Full Sail Partners Blog

Why NOW is the Time to Move to the Cloud

Posted by Amanda Roussel on Wed, May 13, 2020 @ 11:35 AM

Cloud computing

Leadership teams and firm owners have countless business elements to focus on and decisions to make. Some decisions are no-brainers, others are hard, and some just need to wait for the “right time.” There are often firm improvements pitched for consideration that may not make it to the priority list, or that are labeled as a luxury rather than a need. The word “value” can often determine where an initiative may fall on that labeling scale. One initiative that is proving to be a need is moving your firm’s ERP solution like Deltek Vantagepoint or Vision to the cloud. Now is the time, and it should be an easy decision. Let us identify some of the many advantages of moving your ERP solution to the cloud.

Make it Easy for Your Teams

Professional services firms have data… lots of data. Much of this data is centered around your people and projects and should be safely stored and easily accessible. With a device and an internet connection, teams can securely access their solution from anywhere. This allows for great flexibility with office, remote, and field team members. The cloud is not only flexible with location, but it is also flexible with firm size. Growth is a leading driver for many firms, and it is important that systems put in place now allow for scaling up when the time is right. The cloud offering makes it easy for teams to get their work done, providing value for the firm.

Reduce IT Burdens

Another benefit the cloud offers is removing the burden on your IT team, whether internal or external. On-premise hardware requires system maintenance and server upgrades which take time and money. Moving to the cloud, IT resources can be reallocated, and your firm will have confidence knowing that your ERP system is running on enhanced security, using updated hardware and software, and requiring zero maintenance from your IT team. You can also rest assured that a disaster recovery plan has been established and is ready to be deployed, if needed. The value of the cloud ultimately improves firm efficiency because you can now focus on what you do best, providing value to your own clients.

Fixed Costs vs Unexpected Costs

Planning for and managing expenses is a significant part of a firm’s financial health. Opting for a subscription-based fee for cloud services, firms can have confidence in budgeting a fixed cost. Otherwise, a best-guess amount would be budgeted for on-premise hardware needs. Another factor that should be considered is potential downtime. On average, downtime with a traditional IT system can be four times longer than the cloud alternative. Unexpected expenses and downtime can put an unfortunate burden on a firm. Choosing to be in the cloud ensures value with increasing reliability and reducing operating expenses.

Everyone is Invited to the Cloud

Small and large businesses alike have the same access to the cloud. The cloud can give businesses a competitive edge as they use the latest ERP solution like Deltek Vantagepoint for project management, financial management, and other streamlined processes. With proven tools accessed easily from the cloud, project managers, accounting teams, marketing groups, and executives can stay integrated and informed, no matter the firm size. The cloud does not discriminate on who gets value.

Continuity is a Necessity

Now is the time to make the move. Firms should be proactive in protecting their valuable data and seamlessly move it to a safe place. Do not wait until something goes amiss with your traditional IT system. Because cloud solutions are reached via the internet, users have greater flexibility with computer upgrades and mobile devices, too. The cloud is the leading choice for data storage because it is secure, reliable, and always available. With all these benefits, it should be an easy decision that NOW is the time to move to the cloud.

Thinking Out Cloud

Topics: Technology Solutions, Cloud, Communication

Using Goals to Improve Employee Engagement

Posted by Jennifer Renfroe on Wed, May 06, 2020 @ 11:35 AM

Employee Engagement

While many consider satisfied clients to be the most important factor for a business to be successful, they often overlook the significant contribution that satisfied employees make to the bottom line. Employees need to feel that they are not only a part of the process but see their efforts result in positive results. If employees are left in the dark regarding firm strategies and outcomes, they are more likely to just go through the motions in their jobs rather than be engaged. The best way to make sure your staff is engaged and therefore motivated towards firm success is to set goals. Let’s see what this entails.

Set Clear Expectations

If employees know what they are expected to achieve in their roles, they will be more inclined to work hard. When you clearly state goals and explain the strategic direction your team will be taking, you provide needed guidance which forms a connection. The individual employee goals established should be aligned with the overall firm goals whether short-term or long-term. Short-term goals work particularly well as the results can be more quickly seen by both employees and managers and provide a way to offer more continuous feedback ensuring employee engagement.

Stay SMART

In identifying particular objectives, it is best to be SMART about them. The guidelines for setting goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time bound. A specific goal should address what is to be accomplished and what resources are involved. A measurable goal looks at when it will be accomplished while achievable focuses on how realistic the goal is. A relevant goal decides if it is timed correctly and if it meets a firm’s current needs. Finally, time bound establishes when the goal should be met. Goal milestones should be set to hold employees and teams accountable, and there should be a way to track the goals using a talent management system like Deltek Talent.

Recognize Employee Impact

Employees want to see how their contributions impact their team and their firm overall, and it is easy to become disillusioned when they cannot see the end result of their actions. With a tracking system in place, managers can show employees what they have accomplished, and employees can understand how their meeting of goals benefits the company at present and down the line. When you recognize the efforts of employees, they feel like they are part of firm success and will be motivated to continue these efforts.

