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What's New with Deltek Vision 7.4

Posted by Full Sail Partners on Wed, Feb 25, 2015 @ 10:49 AM

vision7.4The much anticipated wait for Deltek Vision 7.4 is finally over! To kick off 2015 on a high note, Deltek is releasing the most powerful version of Vision ever. So what features and enhancements are included with the newest version of Vision? Let’s see!

Deltek Vision 7.4 Features and Enhancements:

  • Increase project management accuracy with new task dependencies Plan projects with Task Dependencies, change dates and choose the Predecessor and Successor date changes along with it. Additionally, added right-click functionality to easily move dates.
     
  • Deliver consistent opportunity estimates even faster with the new fee estimate tool | Standardize the way professional services firms develop fee based scopes:
    1. Create Fee Estimate for the Opportunity based on templates
    2. Create reports to include with proposals
    3. Create projects from the Fee Estimate mapping compensation values and Work Breakdown Structure
    4. Project Fee estimates stay intact in Project Info Center
       
  • Manage your purchasing approvals in Vision with new workflows as simple or complex as you need them | The new Approvals workflow engine in Vision has been applied to the Purchasing module! Utilize new workflow capabilities to automate your approvals.
     
  • Customize your invoices with enhanced invoice template editor | Ensure that the details you and your customers need most are always included.
     
    1. Include User Defined Fields on Invoices
    2. Control your Invoice Subtotals
    3. Group your billing phases for your fee invoices
       
  • Much, much more | In addition to the above enhancements, there are dozens of additional features and improvements, including:

    • Associate All button - Quickly associate a supporting document with all voucher lines
    • Key Convert and Combine Records even if they have planning data.
    • Audit Trail for Closing/Opening Accounting Periods
    • Create and schedule recurring/reversing Journal Entries

    Have questions about the newest enhancements and features included in Deltek Vision 7.4, or looking for information on how to upgrade to 7.4? Reach out to us below, and we will be happy to help you get a grasp on all of the new functionality available to your firm!

     

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    Top 5 Fears Keeping You From an ERP Implementation

    Posted by Full Sail Partners on Wed, Jan 28, 2015 @ 03:00 PM

    describe the imageMy momma was always full of advice. Some I took with great results, but others … well let’s just say I had to learn the lesson the hard way. At this stage in our lives, we’ve all moved on from those tender years where momma was our greatest guide, but we are all still attuned to receiving advice from those more experienced. Or at least we should be. Take for example, the ERP Implementation process:

    Most savvy business professionals know the ERP acronym, but not all have taken the advice.  But why?  What’s keeping some companies from “pulling the trigger” and bringing this all important piece to their success puzzle – especially when their competitors are?  In my years talking and working with a variety of firms, I have gathered the top five fears why companies, like yours, haven’t completed an ERP Implementation. 

    1)      You say: “It’s going to cost too much.”

    We hear:  Fear of Being Out of Control

    We solve: An ERP system will address this fear by managing costs and stopping       financial leaks.

    Problem:  The industry says that ERP implementation can be expensive and many companies wonder where the money is coming from. Many function under the notion that it’s easier to just do the quick fix and move on.

    Solution:  The right ERP system, implemented correctly with the aid of the right consultants, will fix those expensive leaks in processes. Furthermore, with a detailed IT growth plan and the information from the new ERP, the initial costs will be recouped and you’ll be well on your way to a better financial and technologically focused picture.

    2)      You say: “I don’t have the time to research an ERP.”

    We hear:  Fear of Where to Start

    We solve:  Taking the first step with an ERP and controlling your future will eliminate this fear.

    Problem:  It can be daunting to think about the work it will require to research and discover the right consulting firm who will help find and implement the right ERP. But, in this scenario, consumers are being reactive rather than proactive - spending days living those old clichés “with your head in the sand putting out fires.” 

    Solution:  It’s time to take action - focus on goals and the future. An ERP is a planning, forward-looking mechanism designed to give control over an organization’s future. If the research and work is done at the beginning of the ERP implementation, energy will be focused on the future. 

    3)      You say:  “It’s going to take too long to implement.”

    We hear:  Fear of Failure

    We solve:  An ERP system helps you succeed by pulling together all your information for a clear picture of your newly improved organization.

    Problem:  When you run a lean organization, all internal resources are at full capacity unable to see the big picture which makes for silo’d company data inhibiting the ability to see the big picture. Not having a clear picture serves only to stunt a firm’s growth:  it’s this lack of encompassing visibility which keeps a firm from being able to make intelligent decisions or to understand trends, because they are lacking departments and systems that are connected to each other.

