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Easily Change Project Plan Dates and Hours with Deltek Vantagepoint

Posted by Rana Blair on May 18, 2022

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For professional services firms, projects often don’t go according to the original plan. This forces the project manager to spend time updating the project plan to reflect new project dates, adjusted hours, and resources needed to complete the project. With Deltek Vantagepoint, this doesn’t have to be a burden on the firm’s project managers. These changes are easily and automatically made, allowing the firm to focus on serving clients instead of constantly updating plans.

Typical Project-Based Firm Planning Scenario 

Let’s say the Natural Sciences Building at Northwest project was originally scheduled to take place from January 2021 through September 30, 2021. The phases at the beginning were Master Planning and Project Management. Then the project goes on hold for a few months, which happens often for project-based firms. Now, the project is restarting with a new phase in a new date range. The project manager wishes to set a proper baseline on the original schedule, and then review the new plan against the baseline.  

Let’s walk through each of these steps separately. Then, at the end, learn about how to see this in action.  


Changing Project Plan Dates at Various Project Levels

Changing the plan dates is always the first step. To change the dates at a phase level, click the ‘kabob’ at the far right of the phase and select the Reschedule dialogue. Using this tool, users can shift the entire phase to the left or right or change the duration by dragging it longer or shorter.  

For this example, the new duration for the Sustainability Planning phase will begin on March 1, 2021, and end on July 31, 2021. At this point, Vantagepoint will ask to replace the child dates – those dates of the individual resources beneath the phase. In this case, the answer is yes, replace child dates.  

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Another way to change dates is to go into the Schedule tab. When clicking on the phase to change, put it into edit mode. This will allow the user to simply drag it to the new dates and duration desired. Users can drag the bar right or left and/or hover over to get the bi-directional arrow to expand the duration. Again, the system will ask to replace the child dates or not. 

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Redistributing the Planned Project Hours 

Now that the project dates are correct, it is time to go to the Labor tab to work on the planned hours. Going back to the example, the master planning phase was scheduled to begin on January 28 and end on September 30. Its planned hours are 175, which matches the baseline, so no changes are needed. 

However, on the Sustainability Planning phase, there are some changes needed because there are no baseline hours saved. The planned hours also look low. To look at this further, users can go into their grid settings and turn on different columns such as Contract and Planned Billing. Doing this, the project manager sees 164 hours, the planned value is coming up at $37,980 but the contract value is $65,000. This will be the first place to start changing planned hours. 

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To do this, go to the phase level and select the ‘kabob’ at the end of the row. Select Redistribute Hours and Change Planned hours. For this example, the project will change those 164 hours to 275. Choose to do this for the entire assignment date range and spread hours evenly over the time period. By choosing to redistribute here, the project manager can now see that the planned hours are 275 and the value is calculated at $63,534 which is closer to the contract value.  

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Setting a New Project Baseline  

Now let’s plan forward or true-up this project plan. In the screenshot above, the master planning phase has a baseline of 175 hours, with 52 hours exhausted but only 77 hours remaining in the Estimate to Complete (ETC). The Estimate at Completion (EAC) hours is settling around 130 hours, and the project manager knows that the project will use most, if not all, of the 175 budgeted hours. So, the hours in the master planning phase will need to be redistributed using the ‘kabob’ at the end of the phase row. This will help push forward the hours and then allow the project manager to fine-tune them as the project progresses.  

In the redistribute planned hours dialogue box, select the option to replace the planned with actual hours and replace those hours in total. Use the hours from the job to date (JTD) range, choose to spread the differences, and choose to spread both the positive and negative differences in the ETC assignment date range. Then choose to spread the hours evenly.  

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The project manager would do this for each phase that changes the duration or timeframe. Also, with this example, the project manager would make the changes for the sustainability and project management phases. Once those changes are made, the EAC billing is $104,000 and the contract value is $124,000, which looks like the project will perform rather well. The last step is to publish the plan and start working on the project.  

