Full Sail Partners Blog (3)

Empowering Your Team with Deltek Vantagepoint Connect Add-in for Outlook

Posted by Sarah Gonnella on March 23, 2022

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The Vantagepoint Connect add-in with Vantagepoint CRM provides two-way synchronization of your contacts and calendar items within your Outlook email application. Outlook Connect empowers users across the firm to help nurture client relationships and collaborate with your team. While in Outlook, users can pin the context pane, so it remains visible. This allows the ability to view contacts and firms in the context of the active email addresses to provide quick insight to contact and firm information along with activity, pursuits, projects, and marketing campaigns. This visibility provides the entire team with valuable information while emailing and scheduling meetings. Let's take a look at how Deltek Vantagepoint Connect empowers users at your firm. 

Executives Seeking to Unify Their Team 

Sharing critical data easily across the firm is a key objective, yet a challenge for every executive. Managing and sharing data across the organization increases the ability to make crucial decisions across the business. Accessing data in a tool, like Outlook, that the firm uses on a daily basis eliminates roadblocks and redundancies for users across the company. With Deltek Vantagepoint Connect, Outlook allows users to search for and view information entered in Vantagepoint for any firm, contact, or project while in the tool. 


Increasing Client Communication Tracking for Marketing & Sales Teams 

When different departments approach tracking data in different ways, it adds barriers for marketing and sales to attain a holistic view across the firm. Identifying how to provide quick access to users entering and pursuing business across the firm ensures marketing and sales are able to provide meaningful reporting about the firm’s efforts. While using Outlook, team members now have the ability to create firms, contacts, pursuits, projects and activities within Vantagepoint as they are responding or sending emails. Having client data at your fingertips promotes transparency across the firm and improves communication to ensure departments are no longer working in silos. Outlook Connect integration is a vital tool to connect to your ERP to help marketing and sales strengthen collaboration across the company.    

Improving Project Management Productivity 

Project Managers live by tasks and schedules. During a project, a task is much more than just a to-do. It is also the way project-based firms bill for their time. Project Managers additionally need the ability to schedule and synchronize internal calendars and meetings. With the Vantagepoint Outlook Connect, users can now synchronize calendar items between Outlook and Vantagepoint. This eliminates the need to enter data twice.  

Outlook Connect also streamlines the process of scheduling meetings through the Scheduling Assistant. Through the Scheduling Assistant, clients can see the team's availability and choose a time to meet that works with both of their schedules. The client only sees available times and does not see any other details or appointments on your calendar. Alternatively, project managers can also provide specific times that are available for the entire team and provide defined time slots to the client. Once they choose a time, all internal team members will receive an invitation on their calendar. Lastly, when a calendar event is shared with Vantagepoint, users can log that time to their timesheet. Talk about improving productivity! 

Accessing Financial and Project Client Communication History   

Many times, firms may overlook finance’s need to access client data from Outlook. Finance always seems to be in the ERP system working on billing, AR and financial reports. However, Outlook is something they also use on a daily basis. One key way finance may find value from Outlook Connect is its ability to log email or correspondence related to billing. Outstanding AR, project contract documentation and contract changes should all be logged in your ERP related to the client, contact and project. Documenting correspondence and keeping client communication up to date guarantees all team members have access to the latest client communication history.   

Enable Your Professional Services Team 

Data has the potential to transform professional services firms' business when users share information across their entire company. No matter what role you are in, getting helpful data into the hands of your users enables them to make informed, data-driven decisions. Check out our past mini-demonstrations to see how Deltek Vantagepoint + Outlook is changing the way CRM is managed by professional services firms. 


Click the image below to learn how Full Sail Partners can help you Synchronize Your Business Outlook Calendar with Deltek Vantagepoint. 

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5 Tips to Keep Passwords Secure at Professional Services Firms

Posted by Evan Creech-Pritchett on March 16, 2022

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In an age where technology is intertwined with every aspect of life, it is more important than ever to keep data protected. Since passwords are practically the keys to everyone’s livelihood both professionally and personally, if they fall into the wrong hands then there’s no telling how much trouble this could cause for everyone connected to them. By neglecting to follow proper password protection protocols, companies have unintentionally been responsible for their own data breaches and even those of their business partners. That’s why employees and leadership at professional services firms should use these five tips to help strengthen their passwords and keep security protected.

Tip #1 – Use a Unique Password 

Let’s say someone at the firm has been hacked and an unapproved person has gained access to a password. That’s already a concern, but the effect is multiplied tenfold if that same password has been used on other accounts at the firm. Once the password has been discovered, there will certainly be an attempt to use it wherever possible to get into even more of the unprotected accounts. To prevent this from happening, a completely different password should always be used on every separate firm account. 


Tip #2 – Resist Easy to Guess Passwords 

This one should be obvious, but one would be surprised by how many people use passwords like “12345” and “password” just because they are easy to remember. Personal information such as birthdays, pets’ names, and street addresses should also be avoided. To be safe one should use a password that is more random. A good password should have more than eight characters and contain numbers, special characters, uppercase letters and lowercase letters.  

Tip #3 – Be Very Cautious When Asked to Share Passwords 

Avoid scammers at all costs. Scams come in many forms - some may be emails, some may be phone calls, and some may even impersonate a friend, co-worker, client or relative online just to get access to a password. Some of these scams may try to create a sense of urgency, so always stop and remember to think it through carefully. Consider why that person would need this information, and if the person reaching out is unfamiliar, then do not continue with the contact. Here’s the golden rule to follow for not getting scammed: never give away a password.  

