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How to Set Digital Marketing Goals

Posted by Lindsay Diven on October 20, 2021

Without marketing goals, it’s nearly impossible to develop a marketing plan let alone know if the marketing effort is working. And without clear, actionable, and achievable metrics, how does an A/E/C marketing team know what they’re working towards? Setting goals for digital marketing programs should always be the priority.

In this third installment of the Driving Growth with Digital Marketing series, let’s learn how to begin goals setting, what SMART goals are, goal examples, and best practices.

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Start with the Firm’s Goals

An A/E/C firm’s strategic or business goals is a critical place to start identifying digital marketing goals. The business goals of the firm give the marketing team a purpose and define exactly what they want to achieve.

The A/E/C firms that have strategic plans often have both long- and short-term goals. Some of those goals might not be relevant to the marketing team, but often they are. Some common strategic goals include:

  • Expand geographically – This includes opening new offices, pursuing new clients, or acquiring firms in new geographic regions.
  • Expand services – This includes adding new service offerings by acquiring firms, hiring new talent, or creating strategic partnerships.

Once the firm’s strategic goals are identified, the marketing team can begin to create digital marketing goals to align. This helps to ensure that the marketing efforts are contributing to the firm’s growth goals and gets buy-in for budget and resources.

Setting SMART Goals

Firms are most likely familiar with the “SMART” goal setting technique. This strategy is very popular to use in marketing and personal development goal setting. To apply these to digital marketing goals, be:

  • Specific: Marketing objectives should be well defined. Rather than simply saying ‘more website traffic’ be more specific such as ‘increase web traffic from Texas.’ Ideally the specificity will align with the firm’s strategic goals.
  • Measurable: To gauge the progress of the marketing effort, marketing teams need something to measure. This means the goal needs to be quantifiable. So, instead of ‘increase web traffic from Texas,’ the measurable goal would be ‘increase web traffic from Texas by 10%.’
  • Attainable: When firms begin a digital marketing program, it’s often hard to determine what goal is attainable. An example of a better attainable goal would be ‘increase web traffic from Texas by 10%’ instead of setting an increase of 30% or 50%. That much of an increase might not be attainable. Sometimes the marketing team needs to start with some number and adjust after a certain period. It’s more important for the firm to base the goal off the firm’s own data first and then adjust from there.
  • Relevant: The goals must be relevant to the firm’s strategic goals. For example, if the firm’s strategic goal is to expand into the Ohio transportation market, the Texas goal above would not be relevant.
  • Time bound: Giving the marketing goals a deadline ensures that a goal will be given the attention it needs to be successful. Often, when there is no deadline, a project or initiative flounders.

Every time the marketing department at an A/E/C firm sets out a new digital marketing campaign, the team should go through this goal setting exercise. Then once the goal is set, it should be clearly communicated with the firm’s leadership and stakeholders. This gives leadership the opportunity to ensure it’s aligned with business goals and for marketing to get buy-in as early as possible.

Common Digital Marketing Goals

Below are a few examples of digital marketing goals.

  • Acquire new leads or contacts. This is a common goal. Most firms cannot continue to grow without generating new leads, and eventually new clients and projects. Digital marketing can help attract new leads or contacts.
  • Activate leads and contacts. A/E/C firms often have leads or contacts in their databases that they haven’t worked in months, if not years. The firms can use digital marketing campaigns to encourage engagement, as well as remind the past contacts about the value the firm has provided to them and other similar clients. The digital marketing campaign can reactivate dormant leads and contacts and help keep your firm top of mind.
  • Cross-selling services. Acquiring new clients is often more expensive than getting repeat work from existing clients. And firms often provide many services to several different industries. Digital marketing campaigns can be used to educate existing clients on all the services the firm provides.
  • Increase website traffic. Digital marketing strategies can be used to increase website viewers, either to the entire website or to targeted landing pages.
  • Improve conversion rate. This is when a website visitor completes the webpage call-to-action. A popular example is when a website visitor completes a form on a website to get access to a white-paper or webinar, also known as gated content.

Digital Marketing Goal Setting Best Practices

Some digital marketing goal setting best practices are:

  • Don’t set too many goals. This could spread the marketing team too thin and risk not achieving any goal.
  • Begin with a pilot or test initiative. Identify one firm strategic goal and begin with that as a pilot initiative. Build the goals and a timeframe around that.
  • Clearly communicate the goals. When the marketing team communicates the goals, it creates a wider understanding of what your digital marketing efforts have set out to deliver and how those efforts align with the firm’s strategic plan.
  • Define who is accountable. Identify who is responsible for each goal. Making someone solely responsible for each goal makes it more likely to be achieved.

Don’t Skip Goal Setting

Setting goals can be intimidating when it’s the first time the firm is undertaking a digital marketing program. Don’t let that stop the marketing team from setting the goals. The goals will help keep the campaigns and marketing activities aligned towards achieving a common objective. They also help to set expectations and motivate the team.

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the other articles in the Driving Growth with Digital Marketing series. Learn more about how A/E/C marketers and principals can develop a digital marketing program that is right for their firm. Sign up below to be notified when a new resource in the series becomes available.

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Skills Improvement Versus Corrective Action: Getting to the Root of Things

Posted by Tasia Grant, PHR on October 13, 2021

Professional services firm leaders are often inclined to immediately use discipline or use corrective action to address an ongoing performance issue. However, that would be like medicating based on symptoms, without getting to the root cause of the illness. Instead, slowing down and thoroughly evaluating the situation can shed light on possible solutions that are likely more beneficial to the employee and for the firm as a whole.