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See Project Plan Changes in Action 

While reading about how easy Deltek Vantagepoint makes it for project managers to adjust their project plans, seeing it in action is even better. Click the image below to watch a 16-minute demonstration to understand how Vantagepoint’s Resource Planning makes it very convenient to plan for unplanned project changes. 

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Business Development Calls Made Easy with Deltek Vantagepoint CRM

Posted by Cate Phillips on May 04, 2022

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Before the pandemic, I used to volunteer to judge high school debate and often found myself sitting in a public-school library on a Saturday morning staring at those cheesy posters where the words say “Attitude is Everything” …those have not changed by the way. Except 25 years later, those words still ring true. I do not know about you, but if I am rolling into a Zoom business development (BD) call with a bad attitude, it is doomed to fail. Since attitude is important when it comes to developing relationships with clients, how can the new and improved Customer Relationship Management (CRM) power of Deltek Vantagepoint make it easier to keep those business development calls on track? 

Attitude and Deltek Vantagepoint CRM? 

I started writing this on a debate kick, and it therefore must continue… As any good debater will tell you, something should not be fully considered until it has been argued from both the pro and con sides. So, how can business development calls be made easy with Deltek Vantagepoint CRM? Let us compare how it would go from both attitude perspectives. 

Bad Attitude Scenario 

5am – snooze 

5:30am – snooze again, since I went to bed later than normal last night, that is the mental self-justification I will go through this morning. 

6am – wake up, grab phone, check calendar. Okay, good, first meeting is not until 8am, I can sleep more, reset alarm. 

7:15am – grab phone, what? Why? I should have gotten up earlier so I could work out and do my morning stuff. I am grumpy about it.  

7:45am – showered and dressed, sitting down, I must scramble to review a prospect’s info in Vantagepoint. I glance at some fields. I notice that I am about to be talking to the Facilities Director at an airport. My engineering firm has done the type of project they are looking to do but only in Europe. My job is to impress the Facilities Director and get him to introduce us to the architect and then hopefully she will want to bring us in on this massive project.  

8am – meeting starts, I am not as ready as I should be. It goes okay, but it is not a slam dunk. He agrees to let me call him back, but I know in my gut he is not going to be calling the architect immediately to sing our praises. 

8:30am – I guess I should get the notes in the system. I am super discouraged and annoyed at this point, but I try to rally myself to get my activity recorded with enough detail so that I can perhaps salvage this a bit when I do my follow-up. 

Here is the rub folks. The Deltek Vantagepoint CRM is there to help me, and it is a great tool in my toolbox. I did not use it here to my full advantage. 

Good Attitude Scenario 

5am – snooze 

5:30am – I am up! I am not necessarily happy about it, but it happened. I get started on my morning stuff. 

7am – sitting down in my office now, I will not bore you with the details of my morning ritual, but I fed my mind, body and soul before I walked in the door. I am happy I have an entire hour to prepare for my call.  

Here is what I do to prepare using Deltek Vantagepoint CRM: 

Since the project will a subcontractor opportunity to the architect that is always the prime at this airport, she is the contact record I want to peruse. I know I have only got 30 minutes to get this Facilities Director to agree to introduce me to her. From my networking, I know that if he says give this firm a shot, she will consider it. I immediately then go to look at the projects associated with these two contacts. 

I also know that she has been a little unhappy with the engineering firm they used from a well-placed cold call by my Business Development Representative (BDR) last year. How do I know this, you ask? I have an excellent memory, and it simply always unfolds perfectly when needed. NOPE. My team and I always track everything inside Deltek Vantagepoint.  

I read my Activity notes from three years ago when I had drinks with someone that reports to the Facilities Director at a conference. She was the one that clued me in to how key the Facilities Director was in terms of getting the architect’s attention. Then I reviewed the notes our BDR had in there from the cold call. Those notes were in an Activity from the call placed and on the Competition tab of my project.  

