Full Sail Partners Blog

Empower Your Firm with Better Email Management

Posted by Ryan Felkel on Wed, May 20, 2020 @ 11:35 AM

Email management

What do you think is the most widespread office tool used amongst your peers and coworkers? If you answered email, you are correct! Employees use email throughout the day to communicate with coworkers, clients, vendors, and the list continues. In fact, a study by McKinsey found that employees spend 28% of their workweek managing their email, the equivalent of 11 hours if we assume that an employee works 40 hours a week. So, how can we help employees more effectively manage their email?

Email Management Pitfalls

Let’s start where most people do when they read and write an email - the subject line. The fact is, there is not a global standard to email subject lines, and most companies don’t establish predetermined subject lines either. As a result, searching for a specific email about a certain topic wastes a lot of time especially if the email is never found leaving some to wonder if the email ever actually existed.

For some savvy email users, they have learned to create a folder system to improve their email organization. According to a study by Microsoft Research, 30% of email users create a folder structure to organize email. However, ironically, 90% of those that create folder structures don’t actually use them.

Here, we just discovered two email mismanagement issues, but if you want to dig deeper, there are many more. There are other simple things like not using reply all so that everyone on the email chain has access to the communications and decisions made based on the email content. Also, not using convenience features such as setting reminders to follow-up or complete an assigned action item. All these examples are things that can be improved, but how does a business get everyone on board with practicing better email management?  

Put the Right Email Management Solution in Place

Email tools such as Gmail and Outlook contain intuitive features and functions that allow users to improve their email management. However, these tools by themselves are not enough to be able to improve firm-wide email management. While these email tools are great for facilitating communication especially for person to person, where they fall short is when emails contain specific details and information about a project that requires multiple people from multiple departments to know about changes and statuses as they happen.

An effective email management solution will have the ability to store uncategorized emails with important information in a database that makes these emails more searchable allowing employees to find the information they need, when they need it, with only a few clicks. Additionally, the emails should be in one centralized location for all relevant staff to be able to access and obtain the pertinent information. An effective email management solution integrates your firm’s email platform tool with the firm’s ERP solution to ensure all data is stored in one place.

Unravel the Email Management Mess

There’s a lot of confusion about email management solutions versus email tools. In layman’s terms, email tools are what you use to create and respond to emails. On the other hand, email management solutions allow you to quickly categorize an email from your email tool that will then add the email to a general database that lets others access the information. Furthermore, email management is more than an individual process and requires an email management system in conjunction with FIRM-WIDE established processes to ensure proper email management success.

Most importantly, email management solutions can change the culture of your company and open up the ways we communicate. They help eliminate inadvertent gatekeepers of information and ensure everyone within your firm has the information needed for client satisfaction. Lastly, they create time savings for your firm by providing easy access to the information your teams need to deliver a great client experience.

Deltek PIM

Topics: Project Management, Technology Solutions, Project Information Management (PIM)

What Makes a Great Project Information Management System?

Posted by Amanda Roussel on Wed, Apr 22, 2020 @ 11:35 AM

PIM Puzzle

In this digital age, project information management is crucial to efficiently maintain firm documentation. With projects that may have a duration of five or 10+ years, project files are plentiful, from large drawing files to Word documents and email correspondence. The organization of those files can be challenging for firms of any size. Therefore, established document management practices are necessary to keep projects running smoothly. So, let’s see what a great project information management (PIM) system would look like.

Challenges to Project Information Management

In order to ensure the setup of a great PIM system, let’s first evaluate the project information management challenges faced by firms:

No Two Projects are Alike - Projects are unique. They can be similar, but there will be at least one detail that sets each one apart. Firms need to create and save project files that contain the specific project details for the benefit of all team members and others in the firm that may need to reference a document, such as a contract or correspondence. The numerous drafts and revisions as a project progresses are important and should be saved in one place as well.

