Where information means insight



The Benefits of ERP Software Training

by Kim KosterERP Software Best Practices

Nov 13, 2019

Software training is a valuable endeavor, and ERP software training is no different. Many people struggle with maximizing their use of the software they have access to. My parents, who are in their 70s, have two shiny, brand new iPads. They have enough processing power to have sent an astronaut to the moon in the 60s. They have the latest in optical display. And you know what they use it for? You got it: Farmville. The same can be said for so many Office products. Did you know that you can embed an Excel graph in a PowerPoint slide? Well, maybe you’ve heard of that…and maybe you don’t even know how to graph in Excel. At Unanet we want you to maximize your software! We want you to use the tool as it was designed to help your business grow. We want your employees to be empowered to review metrics in the reports to help make valuable decisions. What’s the best way to maximize your use of Unanet? Training! Why Should You Attend ERP Software Training? Aside from becoming an expert, you may be wondering why you should consider attending ERP software training. There’s nearly an endless number of reasons! Training comes in handy to get a jump on new functionality and become comfortable with it. In addition, training will allow you to become more confident in your use of the product so you can exceed your goals. Another benefit of training is that you are forced to take the time out of your busy schedule of multi-tasking and focus on one objective: learning how to optimize your software. We don’t often get the opportunity to focus intently on one project or task at a time, and training allows you to do so in an environment where you aren’t simply searching for the quickest way you know how to do something. You slow down and find the correct way to do it and can perhaps find an even faster way to do it that you hadn’t known before. Here are even more benefits of utilizing ERP software training through Unanet University: Staying current with updates and best practices Cutting time in the learning process Seeing examples play out in front of you Spending dedicated time focused on experimenting in the Unanet environment without impacting your own system Boosting your resume by working towards or earning certificates Learning real-world situations from similar businesses Networking with other students and Unanet employees Why Would My Company Send Me to ERP Software Training? As we have detailed above, there are many benefits to training that will improve your work and use of the product, but you of course need to get your boss on board as well! In your discussion with your supervisor, remind them that ERP software training will help your company do the following: Learn and use best practices of the product Develop efficiencies in the system Ensure the most current functionalities of the product are being utilized to their best advantage Allow employees to maximize their efforts in the system without use of trial and error methods. Make the Most of Unanet with Unanet University Our instructor-led classes are structured to allow for small-group interaction with an experienced instructor. The Unanet University instructors have a combined 20 years of experience using Unanet! We are dedicated to helping you maximize your use of Unanet. Register today for an upcoming class!


2/3 of Unanet A/E Users Migrated from Deltek

by Lucas HaydenA/E

Nov 07, 2019

Practice makes perfect and we have LOTS of practice migrating firms from Deltek to Unanet A/E powered by Clearview. Our implementation team is composed of experts from the Architecture/Engineering industry who have themselves traveled down the path of transitioning from Deltek to Unanet A/E at their previous firms or in their consulting career. They know their stuff – both the system you are coming from and the possibilities to ‘move the ball forward’ with Unanet A/E. Our team of project based accounting specialists can hold your hand throughout the process and work with you to get up and running quickly so that you can begin utilizing Unanet A/E’s tools like real time dashboards, project planning, Prospect Management, time and expense entries and others to manage your business in a new and exciting way. We have had so many users migrate from Deltek to Unanet A/E over the years – and indeed, an increasing number recently that have chosen Unanet A/E over updating to Deltek Vantagepoint – that we have developed data migration utilities that automate a large part of the data transfer. In fact, our utilities can typically bring transactional level, detailed history over from Deltek Vision with greater than 90% accuracy on the first rough cut pass. The last 10% gap closes quickly once we meet with you and your team and gain an appreciation for the user defined fields and the like that you want to bring over as well. We are hearing more and more often that Deltek customers are being pushed to Vantage Point when the features they need to run their firms aren’t ready for prime time. Due to the increased demand for a more modern and flexible project based ERP, Unanet A/E has added multiple support specialists, developers and implementation staff and partners in the recent months. Once you are up and running, we aren’t going anywhere. Unanet A/E offers unlimited, U.S. based support to help you get the most out of our technology. Our project based ERP with forecasting, planning, time and expense and other business administration modules are designed to keep architecture and engineering firms running quickly and efficiently so that you can focus your time and energy on the work that you love while keeping a close eye on the day to day projects, costs, sales and operations of your Architecture and Engineering business. We would love to talk with you about our cost saving software that allows you to do more. Reach out to us through the form at the bottom of the page, or read a little more about a 250 person firm that joined us after leaving Deltek here.


