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A&E Project Management & Delivery Insight from the 43rd Deltek Clarity Study

Posted by Lindsay Diven on July 20, 2022

2022-ClarityReport_Banner-01While A&E firms are struggling with staffing challenges, business process automation, and managing a strong backlog pipeline, the discipline of project management and project delivery performance has improved. According to the 43rd Annual Deltek Clarity A&E Study, more firms are increasing internal project financial reviews and installing a project management center of excellence.  

How does your firm compare to the A&E industry when it comes to project delivery? Below is a summary of the findings from the study and read to the end to find out how to get a free copy of the report.  

Staff Shortages Affecting Project Management 

Looking at the challenges, especially compared to the prior year, it’s not surprising that staffing shortages and competing priorities are high on the list. However, staffing shortages were 40% last year and now are at 64%.  

The respondents were asked to rank their top three challenges. Those top three centered all-around staffing – 1) staffing shortages, 2) competing priorities, and 3) inexperienced project managers. These challenges may lead to burnout, more frustration or other challenges for the teams. Project managers are not focused on proactively managing their project because they are spending time figuring out how to get the work done.  

Improved Project Delivery Performance, in Some Areas 

Project delivery performance has improved with projects that are at or under budget. Those projects currently being reported as under budget went up almost six percentage points from prior year to 67.8%. However, the eight-year trend is showing a move in the wrong direction. Plus, on the schedule side, things aren’t looking as great with a decrease of more than six percentage points from prior year. The common theme from the project managers seems to be they are struggling the most when it comes to managing schedules. Schedule is the metric that is tracked the least and doesn’t have much visibility.  

These gaps in staffing and lack of visibility into project performance are affecting not only project managers, but the firms’ bottom lines. What new challenges are your project managers facing today? What’s being driven by clients and what internal processes or technology can be deployed to improve visibility and efficiency? 

Increased Emphasis on Project Management as a Discipline 

There were huge gains in the percentage of projects that follow a clearly defined project management process. In this year’s report, 44% of the respondents indicated that 75%-100% of their projects used a clearly defined project management process. Whereas, last year only 14% were in that upper tier of the majority of their projects.  

Another item the Deltek Clarity Study looks at is the project management office (PMO) or center of excellence. This year’s report indicates that this trend is moving in a positive direction. Overall, 15.4% of respondents have a PMO and that’s an increase of 5.4 percentage points over prior year. Leading the way are the large firms with 50% of them indicating they have a PMO up 20 percentage points from prior year. Though at 15.4%, that’s still less than a quarter of the companies that are using some kind of PMO or center of excellence to treat project management truly as a discipline. 

One of the things that’s important when it comes to project management is to celebrate when projects are going well. Firms often get wrapped up in the projects that get off course or fall behind schedule. Fortunately, the study does measure what’s going well in project management, and at the top of that list is managing client relationships with collaboration and communication.  

However, there’s still a majority of the respondents that don’t have a clearly defined project management process for all or even most of their projects. It’s a good opportunity to ask internally why aren’t processes being followed? Is there not a clearly defined process? Are the processes not aligned with the different types of projects the firm does such as small vs. large or task-order vs. lump sum? 

Proactive and Accountable Project Management Metrics  

What gets measured gets done, correct? The Deltek A&E Clarity report asks what project management KPIs are being tracked at the firm.  

At the bottom of what is being tracked are some of the scheduling metrics including estimate at complete, on-time delivery, and earned value management. At the top of the list are those KPIs often tracked by the financial leaders and include net revenue, profitability, average collection period for A/R aged and multipliers. Yet the financial metrics are retroactive. This might indicate that the lack of visibility or tracking for schedule and schedule variances might correlate with the increase in projects going behind schedule.  

Firms should be asking what metrics they should be tracking that can help them to right size or fix what may be going wrong in a project. How can firms make sure the project managers have the information they need to see where their projects stand at any given time? How can the information be visible and accurate? 

Making the Case for Project Management Technology 

While firms are moving more and more towards technology, the reliance of manual data entry and spreadsheets is going in the wrong direction, specifically when it comes to project management. At the top of the list of departments relying on manual entry is operations and resource management.  

The Clarity Study found that 61% of firms say that they’re still using Excel for planning projects and resources. 75% are using email as their primary project collaboration tool, and 88% are still using email as a primary method to share large files both internally and externally. 49% are not using construction specifications technology.  

All of these are ripe for business process improvement and better leveraging of technology for efficiency, but just where are firms planning to invest in this technology? Project management is at the top of the list, with nearly half of the respondents indicating that they will invest in project management technology in the next 12 months. 

