An Interview with Lee Burns, Director of Operations, Metamagnetics
Founded in 2009 by Vincent Harris, Ph.D. and Northeastern University’s Electrical and Computer Engineering professor, Metamagnetics, a veteran-owned small business located in Westborough, Massachusetts, focuses on revolutionizing wireless and microwave system design and deployment. Metamagnetic’s mission is to help those who design communication systems solve challenges by having better-assured communication in the fields if there’s interference from adversaries or their systems. The company came to life when Harris “took some of the technologies he was developing in his lab at Northeastern University, and found other applications for them in various areas of communication,” said Lee Burns, Director of Operations.
Through developing and manufacturing next-generation materials, Metamagnetics has perfected the integration of them into the Radio Frequency (RF) and microwave components needed to overcome front-end power and noise interference challenges. And by specializing in the manufacturing of magnetic materials for communication systems, Burns said, “we’re making a difference by improving fidelity for people, with better visibility in terms of radio frequency with systems that are already deployed−extending functionality and improving data integrity, while helping customers build new systems to solve unique challenges to their business.”
Today, low bandwidth continues to be a challenge for effective wireless communication as systems become more occupied, and that’s where Metamagnetics comes in, serving and protecting government agencies including, The Department of Defense (DoD) and NASA.
With all of the great work that Metamagnetics is doing across the industry, when did you know it was time to look for an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution?
Prior to implementing Deltek Costpoint, we were able to squeak by managing our projects and back-office tasks via spreadsheets when we had less staff and fewer contracts. But, as the number of contracts increased it became nearly impossible to manage multiple projects on spreadsheets simultaneously. Additionally, we were making plans to manufacture our own products, so we knew we needed to invest in a comprehensive solution to not only manage our people and projects, but accurately track the bill of materials, suppliers and the entire manufacturing process. It was important for us to adopt a system that would support our growth trajectory as well as continue to service our existing contracts to the best of our ability.
Can you share with us why Metamagnetics switched to Deltek Costpoint to support your small business growth?
As a small business focused on growth, we recognized that it was critical that we invest in a package that was a fit for us and that would not require additional overhead or additional staffing in order to operate the system. We needed a solution that would grow with us and scale, and eventually integrate into other parts of our business.
One of our top priorities in a new system was a timekeeping module that was fully integrated with our financial systems, as our previous timekeeping method was manual.
Additionally, we knew our next financial system needed to support, DFARs [Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement] and FARs [Federal Acquisition Regulation] requirements with inventory control capabilities and complete visibility into our data, with all of the needed information in one place. To enable us to make decisions faster and help us grow our business.
Throughout our journey, we evaluated Costpoint and one other system that we originally thought might be a good fit, as we’re a small business – we sat through a few demos of that solution, but Deltek Costpoint seemed to fit the bill of what we were looking for in an ERP.
Government contractors have relied on Deltek solutions for decades. What was the catalyst that help you make your final decision to partner with Deltek and implement Costpoint?
Ultimately, it came down to Deltek’s reputation. Deltek's products are known across the industry and we know, that you offer a purpose-built solution that is trusted by government – with the ability to grow our business and diversify our portfolio.
Deltek Costpoint is known for improving business efficiencies. What are some measurable benefits you and the team hope to experience once you are fully up and running?
As we’re in this period of growth, being able to strategically plan for future projects and resource needs is critical, so we’re excited to leverage Costpoint’s comprehensive planning capabilities. This will help us with our annual budget all in one place, while driving reports and comparing actuals without the need to create spreadsheets.
The majority of our planning is based on what our labor content will be for each program, and then reviewing performance by generating reports in spreadsheets. This is very labor intensive, leaving too much room for error. Costpoint’s seamless Time & Expense capabilities will streamline this process for us, minimizing the potential for human error with increased automation – program managers will have the ability to more easily look at real-time compilations of labor on their programs. We’re really looking forward to this!
Finally, the procurement module will be included in our initial deployment, which we plan to use right off the bat. It will be helpful to review our purchasing, purchasing by contract or by vendor. Costpoint’s ability to track purchases will not only help our management team have better visibility into overall spend, but also plan for future resource needs. We anticipate Costpoint will help improve data integrity and internal efficiencies once all of our information is housed under one roof.
For small businesses, a cloud environment can provide a lot of advantages. Will you be deploying Deltek Costpoint in the cloud?
Yes, we will be deploying Costpoint in the cloud. Metamagnetics moved to the cloud about seven years ago, so we plan to continue working within a cloud environment, particularly as remote work becomes the new norm. More recently, we have been focused on upgrading our infrastructure and moving our cloud storage into a tenant that is compliant with DFAR regulations. We have found over the years that the cloud simplifies many of the day-today processes for a smaller company like ours, in terms of managing the infrastructure.
Additionally, as CMMC [Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification] requirements progress, we wanted to have peace of mind knowing that our next solution had FedRAMP Moderate equivalent or higher authorization. We will not be storing Controlled Unclassified Information [CUI] right away, but it’s important that we have the security levels in place for when that time comes.
As someone who has gone through the implementation process, what advice would you give to a small business government contractor looking for a ERP system?
It’s important for any business, regardless of size, making a large software investment, to fully outline and understand what it is you’re trying to accomplish. Set priorities and goals from the beginning and be as prepared, open and honest about what you’re trying to achieve as possible.
Also know, it takes a lot of time and thoughtful evaluation. It’s worth putting the time in and having detailed conversations with potential vendors, like Deltek, bringing in the experts that can help you understand your options and take the time to know your business and needs.
A small U.S.-based and veteran-owned business, Metamagnetics formed in 2009 after a spinout from the Northeastern University Center for Microwave Magnetic Materials and Integrated Circuits (CM3IC). Metamagnetics is now a fully operational designer, manufacturer and worldwide supplier of microwave and millimeter-wave components based on advanced materials, metamaterials, and multiferroics. The company has extensive industry experience that includes working with the Navy, Army, Air Force, DARPA, and most major U.S. defense prime OEM contractors.
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