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.

 

 

 

Deltek Vision Custom Report: Missing Timesheet Days

Deltek Vision 6.X and 7.X provide you with a standard report for missing timesheets. But that only tells you if someone has filled out an entire timesheet or not. It doesn’t tell you if an employee has gaps in their timesheet.

If you want to know what days an employee has not entered time for at all inside of a timesheet that is not actually missing, then you need this report.

This report shows you days that are either entirely missing, or just haven’t met the allotted Hours Per Day amount.

Missing Timesheet Days Report
Features:

  • Set your own end date
  • Set how many days back you want the report to look
  • Use any PROJECT search to filter the report (you can filter this report as you would any Project report in Vision; using Organization or Profit Center, related Employees, Employee status, or any other attribute of the Projects or Employees infocenters or related infocenters).

Customizations: Contact me to discuss adding features to this report.

Base Price: $1,200 – No maintenance fees.

Screen shot:

scg_missing_timesheet_days

Quick one: SSRS – upgrading Vision from version 6 to 7

Today a customer called me and said:

“We converted to Vision 7 and now the custom invoice you created for us is not showing”.

Solution: If the report files are missing for your custom reports, you will need to re-load them.  But first you must:

1. make sure you have BIDS 2008 installed

2. open every single .rdl file in BIDS 2008 and close it again (meaning the .rdl files you are interested in loading, meaning your custom reports or invoices)

3. when you close each file, BIDS should prompt you to save them

4. re-load your reports in 7 as you would normally.

This is assuming you have your own back ups of these files in case something goes wrong.

What it does:

It converts all your .rdl files into a more recent version of SSRS reports, most notably doing away with the <table> object and introducing the <tablix> object.

Cheers!

CREDIT CARD TRANSACTION IMPORT AUTOMATION – PART 3

Ok I’ve made a lot of progress over the past two weeks. This is quite a complex project actually… but it’s about finished.

The final results look basically like this:

1. use SSIS (Sql Server Integration Services) to grab the csv files from designated directory and import them into a raw data table.

2. move any transactions from raw import data to the processing table… exclude any transactions that have already been imported.

3. using some data transformations in the form of user defined functions (UDF), make the data look like expense detail transactions

4. insert the expense detail transactions into the expense reports for the corresponding employees

5. allow employees to edit their expense transaction details in their pre-populated expense report

6. show the entirety of credit card expense transactions in a report… that shows the imported data, next to the matching expense detail records in Vision, allowing employees to accurately fill out details on their expenses, and make sure that everything has been accounted for.

7. for the payment to the credit card company, assign the cash disbursement to the different project, phase and tasks reflected in the expense detail transactions so that projects show the cash out for those expenses.

So I’ve completed everything except step 7, which I will complete over the next day or two.

Some really cool things this does:
– puts the CSV files in an archive folder and assigns a unique, logical name to them so you don’t have to worry about losing raw data history

– allows you to compare imported data from the CSV file to the actual data in expense reports by employee and expense report

– allows you to trace any imported transaction back to the actual CSV file it came from… it shows you the file name on the report

– reconciles the amounts imported vs. the amounts in the employee’s expense report so you can make sure you didn’t miss anything

– shows data that was imported into the processing section, but didn’t actually make it into an employee expense report

In a couple weeks I will provide more details on how it actually works with some screen shots of the results.

In the mean time, here is a snapshot of the entire process looked up wrapped up in an elegant diagram in SSIS. Of course, this doesn’t show any details or code… just the big picture logic of it. It’s interesting all the same.

Have an excellent day!

I’ll be at Deltek Insight in a couple weeks, and will be teaching a break out session:
PS-80 Putting Data in the Right Place

If you happen to be at Insight feel free to come say “hello” and give me some feedback on my blog!

Cheers!

Custom Invoices in Vision 6.X (and most likely 7 as well)

This is a very quick entry… it’s about the Invoice Report.