Top Initiatives for Project Management 

When you look at the challenges and top initiatives for project management at A&E firms, issues such as hiring more qualified staff, defining capabilities and responsibilities as well as defining internal best practices and investing in internal project manager training are not surprising. Firms know they need to have great project managers.  

Use These Findings to Improve Your Firm 

The immediate next step is to download the full Deltek A&E Clarity report. Click the image below to grab a free copy of the report along with a scorecard to chart the firm’s results. Then use that to begin discussions around the firm’s net revenue forecasts, project budgets and schedules, etc. Ask about where the firm is struggling, where it’s doing well, and what are the opportunities for improvement. Finally, make sure that you’re reaching out to a Full Sail Partners’ consultant so that we can help you keep your business on course. 

 

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Deltek Vantagepoint’s Approval Center Keeps Business Moving

Posted by Theresa Depew on June 15, 2022

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Although not one of the most glamorous parts of Deltek Vantagepoint, the Approval Center has been designed to keep project-based firms’ business moving. The Approval Center allows supervisors to quickly access, review, and approve important business approvals including timesheets, expense reports, and absence requests. Users can visibly see any approval alerts outstanding and go directly to the records to approve.  

Let’s break down each approval area and type in the Approval Center so that project managers and supervisors can make quick approvals and keep the firm’s vital business moving forward. 

 

Easily See When Approvals Are Needed  

In Vantagepoint, there are two areas where Approval Notifications can be found. The first and easiest place is in the Notifications Center in the top right corner of the application. This Notification Center is used to notify users of many things, but for supervisors and managers, it shows an action item for each item awaiting approval. The user can easily go to that approval item by clicking on the hyperlinked blue text such as “Expense Reports” or “Absence Request” as shown below. 

Another area where approvers can see what needs to be approved is by selecting the Approval Center option in the My Stuff on the left-hand navigation. This takes them to the Approval Center where they can toggle between the different approval types, as dictated by the workflow set-up and role security. 

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Quickly Review Each Approval Type 

Inside the Approval Center, when the drop-down is selected, each approval type will be displayed. Again, only timesheets, expense reports and absence requests are found in the Approval Center. Also, what is displayed will depend upon the users’ workflow setup and security role for the firm’s Deltek Vantagepoint instance. 

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Approve Specific Lines or Entire Reports 

One option in Deltek Vantagepoint is to be able to approve specific line items and/or entire submissions for both timesheets and expense reports. The columns that are displayed in each approval area can also be customized to the approver’s preferences using the Grid Settings (the gear icon in the top right corner). All approval rows can be filtered to see certain items such as Employee Name or Project Name (if in the Line-Item Approvals). The approval lists can also be downloaded into .csv or Excel. 

When ready to approve, the approver can select each row individually, or all rows by clicking the checkbox in the top left. Once the check box is clicked, the reviewer can Approve, Reject or Reassign the selected rows using the buttons at the top or the reviewer can Approve, Reject or Reassign all records under the Approval Options button.  

The Approvals look and act the same for both timesheets and expense reports as for the individual line approvals. However, when in Timesheet or Expense Report view, not as many of the details will be available. To see the details, the user must click on the Period Ending Date. From there, the user can review all the timesheet and expense report details along with the same Approve, Reject or Reassign options.  

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Review Expense Lines Without Opening the Reports 

With the Expense Report Lines approvals, all of the information needed to approve the expenses is shown without having to go into the actual expense report. The needed information is displayed in the columns including the Employee Name, Project Name, Report Name, Date, Category, Description, Amount if the expense line is billable and if a receipt is attached. If the reviewer clicks on the Detail icon for expense items like mileage, the actual mileage and the locations traveled will be displayed. If a receipt is attached, a paperclip icon will appear. The reviewer can click on that to access the receipt detail and view a photo of the receipt if provided. This makes it easy to approve expenses directly from this screen without having to go anywhere else. 

Similar to other approval functions, Expense Lines include the ability to select the columns to be displayed, filter the rows to show and download to a .csv or Excel file. In addition, there is the Print Lines Approval Report. This report shows us all expense lines grouped by expense reports and all lines not approved yet. 

The process of approving, rejecting or reassigning Expense Line is the same as above. 

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View Employee Absence Requests 

Deltek Vantagepoint’s Approval Center has absence requests submitted by employees. An added benefit is that the approver can not only see each absence request but quickly review the time off remaining for each employee by clicking on his or her name. When clicking on the employee’s name, his or her Employee Card is displayed. From here, the supervisor can verify that the employee has enough hours to cover the time requested by clicking on the absence hours tab. This shows the current available balance by benefit type. 

