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New Features in Deltek Vantagepoint 5.5

Posted by Cate Phillips on November 30, 2022

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The new features in Deltek Vantagepoint 5.5 enhance usability, increase personalization for individual users and streamline project management and accounting workflows. It’s easier than ever for professional services firms to access the right information and complete common tasks quickly. Here’s an overview of what’s new.

Schedule Dependencies

Users with the Resource Planning Module can create dependencies in the Gantt chart and manage a project’s critical path. Project managers can quickly visualize and modify the project schedule, work breakdown structure elements and the relationship between those elements. When an update is made at one level, all of the dependent levels are automatically updated.

Dependencies are also accessible in the Project Planning report. Users can view information about dependency relationships between work breakdown structure elements, projects and associated labor codes.

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Drill-Down Paths

Help users access the right information quickly with drill-down paths. Users can determine which information is shown when they drill down into key summary metrics on a chart or table. For example, when a user clicks on a column displaying outstanding accounts receivable data, Deltek Vantagepoint can be configured to show them a dashpart with AR invoice detail.

DVP55_BlogScreenshots_2Personal Dashboards

Users can now create their own personalized dashboards without engaging an administrator or manager. This added flexibility will help expand adoption and free up administrator time since users can customize more of their experience with Deltek Vantagepoint.

Update Percent Complete from the Dashboard

With Deltek Vantagepoint 5.5, project managers can easily manage percent complete with fewer clicks, ultimately improving reporting and billing accuracy. There are new columns in the project dashpart base for Weighted Percent Complete and Weighted Percent Complete Cost. Users can see and modify the percentage of completion per project billing or cost amount right from the dashboard.

DVP55_BlogScreenshots_4Streamlined Purchasing

Deltek Vantagepoint 5.5 enables staff to perform purchase requisitions and process approvals within any browser. Purchasing Requisitions, Purchase Orders, Items and Items Master are now accessible in the navigation pane of the browser application.

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Other Purchasing Updates

Additional purchasing updates in Deltek Vantagepoint 5.5 include: 

  • New layout for suggested vendors
  • Ability to add a vendor on the fly
  • Ability to attach documents of any status
  • Ability to view purchasing reports
  • Redesigned interface for the purchase requisition form

Accounting Updates

Deltek Vantagepoint 5.5 offers several new features that streamline accounting processes. Users can now post cash receipts that were created in bank reconciliation. This option is available for those that have rights granted to their role in the Accounting tab from Settings >Security> Role. The Transaction Center Approval option must also be set to “No” in Settings and Accounting Transactions.

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Other Accounting Updates

The other accounting updates in Deltek Vantagepoint 5.5 include: 

  • Expanded reporting in timesheets and billing
  • Print capability for Billing Category Rate Table reports
  • New overtime premium calculation that uses the cost rate in the Billing Labor Override Table instead of the Cost Rate in the Employee Hub for the employee

Email Templates

To help support digital payment processes, Deltek Vantagepoint 5.5 allows users to use email templates when sending electronic payment remittances by email. Templates can be configured to reuse standard information, such as regular text or database fields. Email templates are available in the Vendor Payments, Employee Payments and Payroll Payments applications. Users can save templates for personal use, for all users with the same role, or for all users within the firm.

DVP55_BlogScreenshots_7Approval Center Updates

Users can restart approvals for timesheets and expense reports. This process removes all approved history and comments that are associated with the record and begins the process from the first step, no matter where the record is in the approval process.

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General Usability Updates

Deltek Vantagepoint 5.5 also comes with a number of usability updates:

  • See notifications immediately instead of every five minutes with real-time alerts.
  • See all users viewing a record.
  • Set favorites in navigation to find commonly viewed applications with ease.
  • Set minimum/maximum and default values for standard numeric fields.
  • Use predefined searches within Advanced Search.
  • Print timesheet reports from the Floor Check dialogue box.
  • Access Labor Planning videos in Online Help.

Learn More About the New Features in Deltek Vantagepoint 5.5

This is just a high-level overview of the many new features in Vantagepoint 5.5. To learn more about what Vantagepoint has to offer, watch What’s New in Deltek Vantagepoint 5.5 on demand.