Next, I double checked his and her LinkedIn pages and saw no new connections between us that I did not already know about in advance. My project is at a Lead stage and being the awesome Relationship Manager that I am, I enjoy seeing my projects get into our system, and I lovingly monitor the data associated with them. 

I also have a custom field in my Deltek Vantagepoint CRM that gives me something to brag about here. I can query my CRM to find past airport references, and I have 2 or 3 case stories (bragging rights) ready to tell if I get the opportunity in the call. 

8am – The meeting starts, and I am ready to kill it. During the call, the Facilities Director mentions another two of his colleagues that I was not aware of, and their roles could be important should we get this project to the awarded stage. I jot down their info so that our Marketing Associate can fill in the gaps with some research and get them entered in the system.  

8:30am – The call is over. It was the slam dunk I deserved. He was impressed with the stories I was able to tell, and since I was aware of the pain that the current engineering firm is creating with the Architect, this allowed me to effectively differentiate our firm. He said that he would be emailing her right away before he forgot, to ask her to get coffee and discuss what we can bring to the table. We scheduled our next steps. I was able to use the Outlook Connect to immediately get the appointment calendared and tracked in the CRM in one fell swoop. 

Which Attitude Won the Debate?    

Obviously, this debate was destined to go for the Pro - we all knew that, right? The bad attitude not only set me up to perform poorly, but it also affected my ability to leverage my Deltek Vantagepoint CRM correctly. So, here I have proven a good attitude + a great CRM = successful business development efforts. Ready to maintain a positive attitude in your business development efforts by fully embracing Deltek Vantagepoint CRM?  

Stay tuned for future blogs on this topic that cover other parts of the sales cycle and project lifecycle prior to the awarded stage. 

 

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Underused Accounting Features of Deltek Vantagepoint

Posted by Scott Gailhouse on April 27, 2022

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Believe it or not, but there are several applications in Deltek Vantagepoint that go unused simply because end users really don’t understand the concepts behind them. Labor Cross Charge, Consultant Accruals and Overhead Allocation are a few of those applications. This high-level overview is intended to make the user more informed about useful accounting features within Deltek Vantagepoint. These features are designed to provide the user the best view of a project’s overall health as well as the health of the professional services firm as a whole. 

Consultant Accruals

When invoicing clients each month on percent complete or lump sum type projects, oftentimes the percent complete billed on behalf of subconsultants does not really reflect what the subconsultants have actually invoiced the project. Consultant Accruals is a way to account for the differences. The Consultant Accruals account shows the difference between what the prime firm has billed the client versus what the subconsultant has billed the prime firm on the balance sheet. 

Consultant Accruals uses either the Project Budgeting Worksheet or Project Plan as the budget source to calculate accruals. The user must complete the Expense Costs tab of the Project Budget Worksheet for each subconsultant at the lowest level of the WBS. When the user receives an invoice from the subconsultant, it is entered in the Transaction Center, AP Vouchers using the same expense chart of account number and WBS level that is set up on the Project Budget Worksheet.  

When posted, the user will see a debit for the voucher amount to the expense chart of account (COA) number and a debit to a COA number called “Accrued Consultant”. Prior to running Consultant Accruals, enter the percent complete for each vendor on the Expense Costs tab of the Project Budget Worksheet or the ETC or EAC percent if using the project plan to calculate the accrual. 

Once Consultant Accruals is run, Deltek Vantagepoint will adjust the original posting to the expense COA number if there is a difference between the percent complete entered in the project budget worksheet and the amount entered in AP for that subconsultant. An adjustment will also be made to the Accrued Consultant COA number with an offset entry to the Consultant Liability account. The “Accrued Consultant” account will show the difference between the percent billed on their behalf and the amount the subconsultant billed the firm.  

Usually running the Consultant Accruals routine is part of the month end processes. 

Overhead Allocation    

Professional services firms have a variety of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) used to closely manage a firm’s financial and operational performance, and profit margin should be one of them. The Overhead Allocation utility in Deltek Vantagepoint is used to assign indirect costs to regular, revenue producing projects to measure net profitability. 