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Absence requests can be approved individually by checking the box in the row and clicking Approve or all requests can be approved at once by checking the box at the top to select all and clicking Approve. Another way to approve all is to click the Approval Options button and select either Approve All, Reject All or Reassign All without checking any boxes. 

At-a-Glance Absence Requests for Entire Firm 

The supervisor can view the absence requests for the entire firm using the Absence Request Schedule. This shows all the absence requests that have been submitted, approved or rejected. The statuses are color-coded so the reviewer can quickly identify each type. Yellow is for submitted. Approved is in green and red is rejected. The non-working days are displayed in gray and the holidays are in blue. Users can scroll back in time or into the future using the left and right arrows accordingly. See the screenshot below. 

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Keep the Professional Services Firm Approvals Moving 

Using Deltek Vantagepoint’s Approval Center streamlines reviewing and approving vital business processes including timesheets, expense reports and absence requests. This fully integrated system reduces processing times and provides visibility into the status and conditions of these key areas. To see this in action, click below to watch the Powering Project Success with Deltek Vantagepoint – Approvals Center. 

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Easily Change Project Plan Dates and Hours with Deltek Vantagepoint

Posted by Rana Blair on May 18, 2022

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

Typical Project-Based Firm Planning Scenario 

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

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


Changing Project Plan Dates at Various Project Levels

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

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

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

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Redistributing the Planned Project Hours 

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

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

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

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Setting a New Project Baseline  

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

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

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

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See Project Plan Changes in Action 

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

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Resource Planning Enhancements in Deltek Vantagepoint

Posted by Rana Blair on February 23, 2022

Vantagepoint Resource Planning Enhancements Hero Image

Projects are the lifeline for professional services firms. Deltek Vantagepoint provides applications to support the project planning and resource management activities—Project Planning, Resource Management and Plan Reporting. For those firms who are familiar with Deltek Vision planning, you’re in for a real treat with the enhancements added to Vantagepoint.

The enhancements include the ability to Change Planned Hours, select the ETC / JTD basis in system settings, save Resource View searches for roles, and use Spread Variance to push unused plan hours forward. Let’s dig deeper into these improvements.

Set Plan Inclusion System-Wide

Deltek administrators now have the ability from a system-level to set the inclusion of “in pursuit” project plans on some sort of objective basis. The screenshot below shows how these are automatically set based on the pursuit stages. Keep in mind when the project is awarded, it’s included in those calculations. The beautiful part about Vantagepoint is firms have complete visibility into all the plans, even if the project was not included in those utilization calculations and reports.

VPPlanning-InclusionSettings

The administrator can set different options based on the firm’s preferences. Those include:

  • Never – This means that users can plan but the plan won't be included in the calculations.
  • Always – Selecting this option will always include the plans, regardless of the degree of seriousness or clarity that you have.
  • Set by Project – This is not recommended because it relies on the plan creator to remember to mark the plan for inclusion.
  • Automatically Set Based on Selected in Pursuit Stages – This is the recommended option because it leverages the intelligence of the software to determine the stage of the project and then to automatically determine inclusion into those calculations.
  • Automatically Set Based on Probability – This uses the probabilities set up in the system. Preferences can be set to say anything greater than 50% probability, for example, will be included. Vantagepoint provides a lot of flexibility with this, but this flexibility is from the system standpoint and not each individual plan.

Set Estimate to Complete (ETC) and Job to Date (JTD) Basis System-Wide

While the ability to set and/or change the ETC and JTD was available in Deltek Vision Planning, it was often changed for one purpose or another and could be forgotten to be put back. In Vantagepoint, this is a system setting so that every plan is using the same ETC and JTD basis as shown in the screenshot below.

VPPlanning-JTDSettings

Firms can select the system settings and the basis that works best for them. For example, a firm has a JTD basis through Last Week’s End Date, and that is last Saturday. All the JTD is shown through that date and the ETC date starts the next business day. That allows the firm to have certainty about the JTD figures. If the firm customarily has weekly timesheets that are always completed by the end of the week, this may be a great system setting.

Alternatively, firms can use the Last Timesheet Period’s End Date. If the firm lags a little bit on timesheet entries, utilizing this option so that the JTD information being shown in the plan is that of the last timesheet period will most likely work better. Firms can use this option so that the JTD information shown in the plan is as of that last timesheet week. So, for the first few days of the timesheet period, it's not as accurate, but it's more accurate once that timesheet period is posted and closed.

