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Deltek's Second Bite at the IPO Cherry (Part III)

Written By: Predrag Jakovljevic
Published On: May 5 2008

Part II of this blog series analyzed the relatively recently launched Deltek EPM suite, which came as a result of three focused acquisitions. It also analyzed the suite's resulting potential cross- and up-sell opportunities and its prospective additional revenue for Deltek in a standalone manner. However, Deltek has not been sitting still when it comes to continually enhancing its core products either.

Deltek Vision 5 Series

For example, the new Resource Planning module of Deltek Vision 5 [evaluate this product] was devised to allow project managers to assign staff to projects and immediately see the impact on labor utilization. The managers can then modify resource assignments to meet project needs, whereby color coding provides focus on resources.

The new module also offers real-time insight into employee billing rates and actual labor charges. It provides visibility to align resources for upcoming projects in order to increase overall resource utilization. The available tools give project managers a view of employee utilization by project or across all projects by day, week, month or year. In addition, the enhanced Resource Search feature allows for projection of future staffing allocation.

On the other hand, Visualization is, well, a visual management tool that uses shapes and colors to intuitively give project managers a sharper focus on issues of the greatest importance. Taking a page from the stock traders' book, Visualization has analytical capabilities and several innovative functions that can help the management team make decisions directly related to the profitability of their projects, and ultimately, the firm’s overall performance.

The visualization "heat map" tools in Deltek Vision 5 that can be used to monitor project metrics are truly cool (like the Deltek Briefing Wizard product mentioned in Part II of this blog series): they mirror the portfolio management tools that Wall Street traders use to manage investments.

Other new enhancements in Deltek Vision 5 would be the Inventory Management module (for customers with inventory needs in the Information Technology [IT] Consulting, Architecture & Engineering [A&E] and Interior Design sectors); enhanced earned value reporting; new international capabilities (localized further for the United Kingdom [UK] e.g., financial reporting/general ledger [GL], the UK format for electronic funds transfer [EFT], etc.); and multiple important usability enhancements and technology updates. The most recent release Deltek Vision 5.1 features even more ease and efficiency of data analysis.

Deltek Costpoint 6 Series

For its part, the Deltek Costpoint 6 [evaluate this product] enhancements aim at addressing today’s additional challenges for large project-based enterprises. As mentioned in Part I of this blog topic, these are the following: to ensure compliance, secure data, improve cash flow, and enhance overall efficiency.

Simply said, non-compliance carries multiple risks, some of which can be fatal, and there are so many sources of pressure on companies to deliver improved business performance while complying. Examples of regulations to follow include governance requirements, related market rules and regulations and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX). These would only be the tip of the iceberg. Failure to comply could result in high corporate and personal prices such as lost contracts, negative publicity/steep stock declines, lawsuits, even business closure and going to prison.

To that end, new in Costpoint 6 are enhancements for the realm of Governance, Risk and Compliance Management (GRC) combined with strength in serving needs of government contractors. These specific compliance needs address the United States (US) Defense Contract Auditing Agency (DCAA) and Defense Federal Acquisition Regulations Supplement (DFARS) reporting, as well as support for Wide Area Work Flow (WAWF), SOX and Earned Value Management (EVM, via the integration to Deltek Cobra).

Quite related to compliance are data security and integrity, and in that regard, Deltek Costpoint 6 offers improved audit trails to protect data down to the database level and built-in segregation of duties (SoD) controls to prevent fraud.

As for the case for enhanced cash management and efficiency, let's imagine a chief financial officer's (CFO's) proverbial conundrum about why it is taking so long for the firm to get paid. Project managers would then point out the need to comply with the stringent US Department of Defense (DoD) directives, while accountants would whine about spending too much time re-keying information from one system to another.

To address these issues, Costpoint 6 supports WAWF-RA (Wide Area Work Flow – Receipts and Acceptance), which is a Web-based electronic billing system used by the DoD to track and pay invoices from contractors. Companies can hereby create batch billing files that may be submitted to the WAWF system. Standard bills, progress payment bills, project product bills and sales order entry (according to the US General Services Administration [GSA] - DD250 Material Inspection and Receiving Reports) are all available for submission this way.

Further along the lines of helping with enhanced cash management and efficiency, the product offers an unlimited number of "what-if" cash forecasting scenarios based on timesheets, journal entries, purchase orders, vouchers, account receivables (A/R) balances, etc. Also, there are many other electronic billing capabilities, such as, besides the above-mentioned support for WAWF - RA , the automatin of GSA schedules and Accounting Classification Reference Number (ACRN) billing.

Obvious benefits of the above would be that companies could improve their cash flow and shorten billing cycles (get paid faster), while accountants and project managers could comply with the DoD's strict directives and eliminate inefficient manual data entry.

Keeping the Momentum

This brings me back to dissecting Deltek's strategy to tackle both existing (via up- and cross-selling) and new customers as well as to acquire new markets by further penetrating current verticals, entering new vertical sectors and via a geographic expansion.

These and other opportunities, as well as inevitable challenges, will be analyzed in the final part of this blog series. Your comments, opinions, suggestions, experiences, etc. are welcome in the meantime.
 
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