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Top Technology Trends from the 43rd Deltek A&E Clarity Study

Posted by Heath Harris on November 16, 2022

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The net revenue growth forecast for A&E firms is the highest it’s been in 10 years. Based on the findings from the 43rd Deltek A&E Clarity Study, the industry has rebounded from the pandemic with full pipelines and an optimistic future outlook. Meeting that demand comes with serious challenges, with labor shortages and rising costs being most prominent.    

Firms are turning to technology to empower their teams and improve project delivery. They’re prioritizing the right investments over simply purchasing the newest technology. Here are the top insights from the study and some guidance for ensuring that technology investments deliver positive ROI. 

Top Technology Challenges for A&E Firms 

The top technology challenge professional services firms are facing is the inability to invest time in learning. With full project pipelines, firms are dedicating resources to completing client work, limiting the time they can spend on learning new technologies. Small firms struggle with this issue the most, though it’s a prominent issue for medium and large firms as well.  

Technology costs, which topped the list in last year’s report, was the second most commonly cited challenge. Firms are also struggling with prioritizing which trends apply to their organization. With so much technology to choose from, many firms are understandably unsure which trends to pursue. Finding the right fit, whether it be data science tools or digital twins—for the firm and for their client base—isn’t easy.  

Other challenges include educating employees and clients about trends, lack of champions to drive technology adoption and limited corporate openness to emerging technologies.  

A&E Firms Are Focused on Getting it Right 

Firms are honing in on the initiatives that enable them to take a pragmatic approach to technology adoption and integration.   

When asked about their top three technology initiatives:  

  • 64% said creating strategic technology implementation plans.  
  • 47% said educating staff on technology trends. 
  • 46% said identifying and developing technology subject matter experts. 

This pragmatic approach is a good way to enter into digital transformation. However, firm leaders should be careful not to get stuck in a cycle of endless planning. One way to cautiously approach technology is to look for ways to expand usage of current tools. This can provide quick wins and competitive advantages without requiring significant investment or onboarding time.  

Internal Champions Can Take on Challenges and Lead Key Initiatives 

To take on technology challenges in the short term, firms should engage tech-savvy employees as internal technology champions. Technology champions can help improve the ROI of technology in the following ways:  

  • Fill current skill gaps by leading the charge to incorporate technology into project execution.  
  • Promote and expand adoption of existing technologies throughout the business.  
  • Identify the most viable technology investments and trends for the firm.  

Only 36% of firms ranked this as one of their top three initiatives, meaning that many are missing an opportunity to address current gaps in technology planning and adoption.  

Which Technologies Should A&E Firms Focus On? 

To help guide technology planning, A&E firms should look at technology as falling into two buckets. Technology that supports project delivery, such as smart infrastructure and digital twins help firms remain competitive and address common challenges in the building process. Business-optimizing technologies, like data science and next-level project management tools can be used to automate repetitive tasks, empower workers to make more informed decisions, and ultimately improve client satisfaction.  

For more insight into which technology areas A&E firms should focus on, watch the webinar 

Focusing on these areas will enable firms to address some of their biggest concerns: 

  • Attract and retain talent by appealing to the next generation of employees, who want to work with companies that give them access to the latest technology.  
  • Prepare for disruption. As innovation continues to transform the A&E industry, the right technology will help firms future proof their businesses.  
  • Increase revenue streams by identifying the ideal services and delivery methods that lead to competitive advantages and higher profits.  

Dive Deeper Into the Technology Insights from the Deltek Clarity Study 

Firms aren’t investing in technology for technology’s sake. They’re focused on making the right investments that will enable them to increase productivity and compete for projects and talent. With the right guidance, they can take on the opportunities and challenges ahead. For more technology insights, download the full report.  