Rescheduling Plans

Vantagepoint Planning is further enhanced with the ability to reschedule plans. The reschedule ability allows users to either shift or change the duration for the labor tab. This is only for the labor tab in Vantagepoint Planning. Users can pick up the entire date range and move the start date or move it to the finish date.

Like Vision Planning, if the duration is the same, the hours can use the same proportions from the time period. When the duration length is increased, it keeps the same pattern. Conversely, when the duration length is decreased, the system can respread it evenly. But, if the duration shrinks, the system will not like it if unplanned hours fall outside the new duration. In Vantagepoint, this becomes very clear with well-written error messages that pop up for the user.

Change Planned Hours

Changing planned hours is a new function in Deltek Vantagepoint. Project managers can use this functionality to update the planned hours in any timeframe. They can choose to spread the hours proportionally or evenly. For example, a user can take all the hours at the project level or work breakdown structure (WBS) level two and change the planned hours from A to B. This can be done in any timeframe. It can also be done backward and forward using the ETC day. There are a lot of options to change planned hours in Vantagepoint Planning.

The screenshot below shows the new Redistribute Hours menu in Vantagepoint where users can change the planned hours.

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Replace Planned Hours with Actual Hours

The next enhancement is the ability to replace planned hours with actual hours. This functionality allows users to choose the replacement of hours for a specific date range or across all dates as well as choose to calculate on a weekly, monthly, or total basis. An example is shown below.

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Spread Variance

The ability to spread the variance between planned and actual hours can be done in several ways over the time periods selected. It allows the user to control how they spread the differences between actual and planned as well as choose different date ranges. The date range can be a specific date range, an entire date range, or just a short amount of time. The project manager can choose to spread the hours including the negatives or just limit to the positive differences. The variance can be spread evenly or proportionately.

The biggest enhancement is that now this setting is directly available in the plans in Vantagepoint as opposed to another menu or area of the system, providing better visibility, as shown below.

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Vantagepoint Planning is Reimagined for Project-Based Firms

With these enhancements to Vantagepoint Planning, project-based firms can not only quickly create project plans but adjust them to the unpredictable nature of the projects. It’s the right project management tool to control project delivery. Do you want to see these Deltek Vantagepoint Planning enhancements in action? Use the button below to see Rana Blair demonstrate each of them.

 

Link to learn the differences between Deltek Vision and Vantagepoint planning

Key Takeaways from the 42nd Deltek AE Clarity Report - Project Management Edition

Posted by Ryan Felkel on December 22, 2021

Managing and delivering successful projects is the goal of every architecture and engineering (AE) firm. For most, it’s nearly a repeatable process that requires some minor adjustments to the work breakdown structure to meet the unique needs of a project’s scope. Year after year, AE firms continued with this same process while making improvements based on lessons learned. Then all of a sudden, everything in our world was altered, including the way AE firms manage and deliver successful projects.

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However, it’s not all gloom and doom. There’s actually good news to report! According to the 42nd Deltek AE Clarity Report, firms of all sizes dealt with the uncertainty and unexpected changes very well.

Clarity on Project Management Success    

Overall, the majority of firms that responded to the Deltek AE Clarity Survey indicated that their projects stayed on schedule with some being ahead. This is great to hear, and there is more. Most of the respondents also indicated that projects remained on or under budget in 2020. This is a consistent result year after year in the AE Clarity Study findings. As 2020 was filled with uncertainty with no clear end in sight, staying on or under budget is an amazing accomplishment. Kudos to those firms!

Clarity on Challenges for Project Managers

Interesting enough, it is hard to link the effects of the pandemic to the findings in the Deltek AE Clarity Study. Overall, project status visibility issues continue to be reported as a common challenge for project managers over the past few years. Furthermore, visibility into project cost variance remains a top reason for not being able to identify project overruns before it is too late.

Highlighting other challenges AE firms experienced in 2020, tracking project KPIs continues to hinder project managers and jeopardize the successful outcome of projects. This is followed by schedule variance visibility, which only had a small upward change from previous AE Clarity Study findings. In summary, project visibility issues remain problematic but can be easily resolved by using a project management software built specifically for AE firms.

Clarity on Client Satisfaction

Mentioned, but less of a focus for project managers, is visibility into client satisfaction throughout the project life cycle. In the survey, only 40% of firms stated that they measured and tracked client satisfaction. What makes this troubling is that it is a fact that the client experience (CX) and client satisfaction has a direct impact on the ability to win future work.