Overhead Allocation must be configured in a firm’s Vantagepoint database and should be run on a timely basis – usually after timesheets are posted or at month end. Overhead Allocation can give the user a true understanding of a project’s profitability. 

There are two options for applying overhead to projects – multiplier or proration. Overhead can be applied to a project’s revenue or direct labor. 

The multiplier method applies a multiplier that is determined to every dollar of direct labor spent on a project. The proration method uses a firm’s actual, year-to-date indirect expenses. Firms generally prefer the multiplier method because of its consistency. Project managers always know how much overhead is being applied to their projects. The proration method, because it is based on actual indirect expenses, will change month to month. Deltek Vantagepoint uses total overhead expense divided by total direct labor to determine the multiplier used when Overhead Allocation is run. 

There are a number of reports including the Project Progress, Office Earnings and Project Summary report that when run at cost will display overhead. Running the Overhead Allocation process will return a report detailing the amount of overhead applied to projects and the actual overhead rate of the firm. 

Overhead allocation can be run anytime as it is used for reporting purposes only. 

Labor Cross Charge 

Firms using organizations within Deltek Vantagepoint, may want to consider using the Labor Cross Charge utility. A cross charge occurs when an employee in one organization works on a project owned by another organization. The professional services firm can choose a revenue share, where the borrowing organization is charged revenue based on an agreed upon price by the loaning organization. In this scenario, the loaning company would see an increase in revenue and the borrowing organization would see a reduction in revenue.  

A firm may also choose to bill the borrowing organization indirect cost reducing the loaning organization’s direct/indirect expenses and increasing the borrowing organization’s direct/indirect expenses. By default, when time is posted, the labor cost follows the project’s organization. The user may choose to have the labor cost transferred back to the employee’s organization during the labor cross charge process. 

Labor Cross Charge can be used on Regular type projects or both Regular and Overhead type projects. Labor Cross Charge is run as part of the month end process after billing to clients has been completed. Having a clear understanding of how these applications work in Deltek Vantagepoint will help the firm decide if it could benefit from their use. 


Get the Most out of Deltek Vantagepoint 

Deltek Vantagepoint was designed with project-based users in mind. So, it is important for users to be knowledgeable about all the helpful accounting features within Vantagepoint that can provide them with an overall picture of firm projects. For professional services firms seeking guidance on how to get the most out of their investment, Full Sail Partners offers a complete Navigational Analysis. Click the image below to learn more.  

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Amplify Business Intelligence Visuals with Informer

Posted by Timothy Burns on April 12, 2022

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A favorite song is structured to be both instantly recognizable and memorable. It’s written with a predefined structure that is thought out to capture the listeners attention and invoke an emotion. There are several standard ways in which a song is written and some basic rules song writers “should follow” when it comes to writing the song.  

The same can be said to developing business intelligence visuals for project-based firms. A business analyst, like a songwriter, must decide on the different visuals that will come together to create a melody to allow firm leaders to make decisive, but critical decisions. The visuals must grab the attention quickly and be easily understood to the audience. 

This article breaks down how to the Blackbox Connector for Informer amplifies the firm’s Deltek Vantagepoint data to make memorable melody. 

Understanding the Business Intelligence Visual Structure

The basic parts of a song include the intro, verse, pre-chorus/lift, bridge, break, and outro. Let’s compare that to creating a business intelligence dashboard using Informer.  

The intro is self-explanatory – it’s the intro the song or the very first visual on the dashboard. And, it’s one of the most important parts. Typically, it’s the very top left corner visual. This is where the most important statistic or data should be displayed.  

The verse gives the listener (or the viewer in our case) the idea of what the song is about. It typically sets the tone or topic of the entire dashboard.  

The pre-chorus/lift can build anticipation. In a song this includes increasing the volume or rhythm or pulling back and creating silence. When building the business intelligence visual stack, it can be the visuals that keep viewers scrolling through or keep them on the page.  