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"Keeping Up with the Contracts" Using Deltek Vantagepoint's Contract Management

Posted by Cate Phillips on November 09, 2022

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I have to admit that I have never once watched an episode of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” nor really any reality TV shows except my one-time foray into one of those “Housewives” shows while I was in a hospital recouping from a surgery. I would categorize these types of shows as guilty pleasures. There are people I know and respect that watch reality TV, and I too have my own guilty pleasure - I like to read People magazine, and occasionally I’ll even dip into a US Magazine in the check-out line. However, despite my interest in what’s happening in the world of celebrities, my biggest concern with reality TV is my general disgust for the million-dollar contracts involved. Yet contracts are necessities, right?   

Making a strange leap from reality TV to contract management in the architecture and engineering (A&E) industry, let’s talk more about the necessity of managing contracts. Contracts and agreements are imperative in almost all business interactions, even the simplest things these days. For those of us in the A&E industry, there could be any variety of risks that are mitigated by a contract. Not only are some of the A&E contracts protective in nature, helping to ensure compliance, safety, etc., but there are also project-related contracts that dictate important financial amounts related to the lifecycle of the project itself. 

First Off, Deltek Vantagepoint Drives Efficiencies 

The good news here is that Deltek Vantagepoint, out of the box, helps you manage contracts directly in the Projects hub. In fact, the Deltek Vantagepoint knowledge base states: “The primary overall benefits of the contract management feature in Vantagepoint are that it helps you coordinate the contract process, keep everyone up to date on its current status, and ensure that the compensation amounts that will be billed and received as you execute the project are in sync with the amounts spelled out in the contract.”  

This is such a valuable piece of functionality that Full Sail Partners’ Principal Consultant, Rana Blair, has done two different mini demos on the subject. In an introductory mini-demo, Rana shares an overview of contract management - it covers configuration considerations, contract document columns and entry, and the use of the 'Synchronize Contracts to Fees' feature. One of the main takeaways from this important twelve-minute video is that firms that leverage the Project hub tool Contract Management can enjoy benefits in the measurement of revenue and backlog as well as identify risks.  

Contract Management is Integral to Successful Projects 

A big part of why reality TV is so darn successful is pure drama. Whether it’s learning “secrets” or seeing inside the lives of others, at the root of it all is transparency. The exact same is true for projects and their contracts. If you can’t determine the health and status of your project, how can you predict the financials of your firm? Project based firms must rely on exposing the differences between contract amounts and expected compensation. Deltek Vantagepoint can help you control these amounts (both the contracted total and the compensation amounts) as well as how they matter to the project work breakdown structure. This type of transparency, at any point in the life cycle of a project, sets your firm up to avoid surprises. 

Solid Contract Management is Story Telling 

Yes, reality TV shows tell stories. Are their stories worth the thousands and millions of dollar contracts? I personally don’t think so, but I know many of our clients’ contracts are indeed worth that much. A good story not only conveys a message that needs to be told, but it also usually has a happy ending. Despite reality TV, in the real world of projects, mutually beneficial success derived from all parties feeling they received value is the happily ever after. Using Deltek Vantagepoint Contract Management, these happy endings can be ensured. 

All About the Money 

Deltek Vantagepoint’s Contract Management reporting capabilities can help your firm not only stay informed on the status of a project, but you can also adjust upward or downward (but let’s be real, most of the time it’s add-on work) as the scope changes. This helps firms scope better in the future. Contract management can even help salespeople and seller doers get their credit or reward for winning the deal. Just like how a reality TV show can spin out one small situation into a million different possibilities for viewer consumption, Deltek Vantagepoint allows you to audit your own contracts by a variety of filters such as Type, Status, or Date. 

What About the People?  

Reality TV about famous people like the Kardashians pulls in the revenue. Similarly, a People Magazine story about Brad and Angelina most likely would catch my eye. It’s all about the people, and project-based firms’ client projects at their core are all about the people involved. 

Contract Management inside of Deltek Vantagepoint allows for workflows to be arranged so that stakeholders and project managers can be alerted when important contract-related events happen. Vantagepoint can even automatically fill in fields based on the stages of a particular contract.  