Tip #4 – Keep Software and Browsers Up to Date 

Keep the firm’s web browsers, applications, and operating systems up to date. If there’s an exploit to be found, it’s on an older version. It is not necessary to update to the newest version as soon as it is out, but it is generally a good idea to move to the newer versions as soon as possible. Some applications will come with a pre-set password. These should always be changed, even if they are randomly generated. If there is worry about exploits in newer versions of programs, then do research before the decision is made to update. Software companies will generally release patch notes for users to check before they update. 

Tip #5 – Use Two Factor Authentication or a Password Manager 

Two factor authentication requires a third-party app that will require approval for sign-ins. Once logged into an account, a notification on your authenticator app will be received where entry is approved or denied for whoever is logging in. Password managers are a bit more complex but will ensure safety just the same. Once logged in, the password manager will generate random passwords for the user. With these, only one password will need to be remembered to get into the manager, and it will take care of the rest. For extra safety, feel free to use both in tandem. 

Bonus Tip - Stolen Password.... Now What?

So, how can someone at a professional services firm tell if a password has been stolen? More importantly, what can be done about it? 

Well, the best way to identify if a password has been compromised is to watch for suspicious activity. The critical indicators can be anything from strange posts or questionable emails on firm accounts to even small subtle changes in personal information that seem off to the user. Some applications will inform the user when there is an unusual activity, which is especially helpful in these situations.  

Once there is evidence that an account has been breached, the first thing to do is immediately change the password. If this account is tied to others, those accounts should also have their passwords changed and be reviewed for any confirmation of hacking. One should also inform other firm staff and business partners of the breach to proactively prevent any other data breach complications. 

Stay Diligent and Safe

Professional services firms are not alone in the need to protect security, but with the expert knowledge that they are hired for, data breaches can have long term negative effects on both the firm and clients. These five tips should help strengthen firm security and protect its valuable data and clients. It’s a scary internet world out there, so it is important to keep both professional services firms and their staff safe so they can continue to work hard!  

 


Click the image below to learn how Full Sail Partners can help with Application Hosting. 

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Mergers and Acquisitions: Harness the (Data Integration) Beast

Posted by Charlene Kerr on March 09, 2022

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A recent merger and acquisition (M&A) update by Morrissey Goodale, shows that domestic M&A continues to soar 42 percent year-over-year. Mergers and acquisitions in the professional services industry are skyrocketing which means that many firms are learning how to successfully consolidate separate entities into one creating synergy. Much goes into the M&A process. Notably, a merger or acquisition requires significant effort in the areas of change management and rebranding, not to mention the continuation of efforts that drive the business in the first place.  

However, as these professional services firms come together, probably the most consequential matter pertains to integrating the data, and many firms find themselves in a data integration quagmire. Common sense would tell us that it should be easy to combine data from entities within the same industry, but disparate systems and diverse implementations often cause data headaches when not approached carefully. So, what are some best practices to help professional services firms harness this (data integration) beast? 

Pick Crucial Team Members

Choosing the team to make the relevant decisions about the data is the first, and most important, step. Ensure you have stakeholders from the acquiring firm to define current data and processes as well as from the acquired firm to understand the data coming in or stakeholders from both merging entities. At this point, the inclusion of a third party, such as Full Sail Partners, would be beneficial and would serve as a bridge between the uniting professional services firms to make the transition much smoother.


Include the Specialized Experts 

A specialized consultant in areas such as finance, CRM or human resources is an enormous help when needing to identify changes to the acquired firm’s processes or merging firms’ processes as well as any training in the new system that might be required. These experts can manage the project as a whole and ensure that all parties are heard and that the timeline and budget are kept on track. They will call in other specialized consultants as needed to make sure there is the best possible assistance. 

Incorporate a Data Migration Specialist 

A data migration specialist can help locate and identify the data that needs to be migrated, whether it is all held in a single location or coming from multiple systems. This consultant will create an inventory of the data, and then begin profiling the data quality for the firm. Specifically, this expert will evaluate: 

  • Is the data clean?  
  • Is it useful, or can it be retired?  
  • Are there redundancies that need to be eliminated?  

Once those issues have been identified, the work of cleansing and converting the data can begin. Data migration specialists do this all the time, and they know the best ways to handle the data as it flows through the extract, transform, load (ETL) process. Together with the data mapping, this ensures that the data moving into the new system is clean and compatible with the newly integrated professional services firm. 

Data Alignment Musts

Whether the firm relies on internal specialists or brings in an outside consultant, there are areas where there must be data alignment in the Deltek Vision or Vantagepoint system or any ERP for that matter. Specifically, firms that are merging data need to align the following.

Multi-Company

Will the resulting firm be tracking the new company within a multi-company database, or incorporating it completely into the existing company, possibly as its’ own profit center? If the former, make sure the existing system is configured to accept multiple companies and report on them correctly.

Multi-Currency

Will the resulting firm be using a different currency for the incoming company? Again, make sure the existing software can handle all the factors associated with a multiple currency environment. The storage of different currencies and methods of currency translation are just two factors that you must take into account. Be sure that your software can handle these issues, and that it is configured correctly.