The chorus is often the most memorable melody of the song. It usually repeats itself throughout the entire song. And, just like in a song, it can repeat the same visuals but maybe for different regions or offices. For example, the dashboard may have several charts that show utilization rates by office with different separate visuals scattered throughout for each region of offices. Think about that one main theme of the dashboard – utilization rate, hit rate, profit, sales target – whatever the theme for that dashboard and make sure it’s repeated in a way that makes sense to make it memorable. 

A break is usually an instrumental part of the song that allows for some breathing room. When creating business intelligence visuals, make sure there is ample white space or breathing room between each individual chart or graph. This gives the audience that break before consuming the next information. 

A good song has an outro – the end of the song. The outro closes out the song just like the business intelligence dashboard needs to close out.

Putting the Structure Together   

Understanding the basic structure of a song (or business intelligence dashboard) is just the first step. Next is to understand how each part works together to create different melodies. Below are some common song structures in modern music and how you can think about these when designing dashboards using Informer.  

Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus  

This is probably the most common song structure in today’s music, especially in pop music. And, it’s a great way to begin with designing the BI dashboards.  

Examples of some songs using this structure include: 

  • “Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple 
  • “All You Need is Love” by the Beatles 
  • “Foxy Lady” by Jimi Hendrix 

Informer visuals using this structure can include visuals showing the following: 

  • Total potential revenue in the pipeline 
  • Opportunity count by office 
  • Total revenue won YTD 
  • Opportunity dollar about by stage 

An example Informer visual using this structure is shown below. 

 

Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Bridge-Chorus   

Songs that use this structure often get stuck in your head and therefore become popular. The bridge helps add a surprise or variance breaking up the repetitiveness of the song. Using this structure when designing the business intelligence dashboards can add a new angle or different theme while supporting the main goal or theme.  

Examples of songs using this structure include: 

  • “Happy” by Pharrell 
  • “Every Breath You Take” by the Police 
  • “Fix You” by Coldplay
 

Taking the example from above, the bridge added could be: 

  • Total potential revenue in the pipeline 
  • Opportunity count by office 
  • Total revenue won YTD 
  • Top 10 largest clients by YTD revenue 
  • Opportunity dollar about by stage

By adding the top 10 largest clients, the viewer can get a sense of what clients the firm should be focused on, which stays with the theme of the overall visual – business development. But that specific chart is revenue earned not expected revenue or sales won. It’s a different angle of information but still very helpful to the business development team. 

An example Informer visual using this structure is shown below. 

Create Visuals Easily with Informer Discover Tool 

Informer is a business intelligence tool that uses the Blackbox Connector to connect to Deltek Vision or Vantagepoint and create a standard set of datasets. Using the Blackbox Connector with Informer allows the team to start building visuals right away instead of spending a lot of time building datasets and programming visuals.  

Once the data is connected, go to a dataset and select the Discover Tool. Then choose a field, in this example Project Summary is selected. The Discover Tool instantly recommends visuals based on the data selected. The tool recommends visuals based on the fields and columns selected and changes the recommendations as you select more or less options. 

Each recommended visual can then be adjusted or further designed based on the needs. It can then be saved to be used later to create dashboards (called Reports in Informer).   

Tips for Choosing the Right Visual Structure 

Knowing the structure and different visual types while using the Informer Discover tool to make the visuals easily, how do you decide what visuals to display for firm leaders? The dashboard should not just be pretty, but also functional. It’s helping firm leaders make critical decisions, after all. Below are a few tips to choose the right visual structure. 