Employee meeting with supervisor

When to Use a Skills Improvement Plan

Behavioral concerns and non-compliance issues can usually be directly impacted by progressive discipline. On the contrary, skill deficiencies or job performance concerns are usually best addressed with skills improvement plans and that includes more than just the technical skills required to perform the functions of the position. They can also incorporate the other skills essential and critical to the overall scope of the job.

For example, a manager may be a high performer based on their knowledge level and ability to perform the job duties. Yet, they may struggle in the areas of interpersonal communication or may not have had prior management experience and may need to work on developing their leadership skills. Which are areas not related to behavioral or compliance concerns.

Therefore, these skills would be best addressed with coaching, guidance, and setting clear goals and expectations. Coaching can include suggested training, an outlined strategy for change, developed by both the manager and their director, as well as mediation between the manager and their reports. If there is a desire to thrive in the position the manager should be open to the plan laid out to help them improve. Usually, employees do accept and appreciate the assistance if they feel that the plan being presented is sincere and demonstrates that the company wants them to be successful.

When to Use a Corrective Action Plan

Sometimes firms have an employee that excels in their position but is also an employee that is consistently late to their shift, breaking company policy, or their behavior is causing disruption to the team or clients. In this case, a more targeted and direct approach needs to be applied for more immediate results. Cases like these are when corrective action needs to be taken using a progressive discipline plan. This technique provides the employee an opportunity to make improvements or adjustments while allowing the employer to implement corrective actions if there is no improvement.

Corrective actions can vary in severity and can include a verbal warning or a written warning as lighter punishments. Whereas suspending an employee or terminating them can be more severe. Furthermore, corrective action primarily addresses critical problems, recurring issues, and/or problems that endanger health or safety of others.

Employees are Investments

Remember that with both a skills improvement plan and a corrective action plan, the primary goal should be to identify the cause of the change and a solution that leads to positive results. Additionally, firm leaders and managers need to consider that an employee may have greatness in them and are an asset to the firm, but are apprehensive to reveal it for fear that it will set higher expectations of them that they aren’t confident they can achieve. These processes will reveal that and encourage them to embrace it and display it.

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The Best Deltek Vantagepoint Video Demos

Posted by Ryan Felkel on September 15, 2021

Finding helpful and insightful information just got easier for Deltek Vantagepoint clients. The Powering Project Success with Deltek Vantagepoint mini demonstration series is a growing library of video content for Vantagepoint users of all roles and skill levels. Each video is five to twenty minutes long and about a specific feature and function available in Vantagepoint that many are unaware exist or are unsure how to use.

Person watching demos on laptop

Projects Start with Business Development

Winning work is the first step to initiating a project and Deltek Vantagepoint helps business development (BD) professionals generate and close opportunities. Even on the go! With the mobile CRM functionality, BD team members can easily access and update client information from anywhere using a mobile device. Check out this demo to see how simple it is to review and update client information right on your mobile smart device.

In addition to the great benefits of mobile CRM, tracking Outlook emails and calendar appointments in Vantagepoint CRM is seamless with Deltek Vantagepoint Connect for Outlook. With a few simple clicks, BD team members can conduct typical CRM tasks directly in Outlook. Watch this demo to see how easy it is to create contacts, manage appointments and schedule meetings directly in Outlook.

Simplify Project Startup and Creation

Before work can begin, a client must pay a retainer fee. As simple as this sounds, there can be many parties involved throughout the process. During this mini demo, Vantagepoint accounting professionals can learn how to easily process retainers using cash receipts all while automatically keeping the project manager in the loop through the entire process. As simple as this sounds, it’s a favorite obscure feature for many accounting professionals.

Setting up new project and plan can be a time-consuming process that can be avoided using Vantagepoint Project Templates and Plan Settings. Instead of starting each project from scratch, Project Templates and Plan Settings allow firms to use pre-defined work breakdown structures to quickly set up complex projects. Essentially, simplifying the project creation process and ensuring consistency of project records. Watch this demo to see a project set up in less than 10 minutes.

Track Time for Timesheets Easier

Managing projects and clients is already a lot of work for billable employees. On top of that, they are required to track and update their timesheets on a regular basis. Deltek can’t create more time in a day, but Vantagepoint can make updating timesheets easier. Using the Calendar feature, users can track their billable time and add it to their timesheet with a few clicks. Check out this mini demo to see how.

Manage Talent Acquisition and Learning

Growing firms need to hire quickly and onboard new talent fast. Attracting and recruiting new talent requires getting the message out about new open employment opportunities. During this demo, human resources (HR) professionals will see how to post open positions across multiple job listing platforms with a simple click.

Once a new employee is hired, getting them started and setting up their training needs to be as simple as advertising for the position. In this demo, HR staff will learn how to set up the new hire onboarding process in an online environment. Additionally, the demo covers how employees can submit required paperwork and info as well as complete self-guided online training.

Get Paid Easier

Before billing a client, it’s important to make sure the invoice is correct. This internal back and forth process between project managers and accounting can become time and paper consuming. After watching this demo, accounting professionals and project managers will both be relieved once they see how easy it is to digitally markup invoices and resubmit them to accounting.

