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)

 

A basic rule of thumb to consider when looking at business automation

I’ve just kicked off a rather large project with a well established engineering firm based out of Ohio.

In reviewing their business processes and the day to day operations of some of their accounting and project management functions, I have come up with a good rule of thumb for looking for inefficiencies in any business using Deltek Vision.

Here it is:

Anything you’re using excel for right now, should probably be looked at as a process that needs to be properly automated.

I’ve seen lots of companies taking data out of Vision, putting it in excel so they can sort and manipulate it, perform calculations and generate reports.

The problem with doing this is… just off the top of my head:

1. how do you know you did it right? Who is vetting your work?

2. how do you know you just did it exactly the same way you did it last time?

3. did it take you longer than 1 minute? If it did, that was too long.

4. are you trying to do calculations that your ERP platform is supposed to be able to do? examples: overhead allocation, revenue generation, WIP, AR aging, Payroll or other journal entry “adjustments”, “truing up the accounts” etc. etc. If so, then you’ve wasted money and time on a platform that is not living up to expectations, and time being wasted on work arounds.

5. Version control

etc.

Can you think of more reasons to not use excel? Go ahead and leave comments… or drop me a line.

 

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Deltek Insight 2012 presentation

Deltek Insight was relatively successful this year.

Some promising functionality is being put out by Deltek, like the Navigator, and the mobile time app.  Although, I found the mobile time app interface to be quite clunky in the demo. I actually took the Navigator usability test/survey in the lab at Insight.  This was pretty interesting.  They have made some good improvements to the planning module by putting a different presentation on top, one that actually appears like it will be readable when you have a plan in place.

For anyone who attended my presentation, what follows is my slide deck, with some clarification.

Regarding work breakdown structure, the example converted work breakdown structure should look like this instead:

0001 GW and Lysimeter Sampling Report
01 Sampling
02 Reporting

0002 SPCC Plan
01 Draft
02 Revise
03 Review/Comments

0003 Drinking Water Sampling Report
01 Draft
02 Revise
03 Review/Comments

Looking at the first phase “0001”: When developing a proper WBS for a project, you may find that you want to divide up certain amounts of effort into either their physical parts (like building 1, building 2, building 3) or into their process steps (get samples, write report, review and submit to client). It all depends on how you want to present the proposals, costs and fees. Either way, you should be able to put a price on the WBS element.

In the case above, phase 0001 has been divided into type of effort to deliver the plan/report, keeping in mind that it is possible to put a price on each task. The labor codes that would be used under task 01 might be travel time, sampling, sample plan (meaning planning out the number and location of samples), sample prep, lab tests.  Then under 02 Reporting you might have report writing, report reviewing, administrative (collating, binding, copying) and delivery expenses. Again, it is possible to assign an estimate of cost and thus a price to both tasks, so even though they have “ing” at the end, they are ok as WBS elements.

If you have any other questions regarding my presentation, mission critical data path for Deltek Vision, the correct way to store certain types of data in Vision or any business automation questions in general, please get in touch.  Even better, post a question on this post in the form of a comment and I will answer it in a follow up post.

Thank you for your time and attention!

Loren

here is the presentation in pdf format. I suggest right clicking on the link below and choosing “save as”:
==> PS-80 Storing Data in the right Place <==

P.S. I noticed there was a healthy stack of evaluation forms filled out and submitted after the presentation. Thank you very much!

The question you should ask of all your consultants…

I get this question every once in while… “do you write code?” or “do you know… abc technology”?

Here is the short answer:

Yes. I’ve been writing code since I was 10, when my parents bought me my first computer and I stayed up late at night trying to write my own word based adventure games… often referred to as “zorg” games. You may or may not know about them. I wrote my first professional business application when I was 15, for a hospital in France. I was an exchange student at the time and earned an entire week’s worth of skiing in Switzerland for that app. It was a database that kept track of patients and the drugs they were trying for clinical trials.

I write code about every day… sometimes it’s in javascript, visual basic (excel, microsoft access etc), or html but most of the time it’s in T-sql or what’s officially called “transact SQL”. This particular language is a procedural language (hence the name “stored procedure”) that allows you to do lots of cool stuff at the database level. The advantage in this case, is that Deltek Vision has an open database so you can do almost anything to it using T-SQL.