For many firms, this is an unaddressed problem because they have neither a formalized CX initiative nor a solution to help track client satisfaction. This is likely because these firms are unaware that there are resources to improve their CX. Full Sail Partners is an active partner with Client Savvy, the creators of the Client Feedback Tool and the CXPS Community and can help firms to acquire these needed CX resources.

Clarity on Future Project Management Initiatives

AE firms historically have embraced a business model that forces project managers to wear multiple hats at the firm. However, this seems to be changing with more firms stating they want to:

  • Clearly define responsibilities for project management, business development and design work.
  • Invest in internal project manager training.
  • Develop internal project management best practices.

Surprisingly, all respondents to the AE Clarity Study indicated one of these as a top priority at their firm. Further down on the list of the top initiatives for AE firms is the need to hire more qualified talent. Noted in the Human Capital Management section of the AE Clarity Study, firms stated that the availability of good talent is a top acquisition challenge.

AE Clarity on the Future of Project Management

AE firms looking for future success have recognized the need to pay more attention to the discipline of project management. Moving forward, project managers need to focus on delivering successful projects. Firm leaders need to find others to share or take on the work of business development and let designers focus on creating. In other words, firms need to give the discipline of project management the respect and attention it deserves.

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

With all the uncertainty of 2020, AE firms remained resilient when faced with adversity. This says a lot about an industry that is directly affected by economic ups and downs. Overcoming what could have been an industry crippling situation, firms adapted, and project managers stepped up to continue to deliver great projects.

The Deltek AE Clarity Report is an insightful study that firm leaders should review each year. Additionally, firm leaders should use the available scorecard to benchmark their firm’s results with the rest of the industry. Get a free copy of the Study and the scorecard using the button link below.

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

Controlling the Details with Deltek Vantagepoint Planning

Posted by Rana Blair on December 08, 2021

Successful project management requires more than having the right people on the right project. It requires having the right project management tool to control project delivery.

The Deltek Vantagepoint Resource Planning application has been designed to require only the simplest interactions to review and plan on a go-forward basis. The system will display all Job-to-Date (JTD) time through today to direct emphasis on what happens tomorrow. With Estimate to Complete (ETC) planning, the effort is focused on what will be spent in the future. As a result, there is no need to adjust planned hours in the past to understand the forecasted results.

Planning a professional services project

For those who want access to the past to adjust the planned hours or to see the JTD through a less current/more realistic lens, Vantagepoint 4.5 introduces new options and alternatives.

Adjustable Job-to-Date Basis

In Deltek Vantagepoint 4.5, system administrators can now choose the system JTD Date Basis. In previous versions and in Vision, the system assumed today’s date as the basis with the next day as the start for the ETC. This is problematic for firms where timesheet entry is not always as up to date as it should be.

Now firms can choose to show JTD details for Labor as of the end of the last week, the end of the last timesheet period, as of a specific date, or leave it as today. Whatever the choice, the ETC always begins on the next business day following today. This allows for planning in the time periods occurring since the JTD can utilize the date basis setting. Remember the ETC will reflect only those planned hours in the actual future from the date basis.

In the example below, “today” is November 12 and the previous Timesheet period ended on October 31. Using the JTD Date Basis setting, it is reasonable to assume that Heath’s time is complete through October 31 as indicated in the red square in the example below. Therefore, planning can be done based on what we expected since then and what we anticipate going forward.

Vantagepoint Planning 1Spreading the Variance between Planned and Actuals

Another Deltek Vantagepoint Planning feature, Redistribute Hours, has many applications and uses for project planners. Please note that this function can be made available only to selected Security Roles in Settings.

In this use case scenario, the plan below was scheduled with a two-month duration and 30 hours of Emily’s time. However, the project was delayed, and Emily posted 10 hours to the project before it was put on hold. The assignment end date of May 31 is in the past and there are no remaining ETC hours. However, Vantagepoint users do not need to worry.

Vantagepoint Planning 2

One way to correct this is to simply extend the end date with a Duration Change. If this is the chosen method, the resulting options will include respreading all the Planned Hours evenly over the entire Assignment period or not spreading them at all and replanning the remaining hours in the future. The first option will spread the hours backward in time. The second option will have the result of duplicating Planned Hours and muddying the expectations.

A more eloquent solution is to change the Assigned End Date to the new date and use the Redistribute Hours function to control how the remaining Planned Hours are spread. The Redistribute Hours function has many options and uses. The key is the Spread Differences Between Planned and Actual Hours tick box. In this example, the decision was made to spread the variance of 20 hours evenly into the period shown.

