New Partnership for Deltek Vision and Deltek Professional Services consulting

I am excited to announce the official launch of Version X Solutions!

Version X Solutions is a new partnership that brings together a combined 30 years of Deltek Vision knowledge and experience under one umbrella.

We offer a wide and practical range of products and services including custom modules, custom reports, and even a cloud hosting service.

We’ve put together the beginnings of an inventory, and will continue to add to it as we come up with new ideas and do more interesting work for clients. If you have an extension we need, we’d love to hear about it!

Of course we still offer hourly consulting for nebulous or “figure it out as we go” projects.

You can read more about us and our current offering here.

What does this mean for existing customers?

Our new partnership will not adversely affect the existing relationships I have built with you over the years.

You will continue to get the same great friendly, responsive and most importantly, knowledgeable consulting services you have come to rely on from me.

Thank you for your continued business and I look forward to working with you in the near future.

From now on, please refer to the Version X Solutions site for information about products and services offered.

 

 

 

The “next” version of Deltek Vision – Deltek Professional Services

There has been a lot of discussion lately around the current iAccess platform and Deltek’s new offering coming up titled “Deltek Professional Services” or DPS. Some of that discussion has been concern about what will or not be available in the new platform, what will need to be upgraded or dropped entirely, and if the platform will be “better” than the current Vision 7.6 (Deltek’s latest and apparently last version).

Deltek Professional Services is the “next major upgrade” for Deltek Vision. That means in the next 5 years, you will need to upgrade if you want to continue getting official support for your ERP platform.

I attended a webinar yesterday with many of the same questions you probably have and came away with these important answers to my questions:

Question: What is DPS generally? Is it just a Vision 8.0, or is it iAccess or what?
Answer1: DPS is a much needed overhaul of some features of Vision, while preserving many core back office functionality. From what I saw, there is a major focus on re-imagining and re-designing most front office user experiences and ways of managing information. From what I gather, “front office” users are all the people not in the accounting department.  Keep in mind that for the longest time, Vision’s strongest functional set has been in accounting. Now the focus is on better crm, project management and executive tools.
Answer 2: DPS also brings us browser agnostic functionality. I’m pretty sure this means you can use it on a Mac OS based device as well. This is great news for your marketing and design teams who tend to prefer Mac based products.

Question: Do we HAVE to move to the cloud? Can we still have an on premise version? This question is especially important for large firms with lots of integrations with other systems and customizations of Deltek Vision.
Answer: NO you don’t have to move to the cloud. An on premise version will be made available later in 2018

Question: What about all the money we’ve invested in custom reports, workflows, user defined infocenters and other components? Will we be required to re-write all the SSRS reports we have like when Vision reporting moved from Actuate to SSRS? (remember that? yuck!)
Answer: All your customizations (I read that as “most”) will port over just fine. From what I can tell, the things that will suffer or have to be replaced entirely are any cubes-based functionality, heavy outlook integrations, proposals and the VPM module. At least that’s for version 1.0 (yes, they’re starting new versioning since it’s been renamed).  I can’t say what’ exactly will happen with later versions.

Question: What if we are already on the cloud version (hosted by Deltek)? What will happen and when?
Answer: According to Deltek, “All Vision cloud customers will get DPS as a part of their annual subscription.”
I read this as – you’re going to get migrated to DPS whether you like it or not if you’re on Deltek’s cloud version.  It’s just a matter of when. This is one of the reasons I advise my customers against moving to Deltek’s cloud provided version.  If you are tired of maintaining servers and a staff to maintain Vision (especially smaller firms), stay tuned for an alternative cloud offering coming up next week that allows you control, access to the database, and no forcing of upgrades or major changes to your current licensing agreement.

Question: What should we be doing to prepare our firm for this upgrade?
Answer: According to Deltek you should be doing the following:
1. Check out the DPS portal (you should have received a link to it in an email if you’re a customer who’s kept up with licensing and maintenance fees)
2. Deploy and get used to iAccess (it’s free with all versions 7.X)
3. If you are in the cloud, request a preview (testing) environment.
4. Call me for help. No, of course they didn’t say that, but if you’re looking for an independent expert without obligation to sell you stuff, then you should.

