Customer Feedback Powers User Experience Innovations
By Deltek VP of Product Management Bret Tushaus
As Lisa Rabideau noted in her blog post on the five pillars of UX transformation, organizations are giving end users a louder voice and more influence in software purchases. And Deltek certainly has been listening to end user feedback in our innovation development process.
Case in point: three 2019 innovations to Vantagepoint 2.0, Deltek’s end-to-end ERP solution for consulting, architecture, and engineering firms. The new Proposal Editor and Projects Hub as well as the vastly improved Dashboard are directly based on user requests.
Simply put, these innovations make the software much easier and more intuitive to use, and it works the way users actually think, as opposed to solutions that force users to work like software “thinks.”
Let’s see how these innovations boost the user experience.
Have I Got a Proposal (Editor) for You!
It’s fitting to start with the Proposal Editor, because it’s the first function users turn to when they start a project lifecycle.
When we asked Deltek users what would help them work more efficiently, a frequent request was for help in building their first proposal and creating templates/master elements based on that proposal to build future proposals.
The new Proposal Editor follows this sequence, which feels more natural to users than the typical sequence of creating a template, uploading it, adding data and testing it, and revising the template based on testing, only to rinse and repeat.
Vantagepoint generates one complete document rather than many documents that the user has to merge to create the final proposal. The user can save templates and master elements, and the software will update them if data in any of the supporting hubs changes.
The result? Users see what they’re building as they’re building it. It eliminates frustration, as they don’t need to endure the whole generation process, as they might with other tools, to see the end product.
In another user-requested change, when a user edits the layout of one section, the system applies the change(s) to other records. When users complete the layout, they can make changes to individual records for that unique proposal.
Since these innovations improve the proposal generation process, they significantly juice up user efficiency. But we didn’t stop there. We also met other users’ requests: a WYSIWYG editor, the ability to save sections for reuse, a single source for all proposal data, the ability to search for a proposal using any proposal property, visual editing, an easy way to place images and resize them by dragging a border, and a wide variety of fonts, colors and images.
Thumbs up! for the Projects Hub
Once a project has been won, users need a robust command center for all project activities—creation, planning, managing, and execution—all from single location.
We wanted our Projects Hub to address project manager needs and think and work the way PMs think and work. But since we wanted the Projects Hub to works for all personas, from PMs to accounts payable specialists, and to support all use cases within a project, we wanted to hear requests straight from other users.
That’s why all projects, regardless of the stage they’re in, have the same functionality, fields, workflow, and features, including viewing projects in the CRM mobile app. Users can build the work breakdown structure as well as plans, budgets, and contracts before the project is awarded.
Unlike some software, users don’t have to access multiple applications or screens to set up and execute a project. In another innovation, building a project and its plan (and thanks to the integration of Deltek Collaboration with Vantagepoint, its collaboration space) are no longer separate processes. When a user creates a project, the software automatically creates a plan that’s ready for users to set dates, add assignments and enter hours, making the process seamless and saving time. Project and plan are automatically mapped to each other, challenges and decisions that need to be made are at users’ fingertips, and redundant data entry is a thing of the past.
Accountants can allow users to charge time and expense toward projects that are not yet awarded; as a result, organizations can monitor and track investments they make in pursuing work. Once the project is awarded, users simply change the stage and enter win/loss information, eliminating duplicate entry and saving significant time.
Since many customers note that projects are often similar, users creating a project can copy similar pieces from other projects while not copying pieces that don’t apply. And users can now go to a single location to get all information related to a project. With one source of truth, users simply enter data on the project as they learn more, and the information always stays with that project. No more hunting, so everyone does his/her job more efficiently and effectively.
This Dashboard’s Got Your Number(s)
The root of the new Dashboard was requests for visibility of the right data at the right time, and to include all projects, regardless of stage, in reports and dashboards. Now users have immediate, real-time access to data that was previously hidden on standard reports and that needed to be consciously “run” when the information was needed. Users can also see red flags that need attention. Of course, this aligns with how people think and do business in our industry.
Users also asked us to spruce up reporting and report display of KPIs, deliver trending data over time, and help them save time by focusing on exceptions. They needed dashboards to be easy to interpret; they also wanted to see the true cost of winning and to forecast revenue, including backlog and potential projects.
To do all of the above, users got a customizable tool that can be easily used by people in many roles with little or no report design expertise. They can easily change column headings that describe information, include opportunities and projects on a single report or dashpart, show date ranges, and bring attention to data with conditional formatting. Because of powerful column filtering on key calculated project amounts as well as general ledger summary and detail amounts, users can create sophisticated visual dashparts that show key trends over time and dynamically display time-based comparisons. Users also have an easily accessible library of all dashparts that they can drag and drop on their dashboards to add, organize and size dashparts.
By starting the development process with the key steps of empathizing with our users and translating their needs to solution functions, we’ve made powerful functional innovations in Vantagepoint that help Deltek customers adopt and leverage our solutions. As many users have said about these innovations – it just makes sense.
If you would like to learn more about the many functional innovations within the Vantagepoint product, please feel free to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author
As Vice President of Product Management, Bret Tushaus is responsible for leading the product strategy, roadmap and product management teams for Deltek’s Vision, Maconomy, Ajera, People Planner, PIM, Workbook and TrafficLIVE. Prior to joining Deltek, Bret spent 15 years at Eppstein Uhen Architects and holds a Master of Architecture from the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee.
A frequent speaker at industry events, Bret has significant experience and expertise applying the benefits of software and technology to a wide range of project-focused businesses.
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