Deltek’s Continuous Focus on User-Centric Software
By Dan DiStefano, Director, Product Strategy at Deltek
Deltek is determined to lead the way in user-centric software. And what better way to do that than by listening to our customers’ ideas and putting them into action. Lisa Rabideau, set the stage in her Five Pillars of UX Transformation post, which is the foundation for this series of blogs. Through customer feedback, we not only improve but also evolve our current product offerings.
Deltek Project Nation recently shared a blog on the significant innovations in Vantagepoint, our ERP solution for consulting, architecture, and engineering firms. Today, we’ll do the same for Maconomy, our Enterprise-level ERP solution for Professional Services (PS) businesses operating under the conditions of the complex global business climate.
Maconomy was originally born out of Europe, with rich functionality supporting companies operating in multiple countries, and within various PS verticals. Enterprises around the world value the scalability and versatility of the solution; offering a Platform-as-a-Service approach to meeting unique or complex customer needs by extending the product vertically and horizontally, as the key component to the overall solution ecosystem to which global organizations instill in order to operate effectively. Here’s how we’re making Maconomy even better in 2019 and beyond.
Hey, Hey Deltek, What Can You Do?
Many Maconomy users (some undoubtedly fans of Led Zeppelin’s “Hey, Hey, What Can I Do”) have been very vocal in asking us to help them perform simple tasks through Natural Language Processing (NLP), rather than by means of what oftentimes results in time-consuming, multiple clicks. So we’re introducing Hey Deltek for Maconomy, saving users time on routine actions—and their company money. (While it’s almost old hat to interact with Siri or Alexa in your home or on your phone, it’s become more relevant to do so with business applications.)
Users simply speak or type a command in non-coded language, and Maconomy does the rest, whether setting up a meeting event, navigating to a particular screen, generating a report, or many other tasks. Users can also have their questions answered and get directions to particular screens.
As we focus on artificial intelligence as part of our innovation strategy, we plan to evolve Hey Deltek from passive interactions to proactively suggesting tasks to users by analyzing usage patterns and behaviors. The system could then alert a user who typically runs a monthly report that tomorrow’s the day, or that it’s time to follow-up with an account to which they haven’t logged an interaction with in some time.
These changes in how users interact with the solution—and how the solution interacts with users—increase ease of use, efficiency and productivity. Best of all it is easy, and you can leave your learning curve at home.
Hey Deltek is in development, and we expect to have the first iteration available to our customers within the year, likely for our early 2020 release.
We’re at Your (Self) Service
Many users say, “We love that the system captures an incredible amount of data, with rich functionality to do a lot of the heavy lifting for us, but you practically need a PhD in Analytics to turn all the data into consumable information.” That was all the evidence we needed to develop the self-service web analyzer, which makes business intelligence and reporting easy, even for rookie users. In fact, this is probably this year’s most sought-after feature.
The iAccess analyzer (available November 2019), is a big component of our new web interface, as it let’s all users get data via a simple self-service query that gives them access to all the data, fields and functionalities for which they have permission.
Once the system delivers the data the query requests, users can extract data, perform advanced mathematical functions, and produce professional graphical reports (via a very nifty chart plug-in now available with the solution), and thus, you’re ready for prime time with your clients. Best of all, your users no longer have to rely on colleagues familiar with the database and report development. Users can share outputs with colleagues and clients dynamically, and they can save and keep track of favorites.
Personas Are Grata
What do customers really want? What they don’t want is for their employees to toggle between their laptop for one function, their phone for another, and ensure they remain at their desk for yet another—a huge time waster. What they do want is a leading-edge, forward-thinking web interface that lets employees perform tasks in seamless interactions at a single point-of-entry.
For the last 10 years, Maconomy has primarily been focused on delivering a cutting edge rich client, with the objective of supporting complex finance functions for global, complex organizations. In the past few years, we’ve invested heavily in a brand new next generation web interface to which was intended to complement the full rich client. We have now reached a turning point with the web interface, known as iAccess, to which as of 2019 is on pace to support all of Maconomy’s front and mid-office functionality. This means all your key personas, from Project Manager to Account Manager and traditional Employees/Staff, can now use a single web interface as part of your deployment strategy. This of course is a huge step forward from an accessibility and usability standpoint, but it also is designed to be a strong compliment to the functionality available in our rich client and pure mobile offering, called Deltek Touch.
Those moves are going to be game changers, because personas from one end of the enterprise to the other—account managers, client managers, project managers, approvers, and everyone else—can now use this solution from a single point of accessibility. This was the missing sauce. Maconomy had the flexibility, power, and extensibility of a leading enterprise player in the ERP business, and what we needed to do most, at the request of our users, was to modernize the user experience. The pace we are on with iAccess is going to continue, and as it does, we have plans to reinvent how users interact with enterprise software, by implementing UX features focused on Artificial Intelligence, Geo-Fencing, and RPA: by basically barely requiring them to interact with the software at all.
So there you have it—incontrovertible proof that customer input constitutes the motive, means, and opportunity behind Deltek’s continuous efforts to make user-centric software.
About the Author
As Director of Product Strategy for both Maconomy and People Planner, Dan DiStefano is responsible for the overall product direction of these Deltek solutions. These responsibilities include defining and executing the product roadmap, working closely with Enterprise organizations around the globe to optimize their Maconomy investments and long-term ROI, as well as delivering key product updates through industry events and as a key participant in customer-led advisory councils. Connect with Dan on LinkedIn.
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