Vantagepoint Planning 3The result is now that the unused Planned Hours are spread into future time periods as shown in the following image. Therefore, the integrity of the Planned Hours has been maintained which will support the reliability on Planned Hours in timesheets and other reporting mechanisms.

Vantagepoint Planning 4Gain Project Control with Deltek Vantagepoint

Projects rarely go according to the original plan and being able to adjust for unpredictable changes is a must. Whether it’s looking back at JTD or looking forward with ETC, Deltek Vantagepoint allows project managers to truly control the details of their projects.

Wondering what the differences in Vision Planning and Vantagepoint Planning are? Use the button link below to hear from Rana Blair about how these two systems compare.

Link to learn the differences between Deltek Vision and Vantagepoint planning

Is My Firm Getting the Most Out of Deltek Vantagepoint?

Posted by Theresa Depew on May 26, 2021

Congratulations for upgrading to Deltek Vantagepoint, the reimagined and greater version of Vision! For starters, you’ve probably already noticed that Vantagepoint is different from Vision in its appearance. This new and greatly improved user interface just scratches the surface though. Did you know that there are several process enhancements designed to streamline your firm’s day-to-day operations?

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While Deltek Vision was the gold standard for project-based ERP systems, its successor, Vantagepoint, is raising the benchmark. Check out what you may not know Vantagepoint can do to improve your firm’s processes.

Did you know Deltek Vantagepoint can…?

Did you know you can customize the timesheet approval process?

Do you need one or more approval steps? No problem!  Do you need line-item approval? No problem!  

Using a Vantagepoint timesheet approval workflow is simple and flexible. Additionally, using an approval workflow tends to shorten the time it takes to get timesheets approved and posted, everything is done electronically either from a desktop or on a mobile device. Timesheet approvals have never been easier!

Did you know that Vantagepoint now allows for draft invoice markup?

Say goodbye to emailing and/or printing draft invoices for approval! With the new “Markup on Draft Invoices” feature, approvers can review, markup and approve directly in Vantagepoint. The draft invoice will show all the information needed for an approver to verify billing. The approver can also use the PDF editor that is built into Vantagepoint so they can make notes right on the draft and resubmit. Waiting days or weeks for invoice approval a thing of the past!

Did you know that you no longer need to post batch transactions?

Have you ever wanted to post one Voucher or one Cash Receipt without creating a whole batch? With Vantagepoint’s new “Single Transaction Posting” option, this is now possible. If this option is enabled, control totals will no longer be needed. As a result, there is no need to leave the transaction entry screen to post, just enter your data and click post. With Vantagepoint, entering and posting transactions has never been this quick and easy!

Did you know that you can have multiple dashboards in Vantagepoint?

Since Project Managers often wear multiple hats in a firm, they can now have different dashboards to represent those different hats. For example, there can be a dashboard for business development activities and pipeline management in addition to a separate dashboard for project financials. Thus, allowing Project Managers or other firm employees that wear multiple hats to have critical decision-making information at their fingertips.

Did you know that information from the project budget and project planning tool are in one view?

In the Project Hub in Vantagepoint, the Project Review option allows project managers to view the Contract Fee, EAC Budgeted Cost, ETC Planned Cost and the Planned Profit in one single view. Additionally, Key Performance Indicators can be tracked on the same view and are continuously tracked and updated as information is changed in the budget and project tool.

Did you know that the professional licenses that your employees hold can be tracked in Deltek Vantagepoint?

For professional services firms, there are often credentials that must be held for some types of work. Examples include professional engineer, professional land surveyor, registered architect, and more. It’s imperative that licenses such as these and other certifications are kept active. Some firms rely on the employees to maintain their licensures while other firms may ask their human resources or marketing teams to capture this information.

Deltek Vantagepoint allows users to capture and track this information in the Credentials grid in the Employee Hub. Available fields cover the credential description, type of credential, license number, state and country, date earned, expiration date, last renewed date, and a check box for proposal use. With the use of workflows, employees can be notified 60 days, 30 days, or another chosen number of days prior to an expiration date.

Did you know that Vantagepoint has a seamless transition process from project pursuit to award?

In Vantagepoint, there are no more mapping exercises after a project is won. You can enter estimates, plans, budgets and contract amounts at any tine in the project lifecycle. As a result, project information is already captured and ready to use at the start of the project.

Get the Most out of Deltek Vantagepoint!