Put a Goal System in Place

Employee engagement is necessary for the success of your firm and setting of goals is the best pathway to ensure such engagement. This way, employees will be informed of their expectations and given an opportunity to show what they can accomplish. Tracking these goals with a talent management system like Deltek Talent will keep employee goals aligned with firm goals and provide a way for employees to see their contributions to firm growth. Put a goal system in place today.

Employee Engagement

Topics: HR, Employees, Communication

Continuous Performance Management

Posted by Jennifer Renfroe on Wed, Apr 15, 2020 @ 11:35 AM

Continuous feedback

For years, annual performance reviews have been the standard way to evaluate employees. Usually, these evaluations take place at approximately the same time each year. They often discuss issues from the distant past then try to address future goals which are not brought up again until the following annual review. This dated process is static and useless when motivating and engaging staff. With the competitive talent market in the project-based world, firms need to actively nurture and develop their staff using continuous performance management. Here are some key components of a continuous performance management program.

More Than Just a Check-In

Continuous performance management involves more than just an occasional manager “check-in” with employees. It goes much further by incorporating input from other team members such as project leaders, human resources and other co-workers. With continuous feedback, employees can be kept abreast of how project milestones are being met while also examining outcomes that don’t go exactly the anticipated way. Furthermore, using technology, these frequent conversations between team members become an easy occurrence.

Goal Management that Flows

Another part of continuous performance management entails the fluid management of employee goals. Hiccups and successes should not be stagnant but should be evaluated as they occur during an employee’s tenure at your firm. Growth occurs constantly and employees meet their goals in various time increments so managing these goals should be just as fluid. This adaptable management of goals benefits the firm since project requirements change as well. Therefore, goals should be altered as needed rather than absolutely set in stone.

Clear Development Plans

Continuous performance management also incorporates career development plans for employees. From getting new hires productive at onboarding to upskilling or reskilling them several years down the road, development plans should be authentic and intentional. When employees have the opportunity to drive their careers, they become more engaged with their firms. As a result, this engagement leads to more productive projects which will benefit the firm in the end.

Transform Your Performance Management Process

Based on a SHRM/Globoforce Survey, a whopping 89% of HR leaders agreed that continuous feedback had a positive impact on their businesses. However, a Gallup study showed that only 19% of millennials surveyed said they got routine feedback with only 17% revealing that it was meaningful. The project-based workforce of the present and future wants authenticity and autonomy from its employer. Yet, the same workforce desires a way to showcase its skills and advance. Continuous Performance Management offers firms the ability to fully utilize the best talent, adapt to changing needs and ensure they grow with the firm.

Deltek Talent Management

Topics: HR, Employees, Communication

Improving the Employee Experience

Posted by Jennifer Renfroe on Wed, Mar 25, 2020 @ 11:13 AM

Employee Experience

We’ve heard a lot about the customer experience (CX) and its impact upon professional services firms. However, another experience that is just as significant to firm success is the employee experience (EX). The employee experience involves not only firm culture, but also the means used by firms to encourage employee success. Let’s take a look at what can be used to ensure an exceptional employee experience.

Exceptional Onboarding

It is important to set the stage for a positive new hire experience. Therefore, the onboarding process needs to be effective and efficient in getting employees to the point of being productive as soon as possible. In order to avoid overwhelming orientation paperwork, there should be an online onboarding portal which can capture all relevant new hire information. For example, solutions like Deltek Talent Management offer such a portal. Additionally, there should be a person assigned to each new hire to provide guidance and resources needed for a smooth transition into the workplace.

Performance Management and Career Development

Employees need not only independence to do their jobs, but also room for growth. Another key feature offered by a solution like Deltek Talent Management is continuous performance management. Employee goals should be managed constantly giving them a chance to meet goals in realistic time frames. Both employees and managers can then see when those goals are met and what the next steps to take would be. For the future, employees need to see what upskills or reskills are needed for a transition into a higher or different level position within the firm.

Frequent Internal Communication

Internal communication within a firm not only disseminates significant information, but also helps develop a culture. Employees should feel a sense of community with their firm and be connected to the corporate brand. Providing frequent updates keeps employees in the loop which encourages engagement and productivity. This is particularly true for remote workers. Frequent internal communication will additionally earn employee trust which ensures longevity.

Follow Through on Employee Feedback

Employee feedback can be gleaned in a variety of ways. It could come from a routine feedback survey or even discussions during goal review. No matter where or how employee feedback is obtained, it must be reviewed and acted upon to ensure an exceptional employee experience. Generally, feedback is given because employees want to see changes that will positively impact the firm. Following through on employee feedback thus benefits everyone.

Share Positive Client Feedback

One sure fire way to keep employees motivated is to show how they have positively contributed to their firm. After hours of dedicated work, employees want to see how their projects came to fruition or how the product they sold solved their client’s problems. When employees hear compliments, it boosts confidence and proves that hard work does pay off in the end. Positive client feedback should be shared not only with the employee but across the organization as well.