Chart of Accounts

The chart of accounts for the incoming company must be mapped to accounts in the existing company, and any new accounts must be added into the software prior to moving over the new data. A data migration specialist can easily make these changes in your data for a smooth transition.

Record Alignment for all Key Tables (Unique Identifiers)

The new data will need to be reviewed for a number of factors, including:

  • Formatting of key fields, such as project, employee and firm numbers,
  • Duplicates in any of the key fields of the database and
  • Bad data in the new company that should NOT be brought over.

Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)

Firms will often use different work breakdown schemes when tracking projects. This is one area where significant adjustments might need to be made in the incoming data. A thorough review of the existing data, and a comparison to the merging company’s data is necessary to avoid headaches down the road. Data transformation specialists should be involved at this point, as they have experience massaging the data prior to the merge.

Maintain Control to Harness the Beast 

The secret to harnessing the data integration beast is to keep the process organized and controlled. Ensure leaders at the professional services firm use best practices and select the integration team wisely. With the right team in place, the changeover will be as seamless as possible. 

Full Sail Partners’ consultants have years of experience in all aspects of mergers and acquisitions for professional services firms and have access to the best minds in the industry. Whether you are just beginning to consider M&A for your firm or you already have one in progress, we can provide support and help guide you through the process to a successful merger. 


Click the image below to see how Full Sail Partners can help with your merger and acquisition data migration. 

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Seeking Perfection in an Imperfect World - Optimizing the Accounting Calendar

Posted by Rick Childs on March 02, 2022

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In a perfect world for project-based firms, as soon as a task is performed for a client, money would appear in the firm’s bank account. After all, the firm is contracted to provide services for a fee, and services were performed. End of story, right?  

Well, my bad! In the real world, that performance of services requires a good bit of help along the way, in order to get that payment in the bank. So, the story needs to expand a little to reach this ideal end game. That’s when having and implementing a good accounting calendar becomes a necessity. This routine cadence of work and accounting functions helps firms be able to rely on a regular schedule of deposits for work performed. 

A Good Accounting Calendar is a Necessity

Over the past 30 years, I have worn many hats and filled many roles involved in every step of the revenue process, including being a manager and being managed. I have learned that one of the greatest necessities is a good “Accounting Calendar” because it is essential to control the process and to have a schedule for the activities involved. Furthermore, for this to work, there must be planning, knowledge and “buy-in” by every level and department in the company from executive to “boots on the ground.” There also must be an individual overseeing the activities. That responsibility generally falls within the duties of the controller. 

Venturing back to my “perfect world,” or a reasonable facsimile thereof, if professional services firms setup and work within a good accounting calendar, they can achieve success, lower overhead, reduce billing time and collect payment for services quickly. Moreover, getting the team to follow a schedule is not a “dream.” It can, has been and is being done every day.  


Overview of the Evolution of Revenue

Below is what I call the “Evolution of Revenue.” It walks through from when the work has been performed through money in the bank. The evolution steps include:  

  • Performed Services = Unrecorded Time 
  • Recorded Time = Unapproved Time 
  • Approved Time = Unrecognized Revenue 
  • Recognized Revenue = Unbilled Revenue 
  • Billed Revenue = Uncollected Revenue 
  • Collected Revenue = Money in the Bank 
  • Money in the Bank = Gives the firm options for expansion and compensation… and that’s a whole other story! 

As the “Evolution of Revenue” shows above, it all starts with work being performed and work being recorded. The first tool to be used is a weekly timesheet. Why weekly, you may ask? Weeks don’t coincide with months or years, and firms publish monthly, quarterly, and annually! Granted, but firms are talking about scheduling, efficiency and supervision, therefore, weekly timesheets work the best. Believe me, I have tried them all, and firms can still publish monthly financials. So, let’s look at a sample schedule based on the weekly timesheet: 

  • Work Week is Monday through Sunday. 
  • All time is to be recorded daily. This provides the project manager the opportunity to review, approve and report on work as it is performed – up to the minute budget vs. actual. 
  • Monday - All time for the previous week must be inputted and submitted for approval by noon on Monday. 
  • Noon on Tuesday - The project manager and managerial review of time must be completed by noon on Tuesday. 
  • Close of Business Tuesday - The accounting and human resources review for overhead, benefits, OT, etc. must be completed by close of business on Tuesday. 
  • Wednesday Morning - Time is posted Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday morning. 

So now the firm has time in and posted each week. What then? Well, for one thing, if the firm is using Revenue Recognition – which it should be – it can publish Revenue figures for the previous week on Wednesday morning, along with Employee Utilization figures and Project Management Reports. 

Next Steps in the Evolution

So far, we have covered the first four steps in the Evolution and moved from Performed Services to Unbilled Revenue. Given that, let’s fast forward to Month-End where the Revenue evolves from Unbilled to Billed. Let’s review a couple of thoughts surrounding managing receivables. 

Let’s make the following assumptions:  

  • The billing month-end is the last Friday of the month. 
  • The accounting month end is the last day of the month. 
  • Preferred payroll is bi-weekly. 

Below is a sample of how this schedule lays out on a calendar in Q1 of 2022, spanning 2 weeks and 10 business days. This model has been used successfully with the buy in of project management, billing and accounting and provides principals with revenue by week and for the month on the Wednesday following the last Friday of the month. 