    Solution:  A good ERP system will pull together all this disparate data giving users the clear picture they need to move forward and giving everyone the gift of time. Yes, ERP implementations require some work and time to evaluate and establish new processes, establish goals, and get everything running smoothly, but the more attention is focused on the consultants and the implementation, the faster you will reap the benefits and feel the relief.

    4)      You say:  “It’s going to require too much change in my current processes.”

    We hear:  Fear of Change

    We solve:  An ERP consultant will guide you through change.

    Problem:  Even a bad process can feel comfortable, familiar. And in the fast-paced business world, we all have to find comfort where we can. It’s understandable to want to avoid the work, unfamiliarity, and making changes to numerous business processes. But what’s more important is that your competitors are already using their ERP systems. They will be on “the latest and greatest” while you are still floundering with “this is the way we’ve always done it.”

    Solution:  Here’s where the right consultant can really help. Someone who knows their way through the maze of settings; who knows the latest and most relevant business processes; and who, most of all, knows YOUR business and YOUR industry. Once the consultant tailors the ERP implementation to what are now highly efficient business processes, you’ll be able to appreciate the value of the phrase, “change is good.”

    5)      You say:  “No one will use the system, anyway.”

    We hear:  Fear of Unknown

    We solve:  An ERP is such a supportive tool, it will quickly become a familiar part of your world.

    Problem:  So after all the trouble of researching and implementing and ERP; the real fear is, “Will I really use it or just revert back to our old ways?”  Once the shine wears off of a new ERP system, there will be some effort every person will have to make to make the changes permanent. HuffPost Healthy article, “How Long Does It Actually Take to Form a New Habit? (Backed by Science)” tells us that, “On average, it takes more than two months before a new behavior becomes automatic -- 66 days to be exact.” 

    Solution:  That’s great news, because in a little over two months, with a focused effort, everyone, including you, will have turned these new processes into automatic actions. What’s more, the new processes will have included regular reviews of data giving a clear picture of the entire organization allowing responsible action for your future. We also recommend understanding more about the 8 key ways to make your implementation a success

    ERP Implementation Fears Laid To Rest!

    Some (or all) of these fears may have indeed been on your mind as you contemplated your company’s future success. To learn more about ERP implementation, the benefits and the return on the financial and time investment, check out Full Sail Partners’ whitepaper, “Could Your Firm Benefit from an Enterprise Resource Planning System?”

    In the end, while momma’s advice may not have included an ERP implementation, her wise words still resonate and are perfectly applicable to this journey “Nothing tried, nothing gained!” Obstacles are just opportunities waiting to be discovered!

     

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    Project Based ERP: It’s Time to Tackle This

    Posted by Brian McNamara on Wed, Sep 17, 2014 @ 10:20 AM

    Project Based ERP TackleProject based ERP.  You’re probably wondering to yourself, “what is this anyway?”  We’ve all heard of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, but now the industry added the words “project based.”  It probably feels like they are just layering more words … and difficulty.  So let me make some sense out of this for you. 

    Project Based ERP Straight Talk

    Traditionally, ERP’s have primarily been associated with companies manufacturing products: a key factor in ERP is the merging of IT, HR, Finance, and Marketing data with product operations and inventory management. 

    In services firms and consulting businesses like yours, however, some alterations must be made for the ERP system to show the data they need to achieve their goal – high profit and high revenue in a skills based environment – hence the addition of “project based” to our discussion about ERP systems.  Your services business deals with a model where intellectual property is what you produce.  You don’t have the evils of shelf life, production lines, or parts departments.  Instead, your lives are geared toward a consistent evaluation of process, of skill, and of running the perfect project.   

    Get Down to Business

    Project based firms are exceedingly good at running projects.  They can create a GANNT chart that’s a thing of beauty, they can set achievable deliverables, and they meet or exceed every deadline.  But finding an ERP system that’s attuned especially to services and not manufacturing – now that’s tougher.  It takes dedication, knowledge and the focused energy of the right team to get it all together.  

    • An ERP Consultant whose job is to master-mind all the necessary pieces to banish redundant, useless old processes and make your project’s business goals a realty.

    • A Project Manager focused solely on gathering and maneuvering all the professionals to make achieving your project goals a success.

    • Your IT, HR, Marketing/Sales, Finance as the true heroes to making things happen.

    So What Are You Going To Get Out Of It?