However… the real question that people should ask of me and their consultants is:

“Can you determine what is the thing we need created to automate our business… and can you determine if we should build or buy it… and can you design it, then build it or implement it?”

and

“Do you understand our business and are you interested in providing service and making us buy technology to enhance our bottom line and make our business more efficient as opposed to a lot of other consultants who are only interested in making a quick buck and not really being thorough with what we need and not really developing and meeting a well thought out list of requirements?”

Now THAT is the question you should ask me.

Go ahead… I dare you.

Vision 7.0 and custom Infocenters – Finally!

Good morning, afternoon and thank you for visiting my site!

I have been working on the Deltek Vision platform for about 9 years now.  My first experience was a from scratch phased implementation (read more about what that means here) for a firm in Southern California.

The reason we had decided to purchase and implement Deltek Vision was because of the high degree of configurability and do it yourselfness that they offered. When it came down do it, we were a little disappointed in how limited the configurability was.  We had been under the impression that we could essentially create our own apps within the platform.  That was not the case.

But now it is.

With the release of Deltek Vision 7.0, or Deltek First, you now have something called Custom Infocenters. If you are going to Deltek Insight 2012 in Nasville, I will be talking about this for a few minutes during my session (PS-80 Putting Data in the Right Place) on Wednesday at 4:30 PM.

Even if you are not going to Insight, you can still benefit from this new feature or set of features.

One of the biggest limitations of Vision up to this point was that in order to store custom data… like a list of company vehicles or related equipment for example, you had to put that list somewhere inside of an already established section of Vision… like in Projects, or Employees, or Contacts or something… the problem was that a list of company vehicles really is its own entity, and belongs by itself.  The company vehicle fleet should be managed from within its own section… thus you had to rely on other applications to get the job done, then integrate these apps with Vision.

Now all that has changed… you can actually create your own module within Vision.

In about 30 minutes this morning I did just that.  I created a quick module for managing company vehicles in the Deltek Vision sample database.  The infocenter I created is simple and not well thought out… but it’s a simple idea that is very powerful at its core.  It is with this new tool that companies will finally be able to use Vision as a real ERP.  The ability to actually extend the app platform through the simple use of custom infocenters, coupled with workflows and a database that is completely open for development makes Deltek Vision a platform that can actually start living up to its promises.

I look forward to seeing what comes next!

Here are some screen shots from my brief experimentation this morning:

Here is the main section for the new infocenter I created in about 15 minutes. This is simple, but you can build on it even more using custom tabs, fields, grids etc… and automate the entire thing with workflows.
Note how the fields on this grid link back to other areas of the Vision application that are built in.

(click for larger image)

Here is an example custom grid I created. Note how the fields on this grid link back to other areas of the Vision application that are built in. You can also link custom infocenters to other custom infocenters. Very powerful indeed.

NotInMyBackYard Scours Web for Your Personal Data

Here’s an interesting tidbit I came across this morning:
NotInMyBackYard Scours Web for Your Personal Data

This article explains it thus:

A free tool, called NotInMyBackyard Diggity [is] designed to swiftly crawl popular Web sites, including Twitter, Facebook, Microsoft SkyDrive, Dropbox, Pastebin and Google Docs, and locate caches of data that include your sensitive information.

And goes on further to say:

Anyone can type an e-mail address, financial account login, Social Security number or any other sensitive data into NotInMyBackyard. A few minutes later, the tool will divulge whether someone has stored that piece of information on a social network , online storage service, or in a college, hospital or local agency database that has been hacked.

Here’s an interesting idea to consider… if a strange man or woman came up to you and said to you… “hey! give me your social security number and/or bank username and/or TDAmeritrade login and/or …. ” and I will see if anyone out there on the internet is storing it on some database some where for you!

Would you do it? I hope not.
1. Your’re giving them sensitive data, whether or not someone else already has it makes no difference.
2. You’re linking it to your identity (this is operating under the assumption that you create an account in the service for notinmybackyard.com).
3. You’re initiating a search on YOU for sensitive data across the internet, and of course this service is going to store all that data in one place… their databases.
4. Let’s also go one more step and say they have a “freemium” offering, meaning you get lots of stuff for free, but pay a small fee, say $5 a month for the premium tools, and you sign up for it.

Well then you’ve just given a stranger your personal data, linked it to your email address, and given them credit card number, security code etc. to boot. Unless these guys are a bank or the DMV, I wouldn’t do it.

Have a great Monday!

Cheers!