The ugly side of accounting is having to bill and collect interest from clients. Well, Deltek Vantagepoint can’t talk with clients about late payments, but it can make charging interest easier. Learn how to set up billing terms in Vantagepoint to make collecting and tracking past due balances easier in this demo.

Deltek Vantagepoint Provides Answers

Reports after report, Deltek Vantagepoint as them which is great. However, picking the right report can be confusing which is not Deltek’s intentions. In this demo, picking the right project planning related report is thoroughly explained along with the context about how each report is created. This demo is great for those tasked with forecasting project performance.

What seemed like a dream for project managers is a reality in Vantagepoint. With the combination of project planning and budgeting in one hub, project managers can quickly review project success based on both of these data inputs. The Project Review demo shows how Vantagepoints pulls from both these data sources to help ensure projects are profitable.  

Maximize the Benefits of Deltek Vantagepoint

Getting work done just got easier for Deltek Vantagepoint users! While these are just a few of the mini demos available in the Powering Project Success with Deltek Vantagepoint series, more are available using the link button below. Make sure to regularly check out the growing demo library for updates and share these with coworkers.

Watch demos of Deltek Vantagepoint now!

Define Your Personas to Guide Marketing Strategies

Posted by Lindsay Diven on September 08, 2021

Professional services firms don’t just make a product that one consumer is going to purchase. The services that the firms sell are complex and involve different decision makers who have different needs and goals. Successful firms don’t just know who those decision makers are, but rather, develop personas that guide their marketing strategies.

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This article will dive deeper into what personas are, how to develop personas, and how they are used to help create marketing strategies This is the second article in the Driving Growth with Digital Marketing series.

What is a Persona?

According to HubSpot, a buyer persona is a fictional, generalized representation of an ideal client. The persona helps firms understand their clients and prospective clients better making it easier for them to develop content to the specific needs, behaviors, and concerns of different groups.

Personas are based on insight gathered from existing clients and market research done by marketing, business development or outside resources. Due to the nature of project-based firms who pursue projects with multiple decision-makers, most firms will have multiple personas.

How to Create Personas

The first step in creating a persona is asking specific questions about current and ideal clients to find out as much as possible about who they are and how they interact with your firm. This can be completed through research, surveys, and interviews by a mix of clients, prospects, and those outside the CRM who might align with the target audience.

Potential methods for gathering information needed to develop personas are:

  • Look through the contacts database (CRM) to uncover trends about how certain clients find and consume marketing content.
  • Use form fields that capture persona information when creating website forms. For example, if the persona varies based agency role, ask each lead for information about their role at their agency on the website form.
  • Ask for feedback from the business development team about the leads and contacts they’re interacting with the most. What generalizations can they make about the different types of contacts served by the firm?
  • Ask for feedback from project managers and other project delivery teams. What generalizations can they make about the different types of client contacts they work with?
  • Interview clients and prospective clients to discover what they like about the services the firm offers.

Some example questions to ask during the information gathering phase:

  • What is their profession?
  • What does a typical day in their life look like?
  • Where do they go for information?
  • How do they prefer to obtain services?
  • What is important to them when choosing a firm?
  • What do they value most?
  • What are their goals?

Use this information to identify patterns and commonalities. Then the persona can begin to be recorded (written down!). This can include information such as:

  • Basic demographic information – Age? Income? Location? Gender identity?
  • Background – Job? Career path? Family? Lifestyle?
  • Identifiers – Communication preferences? Social media platforms?
  • Challenges – What does this person struggle in relation to meeting goals? What serves as a roadblock for this person’s success?
  • What can we do – To help this persona achieve their goals? To help this persona overcome their challenges?
  • Goals – Primary/secondary goals? Personal vs. professional goals? Role-related vs. company goals?

Once the persona is created share it with marketing, business development, executives, and operations to ensure the entire firm has the same view of the ideal client.

How are Personas Used to Guide Marketing Strategies?

Personas allow firms to personalize or target marketing for different segments. For example, instead of sending a monthly newsletter to all contacts in a CRM system, firms can segment by personas and tailor the newsletter content according to what is known about each persona.

Let’s say a firm called ACME Engineering has personas that include facilities directors, permitting coordinators, and prime architects. These personas have different specific needs, behaviors, and concerns, as one would assume. Sending a monthly newsletter that contains the same content to the entire list, wouldn’t be as well received as if ACME Engineering changed the newsletter content slightly that each project feature or blog article was written specifically with that persona in mind.

Other uses for personas for marketing include:

  • Building effective content marketing strategies by focusing on keyword research efforts.
  • Identifying and prioritizing the most relevant promotional activities.
  • Timing marketing campaigns for peak engagement rates.
  • Publishing content and advertisements on the channels (email, social media, etc.) most frequented by personas.
  • Personalizing marketing automation efforts.
  • Refining copywriting to reflect improved SEO strategies.

When the personas are used correctly, personas allow firms to produce highly targeted content that leads to better responses from new and repeat clients. And there is data to prove this. According to research from Single Grain, companies who used personas saw:

  • Websites were 2-5 times more effective.
  • Personalized emails had a 14% higher click-through rate (CRT).
  • Conversion rates* were 10% higher.

Using Personas Throughout the Firm

While this article focuses on the persona for marketing’s use, once the personas are defined, they can be used throughout the project lifecycle.