Learn More about Advanced Features 

While Contract Management in Deltek Vantagepoint may not have the pizzaz as some of the weird stuff on TV or in the magazines in the check-out line, to those of us in the AEC industry, I think it might warrant a little bit of “geeking out” because of the great benefits to project-based firms. Taking what we have learned about reality TV, let’s leverage terrific tools for the AEC industry to bring in even more revenue by telling real stories of real projects in real time through the power of Deltek Vantagepoint. For more about the Advanced Features of Deltek Vantagepoint Contract Management, check out Rana Blair’s second min-demo on Contract Management. This one goes a little deeper than the introductory one.  

 

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Deltek Vision and Vantagepoint Year-End 2022

Posted by Scott Gailhouse on November 02, 2022

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Year-end is the final accounting process to close “the books” at the end of each year. With 2023 just around the corner, it is never too early to plan for your year-end close. Planning and organization on your part can make the year-end process less challenging for the entire accounting staff.   

Take the Time to Document and Get Organized 

As always, you should take the time to document your year-end procedures. Not only the tasks performed in Deltek Vantagepoint and Vision, but all accounting tasks you perform should be documented so that you have a comprehensive guide that you can refer to every year. It is also vital that you create an accounting calendar.  

The accounting calendar is not just for year-end, but for month-end and quarter-end tasks as well. This calendar is a schedule of anticipated dates for financial activities. You should also develop a year-end checklist to make sure you don’t miss anything. One other tip to make this process go smoothly is to make sure that you are performing your month end reconciliations on a timely basis. 

Common Year-End Tasks 

Some of the more common year-end tasks for most companies are: 

  • Reconcile All Cash Accounts - Verify all transactions have been posted into Deltek Vantagepoint/Vision to ensure your general ledger balances match your bank statements. Make adjustments as required. 
  • Credit Card Reconciliations – In order to ensure all credit card transactions are captured, make sure all expense reports are entered and posted. 
  • File Reconciliation Report – This report should be run at month-end and at year-end. This report identifies discrepancies between the GL and the subledger reports. 
  • Final Invoicing – Process all client invoices for the fiscal year. 
  • Review Outstanding Accounts Receivables - Follow up with clients who have outstanding accounts receivable beyond 30 days. Send past due statements and/or simply give them a call. Enter the results of your collection efforts in the comments section of Vision Invoice Review. Year-end is an excellent time to collect your outstanding receivables. If you determine there is uncollectable AR, be sure to write those invoices off. 
  • Review Unbilled Detail - Time and expense transactions that cannot be invoiced to clients should be written off at this time. 
  • Fixed Assets – Fixed Assets are larger purchases that are made throughout the year (i.e., equipment, automobiles, furniture, computers, etc.). Check to see if all fixed assets reported on the balance sheet are still owned. If not, record the sale or disposal of these fixed assets. Verify the depreciation on your fixed assets as well. Then make any necessary adjustments. 
  • Employee Expenses and Accounts Payable - Verify that all accounts payable vouchers have been recorded in Deltek Vision/Vantagepoint. Make your 401(k), SEP IRA, and Simple IRA contributions, if you have not done so. Try and pay all your vendors and employee expense reports by year-end. 
  • Notes Payable - Verify notes payable (i.e., loans) amounts on your balance sheet match the statements from your lenders. Then make adjustments if necessary. 
  • 1099 Forms – Order 1099 forms. Make sure all W-9 forms from your vendors and/or contractors that are paid $600 or more throughout the year are on file in the Firms Hub in Vantagepoint or the Vendor Info Center. Don’t forget 1099s should be mailed by January 31st. 
  • W-2s – Order W-2 forms if you run payroll in Vantagepoint/Vision. W-2s should be mailed by January 31st. 
  • Budget for Next Year - Create your GL budget for the new year. 

Be Prepared to Close Out the Year 

In Deltek Vantagepoint and Vision, opening the 1st period of your fiscal year also opens the new fiscal year. Depending on your security rights, you can still process in the prior fiscal year if needed. 