Many Hands on a Project - Team size can vary from a small few to over 50. No matter how much time team members spend on a project, they need access to the files that are applicable to their work and their hours should be recorded on a timesheet. It is also no secret that employees come, and employees go, so team members get added and others get shifted. If team members change, how can the project seamlessly be handed off with no interruption in service to the client without proper documentation in an accessible place?

Information Overload can be Overwhelming - We are all familiar with the yellow folders that you can sift through on the network as you hopelessly search for that one email from the client with a very particular request from three months ago. It is somewhere in there amongst the other documents - contracts, correspondence, drawings, scope of work, photos, reports, supporting data, deliverables, etc. While firms do have various ways to save their files, they are usually not saved in one cohesive location. Furthermore, varying naming conventions also create problems regarding files since not all team members have the same naming logic.

Overcoming Documentation Difficulties

Teams can better use their time executing a project rather than searching for the latest version of a file. So, it makes sense that all relevant project documentation should be easily accessible somehow. Now, what document management practices should be set up by firms to ensure all team members have the correct tools in their toolboxes?

Proactively Manage Emails – Email is a universal form of communication in project-centric businesses. It is communication, but it also can be considered important documentation. Therefore, email can be leveraged to improve productivity, and it should be managed in a secure central location with your project information.

Inclusion of all Project Documents – Project drawings, reports, deliverables, and any documents related to the project should be saved in one location. This includes contracts and change orders as well. Having all information in one place improves efficiency and can ultimately keep projects on track.

Tagging for Searchability - Tagging documents with the correct information allows a system’s search feature to retrieve related documents quickly. As a result, this saves you valuable time and allows you to easily find the document you need to continue your work.

Mobility is a Possibility – Project information management needs to happen from anywhere – office, home, or on site. Be certain that your teams can access the data they need no matter where they are. This is a vital component to a great document management system.

Auditability – Just like accounting data, your project documentation should be auditable as well. Allowing tracking helps keep the data safe and always available.

Investing in a Great Project Information Management System

A quality project information management system is a wise investment for the future of your firm. Having best practices in place regarding accurate and easily accessible project information ensures project data is an asset to the firm, rather than a liability. Even more, a well-planned system can boost team communication and collaboration as well as project efficiency, bringing your team to the next level of excellence.Deltek PIM

Topics: Project Management, Technology Solutions, Project Information Management (PIM)

Control Your Projects Better with Deltek PIM

Posted by Ryan Felkel on Wed, Dec 11, 2019 @ 02:44 PM

Deltek PIMDuring the lifecycle of a project in the professional services industry, there is a lot of information being shared among all the members of the project delivery team. Furthermore, history has shown that there is a larger amount of project related documentation being created as the professional services industry continues to become more digitized. As a result, more information is being shared and there are more decisions and final approvals to be made.

With all this information bouncing back and forth, it can become difficult to track what your other team members have reviewed. Therefore, making timely decisions becomes increasingly harder which can jeopardize the successful delivery of a project. However, Deltek has created Deltek PIM to help firms better manage project documentation to allow project delivery team members quick and easy access to important project related information.  

Easily Track Submittals with Automated Workflows

There are all types of various submittals that have to be tracked and documented during the lifecycle of a project. For many firms, this is still done using spreadsheets and other manual methods. Due to this, tracking change orders becomes a heavily manual process which is time consuming and prone to errors.  

What if there was a way to make this process less time consuming and allows for improved tracking of submittals? With Deltek PIM, firms can take advantage of the workflow functionality to create a formal submittal review process. What makes PIM’s workflow functionality so great is that it allows project team members to track the status of each submittal throughout the entire process. Even more, it allows team members to see who has reviewed the submittal and who still needs to review it to help ensure it gets processed and approved before the deadline. PIM also sends reminder alerts to individuals when a deadline is approaching to ensure they review the change order before the deadline.

Emails Here and Emails There

During the project lifecycle, email is a leading communication method amongst project team members. However, have you ever left someone off an email, or have you not been included on one? If this has ever happened, it is likely that a project team member has been left out of the loop about critical project information. Even worse, a project team member may not receive a crucial document that contains important project information.

