Some Belated Insights from, well, Deltek Insight 2010 - Part 2

Part 1 of this blog series started with me lamenting my inability to attend the Deltek Insight 2010 conference. However, I recently had an in-depth post-event recap instead with Deltek’s in-the-know staff members.

What then followed in Part 1 were descriptions of the major developments that transpired at Deltek Insight 2010 in terms of already released products and those that were only sneak previewed (but will be released down the track). Part 2 will analyze the corporate announcements and some new (perhaps refreshing) directions, as well as provide a glimpse of what we might expect at Deltek Insight 2011.

Corporate Announcements and New Directions

Deltek govWin Network: At the Insight 2010 conference, Deltek showcased the govWin community/network (not to be confused with the previously named Deltek GovWin business development/proposal generating solution that is now called Costpoint CRM) and talked about what it might mean for its government contractor (GovCon) customers. Indeed, who could be better suited to organize and offer an astute community and teaming portal than Deltek, the market leader in GovCon solutions?

Powering this network is not necessarily software, but rather a vibrant, online community, with entirely new capabilities to enable teaming between contractors of all sizes. In other words, govWin is about leveraging technology to make essential business processes much more efficient. The offering is also a clear departure from Deltek’s historical “back office” view of the world. govWin is an evolving, dynamic portal that government contractors can leverage on a daily basis to solve some of their most pressing challenges (e.g., finding new opportunities).

It is interesting to note that Deltek’s recent acquisition of INPUT (more details below) gives Deltek another network of 20,000 government contracting professionals whose primary mission is in finding and winning business. The combined network will have over 45,000 professionals, making it a true gravity point in the industry for researching contracting opportunities, finding teaming partners, collaborating on proposals, and winning new business.

Deltek just launched an expanded version of govWin that adds additional rich content (with assistance from INPUT) and includes the industry’s first supplier verification system.  This new system offers complete supplier audit trail capabilities so that government contractors can keep an accurate, real-time electronic record of their use of subcontractors through govWin to stay compliant with government requirements.

Deltek Clarity Reports: My previous blog series talked about Deltek’s Clarity 2009 survey and its industry benchmarking results. Another example of Deltek evolving to continually meet its customer’s needs could be these new Clarity studies. The vendor’s thesis was that the GovCon market is now moving at a lightning-fast pace, and growth-oriented contractors were hungry for information about their industry. Hence, they were also eager to benchmark themselves against the market leaders and their peers.

Based on Deltek’s strong relationships with its GovCon customers, the vendor felt well-suited to collect industry-wide data to then surface trends and analysis that would benefit all of its customers. When all was said and done, Deltek reportedly had more respondents to its first survey-based report – the Clarity Finance report – than any other GovCon survey in the history of the industry.

Following the initial success of this inaugural study in the Fall of 2009, Deltek has just concluded three companion surveys and released the following three new reports:

  1. the Clarity Focus on IT  report

  2. the Clarity Focus on Business Development report

  3. the Clarity GovCon Business Development report

All three reports are available now. And that is not all, since Deltek’s 2010 version of its originalClarity study is almost complete and will not only benchmark where government contractors are now but also contrast this year’s results with those from last year to outline how the industry has evolved over the last year.

Business Value Assessments: Once Deltek saw the notable value of its Clarity studies, the company began to wonder whether it might be able to use that data to help its customers benchmark themselves against the industry best practices. After all, Deltek’s staffers are frequently asked by individual customers how they stack up against the many other customers that the vendor serves. And these customers are interested in best practices (and benchmarks) to ensure that they get all the benefits they can from their Deltek solutions.

So Deltek had its team work with a number of customers, both Deltek Vision in professional services and Deltek Costpoint and GSC Premier in GovCon, to create a benchmarking tool that allows customers to answer a series of business process questions and measure those results against best practices and the industry as a whole. It is all quite straightforward: the interview process takes as little as an hour – yet the results can be eye-opening.

Deltek began making this available free of charge to customers beginning in Q1 2010, and the response has reportedly exceeded expectations. As a result, customers can quickly find the areas where they are the strongest – and conversely identify opportunities for improvement.

The tool provides quantifiable benefits to improving various processes, against a backdrop of real results from hundreds of other Deltek customers. I am not aware of anyone else in the professional services or GovCon sector that has the ability to provide this kind of a tool and services, and Deltek is doing it to benefit its customers today.

Alternative Licensing Models: While I’ve always commended Deltek’s intimate knowledge of its industry sectors and the functional astuteness of its products, I’ve never necessarily regarded the vendor as a technology trailblazer. Thus, I was pleased to hear that Deltek is piloting some entirely new licensing options for some of its products.

For nearly 30 years, Deltek has sold software in just one way – “Perpetual Licensing”. What that means in plain English (as you most of you likely know) is that you had one way, and only one way, to purchase software: you had to buy a “lifetime supply” of it on the very first day. For something like your core financial system, that was the norm – you expected to use your financial system for 10 years or more, and people don’t tend to experiment with or pilot back-office systems.