There are several initialization utilities that need to be performed. For example, Open New Period (fiscal year), Open New Benefit Year, 1099 Initialization and Open a New W-2 Quarter/year if you are using the payroll module. Deltek Vantagepoint and Vision will generate a posting log for the initialization utilities. If your Vantagepoint or Vision database is configured for Multicompany, the initialization utilities need to be run in each company. The only exception is the Open New Period utility, which opens for all companies at once. 

Deltek will issue a Year-End update at the end of December containing tax updates for payroll users. Also, be on the lookout for Deltek’s Vision and Vantagepoint Year-End guide for more detailed information on year-end closing. 

 

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Uncovering Top Trends in Financial Management

Posted by Scott Seal on October 26, 2022

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The data from the 43rd Deltek A&E Clarity Study shows that the opportunity outlook for A&E firms is bright. However, there are significant challenges to seizing that growth. Although net revenue growth is forecasted to grow to 17.6%, operating profit on net revenue is down by 6%. Recruiting and retention challenges loom large over firms, undermining their ability to meet demand and extract profits.  

Here are the top takeaways from the study, along with guidance for navigating the challenges and opportunities ahead.

Labor Challenges and Growing Pains Are Top Stressors 

Labor challenges are front and center for A&E firms, as finding and retaining qualified staff ranked as the top financial challenge. Forty-four percent of respondents said it was their top challenge, a sharp increase from last year. In this highly competitive job market, A&E firms have more open positions, and the cost to acquire new employees has increased. To win over candidates who have plenty of options to choose from, firms are offering increasingly attractive (and often costly) compensation packages.  

Managing growth was the second most commonly cited challenge. Demand is high, leading to an 18% growth in estimated net revenues. But with rising demand comes new challenges. Professional services firms are challenged with bidding competitively and ensuring the timely completion of work. Labor issues are a contributor to this challenge since firms need to fulfill staffing needs to meet current and future demands. 

With inflation and labor costs cutting into profit margins, A&E firms also said increasing profitability is a top concern. Collection periods increased by nearly two weeks this year, and many firms must work diligently to complete work on time, invoice quickly and collect payment as soon as possible. Encountering delays at any point in the process threatens profits and their ability to grow.  

Staffing Challenges Impact Key Metrics 

Persistent staffing challenges aren’t just keeping firm leaders up at night—they’re impacting financial performance. Here are some of the most notable metrics: 

  • Operating profit on net revenue dropped to 12.8%, a level last seen in 2015.

  • Overhead rates increased to 160%, a 14% increase. 

  • Utilization rates dropped to 58.5%, the lowest level of the last 10 years. 

After rising steadily over the past 10 years, operating profit on net revenue dropped significantly. This is largely driven by an increase in overhead rates. As firms face longer project ramp times and non-billable periods while backfilling roles, overhead rates rise. Higher employee turnover is also a contributing factor to lower utilization rates.  

Performing the Backlog Balancing Act 

Backlogs increased by more than three weeks year-over-year. It’s an indication that, while firms are in demand, they need to perform a delicate balancing act to complete projects on time. Bidding, scheduling, and labor planning must be precise, otherwise, increased activity can hinder project delivery, which only reduces client satisfaction in the long run. Firms that can effectively manage expectations will be able to reduce their backlog to sustainable levels. 

Growing backlogs are influencing the average collection period, which increased by 13 days. Firms wait for nearly 77 days, on average, to receive payments on accounts receivable. This is a return to the average collection period seen in 2012 and 2013. Back then, firms were able to lower this rate in the following years. To reduce the average collection period now, they may want to look at returning to those previous strategies.  

For a deeper dive into the key financial metrics from the study, watch the webinar 

Looking Ahead 

Financial leaders of A&E firms are focused on meeting day-to-day challenges. When asked about their financial priorities for next year, firms selected training project managers on financial management and improving business processes as their top two choices. This is in line with the results from last year. Notably, firms are less concerned with better forecasting, better growth management, and organizational changes and realignment than they were last year. This indicates that they’re focused on improving the efficiency and effectiveness of daily processes. 

