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.

 

 

 

Loren… what are you doing? Why haven’t you been writing more blog entries lately?

Happy Holidays!

I have been a bit remiss with this blog. I apologize. My excuse is being busy with the following projects:

CALIFORNIA:
1. Automating labor rates in Deltek Vision with an outside platform being the system of record. This includes automation of prevailing wage rate schedules, dealing with differentials and changing benefits elections. I will be using lots of workflows and webservices to pull in employee pay rates, benefits selections and related data to reside in Vision.  Then more workflows to automate maintenance of labor cost tables based upon employee selections of day/night shift, labor category (staff type) and reg, ovt, or double time.   I will be making extensive use of Vision’s new custom infocenter features.

This project should be completed some time in the spring.  If you’re suffering from prevailing wage rates and schedules maintenance in your own organization let me know and maybe I can help.
NEW YORK:
2. A client has been using Deltek Vision for a few years but they do not feel they are getting everything out of it that they can.  Thus, this is kind of a re-implementation project.  They previously converted from Advantage and need help making the conceptual and practical transition from a pure accounting system to a project accounting system.  They have yet to implement timesheets, expense reports and workable methods for project Work Breakdown Structure.

Both of these projects require a lot of work just scoping and defining what needs to be done. It’s very challenging!

It’s much more challenging than just building a custom report or a small workflow process with a relatively narrow set of requirements and small set of users. This is essentially taking a set of ad-hoc defined business process, and designing a proper automated solution to manage the operational data of that process (or those processes). This normally requires the integration of existing applications or solutions, importing or incorporating historical data, transforming historical data when data architecture corrections are made, and designing new processes, policies and procedures for using the new tools we put in place.

Lastly, training and documentation will be required to make sure that the processes and tools put in place actually get used!

Luckily most of the work can be done off site, thus keeping down travel costs and allowing me to work in relative isolation so I can concentrate!

If you’re ever in down town Austin, TX give me a call and I can show you my office and some cool stuff!

 

 

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!

Case Study – Vision Implementation Restructure

Ronald Lu & Partners, HK had implemented Deltek Vision 5.1 in 2008 and had been live for 2 years.

I received an email from the founder’s son, Bryant Lu saying that although they had been live for 2 years, their accounting department was still doing a lot of accounting and reporting on spread sheets. After I spent a week in their offices I found the following major issues that needed correcting:

0. They needed to convert from Vision 5 to 6, which we accomplished in 2 weeks.

1. Their work break down structure for every project was the same, displaying the 8 standardized phases of a project that they took each project through, but not reflecting the actual milestones and deliverables of the project.  Thus, they were unable to produce meaningful reports from Vision that could show budget vs. actuals, expected revenues or EAC reports tied to project milestones.  Instead, they were maintaining a completely separate set of financials outside of Vision on an organized but extensive set of Excel spreadsheets so they could track consultant expenses, milestones, invoices, and receivables.

2. Their entire set of P+L statements and Project Earnings reports were being produced from spreadsheets in order to show P+L across companies or divisions. The reason for this was because after going live they had adopted a new organizational structure which consisted of studios (which is common in architectural firms).  Because the studios were not represented in the data in Vision, it was not possible to produce any reports based upon studio from the application.  This affected all of their performance reporting and financial reporting.

Just tackling these two issues implied that I would have to do the following:

1. Restructure the work break down structure (WBS) for every project in the database to reflect true milestones and deliverables (or start over from scratch with a new database and a new go live date, which would mean re-importing historical data… essentially doing their implementation completely over).

2. Either convert their current organization scheme to one that considered the studios, or find some way to generate their entire financial report set using a custom field in the project infocenter which would reflect the studio a project was assigned to.
While the problems and solutions described above are only numbered 1 and 2, there are many implied requirements that would come into play as I executed this project over the next 4 months.  Some of the issues I encountered and resolved were:

– In Deltek Vision, when you key convert a WBS item like a phase or task to move it to another project, phase or task (not merely changing the number), it completely ignores the invoice history data during the key conversion process.  Since we decided we would key convert every project into a new, meaningful work breakdown structure, this meant that I had to write sql scripts to convert the invoice history as well.

– The projects that RLP undertakes can last many years, and often have over 100 phases and tasks. The interface for Deltek Vision does not yet allow a user to update fee or budget amounts in a grid like format that shows the entire project structure.  During the execution of this project I built a Microsoft Access based application they could use for both data entry for the conversion (to enter the WBS for projects into Vision) and to use after the conversion for adjusting fees and budgets for projects, as well as enter fees and budgets for new projects.