  • Understand the audience – Knowing who will be using this dashboard to make decisions will help determine the key metrics to display. What information does the audience need to be successful? Keep in mind that the visuals are just an overview and the audience can drill down into the data, if desired. 
  • Stick to one main theme – It doesn’t make sense to throw in a chorus of playing ball in a country song about losing ‘the girl.’ So don’t mix in too many different types of data that don’t support the main theme. It’s okay to create multiple dashboards and tools like Deltek Vantagepoint and Informer allow users to quickly access different dashboards, if needed. 
  • Incorporate different visual types – Sticking to one main theme, doesn’t mean using the same visual. Create a visual story by choosing different types of charts, graphs, and tables. Just be careful to select the visual that matches the data type. The Informer Discover Tool does this easily by recommending the visual types for the data selected. 
  • Use color wisely – Every color can tell a story. Don’t use too many colors to distract viewers. Instead use color to show differences or areas to the viewer should focus. Using red for negative, green for positive, and grays to show values is a great way to use color wisely.  
  • Keep it simple – Because the Informer Discover Tool makes it easy to create different types of visuals for any type of Vantagepoint data, it might be tempting to add it all to a dashboard. It’s very important to keep in mind the end-user or audience that is using the visuals to make decisions. Keep the most important visuals in the top left corner. If the viewers are overwhelmed by the sheer amount of visual stimulation or there’s too many clicks to drill down to data, it won’t be valuable to them.  

Write the Firm's "Greatest Hit" with Blackbox Connector for Informer  

Knowing all the parts and possible structures of songs and business intelligence visuals is a first step to writing that greatest hit for the firm. Remember that the point of providing BI visuals to firm decision-makers is to make all the firm’s data understandable and therefore, becoming actionable based on the information presented.  

To see the Informer Discover Tool in action click the image below to access a mini-demo.

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A Few of My Favorite Things About Deltek Vantagepoint Reporting

Posted by Terri Agnew, CPA on April 06, 2022

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In my prior experience as a Controller of Architecture and Engineering (A&E) firms, I was often the “go-to” person for creating reports for PMs and Executives using Deltek Vision. Over time, I learned exactly which tab(s) the options were on for the various reports, which navigation menu item to choose to find the report base I needed, and even which color names were my favorites to use for the group headings.  Now with Deltek Vantagepoint, report creation has been made even easier with a few excellent enhancements. So, with the musical the Sound of Music in mind, let’s highlight the Deltek Vantagepoint report upgrades as “A few of my favorite things” …about reporting!  Feel free to “sing” along. 

Favorite Thing #1 - Organization of Reporting Menu

My first “favorite thing” may not be as pretty as “raindrops on roses” but it sure will save time!  Unlike Deltek Vision, Vantagepoint has only one Reporting option on the Navigation menu. All the standard base reports are now found on one “Reports” tab within Reporting. Likewise, all Saved Global/Personal reports will be listed on one “Favorites” tab. Instead of navigating through a dozen + menu items to find the report needed, now simply search for the report by name on either tab or filter by the type of report if you choose.    

For example:  Don’t scroll through the full list searching for the Time Analysis Report. Using the name of the report, start typing “time” in the search bar and “voila”, the report will populate.   

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Just even knowing the type of report rather than the name of the report, it can be filtered based on report type and list just those reports. This filter is like navigating the reporting menu tree in Vision.  

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Description automatically generatedFavorite Thing #2 – No more than 4 Option Tabs!   

Unlike the many “whiskers on kittens”, there are no more than four tabs to review for reporting options.  In Deltek Vision, some reports had two tabs, and some had up to seven! In Deltek Vantagepoint, at most there are only four tabs. 

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Columns & Groups:   Always start by deciding how the report should be grouped/sorted and which columns are wanted on the report. Keep in mind the headings of the columns can still be changed just like as in Deltek Vision but now there is only one header, not a header line 1 and line 2.   

Options:  This tab contains all “other” options for the report selected. Time selections, activity options, budget options, financial detail options – if the report has the option, this is where to find them all!  Having all the options consolidated to one tab makes it easier when creating a report as the user can simply skim through the options available from top to bottom.  There is no need to go from tab to tab any longer! 

Chart:  Not all reports have the ability to utilize charts, so this tab is not always an option. However, if the report data makes sense to also be shown in a bar, pie or line chart, this is the tab to set it up. 

Layout:  This is the tab with the choice to override the report defaults for report layout (portrait vs landscape), paper size, font, borders, headings & footers.  Advanced tip:  If a user has special options for a report, consider adding the options selected as a note in the footer for a reference as needed. 