  • Business Development – Personas are valuable to anyone in the firm who is client facing. From crafting one-on-one message and building rapport to understanding the persona on a deeper level allows the business developer to be better prepared to address the client’s concerns.
  • Project Delivery – Just because the firm won the project, the firm shouldn’t stop building the relationship with the client. Because of this, involve project management team members in the persona development process so that it can be tailored to the project delivery process in your firm.

Persona is the Foundation for Driving Revenue Growth

Having a deep understanding of the personas is the foundation for building a digital marketing strategy. It’s critical to driving content creation, seeking out new clients and prospects, building relationships, delivering the projects, and really anything that relates to client acquisition and retention.

This is the second article in the Driving Growth with Digital Marketing series. In this series, marketers and principals will learn how to develop a digital marketing program that is right for their firm. Sign up below to be notified when a new resource in the series becomes available.

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*Conversion rates can mean that someone took an action on a call to action. This can be filling out a form, clicking a link, etc.

Driving Growth with Digital Marketing: What is Digital Marketing

Posted by Lindsay Diven on August 18, 2021

This article is the first in the Driving Growth with Digital Marketing series. This series will walk A/E/C firms through how to develop a digital marketing program that will raise brand awareness, capture new leads, and increase revenue.

But, before the series covers the nuts and bolts of how to do this, let’s define digital marketing, its history and how it can benefit A/E/C firms.

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Digital Marketing Defined

Digital marketing is defined as any marketing that uses electronic devices to convey promotional messages and measure its impact. Typically, these marketing practices include marketing campaigns that appear on computers, phones, tablets, or other electronic devices. It takes many forms including videos, emails, and social media posts. Additionally, it includes organic content and paid content such as display ads. Digital marketing is often compared to “traditional marketing” like magazine ads, billboards, and direct mail.

The History of Digital Marketing

The term Digital Marketing was first coined in the 1990s when customer relationship management (CRM) software became a significant factor in marketing technology. Then in 1994, the first clickable banner ad went live for the “You Will” campaign by AT&T. Over the first four months of it going live, 44% of all people who saw it clicked on the ad.

In the 2000s, with increased internet usage and the birth of the iPhone, customers began to search products and make decisions about their needs online first, instead of consulting a salesperson. This encouraged marketers to find new ways to integrate digital technology into market development.

Digital marketing took another step forward in 2007 when marketing automation was developed. Marketing automation is the process by which software is used to automate conventional marketing processes. With this new technology, marketers could launch multichannel marketing campaigns based on the customers specific activities.

After that, social media including Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter made consumers even more dependent on digital applications in their daily lives. Now customers and potential customers expect a seamless user experience across different channels when searching for a firm’s information.

Digital Marketing Campaign Types

Digital marketing can consist of both online and non-internet channels and strategies. Common online digital marketing channels and strategies consist of:

  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Search engine marketing (SEM)
  • Content marketing
  • Inbound marketing
  • Influencer marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Display advertising
  • Pay per click advertising (PPC)

Off-line or non-internet digital channels and strategies consist of:

  • Television
  • Text message campaigns (SMS and MMS)
  • Virtual displays or electronic billboards such as at conferences or events
  • Custom apps
  • Cold calling

The Driving Growth with Digital Marketing series will go more in-depth on several of these digital marketing strategies. Click on the image below to be alerted when a new article in the series is available.

Goals for Digital Marketing

We live in a digital age, and millions of people spend most of their time on digital platforms including their computers and phones. Marketing is all about connecting with targeted contacts in the right place, at the right time, and if the contacts are plentiful online, then that’s where the best marketing strategies should be implemented.

One goal of digital marketing is to raise brand awareness. Recent trends show businesses and digital marketers are prioritizing brand awareness, focusing more of their digital marketing efforts on cultivating brand recognition and recall than in previous years. This is evidenced by a 2019 Content Marketing Institute study, which found that 81% of digital marketers have worked on enhancing brand recognition over the past year. Another Content Marketing Institute survey revealed 89% of B2B marketers now believe improving brand awareness to be more important than efforts directed at increasing sales.

Another goal for digital marketing is lead nurturing. Many A/E/C firms work with the same clients for many different projects. Because of this high rate of repeat work, the marketing goals aren’t to raise awareness to new leads, but rather, keep the firm top of mind with existing clients. Also, the sales cycle in the A/E/C industry can be long, stretching out several months, if not years. Therefore, a firm might want to stay in front of those leads between projects.

Most likely, the goals for the digital marketing program will consist of a combination of both of these for different markets and clients.

Benefits of Digital Marketing for A/E/C Firms

The agency Hinge Research conducts original research for digital and thought leadership marketing specific to the A/E/C Industry. In their 2020 study of high growth A/E/C firms, they found high growth firms are dedicating almost 27% of their revenue to marketing, and are generating 50% of new leads from digital sources.

