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Assessing Deltek’s Ongoing Transformation

Written By: Predrag Jakovljevic
Published On: April 24 2013

Conventional wisdom would imply that a software company that changes its owners and CEO in the same year might be in some kind of trouble or facing stormy waters. But, Deltek vigorously claims that nothing is farther from the truth. Quite the contrary, in fact—via its 2012 acquisition by Thoma Bravo, Deltek believes it has found a dedicated and committed financial backer. In addition, there was nothing sinister in Deltek’s CEO change in late 2012. After a transformational seven-plus years with Deltek, former CEO Kevin Parker left the company under his own volition. Seven-and-a-half years is a nice run at an enterprise software company, and Parker felt that it was the right time for him to step back a bit after accomplishing a lot of the goals he set out to accomplish back in 2005 (plus, he might have begun to miss the US West Coast where he hails from).



Deltek’s former CFO Mike Corkery first took over as acting CEO, and then became the new CEO in early 2013. Corkery is lauded as an outstanding leader who has been instrumental in helping the company grow and become more profitable over the past several years. He has a deep understanding of Deltek’s business, the industries it serves, and the needs of its customers (after all, Parker was also a former CFO and co-president at PeopleSoft before taking the helm at Deltek). Along with the entire Deltek team and Thoma Bravo, Corkery is committed to continuing Deltek’s track record of delivering the world’s broadest and deepest solutions for project-based businesses. The slew of recent win announcements for a variety of Deltek’s products (Maconomy, Deltek Vision, Deltek First, etc.) bolsters Deltek’s claim that it is business as usual with the growing software company.  In fact, while the company no longer reports its financial results that now that it is private, the company has said that 2012 was a record year from a product and total revenue perspective. Seems like stable times are ahead for the company.

Deltek Insight 2012
Parker’s last major job at Deltek was to oversee the company’s annual user conference, Deltek Insight 2012, in October 2012. Insight 2012 was notable both as a recap of all that the vendor has done over the previous 18 months since Deltek Insight 2011, and as a forum for discussing what’s coming up for the company. In terms of innovation and the number of new products and solutions that Deltek introduced during those 18 months, that time period was hailed as the busiest in Deltek’s history. In total, the company’s recent productivity proved beyond any doubt that Deltek has grown far beyond its roots as a US-only back-office project accounting provider. For example, at Insight 2012 the vendor showcased innovative solutions for manufacturing and for the front-office, improved capabilities for global companies (multi-currency management, etc.), and solutions that are in line with the major industry trends of mobile, social, cloud, and big data (in fact, the conference’s tagline was “Connect more”).

Deltek Touch–Your Office On the Go
Based on its knowledge of the industries it serves and its understanding of what being mobile means, the recently unveiled Deltek Touch is a mobile platform that enables the unification of all of a customer’s core business applications in a context sensitive manner and is supported across the most commonly deployed mobile platforms. Through Deltek Touch, all business applications are interconnected and presented through a single gateway.

The Deltek Touch strategy is to mobilize those components of Deltek’s core enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions that provide a value-add to the customer’s mobile workforce. This includes not just the typical road warrior persona within an organization—Deltek recognizes that the mobile workforce includes everyone that performs work on a daily basis on a device other than the traditional laptop or desktop computer. The Deltek Touch initiative has started with providing cross-platform mobile solutions for time tracking and customer relationship management (CRM).

The Touch initiative will also introduce mobile apps for tracking expenses and managing the many approval processes that are a key part of operational efficiency. These functionally specific applications will plug into a Deltek Touch Launchpad solution that will serve up a mash-up of information and tasks specific to and tailored for the role of the user. The strategy for the Deltek Touch Launchpad is to house non-Deltek written apps and support a Deltek Touch “marketplace” that functions as an app store of sorts. Deltek Touch mobile applications are hybrid applications leveraging the capabilities of HTML5 for broad device support wrapped in a native shell to provide access to mobile device-specific application programming interfaces (APIs).

The existing Deltek products’ web services power the business rules and data validation in Deltek Touch applications. A new product layer, the Touch Server, provides data marshaling, transformations, and integration services providing a platform to provide integrated data views, mash-ups, dashboarding, and a consolidated product notification system. Support for both on-premises and cloud based deployments are available with Deltek Touch. Applications will be available in the Apple App Store and Google Play stores and will also be supported as mobile browser applications without the native API functionality.

Deltek Vision 7
The new release of Deltek Vision takes the deep architecture and engineering (A&E) industry-specific functionality that has always been there and adds even more capabilities for monitoring, measuring, assessing, and controlling the A&E firms’ business. As said in Deltek’s press release at the time, Deltek Vision 7 is built for managing the complete project lifecycle, enables A&E firms to gain greater visibility, tighter control, and deeper insight into their business, empowering them to work more efficiently, manage more effectively, and deliver more successful projects for customers. Vision 7 also builds on what Deltek delivered in Deltek Vision 6 for global companies and includes improved capabilities for handling transactions in multiple countries and overall global project management needs.

A key component of the overall Vision release is Project Navigator. Deltek realized over the years that while Vision has impressive capabilities for project management, time keeping, resource management, and project measurement, the product was most liked by finance and accounting departments and valued less by the actual project managers that were on the ground overseeing project delivery. With that in mind, the vendor wanted to create a mobile, on-the-go project management solution that project managers would want to use. Project Navigator, a new project management portal for project managers that delivers capabilities to plan, review, and execute projects from any browser-based device, works seamlessly with Vision 7 and Vision 6.2.