– Since it was decided not to restructure their organizational scheme in Vision (this was a management decision) it was necessary to develop custom reports to satisfy their entire financial reporting set.  This included P+L reports, balance sheet reports and forecasting reports.

– Because of the language barriers (Vision is not yet localized in Cantonese, the Hong Kong version of Chinese), it was decided we would not implement Resource Planning.  Also, some projects could actually commence and continue in execution for months before actually becoming a signed project.  Thus, it was necessary to in a sense “bill time to opportunities”.  So instead we came up with a solution for revenue and opportunity forecasting using the project info center only.

There were of course many more issues that we worked through and solved throughout the course of the project.  Bottom line is that we completed and went live with the new project structure and report set by December of that year.  Working on site, together with their executive and accounting departments we were able to complete 6 to 8 months of work in 5 months.  

Here are some example images and reports from after their implementation:

Click for full size.

This shows the mission critical business path, order of priority for phased restructure, area of effort and timeline for the phased restructuring of their Vision implementation.
(I will be adding to this case study with more images and samples… later this week)

Some pictures from Hong Kong

Over a year ago (from June through December of 2010) I spent a few months in Hong Kong on a project.  While there I upgraded a firm from Vision 5.1 to 6.1, restructured their entire WBS (including legacy data) and trained their accounting department on the new methods of using Vision with a proper work breakdown structure. I also built a custom app in MS Access to make setting up projects and project budgets easier.

However, while there it was not all work.  I did have some time to take some great pictures… since I have now moved my site over to wordpress’ CMS and was going through all my posts, I figured I should put up some pictures of Hong Kong since it’s such a visually impactful city.  So here are some photos for you to browse.

What about work breakdown structure?

It seems that the importance of a logical work breakdown structure for projects can escape even the best implementation intentions at times. This seems to be largely due to the fact that accountants tend to be the ones heading up the implementation effort, not project managers.

A suggested solution to this is to let the project managers drive the project infocenter and project control implementation portions of Deltek Vision, and let the accountants drive the accounting portion. They are in fact two very different worlds… accounting and project management.

So in a few sentences let me lay out some very important core concepts that you should take to heart when implementing Vision:

1. Things that belong in work breakdown structure are normally Milestones or Deliverables.  One example of a project’s work breakdown structure (WBS) might be:

Project:  2011-1234.01  My big design project
Phase:  0001  Design
Tasks:  1.1 Preliminary discovery and requirements
1.2 Prelim. Design
1.3 Delivery of Design specs to construction

Phase: 0002 Construction
Tasks: 2.1 Source and vet service providers
2.2 Foundation
2.3 Walls
2.4 Roof
2.5 Finishing
2.6 Logo on door

Phase 0003 Permitting
Tasks:  3.1 Review permit requirements
3.2 Testing for compliance
3.3 Permit submittal
3.4 Deal with contingencies or anomolies

Now in Deltek Vision, all of these items go into the WBS tree at levels 1,2 and 3 respectively.  If anyone tells you you can put things like “phone calls and meetings” in there… they are wrong.  There is a right place and wrong place to put things in Deltek Vision.  I am finding that some firms who have converted from FMS to Vision did just that… put their labor codes into the level 3 of the WBS.  Big mistake.  It is correctable by the way… but not out of the box.

2. The activities that you do to accomplish the items in your WBS belong in the Labor Codes area in Deltek Vision:
If you’re wondering where “design meetings”, “phone calls”, “document review”, “field work”, “CAD/Drafting” and “Site inspection” go… think about what those are… they are activities.  They are the things we do to get done the items in the above WBS list. These activities generally can be distilled down to a standardized list of 50 or so “labor codes” or “activity codes” in any firm.

Some firms have as many as 100, but much more than that and you’re making that list confusing and not manageable for the end user.  Note:  While the WBS on projects will vary and change from project to project… the labor code or activity code list does NOT change.  True, every once in a while you may find yourself adding a labor code (especially right after implementation, that list will shift around a bit) but no more than one or items every year or two.  If you find yourself adding a lot of things to your labor codes list, then perhaps you’re not putting the data in the right place.

3. While Deltek Vision is flexible… there is a “right place” and a “wrong place” to store your data.  If you store the data in the wrong place, or if you put time to the wrong part of a project, then your data is meaningless and you might as well go back to using spreadsheets.

I think in the next couple posts I’ll address:
– the chart of accounts… the old way, and the now way.

– some good principals of application design to follow for the layman.

Cheers!

Understanding: Adjust Salaried Job Costing

What is ASJC (Adjust Salaried Job Costing) and why is it important?