The problem with emails is that the sender may not include an important recipient, or the recipient may not open the email in time to make an actionable decision on the information being shared. Thus, the decision-making process can be delayed, and the project timeline can be put in jeopardy. However, Deltek PIM provides a solution to improve project communication.

With PIM’s email management functionality, the entire project team has access to all the conversations that have influenced changes to the design and construction process of the project. Furthermore, PIM’s email management solution allows for the storage of project related communications in one centralized area designated to a specific project. Therefore, you never have to worry about obtaining these communications even if a team member is on vacation, out on leave, or has left the firm. All this information is permanently stored and made easily accessible.

Keep Up with Important Project Documents

A large portion of delivering a successful project requires keeping project documents up-to-date and organized. This means having access to the latest version of a document and being confident that the version you are working on is the most current version. With most document control processes, it’s difficult to know if the version you are working on is the correct and most recent version. Even more challenging, what if someone is trying to make changes to the same document at the same time? As most can agree, document management can be truly challenging and can hinder the success of a project.

The good news is that Deltek PIM makes document management simple. When firms adopt PIM’s document management functionality, they are able to implement standard document management processes and make sure project team members are compliant with them. Even more, PIM ensures one single version is available to all project team members which reduces duplication and provides the team access to the latest version.

Improve Project Collaboration with Deltek PIM

Information here and information there, information is everywhere. Well, this can be great for somethings like researching an item before making a big purchase. However, information everywhere is not so great when trying to deliver a project for a client. With Deltek PIM, all project related information is located in one space making access to it quick and easy for all project team members.  

Deltek PIM

Topics: Technology Solutions, Professional Services, Project Information Management (PIM)

Why Your Firm Needs Deltek PIM

Posted by Full Sail Partners on Wed, Jun 26, 2019 @ 11:00 AM

PIM-1

Projects are the life blood of the AEC industry. Efficiently run projects yield the most revenue and are thus essential to firm success. Fortunately for these firms, Deltek Project Information Management (PIM) provides project management and collaboration tools designed to help employees access critical project information and keep teams connected throughout the entire project lifecycle. Let’s check out what PIM can do for your firm.

Access All Project Emails in One Place

Employees spend 2-3 hours per day on average on email related activities according to a study by Dr. Michael Einstein at MESMO Inc. With Deltek PIM, project employees can easily add project related emails and communications into one central location allowing all project employees visibility into all email communications. Now hours are no longer lost managing and organizing project emails from other sources, since PIM provides a central location for the most up to date project emails. Project employees can utilize PIM to improve productivity, not impede project progress.

Simplify Document Management

Deltek PIM helps firms maintain hundreds of files across all aspects of their business in one location, giving companies the organization and intelligence to run their business smarter. All drawings, correspondence, and submittals are accessible by all team members at any time. Even more, PIM allows project teams to share large files in the office or with external team members while maintaining security and control. With PIM, there is no more worrying about setting up accounts or dated FTP sites so deadlines remain on track.

Take Information Management to the Next Level

Most importantly, Deltek PIM integrates with your Deltek ERP solution to improve how your firm manages schedules, budgets, resources and files for every project. Furthermore, PIM enables project teams to manage project documents while in the field. As a result, project employees can stay on top of everything that has been done or needs to be done at the site including uploading site photos, managing inspections, updating punch lists, and more with mobile access.

Make More Revenue Using Deltek PIM

Deltek PIM offers firms the chance to stay organized and run projects more efficiently. With PIM, team members will have access to all important documents with up to date details in one place throughout the entire project lifecycle. Therefore, project managers can ensure their projects are completed on time and on budget. How can PIM help your firm?