I have many many requests for custom invoice formats.  Many firms often balk at the price of customizing an invoice stating “but… I only want to change…”

Let me explain a few concepts about the Invoice in Vision that you may or may not be aware of:

1. The Invoice is a report… yes, it is stored in an .rdl file just like any report.  However, knowing that it’s stored in an .rdl file or knowing a little about SSRS does not qualify anyone to make modifications to it.

2. The Invoice Report (as I will refer to it from here forward) has many sub-reports.  I think it’s about 22 or something. Some examples of sub reports are… consultants, fees, labor, expenses, billing backup, unit, add on, limit, taxes, retainer….

Notice how each section in your invoice has its own sub-report.  What this means is that to make a formatting change on your invoice… like moving columns around, changing their width, indentation etc. can potentially require making changes to not just one file, but several.

3. The Data behind Invoicing is also very complex. I recently had a client request that I show all consultant budgets and BTD amounts, even for parts of the project that were not being billed on THAT invoice.  This way on the invoice the client can see the entirety of the progress made in terms of consultant billings.  This request required a complete restructure of the query underlying the consultants sub report.

4. The custom invoice files which Deltek provides actually do not always behave as expected… and they have a few bugs here and there…. I’m guessing that the bugs are just settings that someone forgot to clean up before making the “template”.  Fortunately… there are only a few bugs and things that need cleaning up before the invoice works properly… but it still takes a few hours to set up a new client and get to the baseline “standard” invoice with the new custom one…

Lots of things can be changed using the Billing Templates built in to Vision… so I recommend starting there if possible.  This does not require a programmer to mess around with potentially hazardous custom invoice reports.

However, if you do need custom invoice formats… make sure to:

a. standardize across your organization, so you’re not having different offices with different formats (the clients appreciate a clean and tidy organization anyway… it makes you seem more efficient, like they’re getting something good for their money)

b. find a highly qualified consultant (such as myself) to do the work for you, so it only has to be done once.

Cheers!

Postering peacock

Vision 7.0 – an update – Some questions and answers from Deltek

Hello and happy 4th of July!

Recently, Brian Lamee (Director, Product Marketing for Deltek Vision) contacted me regarding my recent post on Vision 7.0 – Rumors (click here to read), asking if I had any specific questions and offering to answer them.

I asked if he could answer them, and if I could re-post his answers on my blog… so here you are.  In some cases I’ve added an editorial comment or two to clarify things a bit.

LOREN: I heard that on premise installs of Vision are only available for Series 250 or more, and that they are more expensive. Is this true? If so, what about all the companies that have less than series 250 and are on premise installed already? What is the upgrade path to Vision 7 for them?

BRIAN LAMEE: For firms purchasing Vision new (not current Vision Clients) that are fewer than 250 employees, we are recommending Vision Essentials (our Cloud offering) but we have not done away with our on-premise options and we have NOT increased pricing for our Vision on-premise offering. We have just introduced a new Cloud offering for Vision.

[editorial: What this means for you is… if you are a small firm and don’t want to incur the expense of buying and maintaining hardware, IT staff etc. to run Deltek Vision, then there is a cloud (read: hosted) offering from Deltek now to make this possible.  This is actually a good move by Deltek, making it possible for more firms to use the platform without the huge costs of ownership.]

LOREN: In a recent email you sent to me you said that cloud based installs will be able to have custom reports through Report Builder. This is significantly different than SSRS. Is SSRS supported on cloud systems?

BRIAN LAMEE: Just to make sure we are talking about the same thing when you say SSRS, I assume you mean SQL Server Reporting Services and that is still the reporting engine for Vision 6.x both Cloud and On-premise. Clients in the Cloud can still build custom reports in SSRS on Vision data. We have a way for Consultants and Clients to load those reports into the Clients installation. When I said Report Builder, I think I went back to the older name that Microsoft referred to the tools to build SSRS reports (I can’t keep up with the name changes.)