Other benefits of developing a digital marketing program for A/E/C firms include:

  • Cost effectiveness – Compared to traditional marketing strategies such as print advertising, conference sponsorship or attendance, digital marketing is relatively low cost. Some of the digital marketing strategies only cost the time to produce the materials and the technical knowledge. Others involved purchasing relatively low-cost software and online advertising like display ads or PPC.
  • High return on investment – Because of its relatively low cost to generate new leads that could result in thousands of new firm revenue, the return on investment is very high for digital marketing. And with the proper marketing technology in place to track and attribute the marketing campaigns appropriately, it’s relatively easy to track.
  • Easier to measure – Compared to traditional marketing strategies like a print ad or conference sponsorship, with a digital campaign you can know almost immediately how it’s performing. For example, an email marketing campaign’s performance can be known within hours or the next day. The opens and clicks are a good indicator of its performance, and marketers can use that knowledge to adjust accordingly.
  • Easy to adjust – Because the performance of the digital marketing effort is known quickly, marketers will have that knowledge and can adjust other campaigns with that knowledge.
  • Easy to share – Digital marketing channels like social media posts and email campaigns can be shared with a click of a button. This helps firms create a multiplier affect and amplifies the content.
  • Precise targeting – Traditional marketing is one to many and everyone. For example, an engineering firm places a print ad in an industry publication. The engineering firm hopes that a few people who like what they see in that ad would take a positive action. Marketing over digital platforms allows for targeted campaigning. The engineering firm can now place a display ad where that ad is presented to potential contacts based on their preferences or initial action.
  • Further reach – Digital marketing gives small firms, which make up most of the A/E/C industry, the opportunity to expand their reach. Using the benefits above of low cost, precise targeting, etc. every firm that deploys a digital marketing program can play on the same field as the mega firms. A small architecture firm in Iowa can be the worldwide leader in theater acoustical engineering through digital marketing campaigns and reach theaters in Moscow or Brisbane, for example.

Propelling Forward

The A/E/C industry has often been slow compared to other industries when adopting new marketing trends. But in 2020 with the global pandemic, A/E/C firms were propelled to rapidly make changes to their marketing programs, including shifting resources to digital marketing. Knowing this, Full Sail Partners has developed the Driving Growth with Digital Marketing series. In this series, marketers and principals will learn how to develop a digital marketing program that is right for their firm. Sign up below to be notified when a new resource in the series becomes available.

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Business Intelligence Users Can Visualize More with Entrinsik Informer 5.4

Posted by Timothy Burns on August 04, 2021

Seeing is believing, and with Entrinsik Informer, many different types of professional services firms already have the ability to quickly visualize and analyze data to make informed business decisions. Informer, a highly ranked business intelligence (BI) solution, allows users firmwide to create customized dashboards and easily drill down into the data pertaining to their specific department and role to find the answers to questions or get status reports on areas of concern.

Informer BI logo

So much insight can be gained already using Informer. However, with the latest release of Entrinsik Informer 5.4, employees at professional services firms now have new and improved features to improve data visualization.

Enhancements with Informer Template Creation

Templates are an exciting new feature in Informer 5.4. Templates are custom formatted outputs using HTML coding. This allows total pixel-perfect control over the end product. The template code is in HTML, but being an HTML expert is not required. Many users of the Informer business intelligence tool have little or no HTML experience when they first start. Some even creating a template in less than a day.

Using the data that resides in a firm’s Deltek Vision or Vantagepoint system, firm employees are able to customize the final output into almost any format. The first step is to get the data organized into datasets so that it is easily available for the template. Then it is simply creating the template in the format the user wants.

Within the template, logical formulas can be applied. For example, if the invoice on an accounts receivable (AR) statement is past due, it can be shown in yellow highlight, or if survey is checked in an opportunity, specific survey language can be inserted into the agreement that is being sent to the client.

Additionally, users will be able to create a CSS (Cascading Styles Sheet) for templates to standardize the firm’s output and have logos readily available. Even more, there is also a way to save those commonly used expressions, so it is not necessary to retype every time.

Some of the uses for the templated output are:

  • Client Agreements
  • Compensation Reports
  • Financial Reports
  • Project Status for Clients
  • AR Statements
  • Custom Invoices
  • Governmental Reporting (DOT reports)

Once a templated output is set up, it is repeatable and can be shared firm-wide with the appropriate staff.

New Ways to Look at Data

Informer 5.4 also offers different ways to visualize data. Within the Informer 5.4 visuals tab, new visualization charts are available, heat maps and spider charts, which allow fresh perspectives to analyze important data.

A heat map is a graphical representation of data where values are guided by color accent with the deeper the shade, the higher the value. Heat maps are a great way to see concentrations in the data and are really useful if there is a lot of data to manage. In this example, at first glance, the color variations easily indicate the different values and can guide evaluation.

Informer heat map chart example

A spider chart, by comparison, is a helpful way of showing outliers. For example, a spider chart may show employees with the highest or lowest utilization. By viewing the chart, it is apparent that Mary Best is exceeding her utilization target, while Michelle Beien, Moshen Farsi, Leia Skywalker and Geoff Smith are not.

Informer spider chart example

See More than Before with Informer 5.4

The Entrinsik Informer 5.4 release was developed to improve how users can take their BI further and visualize their data so that better and quicker decisions can be made. With this newest release, users of Informer across the firm will have even better options for visualizing their data. And, going into the future, as BI needs continue to evolve so will Entrinsik Informer to meet them.

Webinar: Informer - BI

Effective Employee Feedback to Coach a Winning Team

Posted by Tasia Grant, PHR on July 28, 2021

Imagine being the head coach of a promising basketball team that with the right guidance can be league champions year after year. However, that is a rather ambiguous statement. What is the right guidance? Who is the coach? Even more, what does basketball have to do with professional services firms? Wow, those are some great questions.