Deltek PIM

Topics: Project Management, Technology Solutions, Project Information Management (PIM)

The Value of Email Communication Management with Deltek PIM

Posted by Ryan Felkel on Wed, Apr 10, 2019 @ 03:15 PM

Deltek PIM

Project-based firms do experience challenges during the project lifecycle from ensuring a project remains on schedule to keeping the client satisfied. With these challenges, however, there is one common denominator…communication. Communication is key to the success of a project whether it’s with the client or with your own project team. One of the most common forms of communication is email, but if you’re not included on every email that pertains to a project, how can you know what is going on? With Deltek PIM, the communication problem is solved, and your firm will reap the benefits.

Centralized Email Communication

With a simple click, an email can be stored within the project in Vantagepoint or Vision. Therefore, every employee working on a particular project can quickly access the email communications that contain important information about the project. This saves time and improves project communication. With Deltek PIM, an employee might notice a change to the project and can quickly search through the emails to see who made the change and why.

Improved Decision Making

Using Deltek PIM increases the collaborative work environment since everyone has access to project related communication. With more insight into the project information, team members can make informed and quick decisions. The impact of this efficiency is significant for project-based firms in the form of a higher profit on each project.

Quick User Adoption

If your firm is already using Deltek Vantagepoint or Vision, PIM easily integrates with these project management platforms. Even better, this integration makes it easy to use which increases user adoption. As a result, an investment into Deltek PIM offers value since firm employees will actually use this product as they are already managing projects in Vantagepoint or Vision.

Deltek PIM Does More

Not only does Deltek PIM provide centralized email, but it also allows for all project related files to be stored directly in the project in Vantagepoint or Vision. With PIM, you can store emails, all types of documents, easily organize drawings, and improve sharing since all these things are in one location. If you haven’t seen PIM, make sure to check our webinar listing page to view upcoming and past PIM webinars.

Deltek PIM 

Topics: Technology Solutions, Project Information Management (PIM)

Deltek PIM Changes the Way Professional Services Firms Manage Information

Posted by Jennifer Renfroe on Wed, Aug 29, 2018 @ 11:00 AM

Deltek PIM

Firms in the professional services industry often have a difficult time managing the large volumes of information that come with each project. Having access to all project information from emails to drawings to contracts is important and vital for effective project management. With information silos, disorganized yellow folders and different systems per team, there is a greater chance for a less than successful outcome on firm projects. Deltek Project Information Management, or PIM, changes the way professional services firms manage information.

PIM Challenges the Norm

Many professional services firms believe that using yellow folders to store project documentation is the best option. While they are certainly easy to create, these folder structures offer no options for controlling access to the most up to date project information. Critical project data can easily be missed, and uninformed decisions can be made without a central place to view all current documents like offered with PIM. 

Email Communication is Valuable Information

One of the biggest mistakes that project-based businesses make is not considering email communication valuable project information. Emails and their attachments have significant details that help keep track of the project progression. Issues crop up in email correspondence that are essential for project members to see. For the project to run smoothly, these emails must be stored appropriately as PIM provides. 

Benefits of Using Deltek PIM 

  • Organized project files improve efficiency – Users can store, manage, retrieve and share documents in a central hub
  • Better collaboration – Project communication is improved when all team members can see all the relevant information
  • Quickly find critical data – All key project information is available to monitor project progress and make better decisions
  • Protecting the firm – Risk can be reduced with greater visibility into project data
  • Mobile connection – Enables on-the-go field work where photos can be taken, or drawings can be viewed on site
  • Integration with Deltek ERP– Every critical piece of project information is in one location to manage budgets, schedules and resources for every project in Deltek 

Goodbye Yellow Folders, Hello Deltek PIM 

Deltek PIM offers a cohesive information management system which ensures that the correct knowledge is always available to all project team members. By implementing PIM, professional services firms can store, catalog and retrieve all essential project management documents from one place. If your firm is still managing project information using yellow folders or keeping information silos, the best decisions are not being made. PIM can help make better ones.

