By Bret Tushaus, VP Product Management at Deltek
"Omne Trium Perfectum" Latin for the rule of three, suggests that all good things come in threes. For Vantagepoint in 2020, this is definitely the case. In the year ahead you will see three Vantagepoint releases focused on three key areas, powered by three key purposeful innovations.
With two foundational releases under our belt coming into the year, in 2020 we will continue the transition to the new browser interface with reimagined and expanded functionality to power your project-based businesses. Let’s take a look at how the Power of Three will make 2020 the biggest year ever for Vantagepoint.
Three Key Areas of Focus
Project Command Center
We know that as a project-based business, the success of your projects and your project managers drive overall organizational success and growth. Therefore, with Vantagepoint, we are hyper-focused on continuing to add and refine functionality that makes a project manager’s life easier and gives them more power and tools to run their projects. A key part of this is our “command center” approach where all of the key tools needed by a project manager are located within the project hub and in 2020 we will be expanding this power in several ways.
A new interactive Gantt charting tool will be available to give project managers the ability to view their schedules and manipulate via drag and drop. Labor code planning will bring additional granularity to project plans providing for even more finite control around building the plans to deliver a project. We also know that often times project managers need to be able to run “what-if” scenarios for project plans to determine the best way to deliver a project. Therefore, in 2020, we will see the project hub expanded to include scenario planning functionality when building project plans. And finally, one of the biggest improvements to the project hub in 2020 will be the introduction of a revenue forecasting tool that will empower organizations to have visibility into their revenue outlook across projects in pursuit and projects under contract / currently being executed. With this new functionality within project planning, time-based revenue forecasts can be entered and managed that will feed organizational reporting providing complete awareness of a firm's revenue situation.
Right Data Right Time
In today’s day and age it is often heard that data is the new currency. We certainly know this to be true in project-based organizations. Ensuring projects are on track and stay on track is key to profitable and client-pleasing projects. The key to this is having the right data at the right time to drive informed decision making. In Vantagepoint, we take the availability of data very seriously and provide a dashboarding framework that enables organizations to have the right metrics and information at their fingertips. In 2020, we will continue to refine the dashboard functionality by expanding the data available to visual dashparts. This will include expanded project info around billing metrics, invoice approvals, unbilled transactions, retainers and invoice data.
We have found that some organizations need even more powerful business intelligence than what is included in the standard Vantagepoint dashboarding framework. Many organizations are starting to do deeper analysis of their organizational performance data and want to provide more interactivity to allow end-users to slice and dice in whatever way is relevant to them. As a result, we now offer a new Vantagepoint Intelligence (VI) module built on the market-leading data visualization tool Tableau. With VI, Vantagepoint-using organizations get all the power of Tableau enabled directly within the Vantagepoint dashboard. In addition, later in 2020, we will be delivering the VI Analysis Cubes which will provide organizations with a pre-calculated data set on which to do analysis that can be used by anyone without them needing to understand the detailed database schema or write a single query.
With Vantagepoint, we are always looking at ways to improve the accessibility and convenience of the tool to drive deeper adoption within organizations. We know that broader adoption is a win-win scenario as it drives engagement throughout an organization and helps to ensure organizations have complete and up-to-date data. One key way we will be expanding this functional convenience in 2020 is with our brand new Microsoft® Outlook Integration. This add-on for Outlook will include all of the functionality available in the current Outlook integration plus a wide array of new, highly sought after, functionality.
Calendar integration and synchronization will be a big part of this new functionality and will allow users to manage Vantagepoint activities within their Outlook calendar and have full visibility across both applications. We will also be enabling the capability to synchronize contact records between Vantagepoint and Outlook. We are also adding a "smart scheduling" tool that can be used when coordinating meetings with external participants, so you can share your availability via email and have attendees select meetings times that work for them. This add-on will also be supported on the Outlook mobile app and for those organizations that are using Gmail instead of Outlook, much of this functionality will be available there as well.
Three Key Purposeful Innovations
In addition to all of the new functionality packed into the three 2020 releases outlined here, we will also be focused on some key innovation areas that will bring new features to Vantagepoint. These items are just a part of Deltek's never ending focus on purposeful innovation. We are always looking for ways to reimagine functionality and leverage new technology in ways that provide practical, usable and tangible value to our solutions. In 2020, for Vantagepoint, this will be focused on Intelligent Character Recognition, Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning.
Intelligent Character Recognition
We will leverage Intelligent Character Recognition (ICR) to enhance the Vantagepoint mobile time and expense app. Through ICR technology, users will be able to take a picture of a receipt ad have that immediately turned into a line item on their expense report. In addition, the mechanism used to recognize both handwritten and printed text will learn over time to improve its recognition accuracy as well as understanding of what values go in what data fields within an expense report. This functionality within Vantagepoint is targeted to be delivered as a part of the 3.5 release in Q3 of 2020. This use of ICR technology within expense reports will also lay the foundation for usage in other parts of the application such as AP invoices and business cards.
Natural Language Processing
Vantagepoint's natural language assistant, Hey Deltek, was introduced in Vantagepoint 2.0 and created an effective and intuitive new way for users to interact with the system. By typing simple common language commands, users can open and create records without a single click or any understanding of the menu structure. For example, a user could type "remind me to call John Smith tomorrow" and an activity record would be created. In the 4.0 release, targeted for Q4 of 2020, we are looking to expand Hey Deltek to cover timesheet functionality. With this expansion, users will be able to enter "add 4 hours for today for Landover Middle School project" and a timesheet entry will be created. Beyond 4.0, Hey Deltek will continue to get expanded to cover other areas of the product.
We are currently working on leveraging Machine Learning technology to train a model to recognize the likelihood of a project being successful. Success would, of course, be configurable / definable within an organization's instance of Vantagepoint. This mechanism would leverage Machine Learning to constantly analyze past project data and apply that learning to current projects to provide a "project success" score. Along with that score, contributing factors would be included so that it is understood what might need to be adjusted or attended to get or keep a project on track. We are targeting making some early form of this project success tool available in 2020.
Three Releases for 2020
To accommodate all of the amazing functionality that has been highlighted here, we will be doing three Vantagepoint releases in 2020. The first of which, Vantagepoint 3.0, was already released in late January. The 3.0 release focused on Phase 1 of Vantagepoint Intelligence, a wide array of dashboard improvements, interactive Gantt scheduling and some key back office and billing improvements.
We currently have the second 2020 release, Vantagepoint 3.5, targeted for Q3. The 3.5 release will include the new revenue forecasting component, the Outlook add-on, ongoing expansion to dashboard functionality and the much anticipated ICR functionality within the Vantagepoint Time & Expense Mobile App.
And finally, the Vantagepoint 4.0 release is targeted for Q4. The 4.0 release will be focused on resource planning related functionality to include scenario planning and additional revenue forecasting tools. Phase 2 of Vantagepoint Intelligence will be included in the 4.0 release along with continued dashboard improvements, powerful billing enhancements and the expansion of the Hey Deltek natural language assistant.
Leveraging the Power of 3.0
If you are new to Deltek and Vantagepoint, now is the time for you to learn more. Vantagepoint 3.0 is the first of three exciting releases in 2020 and you should make sure you are leveraging the power, effectiveness and efficiency the Vantagepoint solution can bring to your organization. To keep up with the latest news be sure to subscribe to Deltek Project Nation and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.
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. Connect with Bret on LinkedIn.
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