancements include: 

  • Business card scanner – A contact can be created by snapping a photo of a business card in the CRM app. The contact will be created with the data from the card using ICR (Intelligent Character Recognition) makes entering contacts on the fly even easier.  
  • Updated Login Assistance – Both the T&E and CRM apps now have a new “forgot password” assistance button.  
  • Enter time and dates using the keypad – Stop the endless scrolling with this new feature! Users of both the T&E and CRM apps now can enter the time or date using the keypad.  

Pipeline Dashpart Enhanced 

In the pipeline dashpart, firms now have the ability to show the pipeline forecast based on the method of the project, only spread evenly across the timescale. It also introduces the Revenue Forecast values.  

Note: Both resource planning and CRM modules are required. 

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My Upcoming Assignments Dashpart 

It is strongly recommended to add the “My Upcoming Assignments” dashpart to each employee’s dashboard if the firm uses Resource Management. If the employee is planned on any project, that employee can automatically see what assignments they have upcoming using this dashpart.  

The employee can see the upcoming assignments in three different views – by planning hours, scheduled %, or utilization %. The employee can also change the forecast range from the next four weeks and up to 20 weeks into the future.  

This dashpart acts as a mini resource management view for the employee to see including the “Heat Map” features.  

Note: The Resource Planning Module is required for this feature. 

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Utilize More New Features in Deltek Vantagepoint 5.0 

Who knew how many features would now be available with this newest version of Vantagepoint? The mobile enhancements and resource planning features in Deltek Vantagepoint 5.0 now enable even more efficiency in the system. Why wait, start using them now! 

Click the button below to see how Deltek Vantagepoint can support your project-based firm. 

 

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A&E Project Management & Delivery Insight from the 43rd Deltek Clarity Study

Posted by Lindsay Diven on July 20, 2022

2022-ClarityReport_Banner-01While A&E firms are struggling with staffing challenges, business process automation, and managing a strong backlog pipeline, the discipline of project management and project delivery performance has improved. According to the 43rd Annual Deltek Clarity A&E Study, more firms are increasing internal project financial reviews and installing a project management center of excellence.  

How does your firm compare to the A&E industry when it comes to project delivery? Below is a summary of the findings from the study and read to the end to find out how to get a free copy of the report.  

Staff Shortages Affecting Project Management 

Looking at the challenges, especially compared to the prior year, it’s not surprising that staffing shortages and competing priorities are high on the list. However, staffing shortages were 40% last year and now are at 64%.  

The respondents were asked to rank their top three challenges. Those top three centered all-around staffing – 1) staffing shortages, 2) competing priorities, and 3) inexperienced project managers. These challenges may lead to burnout, more frustration or other challenges for the teams. Project managers are not focused on proactively managing their project because they are spending time figuring out how to get the work done.  

Improved Project Delivery Performance, in Some Areas 

Project delivery performance has improved with projects that are at or under budget. Those projects currently being reported as under budget went up almost six percentage points from prior year to 67.8%. However, the eight-year trend is showing a move in the wrong direction. Plus, on the schedule side, things aren’t looking as great with a decrease of more than six percentage points from prior year. The common theme from the project managers seems to be they are struggling the most when it comes to managing schedules. Schedule is the metric that is tracked the least and doesn’t have much visibility.  

These gaps in staffing and lack of visibility into project performance are affecting not only project managers, but the firms’ bottom lines. What new challenges are your project managers facing today? What’s being driven by clients and what internal processes or technology can be deployed to improve visibility and efficiency? 

Increased Emphasis on Project Management as a Discipline 

There were huge gains in the percentage of projects that follow a clearly defined project management process. In this year’s report, 44% of the respondents indicated that 75%-100% of their projects used a clearly defined project management process. Whereas, last year only 14% were in that upper tier of the majority of their projects.  

Another item the Deltek Clarity Study looks at is the project management office (PMO) or center of excellence. This year’s report indicates that this trend is moving in a positive direction. Overall, 15.4% of respondents have a PMO and that’s an increase of 5.4 percentage points over prior year. Leading the way are the large firms with 50% of them indicating they have a PMO up 20 percentage points from prior year. Though at 15.4%, that’s still less than a quarter of the companies that are using some kind of PMO or center of excellence to treat project management truly as a discipline. 

