In this blog series, we asked several customers to share insight on their experience upgrading to Deltek Vantagepoint. Read about driving factors, tips for success, preparation best practices, benefits for end users and more to empower your firm to successfully upgrade to Vantagepoint.
I recently talked with Mark Holle, CPA, director of finance for Sanderson Stewart, to hear about their Vantagepoint upgrade experience. Sanderson Stewart is headquartered in Billings, Montana and has more than 90 employees in four offices. They upgraded to Vantagepoint in August 2020 and Mark shared some key insights that can help your firm prepare for your upgrade.
What were the key driving factors for Sanderson Stewart to upgrade to Vantagepoint?
Vantagepoint was our golden ticket – our change agent. We used the opportunity to not only change the platform but integrate process changes to make the upgrade the best it could possibly be.
The main reason for us to upgrade was to change the “who” of who did the data entry. We had a lot of knowledge transfer between business development, project managers, accounting and administrative teams that required a lot of back and forth, wasted time and unnecessary frustration. The upgrade allowed us to change this dynamic.
Good user interface means good user engagement and so another compelling reason for us to upgrade to Vantagepoint was the user interface. While we liked Vision, we like the Vantagepoint interface so much more, especially for project managers and business developers.
Also, the consolidation of opportunities, plans and projects into one easy-to-use location meant the world to us. It allows everyone to use one space and makes it much easier for business development and project managers to enter data and keep it updated.
What benefits are your teams experiencing after upgrading to Vantagepoint?
The biggest advantage is that project managers are creating their in-pursuit projects and regular projects eliminating that upfront time and frustration.
Now, the project administrators have little involvement until the project is awarded instead of entering plans and creating projects like the used to. Project managers are now owning it and that’s a significant efficiency gain and a major win for us.
Our employee engagement with Vantagepoint has been a huge success. People know where to get the information they need and what they need to enter and that’s a major win for us. Also, as new people join the firm that had previous experience with Vision, they have shared that Vantagepoint is much easier to use.
Another important win was approvals and automation. As soon as we upgraded, we started using the approvals for timesheets, expense reports and absence approvals. We were emboldened by the user interface change, which made it much easier for staff to respond to those approval requests.
Invoice approvals for billing and AP invoices were so important in our upgrade because they allowed us to really streamline and monitor the billing processes.
Our billing process was cut in half just by moving to the billing invoice approvals process in Vantagepoint and as the finance director, I gained a lot of insight into our AP processes that I didn’t have before.
Our accounting close process is also much shorter now partly because of the choices we made during our upgrade planning. We looked at opportunities to speed up the process, including changes to revenue recognition methodologies and data entry requirements.
What were some of your lessons learned from your upgrade?
Start with upper management and get their buy-in that your firm needs to upgrade to Vantagepoint.
If you do, they can help expectations that will help drive your timeline and commitment across the firm.
Another challenge was building excitement. This is software, but we wanted to build some excitement about the changes, so we put on training sessions before the upgrade to show staff what would be better and what the experience would be like.
A key lesson learned for us was around testing. You tell yourself you have your regular work to do and it’s hard to set aside time to test. Bringing a sense of urgency to the process was really helpful.
I realized that if I always put my regular work in front of me and didn’t make time for the upgrade, I was basically saying I don’t have time to make my life better. The more time we could put into our testing phase, the faster we could upgrade to Vantagepoint.
Taking time to train project managers to help them understand the differences in the upgrade was critical and will provide a lot of benefit after the upgrade.
What advice would you give to other companies preparing for their upgrade?
This isn’t Vision and that’s OK. The back end is remarkably similar so don’t hold on to what you had, but find where you need to go to get that same information in Vantagepoint. You will find that it’s a much better methodology and that’s likely why Deltek changed it. It’s different and that’s OK.
Also, I recommend that you just get started and get involved in the Vantagepoint Town Halls, the CAP (Customer Assistance Program) and Deltek ProjectCon. Give yourself every opportunity to know what Vantagepoint brings to the table.
If you are in the process of upgrading, hold yourself to an upgrade date and tell lots of people about to so they can hold you accountable. It’s important to have a sense of urgency about the process. For the upgrade itself, have some fun with it!
Create some groups to get feedback and enjoy that process. You will have bumps along the way, but have a good attitude.
Who was part of your upgrade team?
Our upgrade team was primarily me as the administrator and finance director as well as two project administrators. We also brought in other people as needed and chose those people to build their excitement about the upgrade and improve their knowledge of the system.
What was your upgrade timeline and how did you prepare?
Our initial plan for upgrading to Vantagepoint was four months, but we took 10 months to upgrade. The extra time allowed us to slow down and not just convert, but build the solution the way we wanted. We leveraged the time to really think through the processes and develop the improvements we wanted before the upgrade.
For example, we reviewed security roles and consolidated a lot of them. With the consolidation of opportunities and projects, we thought through the typical process to identify what changes were needed. The upgrade checklist that Deltek provides also helped us realize we had a little bit more work to do it right.
Some of the features we are looking forward to are user defined hubs for client satisfaction. Also, the revenue forecasting to assist us in predictive analysis of where we’re at and we are looking forward to adding that in the future.
About Sanderson Stewart
Since beginning in a garage in 1969, Sanderson Stewart has followed the core purpose "To Plan and Design Enduring Communities," to become a regional, award-winning community design firm. Our design professionals provide a comprehensive set of services to our clients including civil/ infrastructure engineering & design; traffic engineering & transportation planning; bike & pedestrian planning & design; site evaluations, land use planning & land development; placemaking & landscape architecture; surveying & mapping; and branding & visualization services in order to build the communities and facilities in which we live, work, learn, and play.
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