But for some capabilities, including a number of Deltek’s add-on products (some of which were mentioned in Part 1), customers wanted the ability to use the products for a flexible number of staff or for a defined period of time – other than a lifetime. Effective at Insight 2010, Deltek is now offering selected add-on products as an annual subscription. The benefits are clear: it costs less to get access to new capabilities than it did with a Perpetual License.

Users now have more flexibility in terms of the number of users, and the ability to change how many people use the software to evolve software use as business needs change. Hence, Budgeting and Planning for Costpoint and GCS Premier, Costpoint CRM, Deltek Mobile Time, and Vision Connect for Microsoft Outlook can all be purchased using this model. It is all about flexibility and adaptability by offering delivery models in the way customers want to use Deltek’ selected solutions: On-Premise, Subscription, or in the “Cloud.”

Acquiring INPUT:  Since purchasing Maconomy in June 2010, Deltek made another transformational move when it purchased INPUT in early October 2010, a company that was renowned for offering deep government market research and analysis and in-depth opportunity intelligence about government contracts that are up for bid. Unlike Maconomy, INPUT is not a traditional software company, so why would the vendor make this move?

Consistent with its strategy of selling solutions to its customers, Deltek purchased INPUT for many reasons. First, INPUT bolsters Deltek’s existing enterprise applications.  Over the last few years, Deltek has increasingly sold its front-office CRM software to government contractors.

INPUT gives Deltek a wealth of opportunity information on government contracts that enhances Deltek’s CRM applications making them even more differentiated and attractive in the marketplace. With INPUT’s opportunity intelligence capabilities, Deltek now offers all of the capabilities government contractors need to find and win business, plus Deltek also offers the leads too.

Second, with govWin, INPUT’s content and opportunity information expands Deltek’s government contracting network, further cementing Deltek and its network as the place to go to understand market dynamics, and the place to find both opportunities and the teaming partners needed to capture those opportunities. As Deltek expands its network with additional applications besides its SaaS-CRM offering, its network can act as a great delivery mechanism for additional Deltek SaaS-applications for government contractors.

Third, INPUT’s deep market research on the government is very synergistic with Deltek’s Clarity government contracting reports, which helps the company offer a 360 degree perspective on the government-related marketplace.  The INPUT reports analyze the government itself (e.g., spending trends, contracts up for bid, etc.),while the Clarity reports analyze the government contractors themselves (e.g., how they run their back-offices, how they manage projects, etc.)

Last but not least, given Deltek’s 9,000 architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) customers worldwide, Deltek has a great opportunity to sell INPUT’s government opportunity intelligence to the AEC firms that want to find and win government business. All in all, INPUT seems a synergistic extension for Deltek that broadens the vendor’s offerings outside of software, opens up new markets for the company, and enhances the company’s existing applications – especially its evolving CRM applications.

Looking Back at Insight 2009 and Forward to Insight 2011

In step with the major topic du jour, Deltek's Insight 2009 conference had a special American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) track, as many of you would know from my four-part blog series. Somewhat not surprisingly, Insight 2010 did not have a separate economic stimulus track. It is certainly still of interest to both Deltek’s GovCon and professional services customer base, but no one really saw a major push forward due to the stimulus.

ARRA has had an effect on Deltek’s business and that of its customers, but only in the margins so far. There is apparently still a ton of money that has not been spent yet, so perhaps we could see an uptick down the line, but I don’t think many companies are sitting around and hoping for it.

Immediately after Insight 2010, Deltek acquired Maconomy, which was analyzed in my recent blog post. Thus, I suspect that Deltek Insight 2011 will have a wealth of Maconomy-related content considering Deltek’s strategic imperative to sell the Maconomy X1 enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution to the United States (US) professional services firms. This is specifically the case in the Consulting, Agency (PR and Marketing Communications), Accounting, Research, and Legal sectors.

Insight 2011 will likely feature a slew of Maconomy product demos, roadmap discussions, and customer presentations. As said earlier, Deltek is embracing alternative delivering models for its applications including Cloud Computing, Term Licensing, etc. One should expect that Maconomy will also be evaluated for its applicability across alternative delivery models just as Deltek did for many of its other applications.

On the cross-sell topic, Maconomy’s acclaimed People Planner application (that offers best-in-class Resource Planning capabilities) offers major cross-sell possibilities to both Deltek’s professional services and GovCon customers. Look for this to be a major part of the company’s strategy in the coming months.

Insight 2011 will also likely feature an in-depth look at INPUT, and how its capabilities are further extending and differentiating Deltek’s solutions offering. Both the INPUT and Maconomy acquisitions have transformed Deltek, and we expect to see this transformed company on display in Nashville in May 2011.

Dear readers, what are your comments, opinions, etc. on Deltek’s approach and strategy, as well as on whether the vendor is keeping abreast of the shifting customer’s needs expectations? What are your experiences with Deltek and Maconomy (especially your experience with their solutions and services)? How about the Deltek and INPUT combination?
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