    I know, I know.  “It’s expensive to add new software.”  “It’s a lot of work and we’re already pretty busy.”  I’ve heard this and more.  But let me tell you – you can’t afford NOT to add a project based ERP system!  The table below details those differences:

    blog2

    Brass Tacks

    Still need more?  Here’s the slam-dunk.  According to “Managing Your Consulting Firm for Growth,” an IDC Info-doc, ERP systems built from the ground up with projects as a core process give firms the tools to make the most effective decisions in these critical areas:

    Lifecycle process across customers, projects and employees.

    Details on projects that help optimize profitability and lower risks.

    • Manage and optimize an integrated portfolio of services – using data to learn how to do more of what “works” and eliminate what isn’t “working” (i.e. what’s not profitable).

    • Find the “right” customers and have the data to eliminate unprofitable customers.

    • Manage the future by understanding the past and using data to make fast, accurate course corrections.

    A project based ERP system will combine the
    strengths of 
    Marketing/Sales, IT, HR, Finance together with
    project management software 
    to help eliminate project waste.

    Bottom Line

    Your dedicated employees joined with the support of organizations like Full Sail Partners, Inc.  will make your project based firm as successful as possible by using your greatest resource – a specifically designed project based ERP system.  And while it’s rad here in California to just “ride the waves,” when it comes to running your project based firm, using a project based ERP is your best choice.  Dude. 

     

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    What Do Soccer and ERP Consulting Have in Common?

    Posted by Scott Seal on Thu, Aug 14, 2014 @ 12:00 PM

    crazysoccerHere in the United States, our sports zealots perform crazy antics like going shirtless in freezing weather or painting their faces in support of their teams.  But it’s more than the individual antics; the real difference is in the scale of extremism that soccer fans exhibit – a literal global exuberance all in support of their beloved sport.  But wait, isn’t this an article on ERP Consulting? 

    Well, believe it or not, soccer and ERP consulting have quite a lot in common: 

    • They both strive to achieve a very specific GOAL.
    • They require coordination among the various efforts of serious talent to make it all happen.
    • True fans are enthusiastic about the team winning.

    Breaking it down: Are Soccer and ERP Consulting that Similar?

    ERP

    First, let’s talk about and define ERP.  Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is the name given to the compilation of software products and/or modules.  According to “Could Your Firm Benefit From an Enterprise Resource Planning Solution

    The original Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions, introduced in the 1990s, were primarily designed for and used by manufacturers. Today, ERP solutions have evolved and serve as a tool to manage the project life cycle for professional services firms. These include firms involved in IT services, architectural and engineering, design and planning, system integration, and management consulting, to name a few.
    Furthermore, according to CIO.com’s “ERP Definition and Solutions"
    ERP’s must serve “the needs of people in finance as well as it does the people in human resources [and other departments which typically have their] own computer system optimized for the particular ways that the department does its work. But ERP combines them all together into a single, integrated software program that runs off a single database so that the various departments can more easily share information and communicate with each other.” 

    This sharing and communicating of information is all geared toward one, single purpose – achieving business goals. 

    Putting them together

    Next, let’s get back to one of my favorite subjects, soccer.  Soccer is a game requiring the coordination of individual players, each with their own proficiency; sometimes it involves players from different nationalities, or differences in a position focus like a goalie or halfback or a variations in specific skillsets like juggling or dribbling the ball. The players rely on the communicating and sharing of information during a game to one single, purpose – putting the ball into the net for a GOAL, a win.

    So, like the soccer team with different players, ERP consulting requires synchronization of dissimilar needs, processes, and indeed functions of the software of different departments, so that the business can achieve its business GOALS, its win.

    It takes the right coach to win

    ERP ConsultingIn soccer, while the right players, good equipment, and positive fan support are unquestionably important parts of the team’s success, the keystone to an effective soccer team is, in fact, the coach.  The coach’s job is to balance each player’s strengths against the combined team’s goal of winning.

    The coach in ERP is the ERP Consultant.  Having the right individual department software is important, but the keystone to implementing a system, evaluating business processes, and bringing all that information together in a meaningful way is the ERP Consultant.  This person, like the coach, has to balance all the individual parts, i.e. departmental needs, in order to reach the business GOALS of the entire organization. 