Employee Experience Affects Employee Engagement

It is a fact that employee engagement directly impacts firm revenue. With an exceptional employee experience, many more employees will stay engaged meaning more success for your firm. Furthermore, those same employees will continue to grow with your firm eventually moving into higher level positions. This will avoid the cost of future top talent recruitment and save your firm money. Start working on improving your employee experience today and let Full Sail Partners know how we can help.

Talent Management

Topics: Professional Services, Employees, Communication

A How to Guide for Working Remotely

Posted by Wes Renfroe on Wed, Mar 18, 2020 @ 11:00 AM

Covid 19

With the recent health crisis of COVID-19 and the need for social distancing, we’ve noticed an uptick in companies’ interest in working from home. Therefore, important questions remain: What departments are feasible to work remotely? What services should be made available? How do you secure such an environment?

Setting up a Home Environment

The first thing you need to consider is if your employees are prepared to work from home? Do they have the necessary resources? Critical gear such adequate hardware and peripherals like full-sized keyboards and local printers may need to be provisioned and adequate internet connectivity both at home sites and the office should be evaluated.

Connecting to Work from Home

How will employees connect to work resources? If you are already using Office 365 or other software as a service then a good bit of the heavy lifting for email, files (SharePoint) as well as availability and collaboration (Teams) is already in place. Deltek Vision is a web based application and making it available remotely is a straightforward evolution our IT consultants can assist with or it can be moved to our Hosting environment. A virtual private network solution whereby each employee creates a connection back to his home office may be required for accessing large CAD or Engineering projects.

A new approach that Full Sail Partners and some of our clients are now using is Server and Desktops as a Service provided by Desktops2go. In this scenario, local desktops and file/licensing servers are hosted in the cloud and remote users simply connect to their workstation from wherever they are, and all workload/file access behaves as if the entire company is working from the same office. This solution also removes a remarkable load from company IT by reducing the need for purchasing high end servers and workstations for staff and provides a predictable monthly IT cost.

Other Considerations

Wide format drawings from a plotter are unlikely to work well from home. However, for drafts, we’ve seen some clients print to PDF, then use Adobe Reader’s ability to print out posterboard tiles until access to the plotters or print shop become available again. Office phones should be forwarded to cellphones or voice mail messages should be checked frequently to stay in contact with critical clients.

Keep Communication Going

From a managerial standpoint, we recommend frequent team and individual staff stand up meetings. Working from home can be disconcerting and isolating for some so additional consideration and contact may help keep morale and productivity up during challenging times. Full Sail Partners has been a virtual company since its inception with everyone working remotely. Please feel free to reach out to us to assist with your work from home needs!

Reach Full Sail Partners

Topics: Professional Services, Employees, Communication

Ways to Improve Office Communication

Posted by Jennifer Renfroe on Wed, Oct 09, 2019 @ 11:12 AM

Connections Employees

In the workplace, communication is vital to success. Leaders must make sure that their team knows what is happening on a constant basis and what is expected from them. Not only does communication keep everyone abreast of the goings on, it also encourages relationship building which leads to a more productive and engaged workforce. So, how can you improve your office communication to make it the most effective?

Have Open Meetings      

Having team meetings in a common, open venue is a great way to encourage communication. It is a receptive environment offering the opportunity to discuss issues that are on team member’s minds. The face to face dialogue of open team meetings allows for matters to be actively addressed and some problem solving to occur. Additionally, all team members can contribute their input which provides various points of view.

Listen and Encourage Feedback

For effective communication to happen, leaders must listen to what their team members have to say. They must keep an open mind and really hear what is being said before following up with the team. They should also encourage feedback from the team to make sure that what they are trying to convey is being accurately digested. With the give and take of all parties, communication will thrive.

Keep Humor

Another trick for improving office communication is making it light and relaxed. When dealing with subjects that can otherwise be intense, keeping humor in the conversation makes the message easier to pass along to the team. This does not mean you have to become a stand-up comedian but just insert some humor into the discussions.

Be Appreciative of Efforts

A necessity for business leaders who want to have improved communication with their teams is to show appreciation for their team efforts. When they attend a meeting and offer feedback, thank them for their time. Being respectful towards your team shows that you care, and in the end, will make them more engaged with your firm.

Update Frequently

Frequent updates are certainly required to improve communication. When communicating more boilerplate information, they can be done in one of two ways - either by email or via an internal newsletter. While emails are good for quick reminders, internal newsletters impart much larger amounts of general information to all team members.

Effective Office Communication Helps with Retention

When firm leaders use effective office communication, they are engaging their teams. Engagement is a big reason that employees choose to stay employed with a firm. So, by improving office communication, you are not only helping with productivity but ultimately staff retention as well.

Talent Management

Topics: Technology Solutions, Professional Services, Office Support, Communication