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Once the invoices have gone out, the responsibilities for follow-up vary by client and role. For clients that are being billed for the first time, the billing department follows up three days after bills are emailed to ensure that the proper individual received the invoice and to see if there are any changes that need to be made to the delivery instructions. For existing clients, billing is responsible for follow-up on accounts receivable (AR) up to 60 days past due, project management is responsible for AR up to 120 days and departmental management gets involved after that. All responsible parties receive auto-generated AR emails weekly so that all are on the same page as to who is on task.

Optimize the Accounting Calendar to Realize the Dream

As John Lennon once said, “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.” Having a solid billing and accounting calendar is not a dream, it is a necessary and doable reality. Every firm has a plan and the thing that generally separates the dream from the reality is taking on the responsibility of enforcing the schedule and the deadlines. No one should be exempted from completing their assigned tasks at the time.  

Click the image below to find more accounting and finance resources. 

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Resource Planning Enhancements in Deltek Vantagepoint

Posted by Rana Blair on February 23, 2022

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Projects are the lifeline for professional services firms. Deltek Vantagepoint provides applications to support the project planning and resource management activities—Project Planning, Resource Management and Plan Reporting. For those firms who are familiar with Deltek Vision planning, you’re in for a real treat with the enhancements added to Vantagepoint.

The enhancements include the ability to Change Planned Hours, select the ETC / JTD basis in system settings, save Resource View searches for roles, and use Spread Variance to push unused plan hours forward. Let’s dig deeper into these improvements.

Set Plan Inclusion System-Wide

Deltek administrators now have the ability from a system-level to set the inclusion of “in pursuit” project plans on some sort of objective basis. The screenshot below shows how these are automatically set based on the pursuit stages. Keep in mind when the project is awarded, it’s included in those calculations. The beautiful part about Vantagepoint is firms have complete visibility into all the plans, even if the project was not included in those utilization calculations and reports.

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The administrator can set different options based on the firm’s preferences. Those include:

  • Never – This means that users can plan but the plan won't be included in the calculations.
  • Always – Selecting this option will always include the plans, regardless of the degree of seriousness or clarity that you have.
  • Set by Project – This is not recommended because it relies on the plan creator to remember to mark the plan for inclusion.
  • Automatically Set Based on Selected in Pursuit Stages – This is the recommended option because it leverages the intelligence of the software to determine the stage of the project and then to automatically determine inclusion into those calculations.
  • Automatically Set Based on Probability – This uses the probabilities set up in the system. Preferences can be set to say anything greater than 50% probability, for example, will be included. Vantagepoint provides a lot of flexibility with this, but this flexibility is from the system standpoint and not each individual plan.

Set Estimate to Complete (ETC) and Job to Date (JTD) Basis System-Wide

While the ability to set and/or change the ETC and JTD was available in Deltek Vision Planning, it was often changed for one purpose or another and could be forgotten to be put back. In Vantagepoint, this is a system setting so that every plan is using the same ETC and JTD basis as shown in the screenshot below.

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Firms can select the system settings and the basis that works best for them. For example, a firm has a JTD basis through Last Week’s End Date, and that is last Saturday. All the JTD is shown through that date and the ETC date starts the next business day. That allows the firm to have certainty about the JTD figures. If the firm customarily has weekly timesheets that are always completed by the end of the week, this may be a great system setting.

Alternatively, firms can use the Last Timesheet Period’s End Date. If the firm lags a little bit on timesheet entries, utilizing this option so that the JTD information being shown in the plan is that of the last timesheet period will most likely work better. Firms can use this option so that the JTD information shown in the plan is as of that last timesheet week. So, for the first few days of the timesheet period, it's not as accurate, but it's more accurate once that timesheet period is posted and closed.

Rescheduling Plans

Vantagepoint Planning is further enhanced with the ability to reschedule plans. The reschedule ability allows users to either shift or change the duration for the labor tab. This is only for the labor tab in Vantagepoint Planning. Users can pick up the entire date range and move the start date or move it to the finish date.

Like Vision Planning, if the duration is the same, the hours can use the same proportions from the time period. When the duration length is increased, it keeps the same pattern. Conversely, when the duration length is decreased, the system can respread it evenly. But, if the duration shrinks, the system will not like it if unplanned hours fall outside the new duration. In Vantagepoint, this becomes very clear with well-written error messages that pop up for the user.

Change Planned Hours

Changing planned hours is a new function in Deltek Vantagepoint. Project managers can use this functionality to update the planned hours in any timeframe. They can choose to spread the hours proportionally or evenly. For example, a user can take all the hours at the project level or work breakdown structure (WBS) level two and change the planned hours from A to B. This can be done in any timeframe. It can also be done backward and forward using the ETC day. There are a lot of options to change planned hours in Vantagepoint Planning.

The screenshot below shows the new Redistribute Hours menu in Vantagepoint where users can change the planned hours.

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Replace Planned Hours with Actual Hours

The next enhancement is the ability to replace planned hours with actual hours. This functionality allows users to choose the replacement of hours for a specific date range or across all dates as well as choose to calculate on a weekly, monthly, or total basis. An example is shown below.

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Spread Variance

The ability to spread the variance between planned and actual hours can be done in several ways over the time periods selected. It allows the user to control how they spread the differences between actual and planned as well as choose different date ranges. The date range can be a specific date range, an entire date range, or just a short amount of time. The project manager can choose to spread the hours including the negatives or just limit to the positive differences. The variance can be spread evenly or proportionately.