(this article is pretty technical, but from an accounting point of view, not a programmer’s point of view)

NOTE: As of March 2015 I offer a custom written ASJC module you can implement which is better than the Vision standard ASJC process.  You can read about it here:
https://saundersconsultinggroup.com/2015/03/03/asjc-adjust-salaried-job-cost-a-re-write-for-deltek-vision/
and here:
https://saundersconsultinggroup.com/2015/04/16/custom-asjc-process-completed-link-to-how-to-documentation/

Deltek Vision really keeps 2 databases of your revenues and expenses (labor, direct, indirect, consultant etc) in your enterprise.

The first database:
The first one is in your General Ledger.  The data from here is accessed by running reports in the reporting/ General Ledger section of reports.  You can run income statements, account analysis, balance sheets etc.  The general ledger is the part of Vision that most accountants will feel comfortable with.  The general ledger is also often a reflection of the real cash flowing in and out of your company (in most cases) and show you the real bottom line.

The second database:
This is the projects database.  The projects database is an accounting of all of the projects your company is undertaking… whether they are regular, overhead or promotional.  The great thing about Deltek Vision is how it can connect these two databases together and come up with a “project based accounting” solution.  To access these project-based reports, you go to Reporting/Projects…

Through the connection between these two databases Vision assigns revenues and expenses to the actual projects, which gives you great visibility into whether the projects you are undertaking are actually profitable, worth-while etc.  You can run profitability and utilization reports on individual projects, entire offices, departments or lines of practice (or companies in a multi-company environment).  However, there are a few necessary things you need to do in order to make sure that your project data (and reports that depend on it) is actually correct.


One of those processes is called Adjust Salaried Job Costing.

The purpose of ASJC is to assign the correct cost to each hour of work that employees bill to projects. The reason you need to run this process, is because if you don’t then your labor costs for projects will be incorrect, most of the time over-stated.

Let’s examine a simple example:

Let’s say you have a salaried employee Bob Smith.  Bob Smith is a mechanical engineer, is billed out at $175/hour and is paid a salary of $120K per year.

Let’s say you have project 2011-ENG-ABC.00 and Bob is working on that project.  How do we assign a cost amount to each hour he works on that project? (for this example we’ll use an unburdened rate, meaning without taking into account his over-head like insurance, office space etc.)

Let’s do a little math.  Bob’s salary is 120K per year, which works out to about $60/hour if he works the normal 2,000 hours in a calendar year.

So if Bob works for 40 hours on this project  2011-ENG-ABC.00 then the cost for that time is $2,400.  Easy right?

What if he works 60 hours on that project in one week?… is the cost $3,600?  No, it’s not.  It’s not because he’s salaried, so your firm pays him the same amount for that week as any other week, whether he works 20 hours, or 60 hours.

But Vision will assign the project $3,600 in cost at first, because Vision first establishes an hourly cost rate for his labor to make things simple.  This is because Vision can only know how many hours an employee worked on a particular project and for a particular week historically.  Vision is not able to look into the future to calculate how much an hour of labor will cost, only look back and figure out how much past hours have cost.

So what your accounting department needs to do every period is run ASJC to correct the cost amount for labor assigned to projects for all employees.  What basically does is this:


1. Figure out how much an hour of labor costs in one pay period by dividing the amount of hours by the real cost of that labor.  (The real cost of that labor is how much the employee was actually paid during that period).


2. Spreads that cost out over all the hours for that employee for that pay period.

So an hour for Bob Smith where he works 60 hours a week will cost $40/ an hour… but if he works 40 hours that week, it’s $60 an hour.. .and if he works only 20 hours that week, then it’s $120/hour… because you still pay him the same amount each week.

So that’s what ASJC does… it assigns a more accurate amount to the hourly cost for employees for each labor hour on projects.

Couple thoughts to end with:

1. the difference in cost between what is distributed to projects and what is actually paid to employees is stored in your Job Cost Variance account.  After you run your ASJC process, this account should be 0 or close to 0.

2. all of the reports under the Reporting/projects section in Deltek Vision run off this data, so it’s very important to have this data correct.

NOTE: As of March 2015 I offer a custom written ASJC module you can implement which is better than the Vision standard ASJC process.  You can read about it here:
https://saundersconsultinggroup.com/2015/03/03/asjc-adjust-salaried-job-cost-a-re-write-for-deltek-vision/
and here:
https://saundersconsultinggroup.com/2015/04/16/custom-asjc-process-completed-link-to-how-to-documentation/

If you want to know more about my work or get my attention on a project you have, you can look me up here:
http://www.saundersconsultinggroup.com