Questions: Why does Deltek want us to move to their cloud offering so bad?
Answer: Call me for a frank discussion on this.
(contact page here)

 

Deltek Vision: Understanding Backlog

Recently I’ve been involved with stabilizing a Deltek Vision implementation for a client in NYC. By “stabilization” I mean getting to the point where we can print out an income statement and balance sheet and they make sense, seem to represent a picture of what’s really going on in the firm. For a while there things were out of adjustment to put it mildly, and now things are back in alignment.

However, there was this one annoying thing that came up… it’s called backlog. It’s a number that appears on the Firm Metrics report under reporting/executive/Firm Metrics. The backlog number in our case was something like 967 Million Dollars… for a firm that does about 30M in revenue… seemed kinda high right?

So I went about understanding exactly what is “backlog” according to Deltek Vision, how is it calculated, and what to do if it just doesn’t seem like it’s right?

Here’s what I found out in two parts:

1. Backlog is defined as Compensation – JTD Revenue
a. This number ignores project status… so making projects dormant does not remove them from the backlog calculation.
b. This only applies to regular projects (not overhead or promo projects).
c. The number can be negative as well as positive.

2. To clean it up you need to align the JTD Revenue number with the Compensation number, but take into consideration what you’ve got going on in your billing terms.

In order to both clean up this number AND keep it in synch with something like reality, I wrote a stored procedure which adjusts a project’s compensation when either of two things happen:
1. billing terms get changed
2. status is changed from Active to Inactive or Dormant

For this particular client, most of their projects are fixed fee. This means the stored procedure needs to take into account the different types of fee billing possibilities, as well as take into account unit billing or cost plus (time and materials) projects. Since there are hundreds and hundreds of projects in this particular Vision database, it didn’t make sense for the client’s staff to go through every project and check the Fee amount, then enter that into compensation. It also doesn’t make sense for them to maintain that field manually on an ongoing basis.  Things happen fast in NYC. Automation is key.

What’s more, many of their projects have phases with their own fee amounts, as well as a fee table (at the top level) with the checkbox “enable posting by billing phase” checked. So here is what this nifty little stored procedure does:

1. For fee projects (or phases or tasks), it sets the compensation value at each phase (or task) to what is set in billing terms.
2. For any other kind of project, it sets compensation to JTD Revenue (unless the user wants to enter a different value, then the adjuster ignores it)
3. Unless the project has been made inactive or dormant, in which case it sets the compensation value equal to JTD Revenue… because it really shouldn’t be counted in backlog.

Sorry I don’t have any good pictures of the Deltek Vision interface for this one… there wasn’t really a good reason for it.  Instead, here’s a picture of my daughter and I on a recent trip to REI.

20150607_125602

Deltek Vision and Prevailing Wage Labor Tables – Entry 1: The problem

This is the first of a few or several blog entries giving some insight into:
– how I develop custom solutions for Deltek Vision, as well as
– high-lighting the extreme flexibility of Deltek Vision and custom infocenters, as well as
– letting you know that soon there will be a package solution available to any company using Deltek Vision, that automates the management of labor cost tables for prevailing wage projects.

Vali Cooper and Associates, Inc., headquartered in Emeryville, CA provides construction management and inspection services to public agencies in the State of California.

1. Most of their contracts fall under the “prevailing wage” laws in California.
The prevailing wage laws mandate that employees be paid a minimum amount hourly on certain types of projects depending upon their function and when they work.

2. Prevailing wage labor schedules are issued by the state, sometimes several per year. They have multiple labor categories with pay rates in groups. When a project is won, the prevailing wage rules to abide by depend upon the area of the state the project resides in, and the date the project starts. Thus each project could potentially have it’s own set of rules, but invariably, some projects share the same set.

3. A particular employee can work on any number of these types of contracts and thus have varying pay rates throughout any pay period depending upon which contract they work on.

4. The calculation of the actual pay rates that get paid to each individual employee is a complex process driven by the employee’s actual base pay + benefit elections, as well as what they actually are doing on the project. In Valicooper’s case there are currently only 4 classifications: Sr. Inspector, Inspector, Tester, and Apprentice. (example pictured below)

PW determination issued

5. Because of the nature of prevailing wage, and the nature of the work on prevailing wage contracts we need to capture several things about each time entry. Those things are:
Shift (day or night)
Category (activity code or labor code)
Reg, Ovt, or Double time

The crux of the issue is being able to assign the appropriate labor cost amount to each hour depending upon all the attributes named above as well as the formulas which are based upon the employees’ individual pay rates.