The biggest enhancement is that now this setting is directly available in the plans in Vantagepoint as opposed to another menu or area of the system, providing better visibility, as shown below.

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Vantagepoint Planning is Reimagined for Project-Based Firms

With these enhancements to Vantagepoint Planning, project-based firms can not only quickly create project plans but adjust them to the unpredictable nature of the projects. It’s the right project management tool to control project delivery. Do you want to see these Deltek Vantagepoint Planning enhancements in action? Use the button below to see Rana Blair demonstrate each of them.

 

Link to learn the differences between Deltek Vision and Vantagepoint planning

Red Flags There’s an Accounting Problem

Posted by Nicole Temple on February 16, 2022
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The month-end closing process is a very important practice for the accounting department at professional services firms. Part of the close process is to ensure that one can document and justify the balances on the financial reports. This involves either keeping spreadsheets and/or printing multiple reports and ‘ticking and tying’ the balances. These processes take time and increase the chance of errors.

To assist accounting departments at professional services firms with verifying commonly used balances, Deltek has created some useful tools. There are two such tools in Vantagepoint that accountants can use to monitor activity and know when to raise the red flag to address accounting problems. So, what do these tools look like and how do they benefit accounting?

Financial Analysis Report

The financial analysis report (Analysis/GL Reconciliation/File Reconciliation Report) provides a big picture of the general from the standpoint of the firm’s income statement and balance sheet vs. the supporting sub-ledger reports. Deltek Vantagepoint has implicit entries that happen automatically in transactions based on configurations as well as explicit entries which occur by user entry in the transactions.

For example, when entering an AP voucher, the user selects the expense account (explicit entry) for the voucher but does not select the Accounts Payable account (implicit entry) – the Accounts Payable account is captured in the AP Liability code (which is set Settings/Cash Management/Accounts Payable/Liability Accounts).

The areas covered in the Financial Analysis are:

  • Accounts Receivable Accounts (Set in Settings/Billing/Accounts Receivable) = Open Accounts Receivable (My Stuff/Reporting/AR Aged)
  • Accounts Payable Accounts (Set in Settings/Cash Management/Accounts Payable/Liability Accounts) = Open Vendor Balances (My Stuff/Reporting/Voucher Ledger)
  • Unbilled Revenue Accounts (Set in Settings/Accounting/Revenue) = Office Earnings Report or Project Earnings Report (My Stuff/Reporting/Office Earnings or Project Earnings)
  • YTD Revenue Accounts (Set in Accounts/Chart of Accounts/Type) = Office Earnings Report (My Stuff/Reporting/Office Earnings)
  • YTD Reimbursable/Direct Expense one report that can be used is the Project Detail to total direct and reimbursable expenses.
  • YTD Indirect Expenses one report that can be used is the Project Detail to total indirect and expenses.

The reports listed above can be run to verify the balances on the sub-ledger, and the Financial Analysis Report will provide a professional services firm with a quick snapshot to know if there is a problem immediately. It is recommended to review this report as part of month-end processing, although it can be reviewed at any time during the month.

 

Upon viewing this report for the first time, looking for the differences in AR, AP, revenue, and unbilled of when the out of balance initially began is the first step. There are several reasons an out of balance can occur - for example, making a journal entry directly to a GL account that is linked to an AP Liability Code. Once red-flagged by this report, working with a knowledgeable system consultant to determine which entries caused the out of balances and learning how to correct them is advisable.

Bank Reconciliation

Another critical month-end activity is reconciling the bank account. However, with phishing and echeck technology, it is recommended that bank reconciliations be performed at the very least weekly, if not daily. Vantagepoint allows a professional services firm to create ‘Bank Codes’ for every bank account used by the firm. Each ‘Bank Code’ is linked to a single general ledger account number to track and report transactions for the bank code.

The bank reconciliation process allows for the user to ‘clear’ transactions as they ‘clear’ in the bank. The transactions that show in the bank reconciliation are only those that are entered via a cash transaction type (Cash Receipt, AP Disbursement, Cash Disbursement, AP Vouchers, AP Payment Processing or Expense Payment Processing). The reviewer will know if the transaction type is a ‘cash’ transaction type as they will be asked for a ‘bank code.’              

Any transaction entered against a General Ledger account that is linked to a Bank Account code that is not a cash transaction, for example, a journal entry, will not be available in the Bank Reconciliation feature and could cause a difference from the reconciled bank balance to the general ledger account balance if not added to the misc. tab of the bank rec.

When working through the bank reconciliation process each accounting period it is recommended to compare the “reconciled GL balance” on the printout of the bank reconciliation to the balance sheet GL account that is tied to the bank code. The calculations on the bank reconciliation report are:

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If the reconciled GL balance does NOT tie to the trial balance, research is needed to find the entries that caused the out-of-balance and correct them. Here is another red flag that can help accounting address problems.

An out-of-balance between the reconciled GL and balance sheet can happen and can still show that the bank reconciliation ties to what was deposited and paid from the bank. This is because the reconciled GL is a calculated balance of cash transaction types and not a balance from all transactions being entered against the GL account. Internal processes should be set up so that all cash-related transactions are entered via a cash transaction type.