Simplifying and improving your firm’s operations is the intent and purpose of Deltek Vantagepoint. But with anything new, a lot of these enhancements may never be utilized if firms are unaware that they exist. If you’re interested in learning more about the features and tools that are part of Vantagepoint, check out our Vantagepoint video demonstration series. Additionally, make sure to read our monthly newsletter with a new “Did You Know” in each edition.

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How to Use Client Feedback to Improve Client Experience

Posted by Ryan Felkel on May 19, 2021

In a recent study by Dimension Data, 84% of companies that strive to improve their client experience (CX) report increases in their revenue. Another survey completed by Gartner found that 81% of businesses compete primarily on CX. Even more, PWC found that 32% of customers are willing to walk away from a brand they favor because of one negative experience. While there are endless amounts of statistics that directly correlate CX to company revenue and growth, many companies are still falling short in terms of their clients’ standards.

Client taking survey

 

Typically, the common denominator for businesses that are providing subpar CX is the lack of asking for feedback from clients. Certainly, your firm’s team members are meeting with clients and sharing ideas about their projects and expectations, but these conversations are merely that…just talk. However, creating a formalized client feedback process can revolutionize the CX and take your firm’s brand to the next level.

Understanding What to Measure

For professional services (PS) firms, measuring a client’s satisfaction with the final product ignores the process of delivering a project from start to finish. Therefore, the quality of the process is what determines CX for project-based firms. In other words, PS firms need to be more focused on asking for feedback about the project delivery process. When determining what questions to ask about the process, it’s important to keep in mind that there are two categories that need to be evaluated about the process, subjective- relationship metrics and objective-deliverable metrics.

In terms of subjective or relationship questions, firms need to understand how helpful they were during the process. Additionally, they need to ask for feedback regarding how the client felt about their responsiveness and their abilities to make the right decisions at critical moments during the project.

For objective or deliverable feedback, PS firms need to know how clients feel about their ability to manage budgets and schedules. Overall, objective feedback measures the accuracy of quantifiable standards and expectations that were set prior to the project starting.

Cadence of Asking for Client Feedback

Waiting until a project is completed to ask for feedback is too late. At this point, fixing any negative perspectives is a moot point as it’s hard to correct something in the past. For PS firms, it is critical to ask for feedback early on and often.

It is often encouraged to begin the feedback process at the project kick-off. During this time, the project teams need to make sure milestones and KPIs are aligned, and all parties are clear on the path to success. Once the first milestone has been met, there is now an opportunity to request client feedback and to begin to assess the process your firm is using to deliver a project. As the project continues and various milestones or percent complete points have been met, feedback can once again be requested. Finally, client feedback needs to be requested upon project completion.

Asking Clients the Right Feedback Questions

Providing a great CX requires asking the right questions to gain feedback about the project delivery process. Additionally, each client feedback inquiry should include six to eight questions that are shorter than 12 words. Questions should also be different for each phase of the project, and they also need to be tailored to the role each stakeholder has in the project. Most importantly, the goal is to create a great CX, therefore questions need to be geared toward measuring expectations and not satisfaction. Since satisfaction cannot be controlled, but expectations can be managed.

Moreover, avoid questions about an individual since they are only part of the process. Also, ask questions about things you can control and change. For instance, asking a client if they think a budget is sufficient is pointless since the budget was predetermined prior to the project. Most importantly, reevaluate questions that use the word “and” as this is usually becoming two questions with the use of a conjunction connecting two clauses or thoughts.

Take Action on Client Feedback

Well, now you’ve asked for feedback which means you likely need to respond and address the client feedback. In many cases, positive feedback only requires a small acknowledgement. When the feedback indicates expectations are not being met, it is imperative to reach out to the survey respondent to understand why they feel the process is falling short of expectations.

It is equally important to note that the person requesting client feedback needs to the person reaching out and acknowledging the responses whether they are positive or negative. Additionally, the person requesting feedback needs to not take the information personally since the questions and responses are about the process. Lastly, when discussing feedback with a client, the person requesting feedback needs to practice empathy as to avoid creating a conversation filled with attacks and defenses.

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The Value of Vantagepoint for Project Managers

Posted by Rana Blair on November 18, 2020

Project management view

Project success is vital to any professional services organization, so project managers must be given every resource to ensure their projects are done on time and within budget. In Deltek Vantagepoint, there are numerous dashboards and ways to view information easily so project managers can access what they need to ensure that projects run smoothly and are on target. Let’s check out the benefits of Vantagepoint for project managers.