In each case, the payment rates are determined by a formula which includes something called a “fringe” and a “differential”.  The fringe is a sum of benefits calculation, and the differential is there if the employee is paid less than what the determination dictates.. you can imagine it could get complex to manage the cost tables in Vision.

To calculate the formula for an employee’s pay rate on a particular project at a certain time… you use the following elements:
The Prevailing Wage determination or set of rules the project falls under: (or that part of the project)
Employee’s benefit selections or “fringe” rate
Employee’s base pay rate
What the employee is doing on the project (Inspection, Testing etc.)
Which shift (day/night)
Reg, Ovt, Double time multipliers against the base

One thing to keep in mind is when all cost/pay rates for any employee need to be calculated, adjusted, corrected… here are a few cases:

1. employee changes benefit settings, like 401K contribution, health plan, or base pay

2. the prevailing wage determination has a scheduled increase that takes place

3. an employee is hired or fired

4. a new project is won, with a new prevailing wage schedule, thus requiring the creation of a new labor cost table for that project.

So you can imagine a company like Valicooper with about 150 regular project employees and just as many projects… the amount of administrative work needed just to keep the cost tables up to date.

There are however a few great things about this particular challenge:
1. The prevailing wage rules are concrete, documented rules that change slowly if at all over time.

2. Valicooper uses UltiPro for their Human Resources functions, where employee pay settings and benefit elections are stored, and can be imported into Vision daily.

3. Vision is super flexible when it comes to labor cost tables on projects. There are many options.

Thus, this project is a ripe candidate for two things, automating the management of employee cost rates on prevailing wage projects, and developing a solution that other companies with the same problem can use.
Lastly, the fourth great thing about this problem is that I am the one building a solution for it. Thus, the end result will be robust and require little maintenance even when you upgrade Vision. (see my recommendations section for some other customer’s opinions: click here for LinkedIn profile )

As of this date, I’ve made considerable progress, and have built a solution which imports the employee pay settings from UltiPro, calculates the employee base, fringe, reg, ovt and ovt2 rates, and populates per employee rates for each prevailing wage determination.  Up to this point, I’ve used three custom infocenters which store the following data:  UltiPro configuration settings, Employee Pay Settings, and Prevailing Wage rates.

The data is imported into the Employee Pay Settings infocenter, using mappings from the configuration infocenter, and finally populates per employee labor rates for any prevailing wage rules that are relevant. Relevance means that the employee has some relationship to the project that falls under that prevailing wage rule.

The automation also takes into account the complex set of rules that govern dates and employee rates.  There are effective dates for different rates in the prevailing wage determination, as well as the employees’ own effective dates for increases, changes in benefits etc. The automation I built takes all this into account.

The next piece to work on is the set of activity code (called labor codes in Vision) tables and workflows to auto-generate and update them so that projects using prevailing wage will have correct labor cost tables that are maintenance free.

Here are a couple screen shots of what’s been built, tested and implemented so far:

Employee Pay Settings

pay categories

Prevailing Wage Determination

PW Determination

Stay tuned for the next part, automating the labor code labor rate tables that store per employee per project pay rates based upon the prevailing wage rules. This will also include the use of multiple levels of labor codes for employee time sheet entry that make the process easy to understand for employees.

This solution is compatible with Deltek Vision 7.0 and above.

SCG – Custom Tools for Deltek Vision – in beta

What is the “Reversal Tool” built by Saunders Consulting Group for Deltek Vision?  (versions 7.x)

Good morning!

I just wanted to let you know about another little gem that has come out of a pretty extensive Vision stabilization project I’ve been working on. This particular firm had a couple years’ worth of accounting transactions they needed to correct because of incorrect entries, use of general ledger accounts or other issues.  Since the idea of un-posting and re-posting all these entries (in order to re-class items) or even generating re-classing entries for each file is rather daunting… I developed a very useful tool to help us through the process. It’s called at the moment the “reversal tool”.