Close Efficiently and Effectively

Accounting departments at professional services firms need to have efficiency in their month-end closings. Justifying balances on financial documents is a crucial component of closing out the month. With both the Financial Analysis Report and Bank Reconciliation tools offered in Deltek Vantagepoint, accountants can quickly identify red flags in their accounting processes allowing for expedient and effective resolution of accounting problems.

CTA Bank Reconciliation

The Power of Content Repurposing for A/E/C Firms

Posted by Lindsay Diven on February 09, 2022

Consistent content that appeals to the ideal client is a cornerstone of a successful digital marketing program. Often, it’s a challenge for A/E/C firms to constantly be creating new high-quality content. There just isn’t enough time or resources. In this next installment of the “Driving Growth with Digital Marketing series, readers will learn how to extend the life of an existing piece of content.

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

Introducing Content Repurposing

Content repurposing is a magical way to use content already created and revitalize it, so it works harder for your inbound marketing and SEO efforts. Repurposing takes previously published content and reimagines that content into different formats, refreshes the information based on industry updates, and allows the content to reach audiences that might have missed it the first time around.

Repurposing saves time because marketers don’t need to write new content from scratch. It is not just publishing the same blog article link with the same caption on the firm’s LinkedIn page once per month. It is transforming content into a new focus of interest.

How to Select Content to Repurpose

A great way to determine what content to repurpose is to audit the content you’ve already published. Look for content that still resonates with the ideal client and that is evergreen. If the content is too outdated or highly seasonable, it might be too much effort to repurpose it. Choose the content pieces that can be easily refreshed and still attract the targeted audience.

Then, take a look at your firm’s website analytics to find the high-performing content. Find the content that ranks the highest when it comes to page views, average time on page, etc. The content that meets all these criteria should be what you begin with.

Content Repurposing Case Study

A great example of a content repurposing strategy is this series, “Driving Growth with Digital Marketing.” As a new marketing manager for our Blackbox Connector products, I wanted to target other marketing managers who use Deltek Vision/Vantagepoint and who already have a digital marketing program or want to create one. So, I developed this year-long content series to attract new leads.

This campaign began in 2021 with a 10-part blog series. Potential clients could subscribe to the series to get notified when new articles would be published. And, using our HubSpot Connector, new submissions would be added to the Full Sail Partners’ Deltek Vision CRM to monitor and evaluate.

This blog series was then turned into a presentation abstract that was submitted to several marketing-related conferences. It was selected to be presented at three conferences where there was a high number of the targeted audience.

Eventually, Full Sail Partners will present this as a webinar and possibly publish it as a guide accessible by a form on the website. Between now and then, different steps will be shared as infographics and other resources to post on social media.

This one content topic has been transformed into over a dozen different content types and formats.

Other Repurposing Ideas

When planning for new content, brainstorm ways in which that piece of content can be repurposed. Some ideas include:

  • Convert long blog posts into an eBook or listicle social media series.
  • Turn conference presentations into blog articles, webinars, etc.
  • Build an infographic from a presentation or blog article.
  • Refresh and republish old blog posts with new, relevant information or data.
  • Create a podcast or video series from a previous conference presentation.
  • Create a frequently asked questions area on your website from previously published blog articles.
  • Create a checklist freebie based on the firm’s project management process.
  • Pitch existing articles to guest blogs on other websites.
  • Record existing content such as previously written blog articles or conference presentations. Post those recordings on YouTube or use them in a podcast.
  • Visualize existing content such as articles. Turn them into short video snippets, pull quote graphics, or carousel-type posts.
  • Group existing content to create content pillars or resource hubs. Full Sail Partners has done this with our resource pages. Check out the marketer’s page here.
  • Promote similar content previously published via an email series. Deliver each piece of content in one email spread throughout an entire campaign.
  • Package similar content topics into an eBook or guide. Gather as many similar topics already created and add an introduction or point of view to make it more of a book. These are often titled, “The Ultimate Guide to…” or “The Only Guide to…”

Making Marketing More Efficient

Making the best use of the marketing resources and the subject matter experts’ time ensures marketing investments are more efficient. Content repurposing is one of the best ways to effectively use previously created content and allows for more time to spend on other marketing efforts. Keep a lookout for the next article in this series that introduces search engine optimization (SEO) techniques to help A/E/C firms get found online.

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Workplace Trends for the Professional Services Industry for 2022

Posted by Tasia Grant, PHR on February 02, 2022

It may be a new year, but 2022 comes with a similar vibe as 2021 still dealing with the impact of a pandemic and the shifting workplace as a result. Change begets change, and successful professional services firms have had to go with the times in order to stay competitive with others in their industry. With this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the workplace trends for professional services firms in 2022.

Photo of employees

 

Work Culture

The pandemic has most professional services firms evaluating their work culture and figuring out how to adjust their practices and policies to accommodate the necessary changes but not compromise the foundation of its culture. As leaders, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what the company culture is and how this culture is perceived by employees. To attract and retain the best employees, the workplace culture needs to be attractive itself. In other words, it should be a win/win for all.

Hybrid and Remote Workplace

It is a fact that technology will be a constant part of the workplace culture going forward with online portals and systems in the cloud. Working remotely, which became a necessity during the pandemic, has become a trend that is likely to continue even when the pandemic is over. The hybrid work environment where time is split between home and office has become a shift in the workplace of today which HR will have to continue to manage.