    How to find the right ERP Consultant

    Choosing the right ERP Coach, er, Consultant is your important first step.  This person can help you determine the scope of your ERP project – including costs, size, structure, business process evaluation, and ERP goals as well as help you research and find the right ERP solution for your business.  Full Sail Partners, Inc., for example, specializes in identifying the critical resources to create a faster, more efficient, and cohesive business infrastructure for professional services firms looking at ERP solutions.  Ultimately, you need a consultant who

    • listens to you
    • knows your industry
    • understands needs beyond the tool
    • understands your company culture, and
    • knows the ERP industry.

    Don’t get a red card

    redcardChoosing the wrong ERP consultant or software solution can lead to significant issues penalizing you in dollars, time and public relations.  Following are only two examples of many instances of what happens when ERP implementations fail:

    … Knight Capital, [a financial services firm,] recently lost over $400 million in a matter of minutes because of a glitch in its trading software — trading software that wasn’t fully tested and properly deployed prior to production. In addition to the immediate impact of lost cash and profits, the software failure also caused the company’s stock to drop 68-percent the day following the glitch. 

    SAP and AxonCity of San DiegoThe city of San Diego, CA terminated its software implementation contract with services provider, Axon, citing “systematically deficient project management practices” and a project that was running $11 million over budget.

    But be aware, an ERP Consultant cannot entirely save you from these “red card” losses.  Like the soccer coach, their real purpose is more about setting realistic expectations and sound goals, as well as offering their expertise for avoiding potential issues before they occur.   

    In the end

    Although analogous in many ways, the reality is that soccer is purely a game to most of us while ERP consultants help you achieve your GOAL – a more efficiently run business resulting in greater success for all your employees.  Calling Full Sail Partners as your ERP consulting expert is your first step in achieving your WIN.  

    And while going shirtless in below freezing weather or being painted the colors of your favorite ERP vendor is one way to show your support, it’s not necessary.  But then again…a Full Sail Partners logo on my chest would make me stand out in the crowd. 

     

    Blogs from author Scott Seal

     

    Software Business Solutions: Features vs. Functionality

    Posted by Brian McNamara on Thu, Jun 26, 2014 @ 03:52 PM
    Business solutions

    This is the sort of adversarial match that goes on too often every day.  Buyers are overwhelmed by the sheer number of features when they watch a software demo.  What is often forgotten, though, is that elephant in the room – the function of the software and how the product solves your business problems. 

    Business Solutions: Feature vs. Function

    But first, what’s the difference between features and functions?

    Features are all the cool things a software can do

    Functions are all the cool things a software can do … FOR YOU

    First Problem 

    Here is usually how it goes.  An organization feels business pains – growing pains, direction or market pains, etc.  They decide that a new software will solve their problems and set about contacting vendors to see what their software will do.  What is sometimes not communicated, though, is exactly what the problems are.  Sometimes they keep their needs/wants to themselves preferring instead to see what the sales rep has to say, or sometimes they simply don’t know exactly what the problem is or how to solve it.  

    Second Problem

    The eager sales rep arrives and starts working with the company trying to understand their business issues, but there is often that aforementioned communication disconnect regarding the business issue that needs to be solved.  So the sales rep, having confidence in the quality of their product to solve a myriad of issues, launches a demo campaign perfectly designed and choreographed to show every remarkable thing their software does.  It works - the client is awestruck by all the impressive features.  

    Third Problem 

    After looking at several vendors’ presentations and RFP responses, the organization gathers together, compares notes, and ultimately chooses the most appealing and financially comfortable solution. 

    I’m sure, as a savvy member of our business community, you spotted the increasing snowball of issues that all come down to one basic, yet seemingly elusive, concept – the lack of clear definition, well-defined communication, and effective partnering with the vendor on the business issue(s) itself.  We will explore this further … 

    Solving the business issue … the function

    Let’s replay that same scenario with a significant tweak to the beginning.  The organization is realizing some sort of business pain:  current market/direction pains or future growth and development pains, disparate and inefficient process and lack of relational data for business metrics.  Key organization members still convene to clearly identify what the issues are.  However – and here’s where it gets exciting – they reach out to a preferred vendor who, together with the key organization members

    • Clarify the business issues

    • Develop a plan to solve them

    And only then do they …

    • Acquire the right software solution

    Notice how we didn’t even mention the features.  Sure, it’s important to have cool things that your software business solution does which make every day work life easier or more interesting.  Yes, it’s great to have hot keys, special gui (graphical user interface) on pages, neat buttons and clicks.  But, in too many instances, those features are there mostly to sell but not to solve.   They are frosting, gravy, or special sauce – yummy to see and eat, but without the solid nutrients are not satisfying the functional need. 