What does it do? It allows you to:
1. See a list of posted files for any period. (currently only journal entries or cash disbursements)
2. Choose from the list which ones you want to “reverse”
3. Click a workflow button and autogenerate reversing files (journal entries or cash disbursements) for those posted files.

Why is this useful?

Rather than just unposting files (which has its own merit) sometimes it’s better to leave a transaction trail of “what happened” and add additional entries to correct errors that were made.  This is the whole idea behind journal entries in the first place. Thus, the reversal tool allows you to “reverse” any Deltek Vision standard journal entry or cash disbursement you’ve posted, by generating a matching file which reverses the debits and credits to the same accounts. This allows you to leave the original file there in case you need to refer back to it.

Some of the cool features:
1. You don’t have to remember any file name, period or posting sequence… it provides you with a list of what’s been posted

2. It re-creates the file if the file was not archived… (What?  It re-creates the file?  Yes… it does.) This means it works for recurring transactions where Vision doesn’t actually store each file. (annoying)

3. It’s easy peazy, and of course, has a good log to show you what you’ve already done.

Interested in providing this power tool to your accounting department using Deltek Vision?

Get in touch.  I’d love to hear from you.  See screen shot below to see an example in action… as always names have been blocked out to protect the guilty.

Looking forward to hearing from you soon!

SCG_reversal_tool

Custom ASJC Process completed – Link to “how to” documentation

Today I completed the first implementation of my custom ASJC process, which uses Labor Adjustments to re-align labor costs with actual payroll costs in Vision. This custom process is very robust, and can be un-done and re-processed at any time, even for periods way back in time in previous years.

If you would like to read the documentation I drafted today which explains how it works you can find that here:

Custom ASJC documentation

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1h_iFD6fX_Z_6LpH2U_1xaqw9FeiVnK4_asYDJJdwpBk/edit?usp=sharing

If you would like this implemented on your Vision implementation for your organization please contact me.

ASJC: Adjust Salaried Job Cost – a re-write for Deltek Vision

Previously, I wrote about Deltek Vision’s process Adjust Salaried Job Costing or ASJC which reconciles the cash paid out to employees with the amount of labor cost assigned to projects. This process when running correctly should “zero out” your Labor Cost Variance account.

You can find that piece here:
https://saundersconsultinggroup.com/2011/03/08/deltek-vision-adjust-salaried-job-costing/

However, in order for the standard, built in ASJC process to work in Vision there are some annoying and weird conditions, and I might add; a couple flaws.
1. It has to be run at a certain time during the period, after all timesheets are posted.

2. It has to be synchronized with your pay periods

3. Setting up the job cost rates in Vision in the employees infocenter can be confusing

4. It doesn’t support running the process for previous time periods… like for instance if you’re in July and want to run it for May, unless your employee pay rates have NOT changed at all.  In fact, it just doesn’t have any support for handling changing pay rates over time.

5. Besides the weird conditions above, one fundamental flaw is that it actually changes the pay rates assigned to labor in the original transaction tables.

6. Lastly, and most importantly, the most egregious part about Vision’s built in ASJC process, is that you can’t reverse it, undo it, or otherwise correct a bad run and start over!!

So I re-wrote it.

I have a client who does not synchronize their processing with payroll periods and things come in a little more organically during the fiscal period. Kind of like in real life. They still needed some sort of ASJC process for Vision because they have a lot of salaried employees working overtime.

Here are some features of the re-write:
1. It requires a custom grid in the employee infocenter which stores salary history. Most companies already have this, but if yours doesn’t then it’s time to create it, and yes this can be done during installation of my custom ASJC process.

2. Since it uses salary history for rates, you can run my custom ASJC process for any period you want, at any time you want. If you feel like running it for some period back in 2013, no problem.

3. It doesn’t care about when you pay your employees, just how much they are paid per week.

4. It does NOT alter the original data in the LD table, because it uses labor adjustments instead.

5. You can review the changes BEFORE they are applied.

6. Best of all.  YOU CAN UNDO IT, REVERSE IT, AND TRY AGAIN !

If you’re interested in implementing the SCG Custom ASJC process on your Vision implementation, let me know.

Thank you!