Autonomy

Flexibility has become one of the most desired attributes of any company considered a “Great Place to Work”. It is not exclusive to the option of working remotely or in the office, but it extends to the workday structure. Set work hours are becoming a thing of the past and quality is valued over quantity. A professional services firm’s success with embracing autonomy boils down to trust with leadership trusting the employees to meet expectations and goals without the rigid structure of the past as well as employees feeling assured that they are worthy of that trust.

Prioritizing Employee Mental and Emotional Health

Leadership empathy is necessary to sustain loyalty throughout a professional services firm, therefore, these organizations are prioritizing employee mental and emotional health needs. With a hybrid and remote workplace, employers are finding creative ways to promote reconnection and engagement among employees. Also, benefit plans, EAP programs and policies on PTO are being evaluated to provide employees with support during these changing and uncertain times.

Multigenerational Workforce

Additionally, in most professional services firms, there is a multigenerational workforce to take into consideration. These different employees are working side by side on the same teams and the culture needs to understand and reflect their unique expectations. The newer generations of workers have different priorities for their workplace and their career. Their expectations are more flexible schedules, more regular feedback on performance from managers and more collaboration on projects. HR and leadership must provide continuous performance management to acknowledge high performance and provide incentives to remain on staff.

Reskilling and Upskilling

With talent shortages being a reality, professional services firms will be focusing on other ways to meet the firm’s organizational needs. Options such as reskilling and upskilling the workforce help firms with filling in the gaps. Reskilling is when new skills are developed from an expiring skill set that is no longer in demand. Upskilling is building upon current skills to enhance or add adjacent ones.

To do so, HR and leadership will be evaluating and revising the firm’s learning and development offerings. “Learning in the flow of work,” a phrase coined by Josh Bersin, Global Industry Analyst, has been gaining attention. Using this method, employees will access small pieces of knowledge to help solve skills-related matters that happen at work. This way, employees can learn as they work at their own pace, and using a turn-key Learning Management System (LMS), they can have access to content on demand.

Outsourcing HR

HR roles have become a lot more complicated over the years with technological advances such as online employee portals and cloud-based management of employee activities. To be more efficient, it has made sense to make the change toward outsourcing the HR functions to specific professionals that have the needed expertise. According to FinancesOnline, research has found that by 2024 the global market for human resource outsourcing is expected to reach $43.8 billion.

Outsourcing certain necessary HR functions will handle the burdensome administrative responsibilities of HR in professional services firms. These firms will not outsource all HR functions though. There still needs to be internal HR departments to manage employee relations issues and the other human elements of the firm.

Diversity

Although not a new goal for professional services firms, there will be renewed HR effort to recruit and retain a diverse workforce including more workers of varying genders, races and nationalities. Bias in the hiring process is a well-known and widespread problem, however, even with the best of intentions, these biases can impact sourcing and recruiting decisions outside of the awareness of the recruiter.

Again, technology provides a solution to the issue of creating more diversity in the workplace. Using Artificial Intelligence (AI), candidates can be sourced and screened objectively. AI recruiting software can even be programmed to ignore demographic information and socioeconomic status. Even more, human recruiters will be able to save time by allowing the AI to do the redundant screening work for them. When the bias is removed from recruiting, a more diverse workforce will prevail in professional services firms.

Diversity awareness is not only addressed with increasing the number of professional services firms’ employees with varying backgrounds and beliefs. Also pertinent to this awareness is the implementation of training, programs, practices and policies which encourage knowledge, education, recognition, effective communication, sensitivity and accountability in a diverse workplace.

Differentiation & Branding

Being evident about what the corporate culture is and what the company goals are is from what a professional services firm’s branding is structured. It helps to identify the professional services firm’s differentiators from the competition and the type of talent the firm is seeking. HR plays a key role in the reinforcement of the branding of a firm

Talent acquisition practices should always incorporate branding because it’s the first impression a professional services firm makes for prospective employees and has the charge of selling the firm's greatest qualities. Communicating that the professional services firm is aware of and keeping up with workplace trends is a reflection of how it treats its employees and also evidence that the employees’ opinions about the company culture are recognized and considered.

Follow the Trends

These trends have all become standard and are expected for professional services firms to remain competitive in 2022. They may be new to your organization, but many firms that have already started implementation are experiencing their rewards. So, stay at the top of the professional services industry by following these workplace trends to succeed.

 

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Outgrowing QuickBooks – 5 Reasons Professional Services Firms Need More

Posted by Joel Slater on January 26, 2022

QuickBooks serves as a logical starting point for SMB professional services firms. For good reason - it’s affordable, popular, and easy to use accounting software. Though, on the downside, it provides very little flexibility and accommodation for how a business actually needs to run 

Having difficulty looking at accounting report

Simply put, QuickBooks isn’t designed for project-based companies. It’s an entry-level accounting system, with purposefully generic functionality, intended to serve a diverse client base that spans various industry types. Consequently, the basic and straightforward nature of the product, which perhaps is viewed as a positive, can quickly become the opposite. Many professional services firms will eventually reach a point where the limitations of QuickBooks can hinder future growth. 

When might a firm reach that point? Below are 5 top reasons clients are choosing to trade in QuickBooks for an industry specific ERP that is purpose-built to meet the needs of a growing project-based business.     

