One Year Later at Deltek: More of the Same (And Then Some More) - Part II

Part I of this blog series explained Deltek’s ebullience despite a hostile and depressed environment. The continued cash-generating operation has been complemented by in-house developments, acquisitions, and partnerships.

The previous blog post also talked about the recent developments (and anticipated future developments) at Deltek’s Professional Service line of business, which is largely represented by Deltek Vision [evaluate this product]. Parts II & III will analyze the recent developments (and anticipated future developments) at Deltek’s remaining lines of business.

Government Contracting (GovCon) Market

Deltek has invested in a lot of research and development (R&D) in the GovCon market recently, with two major product announcements being the availability of the new release of Deltek GCS Premier [evaluate this product] and the release of the Deltek Performance Management (DPM) suite. GCS Premier 5.0 was a huge release for Deltek because the goal behind the launch was to put to bed perceptions that its competitors (most frequently Microsoft Dynamics and its network of partners) have been putting in the marketplace for a while.

Namely, GCS Premier has long featured an old technology foundation (with a “welcome to the 1980s” look-and-feel), and the market perception has been that Deltek is not really committed to improving the product. Deltek’s presumed strategy was to force GCS users to upgrade to the upper-range Deltek Costpoint [evaluate this product] suite. These assumptions could not be further from the truth, and the 5.0 release is proof.

Generally available from late August 2008, GCS Premier 5.0 delivers significant enhancements to the renowned and widespread project accounting solution for small-to-medium-sized government contractors. The release is focused on producing enhancements to the following three important areas:

  1. Ease of use

  2. Improved invoicing

  3. United States (US) Defense Contract Auditing Agency (DCAA)-mandated compliance reporting.

GCS Premier 5.0 delivers a new user interface (UI) with a more versatile and contemporary look-and-feel, and bolstered billing capabilities that make invoicing faster and easier. The latter capability is accomplished by the addition of flexible invoicing to the billing process (Microsoft Office Excel-based) and the first installment of billing functionality improvements.

In addition to completely changing the product’s UI to make it more intuitive and modern, Deltek also updated reporting schedules and formats that reduce customers’ reporting workload. The release also added additional compliance reporting capabilities such as Incurred Cost Submission (ICS) reports, and important integration with Microsoft Office  for billing. Some GCS Premier clients that have upgraded to the 5.0 version have reportedly seen billing times go from a few hours to 90 seconds (which should translate in a much better cash flow).

The familiar workflow graphics that GCS customers have traditionally liked remain in this new version. However GCS 5.0 also adds greater navigational ease with the new UI that features the Explorer-Tab-Icon combination, and that puts users almost instantly anywhere they need to go (a couple of clicks away from anywhere).

Incidentally, Deltek believes its decision to invest in GCS Premier was a wise one: it has been among the best-selling software packages within Deltek over the last year or so given the number of small government contractors that continue to enter the market. With Obama’s potential spending plans, GCS is likely to continue to have a strong run.

Furthermore, Deltek continues to invest in GCS Premier.  In keeping with a performance management theme you will see below, the company is planning on releasing Executive Dashboards in 2009 and new reporting capabilities that will leverage all of the key data in GCS to allow government contractors to make better business decisions.

Nothing Without Business Performance Management

DPM was released in the late summer of 2008, and it was an important release for Deltek because – as we all know – analytics, dashboards, and business performance management (BPM) are all the rage these days. While companies could always do reporting within Deltek Costpoint, DPM puts the power of analytics into the hands of the end-users and out of the hands of the information technology (IT) department.

The idea was to empower all employees with self-service access to the information they need to make more informed decisions on a daily basis. DPM is based around IBM Cognos 8 business intelligence (BI) technology and includes 50 pre-built reports that are further configurable, 13 ICS schedules, 181 Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) control screens, and has a standardized look-and-feel and drill-thru capabilities.

The offering is integrated and compatible with Deltek Costpoint 6.0 and 6.1 and with the Deltek Time & Expense 8.0 and 8.1 products. Sales of Costpoint and Cognos have evidently been so strong that Deltek was named Cognos’ original equipment manufacturer (OEM) partner of the year at Cognos’ recent conference.

For the future, Deltek’s major focus within the GovCon line of business is on the Costpoint side, specifically completely converting it to a Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) architecture (from the original Gupta/Centura blueprint) and continuing to invest in executive dashboards and scorecards for improved usability. Namely, the current Costpoint 6.1 release’s focus has been on enterprise-class scalability and performance, support for SOX via Segregation of Duties (SoD), auditing and other internal controls, and support for earned value management (EVM) via Deltek Cobra integration. Last but not least, there are improved GovCon project accounting capabilities via support for the Accounting Classification Reference Number (ACRN) Bills, Wide Area Work Flow (WAWF) Interface, and Award Fee Revenue.

Another important GovCon focus is on expanding the capabilities of Deltek GovWin, Deltek’s business development/capture management solution for government contracting. In this tough economy, responding to the right bids and winning business are more important processes than ever. With this upcoming release, GovWin will manage the complete business development lifecycle, from opportunity identification and management, to contract award.

The product follows this specialized sales lifecycle from gathering and tracking competitive, market and human intelligence to opportunity identification and management, pursuit decision management (bid/no bid), capture planning and proposal management.  The release will also allow users instant access and search of all documents and information from competitive information to pricing and estimating information to existing contracts and proposals.

Deltek Enterprise Project Management (EPM) Portfolio

The Deltek EPM product portfolio has also been a top seller for Deltek over the last year or so.  Compliance and tight project controls are paramount during these economic times, and the US government has stepped up enforcement and project auditing. According to the proverb "might makes right,” Deltek’s customers like government agencies’ contractors, systems integrators, aerospace & defense (A&D) manufacturers, and capital investment architecture, engineering & construction (A/E/C) companies have no choice but to comply.

Deltek is also gaining traction inside government agencies themselves who use Deltek EPM solutions to better manage their programs.  Therefore, these companies badly need the likes of Deltek as they strive to do more with less while eliminating inconsistent project management practices and meeting a plethora of mushrooming compliance requirements. The overwhelming set of requirements could include:

Particularly, having the EVM capability is no longer optional when dealing with the abovementioned federal agencies. Impacts from failure to comply and missed schedules can be devastating. For example, how would you feel about losing EVM accreditation and having up to 10 percent of supplier payments withheld by the agency for failure to adequately implement and maintain a validated EVM system?

Making matters even worse, the requirements from US agencies like Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Energy (DoE), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), General Services Administration (GSA), and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are continuing to expand into ever smaller projects (in terms of the contract value thresholds) with ever more reporting requirements. The ability to manage earned value is no longer just a nice thing to do (to impress the "big brother"), but is being rigorously enforced. There are the indications that the government is also considering lowering the dollar thresholds for all the projects where EVM is mandated.

The Deltek EPM solution set [evaluate some of these products] accordingly incorporates all aspects needed to manage project performance.  From material management, time collection and cost accounting (within enterprise resource planning [ERP] systems like Costpoint) to cost management, EVM, scheduling, and risk management.  This information rolls into analytic reporting and then down into dashboards for easy viewing via the Deltek WelcomHome project collaboration software.

The final part of this blog series will analyze the recent developments (and anticipated future developments) at the Deltek EPM line of business. Your views, comments and opinions, particular experiences with the aforementioned products, etc., are welcome in the meantime.
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