    And what’s more, those “bling” features almost always end up costing far more than going with what may seem like an initially expensive business solution.  The cliché, “you get what you pay for” is very true in the software industry.  Going with a less expensive solution can sometimes cost more in the long run, because if you haven’t solved your business problem, you end up with voluminous customization costs or just more disparate systems.  At some point in the future after choosing based solely on price,   bells and whistles, you will likely need to cut your losses and just go with a vendor who will work with you to solve your business problems.

    It’s the partnering of organization and vendor which garners the real result.

    In the Forbes.com article, “To Increase Revenue Stop Selling” by contributor, Mike Myatt, he states that organizations want to be treated like partners and not a software sales target.  Working with their vendor is the only way a successful solution will be realized resulting in a longstanding, productive business relationship.  He says,

    Engage me, communicate with me, add value to my business, solve my problems, create opportunity for me, educate me, inform me, but don’t try and sell me – it won’t work … Think about it – do you establish trust by profiling and targeting prospects, or by attempting to understand the needs of a potential client? This is much more than a semantical argument – it’s a philosophical shift in thinking, and a practical shift in acting. Stop selling and start serving. 

    To put this in terms of your organization, stop buying and start receiving this service. 

    So where are these wonderful consultants who help ME?

    They’re out there all right.  Yes, they’re tougher to identify among all those throwing the title around on their business cards or in their lingo.  Here are 4 tips to help you find the right business solution partner.

    You’re looking for consultants who:

    • Talk more about you and less about themselves and their product features
    • Question and then listen
    • Work with you and don’t sell to you
    • Take the time to build trust and mutual respect
    • Provide solutions that function for your firm instead of features that “could” work. 

    The win

    Interested in learning more? Check out the below webinar about how best-in-class firms are operating better!  And while you’re at it, get rid of those boxing gloves.  You won’t need them now that you can win the match – because you know how to make the right choice between features vs. functionality in selecting your next business software solution.

     

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    Eleven Reasons Deltek Vision’s Project Accounting Software is Right for Your SMB Firm

    Posted by Nicole Temple on Wed, Jun 11, 2014 @ 09:00 AM

    Project accounting softwareHow do you know when to move to a Project Accounting Software? There are many factors to consider in your decision. Although you may have looked at Deltek Vision in the past, you might be surprised at all of its new capabilities. Not to mention Deltek Vision's cloud pricing and out of box options can't be beat by any of its competitors. Outlined below are eleven important items to think about when looking at new project accounting software for your business. 

    1) Work Breakdown Structure

    Project accounting software becomes a must have for firms that want to track detailed information around deliverables. How do you know if it is right for your firm? Your firm may need the ability to: 

    • Break down a project into manageable work elements by separating out the deliverables for the project
    • Identify start and end time of each deliverable
    • Define the overall budget for the deliverables as well as the entire project
    • Attach key persons to the project for reporting
    • Set-up work breakdown structures to show effort required to achieve an objective

    By having the right software for your firm, you gain the ability to track detailed cost estimating and provide guidance for future development and controls. The ability to break a project into manageable work elements, and track the elements, allows firms to better estimate future projects while maintaining the projects that exist today. 

    2) Accrual and Cash Capabilities

    Many firms want the ability to run cash books alongside the accrual books to get the most accurate view of where the business stands with income and debts. Income and expense tracking is integral to a project accounting software. While cash basis may give you a better idea of where the firm stands with actual cash, the accrual method can show the ebb and flow of the overall business income and debts for the most accurate view of the overall organization and long term profitability. 

    3) Robust Reporting

    To get the most out of your software,  you need the ability to report on the data for your firm. Your software should be able to pull the data you have entered to allow you to analyze the overall business performance, and plan for future engagements (with data to back your decisions). Reporting should have the capability and flexibility of pulling the data you need without requiring customization from a programmer, and should be visible to key players in the firm. 

    4) Mobile Access

    If you have employees that work in the field, and have little access to computers, you may want to be able to give them access through non-traditional means. Mobile access becomes valuable, and keeps data flowing in the system to quickly and accurately maintain the data in the system on a real-time basis. Access via Touch Time, Touch Expense, Touch CRM, and Navigator are available with Vision and they allow remote employees to enter their time and expense data right from their phone or tablet rather than having to get on a computer and access the system directly. 

    5) Flexibility

    What core modules are available to you when you purchase? Do you have the flexibility to configure the software for your needs? Do you need User Defined fields for tracking? Are you currently tracking outside information in excel? Vision allows the flexibility to add new fields for tracking and to create fields directly in the software to pull data in from outside sources such as Excel. 