Cumbersome Invoice Creation 

For a project-focused professional services firm, getting client invoices created and out the door can be considered one of the most critical functions. This process may have once been easy, but as the business has grown, projects have likely become more complex. With that means more complicated, multi-part, client invoice requirements.  

What used to take a couple of hours is now taking over a week, and accounting staff is burdened with cobbling together invoice-supporting data from various disconnected, error-prone sources. Not to mention the challenges of even getting the project management team to complete their timesheets in the first place. Once those bills have finally been painstakingly created and issued to clients, they still may not be correct.   

Incorrect invoices going out the door can slowly erode the trust of clients and lead to unnecessary, time-consuming, back-and-forth. On the other hand, accurate invoices, which are processed and paid quickly by clients, can provide various benefits to include reduction in DSO (days sales outstanding) and increased cash flow.  

Limited Visibility into Project Reporting

Do Project Managers and professional services firm leaders have a consistent and reliable source of truth to monitor the overall health and status of projects? For many who rely on QuickBooks, the answer is no. Just like on the invoice creation side, the necessary data to support project reporting is scattered among various spreadsheets. Answering what should be a simple question related to project status could take days to assemble a response. By the time of that response – odds are, the data is already out-of-date, and often irrelevant. The thought of any ‘real time’ project status, to include capturing data such as committed costs, may likely seem impossible when operating within these sorts of system-related confines.  

Not having a proper visibility into project timeline, budget, and other KPIs has consequences. It can quickly eat into profit margin and limit a professional services firm’s ability to make informed decisions in support of its projects and business.   

QuickBooks Lacks Support for the Entire Project Lifecycle 

Everyone needs an accounting system. However, even a relatively small, basic operation may quickly find that it needs more tools at its disposal. There are obvious functions like time keeping & employee expense reports, providing the ability to seamlessly allocate those costs to projects in support of invoice creation and project reporting. Additionally, perhaps there is a need to link the front and back-office operations to better manage the complete ‘project lifecycle’ (from initial lead pursuit through to project close-out). This includes a CRM (customer relationship management) module, or the ability to do more detailed project planning and resource scheduling.  

These are all areas and functions that a professional services firm is undoubtedly already actively performing, but just manually and “offline,” using spreadsheets and email to manage. The purpose of an ERP is to combine multiple functions within a single fully integrated solution that spans the entire business. More specifically, a project-based ERP is designed to do the same, but with functionality specifically geared towards a project-oriented company. 

Sure, QuickBooks capabilities can be expanded using external and 3rd party add-on tools that make initial claims around 'integration'. Yet, the result for many who go down that path can be a clunky, frustrating software experience – leaving many wishing they instead invested their time and resources into the lower-risk approach of just implementing a Deltek product.   

QuickBooks Can Limit the Ability to Pursue Projects

For many of the reasons already stated, professional services firms shy away from pursuing new projects they fear may be too taxing and burdensome on their existing accounting system. Simply stated, they don’t have the tools in place to responsibly graduate to the next level. Passing up new business opportunities can be painful, but unfortunately necessary, for those firms who are not equipped with the internal systems to support growth. 

Take WBS (work breakdown structure) requirements, for example. This means breaking down a more complex project into smaller components and deliverables. Many times projects require an invoice to reflect the way the project was bid. Providing a WBS ensures the estimate is managed and billed the way it was proposed. Unfortunately, QuickBooks limits the ability to pursue projects with more advanced requirements because it cannot easily track efforts in this manner. For many professional services firms, this is essential functionality needed to initially price/propose, manage, deliver, and invoice these projects.   

QuickBooks Hinders Growth 

The idea of a more ‘open ended’ system experience that can truly conform and adapt to evolving business requirements becomes more appealing. Those cascading menu options, check boxes, and configuration screens that may have once been viewed as intimidating and inaccessible may quickly start to make more sense. Deltek can easily accommodate growing firms. This is why 80% of AEC firms use Deltek. It has all the utilities, under the hood to handle the needs of future growth. As a professional services firm grows, its bookkeeping system should be able to scale and enable that progress, versus introducing hurdles and limitations.  

Grow Quicker with Deltek 

To reiterate, there is nothing inherently wrong with QuickBooks. If there were, it probably wouldn’t be the widest-deployed entry-level accounting system in the market. But the unique requirements of a professional services firm can still quickly create situations where to bring a firm to the next level, it needs to be re-tooled with industry specific solutions.  

ERP is not just for the ‘big guys’ anymore. The introduction of cloud-based applications (relieving clients of internal IT requirements), and also packaging and implementations catering to small firms, has opened many doors over the last several years. In fact, a majority of current day Deltek clients could be considered SMBs, who previously came from QuickBooks.  

Have additional questions? Full Sail Partners and Deltek got it covered. Deltek Vantagepoint is an industry-leading project-based ERP designed to support the entire project lifecycle. Having extensive experience with new system implementations (to include data migration, system configuration, and product training), Full Sail Partners has helped hundreds of clients graduate from QuickBooks. Please contact us to start a discussion.  

Image button link to the Project Lifecycle of Deltek Vantagepoint webinar

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

Posted by Lindsay Diven on January 19, 2022

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

Driving Growth with Digital Marketing 3

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

Brainstorming with an Inbound Focus

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

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

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

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

Writing a Content Development Plan

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

Items to outline in a content development plan include:

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

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

Keeping SEO in Mind

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

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

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

Getting Started

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

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