One of the things that’s important when it comes to project management is to celebrate when projects are going well. Firms often get wrapped up in the projects that get off course or fall behind schedule. Fortunately, the study does measure what’s going well in project management, and at the top of that list is managing client relationships with collaboration and communication.  

However, there’s still a majority of the respondents that don’t have a clearly defined project management process for all or even most of their projects. It’s a good opportunity to ask internally why aren’t processes being followed? Is there not a clearly defined process? Are the processes not aligned with the different types of projects the firm does such as small vs. large or task-order vs. lump sum? 

Proactive and Accountable Project Management Metrics  

What gets measured gets done, correct? The Deltek A&E Clarity report asks what project management KPIs are being tracked at the firm.  

At the bottom of what is being tracked are some of the scheduling metrics including estimate at complete, on-time delivery, and earned value management. At the top of the list are those KPIs often tracked by the financial leaders and include net revenue, profitability, average collection period for A/R aged and multipliers. Yet the financial metrics are retroactive. This might indicate that the lack of visibility or tracking for schedule and schedule variances might correlate with the increase in projects going behind schedule.  

Firms should be asking what metrics they should be tracking that can help them to right size or fix what may be going wrong in a project. How can firms make sure the project managers have the information they need to see where their projects stand at any given time? How can the information be visible and accurate? 

Making the Case for Project Management Technology 

While firms are moving more and more towards technology, the reliance of manual data entry and spreadsheets is going in the wrong direction, specifically when it comes to project management. At the top of the list of departments relying on manual entry is operations and resource management.  

The Clarity Study found that 61% of firms say that they’re still using Excel for planning projects and resources. 75% are using email as their primary project collaboration tool, and 88% are still using email as a primary method to share large files both internally and externally. 49% are not using construction specifications technology.  

All of these are ripe for business process improvement and better leveraging of technology for efficiency, but just where are firms planning to invest in this technology? Project management is at the top of the list, with nearly half of the respondents indicating that they will invest in project management technology in the next 12 months. 

Top Initiatives for Project Management 

When you look at the challenges and top initiatives for project management at A&E firms, issues such as hiring more qualified staff, defining capabilities and responsibilities as well as defining internal best practices and investing in internal project manager training are not surprising. Firms know they need to have great project managers.  

Use These Findings to Improve Your Firm 

The immediate next step is to download the full Deltek A&E Clarity report. Click the image below to grab a free copy of the report along with a scorecard to chart the firm’s results. Then use that to begin discussions around the firm’s net revenue forecasts, project budgets and schedules, etc. Ask about where the firm is struggling, where it’s doing well, and what are the opportunities for improvement. Finally, make sure that you’re reaching out to a Full Sail Partners’ consultant so that we can help you keep your business on course. 

 

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What’s New in Deltek Vantagepoint 5.0

Posted by Terri Agnew, CPA on July 13, 2022

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From project managers to accountants to business developers, almost every role at project-based firms will benefit from the new features in Deltek Vantagepoint 5.0. The new features go beyond usability enhancements like drill-down capabilities for dashboards to entirely new ways to manage timesheets. Let’s take a look at some of these new features of Deltek Vantagepoint 5.0.

Search Navigation Improvements

The search navigation bar for top-level searches has been redesigned. Users can now find any record without needing to select a search criterion such as “active.” This is different than in Vantagepoint 4.5 when a user wanted to find a record. Deltek has revamped the new search navigation to be closer to how the Quick Search function was in Vision.

A new filtering option was added as shown below to the right of the search field. Users can filter by the saved searches. A user can select a saved search, and a preview of the project records meeting those criteria is displayed. From this view, a user can either select multiple projects, or all projects can be selected by clicking “Done.”

To learn more about the redesign of the search improvements, watch this mini-demo.

Saved Searches

Saved Grid Views

Another general enhancement is the ability to save grid views. If records are displayed in a list view, as shown below, the order and type of columns displayed can be saved. Then users can toggle between different views based on their preferences.

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The types of views that can be saved are:

  • Columns selected in the grid
  • Order of the columns selected
  • Column width
  • Pinned columns

Saved grid views are currently available in:

  • Hub records in list view
  • Edit Project Structure grid
  • Transaction Center lists
  • Transaction Entry grids such as AP vouchers
  • Interactive billing grids

Saving grid views has been added to the “Save Rights” section with Reports, Search & Options in User Security. These security settings allow for users to save grid views for themselves, their role, or globally.