Deltek PIM  

Topics: Professional Services, HR, Project Information Management (PIM)

Uncovering the Value of Deltek Vision for Project Based Firms: A Short Story

Posted by Michael Kessler, PMP on Wed, Aug 02, 2017 @ 11:00 AM

Short Story The following account is a true story. It begins with an AE firm recognizing the need for change in order to support its growth. This firm quickly realized that bringing disparate systems to one integrated platform like Deltek Vision was the fix they needed.

Here’s the firm’s story…

Identifying the Need for Change

Initially to manage its business, this firm was using several different systems that communicated poorly. Specifically, each critical function for the firm used a separate system which had its own unique database:

  • Accounts Receivable – MS Access database
  • Accounts Payable – MS Access and an outdated accounting program
  • Project Management – Internally developed and managed databases, spreadsheets, and online systems
  • Reporting – Internally developed and supported 

Desiring the ability to make better and faster decisions, the firm opted to move to a single enterprise-wide and industry-proven software platform. The move would allow this firm to streamline operations and reduce overhead time/costs by eliminating duplicate efforts and manual operations. The software of choice for this firm was Deltek Vision. 

Implementing Deltek Vision 

The implementation began with the drafting of processes using the project life cycle as a template. It was built to engage project managers earlier and more often throughout the entire process. Additionally, the firm recognized the need to ensure a budget could be developed using Resource Planning (RP). 

Having a budget became a requirement before a project could be initiated. As a result, the contract compensation was directly tied to the budget making routine maintenance integral to the project’s life. Furthermore, time charging, invoicing, and revenue recognition were not allowed without a project budget. 

The firm also sought to embrace the automation capabilities of Deltek Vision. Automation, of course, enabled the streamlining of processes. As an example, they decided to utilize invoice review automation to allow accounting to work in tandem with operations to deliver financial results. 

Most importantly, the philosophy around reporting changed dramatically. The firm now wanted to standardize reporting practices. Originally, employees had created and used their own desired data and had determined not only individual key performance indicators, but how and what those measurements were based upon.  

The Result of Choosing Deltek Vision 

I began working with this firm three years ago, and there is so much success to share: 

  • Reduction of invoicing time
  • Faster and more reliable monthly closes
  • More and better insight into project performance based on standardized reports 

These are just a few of the identified areas where using Deltek Vision has improved this firm’s performance. In the end, using Deltek Vision, the firm has seen its overall financial performance improve. 

Advice for Implementing Deltek Vision 

Here are some tips to help ensure successful Vision implementations:

  • Engage and work closely with a Deltek consulting partner like Full Sail Partners
  • Plan, design and configure based on your firm’s unique requirements
  • Testing, testing and more testing - both transactional and end to end
  • Make necessary changes and continue testing
  • Prepare for go live including preparing your staff with training  

Commonwealth Webinar

Topics: Professional Services, Project Information Management (PIM)

Why Architectural and Engineering Firms Need To Properly Manage Their Documents

Posted by Full Sail Partners on Fri, Jul 28, 2017 @ 09:49 AM

Document Management

It is interesting to note that most document management systems are designed for the Architectural and Engineering (A&E) world where document management is quite the opposite of most other industries. Whereas typical industry documents are standardized and repeatable, with templates that rarely ever change, those required of the A&E environment are not. Here, every drawing is unique, and workflows require systems specifically designed to meet the needs of the A&E space. Here are some examples of the differences for standard businesses and project-based business.

Standard businesses

  • Documents are standardized and repeatable
  • Minimal revision control with unidirectional workflows
  • Basic transmittals
  • Simple file naming

Architectural & Engineering Firms

  • Every drawing is unique
  • Revision control is crucial due to edit-review-rework flows
  • Transmittals can include documents, drawings, xref images, specs and more
  • Complex naming schemes including: Project & Client Name, Discipline, Floor or Phase of Project, Sheet Category, Drawing # and more

Do You Have More than One Version of the Truth?

Employees can spend hours or days updating a drawing. If an obsolete version is used, then that work must be repeated, costing your firm time and money. Also, using the incorrect version of an engineering document can leave your firm vulnerable to increased corporate risk, failed audits, cost overruns that can extend into the millions of dollars, not to mention significant risks to safety, schedules, and reputation.