The most successful firms will position themselves for success by also focusing on the HR challenges they face. Unconventional benefits, loyalty rewards, and engagement programs can help companies attract and retain the employees they need for the years ahead. Forty-one percent of firms said that they plan to make talent acquisition and retention investments one of their top priorities next year. Those that make the right decisions will stand out from the pack.  

Get More Financial Management Insights 

Despite the challenges A&E firms face, it’s possible to seize the opportunities ahead. By looking back to previously proven strategies and preparing for future demand, financial leaders can make the most of the market. For more financial management insights, click below to download the full report.  

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Using Deltek Vantagepoint Systems to Maintain Better Contact Data

Posted by Evan Creech-Pritchett on October 19, 2022

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It’s hard to believe that it is already so late in the year. It feels like not so long ago we were trying to beat the heat with cool drinks on sandy shores. But now the weather is beginning to cool down and the leaves are changing color, and that can only mean one thing: time to hunker down and manage the firm’s holiday contact list! Hopefully, this process has already been started but if not, this article shares a couple of tips on how using Deltek Vantagepoint features and functions can help maintain the firm’s holiday contact list and keep it clean for the future.  

Data Clean Up 

Before getting into the nitty gritty of data cleanup, let’s do a quick review. Every contact needs to have at least five parts: contact name, job title, firm name, email address and firm address. These five fields are standard in Vantagepoint, and with this information, marketers can build basic lists to use for both email marketing and direct campaigns.  

Then there are pieces of contact information that can be considered “nice to have.” These include attributes like market, rating, source, contact owner, mailings and segment type. These are not essential to the contact, but they can help narrow down who they are and what exactly the contact means to the company. 

Once marketers have identified their must-have and “nice-to-have” contact fields, head over to Vantagepoint and view the contact in list view. Using this Vantagepoint feature, allows marketers to quickly see what contact data is missing or outdated. See the screenshot below. 

Contacts - list viewThis feature isn’t just in the Contacts hub either, so be sure to look for it in other hubs that may need some cleaning up as well.  

Send More Emails  

To avoid ending up with a bunch of old contacts, the best advice is to send more emails! Of course, don’t just spam the contacts, because that would just drive them away. Instead, think about sending newsletters weekly and/or monthly. By sending regularly email marketing campaigns to contacts, marketers will get contact information back such as bounced email addresses. This piece of information could indicate that the contact has moved firms or retired. Doing this throughout the year will help make the effort of creating holiday contact lists less daunting.  

Create Marketing Campaigns for Segmented Lists 

In the same vein as the last tip, use Vantagepoint Marketing Campaigns for list segments. To do this, create a new Marketing Campaign record with the name “List-Holiday Card,” for example. Then associate different contacts based on their segments (whether it be geographic, demographic, etc.) to add them to a list aka the Marketing Campaign record. With these new marketing campaigns more emails can be sent, and as contacts are created and updated, they can be added to different lists. 

Contacts - Marketing Campaigns - Lists

Monitor New Contact Creation with Scheduled Reports 

Another good practice is to have Deltek Vantagepoint monitor what new contacts were created in the database. Deltek Vantagepoint allows the user to send scheduled reports of what contacts were created in a set period of time (i.e. weekly, monthly, etc.). When these are set up, a report will be sent to the user consisting of all the new contacts and will include who initially created the contact and if there is any missing information that needs to be added. In the case that any of the aforementioned key fields of the contact are missing, the user can follow up with the contact creator and ask them to fill out the required information. This feature can also be used for projects and employees, but in our case monitoring contacts is best. 

Use Workflow Warnings and Errors for Must-Have Contact Information 

Finally, make sure you are using workflows to your advantage. These workflows can be set up to indicate errors and warnings when a contact has missing information. Warnings will simply alert the user that the contact needs more information, but they will allow the contact to be saved nonetheless. Errors on the other hand will completely stop the user from saving the contact. Both of these options are effective ways to keep a contact list clean but be sure to choose which one to use carefully.  

 Contacts - workflow errors

See these Contact Management Tips in Action  

These are just some ways to utilize the Deltek Vantagepoint system features and functions to manage contacts, even outside of the holiday season. To see these features in action, click the image below to watch a replay of the webinar, A Modern Approach to Managing Holiday Contact Lists. 