See how grid views are saved in an upcoming mini demo in September. Check this page to sign up when it’s available.

My Preferences Option

The next general enhancement is in the My Preferences area. There is a new feature that was added at the bottom right of the My Preference box (shown below).

Users can now decide how they want the General Ledger accounts to be sorted – by account name or account number. This is going to be helpful for those people who enter GL accounts, such as the accounts payable professionals. It’s helpful when that user is in the transaction area because they now can search lists sorted by account name or account number.

My Preferences

Sorting of Timesheet Line Items

This enhancement has been highly requested and it’s finally in Deltek Vantagepoint 5.0. It was a feature in Vision, but not only did Deltek bring it back, but it greatly improved the functionality. Now employees will be able to sort their timesheet line entries by project name, client name, and project number or have no sort at all. No sorting will leave the timesheet lines in the order in which they are entered on the timesheet.

When there are multiple lines for the same project, they will be sorted by Phase, Tasks, and then Labor Code (as applicable).

In addition, when the employee adds a new timesheet line item, the timesheet will automatically sort based on the sort option chosen.

Timesheet sort options

Timesheet and Floor Check – User Options

Another efficiency enhancement with timesheets is the ability to sort or see employees by first, last name, employee name or period ending. This is especially helpful for those approvers who have many employees to approve. This is available in both the timesheets and floor check.

Timesheet sort options - user

Expanded Use of Accounting Email Templates

Vantagepoint 5.0 has expanded the use of the email templates, specifically for interactive billing, draft invoice approvals, and in the invoice history area. Users can create invoice templates and save them to use again.

Sharing saved templates is controlled by Role Security under the “Save Rights” section. Users can preformat any of the email items including the To, CC, subject line, and body message. Fields can also be inserted into the subject line and body of the email to make it more personalized.

Accounting email templates

Billing Clients Can Change Over the Project Lifecycle

Vantagepoint 5.0 now allows for the billing client to change over the project lifecycle and maintain its invoicing history. Now, when a billing client is changed on the accounting tab in the Projects Hub, it’s updated on the Team and Invoices tabs.

In addition, the history of the billing client at the time of any previous invoice remains the same. This means if a previous invoice needs to be reprinted, the initial original billing client will stay intact. Any detail reports, dashboard statements, etc. are also going to now retain the history of whatever the billing client was.

Other Accounting Updates

The other accounting updates in Deltek Vantagepoint 5.0 include:

  • The automatic bank feed is available for on-premise clients. This allows the firm to import transactions from a bank directly to reconciliation. Cloud clients had this ability beginning in Vantagepoint 4.5.
  • Automatic creation of cash receipts from bank reconciliation imported receipts that are not already entered. However, posting is not yet supported directly from bank reconciliation.
  • The integration between Vantagepoint and Corpay (previously Nvoicepay). This simplifies and automates payments to the vendors. The integration processes payments in Vantagepoint and sends the file to Corpay to issue the payment. It does require initial onboarding with Corpay, a 3rd party application.

AR Detail Base Dashpart Update

This is another great enhancement to Deltek Vantagepoint 5.0. While previous versions of Vantagepoint had the AR Detail Base dashpart, this latest version has added the AR Comments column. Not only does this column show the latest comments, but it gives the ability to add new comments directly from the dashboard.

AR detail base dashpart

Other Dashboard Enhancements

Other enhancements to Vantagepoint dashboards are listed below.

  • New feature to schedule daily dashpart updates. This reduces the need to have “always rebuild” checked on the dashpart.
  • The calculated fields on dashparts now support date ranges!

Start Using These New Features in Deltek Vantagepoint 5.0

The new features in Deltek Vantagepoint 5.0 touched nearly all of the areas of the system. From usability enhancements for dashboards to entirely new ways to manage timesheets, many improvements have been made. Start using these new features today! Additionally, be on the lookout for the next blog regarding more 5.0 enhancements pertaining to resource planning and CRM.

Click the button below to see how Deltek Vantagepoint can support your project-based firm.

 

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