Satisfaction face illustrations on chalkboard

For a coach of a team, it is his or her job to guide the players and instruct them on how to make the best use of each individuals talents to win each game. Similarly, a manager at a professional services firm is the leader of the team of employees that contribute to successfully completing a project. And as a coach or manager, recognizing underperforming players, improved or exceptional players, and how often recognition is needed can be difficult. Most importantly, the coach or manager of the team is ultimately responsible for wins and losses. Therefore, to be a great team leader, understanding how to effectively use feedback is critical to the success of the team.

Three Points for Negative Feedback

 

Ignoring shortcomings or less than desired performance and failing to address these concerns with employees is a common problem with managers. It is human nature to want to avoid potentially negative situations. But, is it okay to ignore that number 6 keeps missing three pointers? If so, this mindset and practice are contributing factors to why low performers continue to make errors, fail to meet expectations, and show a lack of improvement.

 

Managers avoid these conversations throughout the year because of the misconception that negative feedback is not as purposeful or as acceptable as positive feedback. Both managers and their reports can dread these conversations, and as a result, the managers defer to the annual performance review to address any grievances or concerns, assuming that the employee will expect it all at that time anyways. As a result, managers are doing their low-performing employees a disservice with this practice which does not foster a culture and environment to help their employees to win. Which is essentially like waiting till the end of the game before telling number 6 to give up on the three pointers.

 

Slam Dunk for Positive Feedback

 

Higher performers who anticipate annual raises and promotions often look forward to annual performance reviews. This confidence is not always instinctive or due to self-evaluation. In reality, it is because high performers often experience random, spontaneous praises and recognition for both small and large accomplishments, which creates positive affirmation. Similar to LeBron James, the crowd cheers we he sinks hoops, roars when he slam dunks, and celebrates his championships.

 

Unlike negative situations, it’s in peoples’ nature to seek out opportunities to praise others for their successes like fans in the stands cheering and screaming for every big play. Therefore, informal and formal recognitions of achievements tend to happen more often and spontaneously which provides continuous affirmation to high performers. But, not every team has a LeBron James, and even King James himself needs feedback from his coach to be a better team player.

 

Using Quarters and Timeouts for Effective Feedback

 

In basketball, imagine if, throughout a game, a coach witnessed one of their players missing passes, missing shots, failing to intercept…and not just failing to perform at his or her highest potential but in fact, performing below standard…not even meeting expectations. Would it be fair to the player or the team for the coach to wait until the end of the game to give the player feedback, pointing out all the player’s deficiencies? By then, it would adversely affect them, make them defensive or hyper focused on every misstep, ultimately leaving them feeling that losing the game was their fault.   

 

On the contrary, imagine if the coach addressed the player’s performance obstacles when they first noticed them and brought it to the player’s attention to ensure they were aware and determine if outside factors were contributing to the change in performance. Then, strategized with the player providing them with the guidance and knowledge to succeed. This sends the message to the player that they are valued, that the coach believes in them, and most importantly that they are still in the game, giving them the incentive to try harder to win!

 

Well, why wait till the end of the year or the end of the project to address areas of improvement or to recognize their achievements? Like a basketball game, managers need to find more frequent intervals to have formal one-on-one employee feedback sessions than the typical yearly review. Additionally, managers need to know when to call a timeout to address an employee’s shortcomings or celebrate an employee’s or the entire team’s achievements. Just as important, make sure to soften the blow negative feedback can have by sandwiching it between positive feedback.

Link to performance management webinar

5 Ways Deltek Vantagepoint Simplifies Billing, Time, Expense, and Transaction Entries

Posted by Theresa Depew on July 21, 2021

Why do project-based firms struggle with billing, time, expense, and transaction entries? Simply stated, firms lack the systems to support the unique challenges of professional services firms. Accounting professionals at project-based firms depend on the timely billing of their projects for the success of their firms’ bottom line. By streamlining accounting processes with Deltek Vantagepoint, project-based firms can increase cash flow and profitability.

Deltek Vantagepoint logo

1. Efficient Entering of Timesheets and Expense Reports

Using Deltek Vantagepoint, project-based firms can reduce the time it takes for employees to enter timesheets and expense reports using the Time & Expense Mobile App. Using the Vantagepoint Time & Expense App, employees can submit timesheets and expense reports while travelling. As a result, there is no more waiting until employees are back in the office to scan receipts; just snap a picture on a mobile device and the app will use intelligent character recognition (ICR) to start the expense line. Now, submitting and approving time and expenses on the go is simple which reduces the burden for employees as they enter time and expenses. Ultimately, this improves the process of client invoicing.

2. Improved Firm Cash Flow with Document Management

Project-based firms can improve their cash flow with Deltek Vantagepoint by speeding up the invoice process with document management. Within Vantagepoint, users can utilize the database to store receipts and AP Invoices by attaching them to each transaction. Additionally, they can utilize billing terms to include back-up documentation with the client invoice which greatly reduces the time it takes for billers to search and copy all supporting documentation that needs to be sent to the client.

Another added bonus of a virtual document management solution within Deltek Vantagepoint is that there are no more piles of papers needing to be recycled. If receiving AP invoices electronically or journal entry requests via email, there is no need to print; simply save and attach in Vantagepoint. Documents can be attached in AP vouchers, expense reports, units and journal entries. Vantagepoint is bringing firms a lot closer to a paperless and remote-working world!