Furthermore, manual methods of version control are difficult and prone to error. In most companies, you can find multiple versions of files, one on the server, on a user’s hard drive, in email, and even a paper copy. Using a document management system creates a central point for document access which ensures users across the organization always can obtain the latest version. Document management systems also store previous versions and maintain the historical metadata for auditing the document history.

Are Transmittals Weighing You Down?

Gathering files, ensuring the correct version, attaching xrefs, specs, and any other necessary files are all very time consuming and tedious. Because it is a manual process, there is always a high risk for missing information. Once you include creating, sending, and tracking transmittals, this process becomes a very large, time-intensive process. 

A good A&E document management system provides automatic cover sheet creation and a built-in address book for quickly adding recipients. It also automatically tracks sending, receiving, editing, and routing so you can easily maintain the relationship between the cover sheet and all the files and data you send.

Are Your Naming Conventions Working?

Many companies try to impose naming standards, but without a way to enforce or automate these standards, all it takes is one person choosing to name a document in a way that makes sense to them, and an important file could be irretrievable. When more than one department or branch is involved, or new businesses are acquired, chaos can ensue!

An A&E focused document management system will auto-generate number sequences, include fixed width text place holders for user entered text, predefined data from drop down lists, user entered free texts, and delimiters. In addition, file names would not be the only way to search for files…using metadata either manually tagged to the document or found within it, would be a key part of your file storing and searchability. 

Where Are Your Critical Communication Documents?

Are your firms’ critical communications being housed in email boxes and scattered throughout your organization? What happens when someone is out of the office, or leaves the company? Do you or your staff spend hours trying to locate that critical communication?

A document management system allows you to save emails from Outlook to your projects, contacts and organizations, including version controls, with very few steps. It also saves just one copy of an email and eliminates duplicates to reduce storage and communication that must be sorted through and searched. These emails would then be stored centrally and permanently for audit and legal purposes, essentially preventing them from ever being deleted or lost, especially if a team member leaves the practice.

Why an A&E Document Management System?

A great document management system will provide documentation that is:

  • Accurate, current, and trusted
  • Easily found, even without knowing specific identifying information
  • Under control, using predetermined workflows
  • Easily communicated
  • Fully audited for changes

If users can bypass procedures to access and change files without proper auditing, you aren’t truly managing your documents. Document management software uses database tables to store both data and files and ensure compliance.

Document management systems cut costs. The time needed to locate a document using easy searches and metadata should drop to seconds. No walking, telephoning or emailing is required - just a connected computer. Errors from using incorrect documentation virtually disappear. Only the latest, approved and published versions are used.

Time spent manually moving files and attaching to emails is eliminated with file sharing. Instead, documents are displayed to the user as soon as they are found. Audit reports can be automatically generated. Knowledge recorded in markup is stored in the system, visible to all who need to know, and your staff are more productive when they know information is reliable.

Calculating the Costs of Disorganized Documentation…Are You Scared to Know the Truth?

Do you know how much time your staff spends naming, organizing, and then trying to find documents? Are you, like many, scared to really find out?

  • How much time is spent by users looking for drawings or other documentation?
  • How much time your staff spends helping others find what they need?
  • How much downtime is also a consequence of these delays?
  • How many occasions production has been lost and/or re-working was required due to use of incorrect or outdated documentation?

Multiply these hours by burdened rates and estimate the costs of incidents caused by inaccurate data to extrapolate a typical yearly cost. It appears to be very expensive. Without a good document management system in place, these situations put a true financial strain on your firm.

Are You Ready for a Document Management System?

Using a proper document management system will not only save time, which we know equates to money, but will also prevent the unnecessary headaches of having to constantly forage through numerous files trying to find needed documents. We all know that the A&E industry is a unique and specialized industry which requires organization for project management. It doesn’t need to be so challenging to manage your documents.

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Topics: Professional Services, Project Information Management (PIM)