[editorial: OK my bad… I must have been tired when I wrote that question out… yes, Report Builder reports still run on top of SSRS. What I really meant was – ‘can we still develop custom reports using BIDS, and install them in Vision. The answer from Brian is ‘yes’.  This is good news.]

LOREN: What about integrating other apps into Vision on the cloud based install? Is only the API available, or do we still have access to the entire SQL database?

BRIAN LAMEE: As long as the application can see Vision’s APIs and they do not have to be installed on the Vision Server or in our Cloud Cluster, then yes, those still work. We currently do not support 3rd party applications that have to be installed and maintained on our Cloud servers. We are looking at this in the future.

[editorial: OK this is to be expected.  You can’t ask them to maintain a cloud server for you, then install your own (or someone else’s) apps on that server and expect the cloud provider to service those apps too… nor can you expect to have unfettered access to the server since most likely it’s going to be hosting more than just your Vision install. However, my guess is that there will eventually be a way for apps to connect to cloud installs of Vision through some API or other method by just connecting directly to the SQL database, which is all you really need, since everything in Vision depends on that database.]

LOREN: If we don’t have access to the entire SQL database, what about custom stored procedures fired by workflows?

BRIAN LAMEE: Stored Procedures are supported in our Cloud version. Similar to the custom reports, we have a way to allow Consultants and Clients to load stored procs into the database.

[editorial: OK this is good… especially since I’m a consultant and do lots and lots of stored procedures, functions, data stuff and custom reports!]

CONCLUSION:
If you hear about something that Deltek is going to do to Vision, and you think it’s going to obliterate thousands of Vision implementations (like not allowing custom reports from BIDS, or not allowing access to the database) then it is probably not going to happen.

On a side note… here in Austin, TX we have a park with some pretty fancy turkeys… here’s one for you.  I took this picture a week or two ago.

Postering peacock

Deltek Vision 7.0 – what are all the rumors?

Note: Deltek 7.0 is the same thing as Deltek First (the SAAS offering)

Please also read the follow up post here:
==> Deltek Vision 7.0, an updated post <==

As always, if you have a specific question you’d like me to answer in a blog entry… a problem to address or write about, please drop me a note, comment or email.

Regarding Deltek Vision 7.0

I’ve been hearing lots of rumors regarding Vision 7.0… things like:

– they’re changing to a software as a service model

– the custom reports are all going to be broken and have to be re-written (again!)

– it will be really hard to customize the application with grids, fields, forms etc.

Some of these rumors are NOT true.  I just browsed the release notes, the reporting guide, the technical guide and quick reference cards, and here is my take away:

1. It’s not going to be that big of a deal to own/create custom reports against Vision 7. It’s basically the same as before.

2. Anyone developing custom reports against Vision 7 will need to use BIDS 2008 instead of BIDS 2005.  This is a good thing… although STILL 2 years behind.  I know there is a BIDS 2010.

3. Report builder 2.0 can be used… still behind.  I know there’s at least a version 3.0

4. Any good developer should be able to troubleshoot and repair any broken report within a day or less, depending on the complexity of the report.  Some may only take a few minutes if all they need is to be opened in BIDS 2008 (which converts automatically) then saved again.

Regarding customizing the app
5. They have actually added a new feature which we’ve all been waiting anxiously for… custom infocenters.  This means you can create your own custom functionality within Vision, if you want to track an entirely new entity.  This is great news, and more evidence that they’re not going to take back control of the app in an overly vanilla and standardized SAAS model.  It remains to be seen how “standard” reports will work for these custom infocenters.

Despite the story that they’re changing to a SAAS model, the architecture of Vision has not changed.  It is still basically a website hosted on a webserver, served on the client through Silverlight, and still sits on top of SQL Server.  Thus, there won’t be any drastic changes necessary for existing clients just to upgrade.

I can’t say what’s going to happen with their pricing model… if I was CEO of Deltek, or heading up the Vision division (no pun intended) then I could say something about it… but I’m not.

Cheers!