Favorite Thing #3 – Easy Searching for Columns & Groups  

My third “favorite thing” is how easy the column and group options can now be selected in Deltek Vantagepoint. This may seem basic but having one quick and easy selection area is as satisfying as some “crisp apple strudels” with my coffee. 

Does the user want to know part or all of the name of the column or to add YTD data columns only? Does the user want all columns for hours? Use the filter! It will save time as there is no need to scroll through the long list of column options. 

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Favorite Thing #4 – Colors for Grouping & Headers, now Actual Colors not Words!!   

Let’s face it, sometimes data is boring and can be hard to read if there is too much of it on one page!  Adding some color to grouping labels can help the eye focus in on a particular detail.  The new color selections in groupings & headers are related to my favorite thing #2Want a blue like “blue satin sashes”? In Deltek Vision, to figure out if that blue was cornflower blue or light steel blue, the user had to select the color by name, preview the report and decide if it was the color desired. Now the color selection actually shows the true color visually! 

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Another great place to use colors to brighten up a report is in the Column Heading. This option can be found on the “Layout” tab of reporting. Use a nice bright color to liven up what used to be a basic black & white report. Better yet… does the firm have an approved color palette? Find out the color codes for the firm’s colors and type in the code of the color to use in reports. Now reports will match the company branding. The user doesn’t have to be limited to the 140 colors shown in this grid. Here is a website that shows more color options:  Color Hex Color Codes (color-hex.com). Select a favorite color or the company’s brand color to liven up those reports! 

Favorite Thing #5 – Select Report Options, Records and Save the Report - All from One Screen! 

My last favorite thing about Deltek Vantagepoint reporting reminds me of “brown paper packages tied up with strings”. Deltek took three areas from Vision reporting and combined them to one page. In Deltek Vision, users had to go to one screen for Options, go back to the main reporting page and navigate to a second screen for the records selection, navigate again to the main reporting page and go to a third screen to save the favorite report. In Deltek Vantagepoint, all three of these reporting functions are executed from this main reporting screen! 

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Two more quick reporting tips… (1) don’t miss that the report title can be changed directly from this screen as well! Simply click on “Project Earnings” and rename this report to whatever makes sense for the organization.  (2) Users can also email the report directly from this main screen from the “Other Actions” options. 

Enjoy the Enhancements of Deltek Vantagepoint 

While Deltek Vantagepoint users cannot all sing with the voice of Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music, they can certainly benefit from this list of “my favorite things.” In fact, users may discover more to add to this list! In the meantime, let these Deltek Vantagepoint enhancements make reporting a lot easier because like Maria said when feeling sad, “I simply remember my favorite things and then I don’t feel so bad.”   

 


Click the image below to learn how to add the powerful, feature-rich ERP to your toolbox and get your team working on the same page of the same book.

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To Vantagepoint or Not to Vantagepoint, that is the Question...

Posted by Cate Phillips on March 30, 2022

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Project-based firms have many options when it comes to Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) packages, albeit difficult choices to make. In his well-known play Hamlet, Shakespeare delivered us a Hamlet who was contemplating a major decision in his famous soliloquy. So, are the decisions around life and death that Hamlet considered at all comparable to that of choosing an ERP? Well, let’s have some fun here with Shakespeare and try to make a case for it. 

Avoid the Old Bait and Switch

In the Shakespeare play, Hamlet has all these murderous plans and ways to avenge the death of his father. The famous quote “the lady doth protest too much, methinks” isn’t so much about how fickle women can be (even though everyone knows fickleness has no gender), but rather it’s said as part of a trap to see if Claudius will reveal his guilt. What can be learned from these homicidal maniacs, other than to bring back the word ‘methinks’, one may ask? 