 

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Deltek Vantagepoint: What's in a (Project) Number?

Posted by Amanda Roussel on October 12, 2022

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We encounter many numbers throughout our lives. Over time, perhaps we learn which ones matter to us and which ones are just a number. So, when is a number just a number? One place to look is with Deltek Vantagepoint project numbers.  

After working countless hours with firms for their Deltek Vision to Vantagepoint, some of the more engaging and attention-grabbing conversations include project creation and project numbering. It turns out some firms rely quite heavily on project numbers. While this is technically not wrong, it may just be causing more pain than value. Wait until your Vantagepoint users see how much easier things can be in Vantagepoint when you stop caring so much about the number. 

New Deltek Vantagepoint Projects Hub 

The projects hub has expanded its use in Vantagepoint. It now captures the entire life cycle of a project - from pursuit through awarded and completed project. This means that a project number is assigned from the start.  

Because of this, the project number initially created is just that-a number. It doesn’t really matter. GASP! 

Project Numbers can now be “Dumb” 

In the past, many Deltek Vision users set up “smart” project numbers. Other users may have used numbers so complex; they could call them “brilliant” numbers. Over time, project numbers were heavily relied on to tell a story of the year it was created, the client, the number of projects the firm had with the said client, and so on.  

While some firms invested in scripting to automate the smart numbers, others had their staff complete forms to submit to accounting and perhaps a pair of employees was responsible for assigning the next project number based on a coveted spreadsheet. Get rid of the firm’s project setup forms forever with Vantagepoint! 

Let the System do the Heavy Lifting with Autonumbering  

Who doesn’t want to make their workday easier? One-way Vantagepoint helps with this is by setting up autonumbering. Deltek Vantagepoint project autonumbering, proper education and training can give users independence to enter and track their own pursuit and project efforts. Talk about streamlining processes!  

 The autonumbering feature in Deltek Vantagepoint automatically generates an identification number for new records, including project records. And, in the autonumbering setup firms can define the structure of the project number to match the business requirements.  

How to Configure Autonumbering 

A Deltek administrator can enable automatic numbering by going into Settings > Workflow > Numbering. See the screenshot below. 

DVP Project No 01

Then hover over the row of the system numbering format to update. For this example, select Project then go to the column called Auto Number Source. See in the screenshot below the various options to create an auto number source including Expression, Stored Procedure or Web Service.  

DVP Project No 02-system numbering format

Below is an example of using the Expression Auto Number Source. When that option is selected, there are a few options. First, is that autonumbering can be set up for Overhead, Promotional and Regular project charge types. Once the charge type is selected, the Project Auto Number Format can be defined by inserting a row for each component of the project number.  

In the example below, this client wanted to show the year the project record was created in four characters, the next project in the sequence beginning at 439 with two leading zeroes, and, finally, a period followed by the project center level of office.  

DVP Project No 03

Below the Project Auto Number Format grid are a few fields specific to which row is highlighted. In this screenshot, the “characters” row is selected so it’s displaying that specific row’s sequence number length, sequence number position and starting sequence number, 439. As each row is built, the sample value field will update.  

Once that is defined and saved, every time a new regular project is created, the number will automatically populate. Users won’t have to think about which project number to use next nor fill out a form to get the “next” project number from a separate log or notebook. See the screenshot below for how this will look for users. 

Autonumbering is defined as a Regular project record. 

DVP Project No 04

 Autonumbering is defined as a promotional project record. 

DVP Project No 05

Don’t Stop with Just Project Numbers 

The autonumbering function is not just available for project records. Deltek Vantagepoint has made autonumbering available for employees, firms, marketing campaigns, equipment and user-defined hubs. And, other areas with numbers can be automated too including phases, tasks, accounts, units, accounts, vendors, company, office, discipline, and more! 

Once you’ve crossed over to the autonumbering dark side, you’ll want to set it up for everything in Deltek Vantagepoint. Click below to learn more about Full Sail Partners Deltek Vision to Vantagepoint upgrade assistance services. 

 

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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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