Greater Visibility

Deltek Vantagepoint offers enhanced visibility to all users. Vantagepoint provides a major way to engage people with the system, specifically non-accounting users like project managers. With built in dashboards showing important numbers and graphs, plus a more intuitive reporting interface, every role in the project team can participate with the details regarding projects to ensure they are managed efficiently.

Focus on Project Health

The planning application itself is the most efficient tool to review project health and activity. Here, users can review profitability or billing multipliers with instant feedback while updating resource assignments. Additionally, Vantagepoint has detailed reports as well as a variety of standard dashparts to provide relevant information.

Flexible Project Management

Resource forecasting is all in the same house with Vantagepoint. With the resource view, project managers can control the resources for each project. In addition, with the Vantagepoint heat map, utilization of staff can be evaluated, and action can be taken based on those utilizations. Now there is a whole new interface for resource planning, and resources can be added from several different places. For example, resources can be added using the Resource view or the Project view. With these flexible options, project managers can easily see all details and can focus on resources and proper management of those resources.

Future Forward

Resource planning early in the process allows for better forecasts for resource allocation. With Deltek Vantagepoint, project managers can look at resources in line with awarded projects and pursuit projects out six or eight or even ten months. Also, there is a redesigned project review which is easier to read and has KPIs with calculations that make sense. Project managers have a one stop shop where they can see the performance of their projects which can be done in Project View.

Improve Collaboration with Deltek Vantagepoint

Deltek Vantagepoint has been designed to be more approachable, with simplified processes, enhanced visibility, and improved accessibility which has created a new willingness to contribute by all users. With a variety of dashboards and different ways to access important data regarding projects, project managers now have a much easier time keeping an eye on their projects. They can quickly see the results of their contributions to project management and rest assured that their projects will be successful.

Deltek Vantagepoint Visuals

The 41st Annual A&E Deltek Clarity Report: Project Management Trends

Posted by Rana Blair on September 23, 2020

Deltek Clarity 41st

Projects are the bread and butter of A&E firms and well executed ones are an absolute necessity to remain competitive. Based on the results of the 41st Annual Deltek Clarity Report, A&E firms are aware of the need for project management responsibilities to be more clearly defined. Project information processes must be improved and there should be more investment in project manager (PM) training. Additionally, PMs require more visibility into KPIs to meet performance expectations. Here are some snippets from this year’s report.

Project Management Challenges

The 41st Deltek Clarity Report showed the top three project management challenges facing firms to be the same for the third straight year. Those challenges are inexperienced PMs, staff shortages and competing priorities. PMs are at the center of project management, so they need to be better trained and be knowledgeable of firm and industry wide best practices. For firms to deliver successful projects, PMs across all projects should be keenly aware of their responsibilities. They should also become experts in their practice and to bring in other members that complement the team.

Project Status

According to this year’s report, the number of projects that came in on or under budget is slightly higher than last year. With a six-percentage point increase to 72% for architecture firms and high performers coming in with 75% of projects on target or under budget, project status appears positive. Additionally, two-thirds of projects were recorded as being current or ahead of schedule which is up two percentage points from last year. Visibility into project financials and KPIs plus targeted PM training positively impacts project execution.

Tracked KPIs for Project Management

In the survey, and consistent with last year, most A&E firms track profitability (92%) and net revenue (91%). Next is average collection period (87%) and multipliers (80%). The least-tracked KPIs remained on-time delivery, schedule variance and earned value management. The report again indicated, based on these findings, that there was a need for greater project visibility. Increasing efforts to track those KPIs would in fact improve project success, business performance and client satisfaction. In particular, the failure to track schedule variance would be reflected in the percentage of projects determined to be behind schedule.

Measuring Client Satisfaction

Based on the 41st Deltek Clarity Report, 54% of surveyed firms do measure client satisfaction. The majority of those which are not currently doing so are considering it for the coming year. Engineering firms are more inclined to evaluate client satisfaction, and the larger the business, the more likely it is considered. Of those firms that measure client satisfaction, 58% do so for all projects. Firms use a variety of means such as in person to electronic surveys. While the executive team is usually in charge of contacting clients (50%), large firms rely on the PMs (56%) to monitor client satisfaction. Lastly, firms that do not regularly measure client satisfaction will not be very effective with process improvement.

Well Executed Projects

As seen in the 41st Annual Deltek Clarity Report, A&E firms understand that improving project management training and providing access to KPIs will lead to improved project performance. Additionally, leveraging tools to streamline project delivery and investing in both PMs and the whole project team will make the process much more efficient. When projects are well executed, clients are likely more satisfied, and firms earn repeat business. This ultimately keeps firms competitive in the A&E industry.

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