    The advantage of Vision as a high end solution is the flexibility to configure for company specific processes and exact business processes, pulling all data into the system without the need for multiple solutions. 

    6) Automation

    Workflows, streamline processes…A good project accounting software will give you the ability to automate many of the processes and functions on a daily, weekly, monthly, or as needed basis. Vision has the ability to create workflows directly through the front end to send emails, alerts, update fields, and run processes or reports automatically. In addition, stored procedures can be customized to automate non-standard processes on the back-end. 

    7) Real-Time Data

    Project Managers need to plan, manage, and monitor their projects. Without real time data Project Managers are not getting the data they need to manage their projects.  Real-time data allows your marketing team to accurately evaluate business development efforts to ensure the firm is pursuing the right kind of work by measuring marketing effectiveness.   

    8) Audit Trail

    Many firms require modifications that fit their project-based firm. In QuickBooks and other software, excel workarounds with manual manipulation are required outside of the software. This can impact the firm’s audit trail. Vision has the capability of running reports for changes made in key records as well as the ability to see the financial audit trail, which is important for the firm to be compliant for GAAP, IFRS/FASB, or any other requirements. 

    9) Security

    Security is one of the most important features of a program because it either allows, or restricts, employees from seeing sensitive information such as costs or other employee sensitive information. Your firm will need to be able to provide access to the system for many roles in the company to work holistically with the organization’s needs. Without this ability there is no visibility, and management of the system and processes becomes very difficult. It is important for all players to have access to the information they require to manage their duties and keep the business running smoothly. 

    10) Low IT Maintenance

    Cloud based software is a new industry buzzword. The reason for this is that by having your software on the cloud it is maintained by the hosting agency and updated following the testing of new versions and updates. Without requiring an internal IT team to manage Vision, your team is freed up to do more important business tasks. 

    11) Integration

    Many firms have data silos with disparate systems. This separation between team members can increase inefficiencies and keep the firm from reporting on one truth for the company. Since Deltek Vision’s cloud software comes bundled with 5 Customer Relationship Management, Custom Proposals, SF330 License and Resource Planning license, firms can work as a team and build upon each other's data to gain a holistic view of the company and processes. 

    Best Project-based ERP Software for SMBs

    If it's been a year or two or even more since you've looked at Deltek Vision. It's time to talk to a partner like Full Sail Partners to see why SMBs are turning to Deltek Vision's cloud option. Even if you’re a 10-person firm, Deltek Vision is the best project accounting software for project-based firms because of its flexibility and economical price. 

    Deltek Vision ERP

    From Marketer to CXO, What Does CRM Mean for You?

    Posted by Full Sail Partners on Thu, Apr 24, 2014 @ 08:43 AM

    What does crm mean

    What does CRM Mean? CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is a solution that enables your firm to cultivate relationships and gain valuable insight in to marketing efforts. An integrated CRM solution brings together data from all data sources within an organization to provide a holistic real-time view of each customer or campaign. This real-time knowledge provides your team with the metrics and data needed to make informed decisions in a quick, yet calculated manner. 

    What Does CRM Mean for My Firm 

    A CRM system is truly something that each member of your team can benefit from. Examples of the benefits a CRM solution provides include: 

    • Track client contact information | No need for the use of virtual cards or digging through outlook to find email signatures, a CRM allows your entire firm to store valuable customer information in one location.
    • Monitor marketing campaigns and efforts | What good are your marketing efforts if you cannot track the results? Track the effectiveness of your efforts and campaigns to help better refine your message and target audience.
    • Review past engagements | Utilize dashboards to easily track which messages, campaigns, and leads resulted in the highest wins.
    • Access customer (or lead!) information, on the go | Never get left out in the cold again! Gain access to your customer information on the go! Readily available intelligence allows your business development staff to go out and produce, and track, results.

    What does CRM mean for your SMB, and how can you use it to grow stronger? The answer is simple; a CRM solution means that as your business grows, and the associated contacts and connections grow with it, you have the ability to manage a myriad of relationships across your entire firm. Clients are the lifeblood of any professional services firm, and without a proper CRM solution in place, you are essentially ignoring an open wound. So how can your firm use CRM to manage an opportunity from concept to completion? Simple: 

    • Pipeline and Cash-flow forecasting | Avoid rough patches and dry spouts by becoming intimately familiar with your pipeline of potential new business, and the value of your current projects.
    • Track progress on current sales opportunities, review historical information on past opportunities | When speaking to a client or prospect, easily log details about the conversation for later follow-up. Tracking detailed information about interactions can allow you to win future work, based on often overlooked past experiences.
    • Create milestones for each step of the project, and specify a target completion dateTasks can be created and associated with each milestone within the project, so you have more granular control of what needs to be done, by whom, when.
    • Comprehensive reporting allows deeper insight | Setup your marketing goals within your CRM and track status and progress quickly and easily.

