Keeping the big picture in mind

In order to effectively address a Deltek Vision implementation and make it fit better to a particular firm’s way of business, I most often walk through a process down through the 3 layers of the enterprise app, then back up again.

This is a very simplified explanation but it is merely to illustrate a framework of ideas, not give you instructions on how to do exactly what I do.

1. What is happening at the user experience and business process layer?
This is usually where the “pain” is felt. This is usually where the conversation starts. Things like this come up a lot:

We can’t make a report that shows … xyz
We have to export our invoices to Excel or Word so we can … xyz
We have to re-enter our payroll data over here…
We  can’t see the current billed amount in the project infocenter
We want to see everything on the project review screen in a report
We want to see consultant summaries and transaction details all on the same report
Setting up a project in Vision is too cumbersome if we have 3 levels of work break down structure

This is normally the origins of the wish list of items to address or problems to solve. To address these issues I look at the next two layers


2. The application layer
The first thing I do is ask:

What can Deltek Vision do out of the box without creating custom reports or writing SQL scripts?  How is it supposed to be done? Which items from the first layer can be solved just by using the tools at hand like workflows, custom fields, grids, report configuration or system configuration?  Which can be solved by merely changing a business process or the way something is done?

During this part of the process I often do lots of research, try different thing out on a test database, ask lots of questions of the client at hand to see what they’ve already tried.

Depending upon priorities and what can be done quickly with big returns on user comfort and business process improvement, I’ll often do the things from the first layer that can be accomplished by staying in this second layer.

As a general rule, I try to work with the tools presented as much as possible.  But, often it just can’t be done without going deeper and getting really technical, which leads us to the last layer.


3. The database layer
One of the great things about Deltek Vision is the open database on top of SQL Server. This means that it is possible to accomplish a great deal of automation using a combination of the tools in the second layer (workflows, custom fields and grids etc.) and SQL scripts.

Of course, everything done at this layer needs to take into consideration everything happening above it, because everything done down here in the database affects everything else on top.  The entire application is built on top of the database. It is in a real sense the foundation of the entire structure.


As an example, here is one issue and solution to ponder:

Problem in layer 1: Client was not able to store all data necessary in the experience grid in the employees infocenter.

Solution in layer 2: Create a custom grid to replace the standard grid, hide the standard grid

Solution in layers 2 and 3: Create a workflow (layer 2) to fire a stored procedure (layer 3) which synchronizes the data in the custom grid with the data in the standard grid so that the data in the standard grid is still available for other parts of the application.  Make sure the workflow fires whenever there is an update on the custom grid so the user experience is seamless (layer 1)

There you have it… layer 1,2,3 then back up again.


If you want me to address any particular topic or provide feedback feel free to leave a comment below.



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