3. Digitized Client Invoices Speed Up Billing Process

The interactive and batch billing tools in Deltek Vantagepoint digitize the client invoice process which speeds up the billing process and shortens average collection time. Vantagepoint allows billers to submit draft invoices electronically and use saved searches in batch billing to group invoice by project manager, principal, or by invoice approver. The billing tools notify invoice approvers electronically that a draft is ready for review, and approvers can use the draft invoice approval feature to mark-up and enter comments using the new PDF editor function.

Approvals also happen electronically with no more paper approval or emails to keep track of any longer. The system will keep an approval audit trail, and billers can see all comments and mark-ups made to drafts in Interactive Billing. Billers make the changes and produce the final invoice in either Batch or Interactive Billing. Ensuring all firms have a billing contact, invoices can be emailed, with back-up attached, directly to the billing contact out of the database.

4. Reduced Manual Data Entry with Workflows and Approvals

With Deltek Vantagepoint, leveraging workflows and approvals streamline transaction processing, and reduce manual data entry. Vantagepoint users can utilize electronic approvals for timesheets and expense reports. Furthermore, approval workflows are flexible and can accommodate many steps if needed, and approvers can approve timesheets and expense reports anywhere by using the mobile app. The accounts payable workflow provides an electronic approval audit trail and document management within the database leaving no stacks of papers. Even more, the absence request workflow allows managers to keep track of each employee’s schedule which helps with ensuring coverage on projects when needed.

5. Streamlined Repetitive Tasks Using Recurring Transactions

Recurring transaction entries can be done to streamline repetitive tasks for Deltek Vantagepoint users. Utilizing recurring transactions in Deltek Vantagepoint will reduce the time it takes each month to enter the same transaction. Additionally, using transactional imports for multi-line transactions will ensure accuracy and allow more time for other tasks.

Save Time, Save Paper, Save Money with Deltek Vantagepoint  

Interactive billing, automation, and leveraging workflows means less wasted time and more time to focus on the bottom line. These features are all available with Deltek Vantagepoint, and with this intuitive solution, managing billing, time, expense, and transaction entries becomes that much easier saving firms lots of money. Not to mention so many trees! Don’t forget to check out the other features offered to users by Deltek Vantagepoint.

Link to webinar about Vantagepoint 4.0

 

6 Marketing Trends That A/E/C Firms Shouldn’t Ignore in 2021

Posted by Lindsay Diven on July 14, 2021

As 2021 comes through its halfway point, it’s a good time to take pause to see what marketing trends are emerging for A/E/C firms. One thing that 2020 did for A/E/C marketing was accelerate the strategies marketers have wanted to bring from other industries. Highlighted here are six marketing trends A/E/C firms shouldn’t ignore in 2021.

modern AEC digital marketing trends

1. Increased Leads from Online Sources

High growth A/E/C firms generate half their leads from online sources according to a Hinge Research study. They looked across the entire industry and found that 50% of new business leads were generated from digital sources including website, email, social media, and digital advertising.

The report goes on to say that a third of high growth A/E/C firms report having mature marketing and sales software automation strategies in place, which make their digital lead generation more efficient.

This can’t be ignored. Marketers should be leading these marketing efforts and making sure the backend systems are in place to track and attribute the leads appropriately.

2. Hybrid Asynchronous Events Will Flourish

2020 was the year of Zoom meetings and virtual events. While there will continue to be a place for these types of events, they will become more hybrid. An example of this was the SMPS Southeastern Regional Conference. About 150 people attended the in-person live event in Nashville, TN while another 100 attended the virtual event during the same time.

Marketers will be tasked with finding ways to engage with their prospects with this type of event through multiple means. Often times, this is showing up in the chats of the video replays during the virtual portion while someone else attends the in-person event. Or, savvy marketers will create their own virtual experience dovetailing the organized hybrid events. Think about how private, in-person client dinners the night before a traditional conference can be transformed into a virtual experience.

3. The Emergence of Community Marketing

Speaking of hybrid events…the large industry event where all firm clients are in one place might be gone for a long time, if not for good. Most, if not all, annual conferences went virtual in 2020. But these large annual conference hosts are finding other ways to support their industries. Rather, the organizers are developing smaller, intimate, and more topical gatherings – both online and in-person.

Take for example, CXps. This once annual conference has transformed into a multi-day online experience with six, smaller regional events.

Marketers can help their subject matter experts by preparing them to be active contributors and bring practical value to the more intimate gatherings.

4. What’s Old is New Again – Email Marketing

While we might be tired of getting emails, the data doesn’t lie. Email marketing isn’t dead and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. According to Full Sail Partners’ own research, 20% of respondents increased their email marketing efforts and another 8% started email marketing during the past year. And, a HubSpot study found that roughly 80% of marketers have reported an increase in email engagement over the past 12 months.

This is probably the easiest marketing strategy to begin for A/E/C marketers. Many firms have a database full of contacts and prospects through the normal course of doing project work and regular sales and marketing interactions. And, many A/E/C firms already send out a holiday card or other types of email promotions. Email marketing is a no-brainer then for distributing the content the firm is already creating and publishing to blogs and social media.

5. Content Repurposing

One of the biggest challenges marketers face is to get good content from their technical staff, and many of these strategies rely on value-packed content. Quality content is essential to drive traffic to a firm’s website, to engage on social media, and to send in email marketing. Repurposing content is the proactive process of reusing all or a part of an old piece of content to expand its reach. It’s really about doing more with less content. And, target audiences have different learning methods. Some like to listen or watch while others like to read. Repurposing the same piece of content ensures that all preferences are being met while needing less original content from technical staff.