GovWin Capture Solutions and GovWin IQ
As mentioned in TEC’s previous articles, Deltek has been vigorously upping its game in the CRM side of the business. Deltek Vision and Maconomy’s CRM capabilities were always strong for their respective target users, so Deltek has spent a lot of time creating the deepest possible set of front-office capabilities for government contractors. The integrated portfolio of GovWin Capture Solutions moves beyond just CRM by providing a set of products and services that span opportunity management, teaming, task order management, proposal automation, and CRM.

At this stage, hardly any other companies in the industry—including Oracle, SAP, FinancialForce.com, NetSuite OpenAir, or Microsoft Dynamics—can match the breadth of capabilities Deltek has in the front office. Hardly anyone else takes the capture management lifecycle into consideration for contractors, as they simply apply generic CRM solutions to the problem. (See this video for a description of the product’s capabilities and how Deltek GovWin CRM is used by Citizant to manage its opportunities and contracts).

A core part of Deltek’s Capture Solutions are obviously the GovWin IQ market intelligence solutions that combine the best of the INPUT and FedSources acquisitions. Used by close to 3,000 companies already, GovWin IQ now includes an interactive government-spending analytics tool, acquisition-cycle visualization capabilities, and a new user experience that makes it easier to access and research opportunities. Many customers have said great things about the new capabilities, including comments about improvements in the speed of accessing data, the clarity of the information at that is now displayed, and the ease of use of the new UI.

Project-based Manufacturing, Social Projects, and Cloud
Needless to say, project manufacturing customers were a large part of Insight 2012 (as they have been of every other Insight conference). But for the first time Deltek was able to showcase a broad and deep project manufacturing experience (via the embedded iBASEt Solumina manufacturing execution system [MES] offering) in the Expo Hall. People could watch a theater presentation and then assemble a Lego plane by going through various stages of a manufacturing process. All of the Expo Hall sessions were reportedly well attended. Deltek will reportedly be announcing new project manufacturing wins in the coming weeks—it is interesting to see Deltek dive more deeply into the project manufacturing world—a market that the company has only opportunistically focused on in the past.

Much has also been said lately about Kona, Deltek’s social project management offering. “Soft launched” for free beta preview last summer, Kona is gaining traction with over 16,000 users kicking its tires, mainly outside of Deltek’s customer base, though many Deltek’s customers are starting to adopt the solution. In the coming months, the vendor will be releasing more details about the content it’s planning to add to Kona, particularly to the enterprise edition that it is building as an extension of Deltek apps. The realm of cloud-based social project tools is apparently no longer the realm of companies such as FinancialForce.com or Mavenlink. Deltek is committed to proliferating Kona and its project collaboration and communication abilities across its customer base.

Talking about the cloud, one cannot avoid mention of Deltek First, the brand name for Deltek’s Cloud ERP solutions for small and medium businesses (SMBs), a.k.a. the “Essentials” moniker. There’s Deltek First for Government Contractors (Deltek First GovCon Essentials), based on the latest GCS Premier release, and Deltek First for Professional Services (Vision Essentials),  based on Deltek Vision. One should note that there is a Deltek First version of Maconomy as well (Maconomy Essentials), but that is presently mainly targeted at European clients. The vendor is reportedly selling its Deltek First GovCon Essentials cloud solution like gangbusters since it was introduced at Insight 2011. Close to 300 customers have already purchased the solution since it was launched in June 2011. It has been quite a success story and validates Deltek’s move into software as a service (SaaS). The combination of Deltek’s deep GovCon functionality—that not many can match—with an easy to implement and use SaaS delivery model differentiates the value prop from the competition.

Maconomy’s Global Appeal
Now, let’s shift gears to Deltek’s Maconomy solution. It’s no surprise that people continue to buy the Maconomy for Marketing Agencies edition for a few reasons. First is functionality, as the project and client management aspect of Maconomy is well suited for managing agency accounts. Second is the product’s reputation—even the large marketing communications networks such as WPP and Omnicom are directing many of their agencies to use Maconomy. Maconomy is basically the industry standard in this part of this professional services market. The competitors typically don’t have the project/client management capabilities (such as true project accounting and flexible invoicing formats) or the list of references that Maconomy does.

But another growing stronghold for Maconomy is the chartered public accountant (CPA) realm, such as the recent win with SNG in South Africa. Maconomy has a special CPA edition of the solution that sets it apart. SNG replaced SAP with Maconomy and didn’t really look at any of the competition because the product has a good presence in the CPA market and is experiencing a growing momentum in South Africa specifically. The accounting firm had similar business needs to several of Deltek’s other big CPA customers in the region, including PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), BDO Spencer Steward, Grant Thornton, and Mazars, which gave SNG confidence that Maconomy was the right way to go. SNG knew that Maconomy would deliver the CPA specific functionality, workflows, and reports they needed out of the box.

A Look Ahead
To put it mildly, 2012 was a crossroads year at Deltek, and 2013 will be more than interesting to watch. But any skepticism about the company’s future and current state of affairs is not really warranted. Deltek closed the best year in its history after the Thoma Bravo acquisition took place and that bodes very well for the future.  The onus is on the company to continue to execute, but the right pieces seem to have been put in the right places for the company to continue to grow and succeed.

Recommended Reading

Deltek Insight 2012 - A Recap (Oct 2012)

Q&A with Deltek CEO Michael Corkery on Maintaining Growth, SAAS & the New York Giants (Mar 2013)

Deltek Conference Previews (Oct 2012)

Deltek, We Hardly Knew Ye: New Deltek at Insight 2011 (Aug 2011)
 
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