When selecting an ERP, project-based firms must consider the entire cost of the product to avoid feeling trapped. No one likes to feel taken advantage of or stuck in a situation that isn’t meeting expectations. When clients come from other ERPs on the market, one of the main complaints is typically that they felt like their ERP provider or consultants were constantly after more fees. They were sold a product that could do a ton, but the investment necessary to get to all those great features was hidden. The result is feeling like a bait and switch has trapped the firm into pouring more into a system which was thought to be ready for full operation.  

Deltek Vantagepoint is sold as a highly configurable project-based ERP system. Full Sail Partners’ expert Vantagepoint consultants approach sales and implementations with eyes that are wide open to balance cost with efficiencies. Vantagepoint works best when it meets each firm’s business needs, and it does take configuration and therefore an investment, to get there, but it’s well worth it. So, if project-based firms have the right expectations going in, they shouldn’t be feeling trapped. 


Wrap Some CRM/RP Rigor Around the Madness

Some of the most significant and best changes from Deltek Vision to Vantagepoint are happening in the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Resource Planning Management (RP) modules. These are complete game changers in the market and none of the competition invested as much as Deltek has into fine-tuning these glorious pieces of functionalities. Deltek has been listening to client feedback for more than a decade and continues to listen as they expand Vantagepoint’s capabilities.  

So going back to the play, Polonius responds to Hamlet at one point by saying “Though this be madness, yet there is method in ’t.” Running a professional services or consulting firm can feel insane some days. Clients can pop up out of nowhere with additional needs, and suddenly, the entire day’s schedule has been turned into something else. Deltek Vantagepoint helps wrap some rigor around the “madness” in a user-friendly way that will actually increase user adoption in project-based firms.  

Keeping the madness at bay, Full Sail Partners has now helped more than 200 firms go from Deltek Vision to Deltek Vantagepoint. The number one reason why system usage increases with Vantagepoint is because of its ability to manage the entire project lifecycle, from a prospect that knows nothing of what it’s like to work with the firm to managing the resources and how the work is delivered. Vantagepoint also offers the type of visibility into finances, operations and performance that firms need to grow. The number two reason usage increases with Vantagepoint is because the CRM makes life easier for marketers, seller-doers, project managers, and leadership. Opportunities are no longer separate files from projects, so it’s all one record in Vantagepoint.  

Additionally, with the Deltek Vantagepoint Outlook Connect and Gmail for business connect, users can see the interaction history between contacts, clients, and projects as well as quickly log emails into Vantagepoint. This feature allows users to bring Vantagepoint into their email inboxes. And this tool comes with other features like the ability to synchronize calendars and schedule meetings while saving them in Vantagepoint at the same time. To learn more about the Vantagepoint Outlook Connect, check out this mini demo. 

 

Keep that New ERP Feeling Longer  

To put it lightly, in the play, Hamlet was worried about the “afterlife” in that other famous soliloquy when he said, “to die, to sleep – to sleep, perchance to dream.”  This is similar to how many of our clients are worried about their “aftercare,” with continuously improving their processes with Vantagepoint once they’ve made the leap to get there. A Full Sail Partners’ service becoming more popular with clients recently is the Navigational Analysis for Vantagepoint. A firm’s entire system is scanned, and current processes are evaluated to discover how well they are serving the firm. It’s like an annual physical exam by a physician that results in a complete work-up on the health of your system.  

It’s important to develop a plan for aftercare that includes regular data clean-up, optimizing processes, increasing efficiencies and overall continuous improvement. A consultant isn’t necessary to keep a firm’s ERP fresh; it’s like anything else. If experts are needed to bring their knowledge and best practices to the table, it can be outsourced, or a firm can do it itself.  

Exit Stage Right   

In review, it is certainly interesting to see how much Shakespeare’s characters in Hamlet seem to have reflected upon similar issues like with the tribulations of project-based firms regarding choosing an ERP. So perhaps they are comparable? However, the answer to Vantagepoint or Not to Vantagepoint appears to be evident. To Vantagepoint!  


Click the image below to learn how to add the powerful, feature-rich ERP to your toolbox and get your team working on the same page of the same book.

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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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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

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