For example, take one long blog article and repurpose it into a few short YouTube videos, an audio file, several social media graphics, or a slide deck that can be shared on LinkedIn. A series of blog articles can be packaged into a whitepaper that visitors to a firm’s website can download after entering their email address.

6. Increased Investment in Martech

All of the previous trends have one thing in common – the need for integrated, marketing technology (martech) solutions. This new technology is not only critical for the deployment of these strategies, but for the tracking and proper attribution to the appropriate strategy. And, it’s not just the purchase of the software but adequate training for both the marketers and the end users to understand the importance of using the software correctly. When marketers get the software and the usage correct, then they can start tracking and reporting. This step is critical for both marketers and firm leadership. Marketers can quickly determine what’s working and what’s not and adjust, and firm leadership can see what their return is on the marketing investment.

Stay Abreast of Marketing Trends

While 2020 was a year no one wants to revisit, it did accelerate many trends that A/E/C marketers have been trying to implement for years as noted in the 42nd Deltek Clarity report. This tipping point will change marketing in the A/E/C industry like nothing else. While only six marketing trends have been presented here, it’s not exhaustive. Though every A/E/C firm is unique, all should stay abreast of these current marketing trends for 2021 and those moving forward.

Image button to hear from email marketing experts

42nd Deltek A&E Clarity Study Finds Business Development Embraced New Strategies

Posted by Ryan Felkel on July 07, 2021

Overall, the majority of respondents to the Deltek A&E Clarity study shared an optimistic view about opportunities and growth potential in coming years. Conversely, the long-term effects of the global pandemic did shock the industry with handshakes and face-to-face meetings becoming collateral casualties. As a result, the loss of these interpersonal connections was far greater and impactful than many could have imagined, and this sudden mandate and frankly need to socially distance inevitably left its mark on the way people interact and nurture relationships. As a result, this year’s Deltek A&E Clarity results are that much more significant as they shed light onto the future of A&E business development tactics that firms have embraced and will likely continue to utilize well into the future.

Deltek Clarity Report logo

Top Three Business Development Challenges

Finding time to nurture client relationships seems to be a list leader year after year for the A&E industry. However, the number of respondents that listed this as a top challenge grew five percent from prior years. Increased competition is second on the list with 22% of respondents putting this as their top BD challenge. While the third top challenge was identifying new prospects, with 15% of respondents listing this as their top challenge.

Interestingly enough, 14% of respondents indicated that their firm’s business development model has dedicated BD staff, 39% have a seller/doer model, and the remainder a combination of both. Even more, firms reporting having a formal business development process declined from previous years. Identifying the exact correlation on how these different BD models and lack of processes impacts these top BD challenges is difficult to measure, however there is with some certainty a direct relationship.  

Bidding to Winning

This year’s Deltek A&E Clarity study found that more firms are employing a formal go/no go process with an increase to 75.7% with 51% stating they use a formal process for all opportunities. For firms not using a formal go/no go process, 25% are considering implementing one in the future.

For small and medium A&E firms, proposal win rates decreased by nearly two percent from last year while large firms had an increase of almost two and a half percent. On the contrary, firms of all sizes saw an increase to their capture rate with a cumulative increase of three and half percent. These differences between win rate and capture rate can be attributed to the type of work firms are pursuing and the use of a more strategic go/no go process.    

Deltek Clarity on A&E Marketing Techniques

Respondents to the 42nd Deltek A&E Clarity study indicated that they predict traditional marketing techniques like in-person trade shows and exhibits, and public relations initiatives will see a sharp decline in utilization with a transition to more modern techniques. Specifically, firms stated they will increase the use of client-specific marketing, social media, thought leadership and content marketing as the core to their overall marketing strategy. This is not to say that trade shows will be abandoned, but these will likely become more virtual and/or hybrid versions which can reduce their benefit and importance to A&E firms. Overall, it’s encouraging that A&E firms want to adopt more modern marketing techniques, but their willingness to make significant investments into these changes has yet to be seen.  

Deltek Clarity on the Future Outlook and Forecast of A&E Industry

Small firms expressed a bullish outlook when reporting on their revenue growth forecast while medium and large firms expected to experience gains in the coming years. When asked to look further out to nine years, respondents expected to see growth of five to six percent in most years indicating there is still some level of uncertainty in the market, but still being sanguine there will be an upward trend in the years to come. Generally, A&E firms are optimistic about the markets they serve and believe they will be able to increase their position within them.

Significant Deltek Clarity Business Development Findings

In summary, the 42nd Deltek A&E Clarity study found that firms are going to need to continue to rely on passive sources for new opportunities which will require nurturing existing client relationships to win more work from them and to gain referrals as well. Firms will also need to embrace business intelligence tools and strategic business development models and processes to remain competitive. Additionally, the pursuit process itself has changed and became more virtual and digitized. As a whole, A&E firms have recognized the need to revolutionize their business development strategies if they want to remain relevant and viable in the future.

Understanding the full business development findings of the 42nd Deltek A&E Clarity study truly requires comparing the results to one’s own firm. Make sure to download your free copy and use the Clarity Scorecard to benchmark your firm.

Link to download the 42nd Deltek A&E Clarity Report