    It is important to not only track valuable customer data, but to do so in a way that promotes sharing amongst your team. Promote growth and sharing and consider taking your customer data in to the cloud with an all-in-one CRM solution that consolidates all of your information in to an easy to access system. Stop wasting valuable customer insights and information, and start impressing customers with your deep firm-wide knowledge about each relationship. 

    So next time someone asks you ‘what does CRM mean’, you can tell them, “CRM means winning more work!” 

     

    Deltek Vision CRM

    Why Your SMB Firm Should Consider Taking Your ERP Online

    Posted by Full Sail Partners on Thu, Mar 27, 2014 @ 03:00 PM
    ERP Online, Cloud

    It is common nowadays for firms to have some kind of database or system in place. Unfortunately, not all firms are benefiting from an Online ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system. So what is meant by taking an ERP Online? This term is also known as the “cloud” because information is loaded, stored and accessible from the internet.

    If your firm hasn’t evaluated taking your ERP Online, as well as, other software and systems, it is worth investigating. Gartner reported in January 2014 that 2% of firms are already on the cloud and within the next 5 years, almost half of those surveyed will be in the cloud. We are finding that SMBs are benefiting the most from the taking their ERP Online as it is keeping them competitive.

    So, why are SMBs taking their ERP online or to the cloud?

    Can your professional services firm ignore the advantages of the cloud? Put yourself on an even playing field with organizations much larger, and with greater resources. Engage a partner that will work with you to understand your firm, and is familiar with the ins and outs of your current setup to ensure that a proper implementation takes place.

    1. Access your data on the go! Enable your business development team to access all of the pertinent information about leads and clients through mobile applications such as Vision Navigator and Deltek Touch. This invaluable access to data will become the Swiss Army Knife of your business development team’s tool box.
       
    2. Stay current with the latest technology advancements (not only with your Cloud ERP, but with other technology include Microsoft.) Enjoy the latest and great advancements without being the guinea pig.
       
    3. Focus on what you do best and let the experts worry about IT. Utilize experts to reduce time sinks and headaches, and let your people do what they do best – their job!
       
    4. Low entry point - save money. Avoid upfront investments and eliminate the need to manage slow and outdated infrastructure.
       
    5. Compete with the big dogs. With all of the cost advantages of taking your ERP online to the cloud, your firm will gain the needed firepower to compete with larger firms and stay competitive at all stages of the project.

     

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    Is Forecasting Software Magic Voodoo or Tool for Planning the Future?

    Posted by Wendy Gustafson on Wed, Nov 13, 2013 @ 12:00 PM

    softwareforecastingHow many times has it happened, you are cruising along thinking all is going well.  All of a sudden wham, utilization is dropping like a stone.  How did it happen?  You were doing all the right things -- meeting with your clients, looking at Work In Progress, and asking staff all the right questions.  Executives and accounting are looking at you to explain what is going on, but outside of saying “well things will get better” – can you provide an answer?

    The Magic of Forecasting

    One thing you probably weren’t doing was forecasting for the future.  What?  That sounds like accounting voodoo – right?  Well kind of, but it isn’t magical and it isn’t just accounting folks who need to do it.

    Anyone who is responsible for production staff needs to understand what their staff is working on currently, AND what they have coming up for work.  When there is excessive “downtime” we need to fill that time for staff.  When there is excessive “overtime” we might need to look at how the workload is allocated. A good system of project budget and forecasting is necessary to have that visibility. 

    These steps can be used with forecasting software to help plan for the future:

    • Create a process. The process of creating an initial budget, even for time & material projects, when the project is signed (you DO get signed contracts – right) is just the first step.   You must also have a mechanism of reporting actual results against the budget on a regular schedule.
    • Update the budget for changes.  These changes usually come in the form of scope change orders and additional services.  These changes will add increases to your budget and you will have to report actual against them.  If you are not diligent about getting authorizations for scope changes or add services, then you run the risk of running out of budget by the end of the project.  Your client is quite often experiencing temporary memory loss at this point about what they asked you that was outside of contract. 

    Bring it all together

    So you and your managers have all initial pieces of the puzzle - Initial Budget, Scope Changes, and Actual Results.  Why do you still feel out of control and have surprises? 

    You need to pull all this information into one centralized location, have the ability to update “on the fly”, and have actual results map to your budget.  A forecasting software, like Deltek Vision can help you to pull all this information together into something than can be easily updated and allow visibility into the upcoming workload and expectations for the future.  You can then use the “remaining budget” to forecast out for the next month, 3 months, or even year to avoid those nasty unexpected drops in your staff’s utilization. 

    However maybe your initial budget assumptions were incorrect and you need to change the expectation of the end of the project.  A forecasting software will allow you to update the ETC (estimate to complete – this is what you EXPECT it to take to complete the project – not what you have remaining in the budget).  This provides a better picture of what you need to forecast over the timeframe you are forecasting. 

    Once you have the above process in place, it is easy to review what you expected vs what you actually performed and what you have left to do.  This provides you the ability to plan for the slow times and the busy times.  It also provides you credibility when reporting to executive management or accounting what is going on in utilization or over the next few months.

    What else does all this tracking get you? 

    It helps you to establish how long it REALLY takes to complete a project – which is vital information for the future. It also helps you understand what should be included in your scope vs. what is an additional service.  Many clients would prefer to know the costs up front and if you can include these items in your scope and present a “total package”, your firm just went to the front of the pack. If you can get to the point that you budget and forecast (and yes people do this) beyond the project and down to the employee level, you can easily identify what employees are efficient and what employees may need further training.  All this information combines to make you a more knowledgeable and successful project manager. 

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    Lessons Learned: Business Performance Metrics

    Posted by Brian McNamara on Wed, Sep 11, 2013 @ 12:00 PM
    Business Performance MetricsYou might be tempted to think that the hardest part of using business performance metrics to guide your business is gathering and analyzing the metrics. 

    But equally important — maybe even more so — is selecting the right metrics to begin with. Of course, there are some people who observe that there are no “bad metrics.” The argument goes that a metric itself is neither good nor bad; it could be just as likely that your data is wrong, or possibly that the metric is simply not a good fit for your needs or your organization. 

    But even though the metric itself is neither good nor bad, there are other ways that business performance metrics can be failing you. Let me describe three of the most common problems. 

    1. Inconsistency. One of the most common ways a metric can go south is inconsistency. Granted, some people think consistency is overrated: the philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson once railed in his classic essay, Self-Reliance, that “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” (It’s good stuff — look it up!)

    2. Unintended consequences. Another problem is if your metrics are somehow incentivizing your employees to do the wrong thing. For example, imagine your firm has put a recent focus on customer service. Unfortunately, last year you notified all employees that their pay raises will be based on employee utilization rates. The longer your employees spend keeping your clients happy (non-billable work), the lower their utilization rate. You are telling your employees one thing, but your actions are saying the complete opposite.

    Although it should go without saying, it’s absolutely critical to make sure that the math and logic that feed into your business performance metrics remain consistent, regardless of the timeframe or operating unit being analyzed. 

    So in this example, a better metric would be to incentivize your employees on a combination of utilization rate and customer satisfaction — more complicated to gather, but ultimately closer to what you want to reward and encourage. What’s more, a great reason to plan your metrics with care! 

    3. Understanding Lagging vs. Leading Indicators. To be most effective, you need business performance metrics in as close to real-time as possible. Understanding the difference between lagging vs leading indicators can often be the defining factor for setting your firm on the correct course. Lagging indicators help your firm indentify historical trend information, while leading indicators provide predictive information that can allow you to make data-driven decisions to change future outcomes.

    QuickBooks, Excel and other office applications can help in collecting and analyzing data, but lacks the sophistication to provide real-time insight. A purpose built ERP, like Deltek Vision, provides front and back office functions insight into historical and predictive information. Whatever tools you use to gather your metrics, be sure to automate the process as much as possible to provide your team with the ability to make the best data-driven decisions.

    Start measuring!

    So how does one avoid the pitfalls of metric management? A great starting point is to understand your business and what your version of success looks like. For example, is it total revenue, net profits, other measures, or a weighted combination? 

    At Full Sail Partners, we work with a large number of professional services firms — especially those that are project-based. As a result, we have a lot of insight and experience into the metrics that are most telling for them. To learn more, keep exploring our blogs, or contact us.

     

    Project KPI, Project Management KPI

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