Cash is King for Government Contractors: How to Accelerate Cash Flow

by Kim KosterBusiness Development & Growth, GovCon

Nov 05, 2019

The ability to generate positive cash flow is important for a government contractor to create value and for so many small businesses, lack of cash can result in failure. Profitability is a good sign, but it’s not sustainable if the profits are stuck in accounts receivable (AR). There are two important metrics you can use to evaluate cash flow: Days sales outstanding (DSO): the number of days between making a sale and collecting payment – calculated for the year by dividing AR by Annual Sales and multiplying by 365. Invoice cycle in days: the number of days between the beginning of the billing process and customer acceptance. Keeping these numbers as low as possible ensures that your company can put cash to use more quickly. Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) In the 2019 GAUGE Report, 70% of respondents reported DSO below 45. Contractors are focused on reducing DSO, which has improved from last year in the <46-day categories for companies of all revenue scales. Breaking it down by revenue scale, companies with higher revenues tend to have higher DSO. Among those with revenue up to $25M, 80% have DSO below 45, compared to just 37% of companies with revenue above $101M. Compare your DSO to others in your revenue band. Are you better or worse than the respondents? Invoice Cycles Since last year, invoice cycles are 12% better in the <11-day categories, which signals a concentration on process and tool selection. The faster you can invoice, the faster you can turn your cash. Errors in the invoice cycle can slow down the process and keep you from being paid. As government contractors, you will need to make sure you are current on the regulations and have all your I’s dotted and T’s crossed. Breaking it down again by revenue scale, we see trends similar to DSO. The speed of invoice cycles for companies with up to $25M of annual revenue surpassed the other revenue scales in the survey. Compare your invoice cycle to others in your revenue band. Are you better or worse than the respondents? Characteristics of an ERP with Cash Acceleration in Mind Cash is king for government contractors! As a GovCon, it is critical to be able to automate and shorten the bid-to-bill lifecycle and to keep revenue recognition and billing completely in lock step. When looking for a tool, it is important to have: A time application that is part of the project-based ERP system so that billing can be done quickly Traceability of all transactions Multiple, standard invoice formats to be used across projects, showing summary or detailed level information Ability to hide or show cost element detail on Cost Plus invoices Ability to include Fixed Price, Time & Materials, Pre-Bill Labor, and Additional Items on the same invoice Ability to defer items from the current invoice for future invoicing Ability to add one-time items such as additional fees or discounts After switching to Unanet, Phase One Consulting Group completes all month-close procedures in 5 to 7 days, reduced their invoicing process from 20 to 7 days, and improved DSO from 60 to 50. To learn more about cash acceleration for your government contracting organization, read Unanet and CohnReznick’s 2019 GAUGE Report. The GAUGE Report is a valuable benchmarking tool for GovCons who seek deep insights into industry practices and metrics. Download your copy today!


Why is a Timely Month End Close Important For Your Project Based Business?

by Kim KosterProfessional Services

Oct 11, 2019

Finance and accounting professionals are always looking for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and they can’t find it until month end close. They are not the only folks in the organization looking for the gold—the CEO, CFO, and COO are, too! You may be thinking to yourself, “Why is it so dang important to close the books quickly?” Let’s explore a couple of reasons below: Vital decision-making information is derived from accurate financial information. Being able to concentrate on certain KPIs that drive business strategies is a huge advantage for the company. So, if the data is slow, there is no chance to get those metrics quickly, course correct and avert a crisis.  A slow close also is an indicator that your process is cumbersome (chaos: manual and lots of spreadsheets) and therefore it is likely you are using more labor than necessary. Bottom line, a slow close will increase G&A expenditures. “We have always done it this way, why change?” We hear this over and over and it is just not a vibe of continuous improvement. This stance will hold the finance and accounting teams back and ultimately hold back the overall business. If the close is slow, your underlying functions may also be very slow, like billing, cashflow, accounts payable. Cash is the life blood of every business and you want to make sure all or your accounting functions are performing as well as possible. It is all about People, Processes, and Tools!   Steps to a Faster Month End Close The organization must all agree that there is a problem. Once you admit you have one, it is time to make a case for change. Now that you have admitted there is an issue and you have made a case to fix it, it is time for the executives to make the decision to accelerate the accounting close. They say GO, so it is time to get started. Form a tiger team with the vital stakeholders and explore ideas for continuous improvement. If you are not familiar with a tiger team, it is a diversified group of experts brought together for a need. They are usually assigned to investigate, solve, build, or recommend possible solutions to unique situations or problems. Just like with any project, there needs to be an established plan. The project will need a detailed plan to help coordinate the moving parts and cross functional tasks. What are we going to do? Who is assigned to do it? and When will it be completed? I suggest having a meeting cadence with the team as well as the sponsors or execs. The scope of the overall project will dictate the meeting and coordination needs. Create policies and procedures that fit your business. If you are not sure of the difference of a policy and a procedure, here are the definitions. A procedure is the series of steps to be followed as a consistent and repetitive approach to accomplish a particular end-result. A policy is a guiding principle used to set direction in an organization or department. The documentation of the procedure is the policy. Selecting the right tool for your organization is critical. Selecting the wrong tool can be very costly to implement and—even worse—costly to maintain. A tool won’t necessarily solve your problems, but it is an enabler to maintain process adherence. You will have more success if you pick a tool that is truly integrated. Benchmark other “like” companies to see how long their accounting close is taking. Are you in line with them? Is there an opportunity to gain a competitive edge if we are more efficient? Just because you have policies and procedures does not mean they are applicable to your organization today or that people are using them. Now that you have new shiny policies/procedures and a tool that fits your needs, it is time to enable your people. A training plan must be a part of the ongoing activities to make your finance and accounting team a gold standard for your organization. Since this comes at the end, it is easy to want to skimp on this and save money but trust me, it will cost you down the road. Make sure you have the right people in the right jobs. If there are changes that need to be made, make them. You may have a very talented engineer doing accounting. Maybe he is not so great at debits and credits, but he is a wonderful designer. MOVE HIM! Assess where there are talent gaps and look to make those strategic hires. Source: the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey Establish standard KPIs for the accounting close and other financial functions. This will help everyone understand the contribution that the finance and accounting team is making to the overall business goals. Source: the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey Continuous improvement Knowledge – what to and why to Skills – how to Desire – want to The intersection of these three is the formulation of habits…in this case, the habit will be to follow the business rules to make the finance and accounting team valued by the entire business. Just say NO to spreadsheet chaos! Reduce Your Month End Close with Unanet! The finance and accounting team are considered back office but the work they do and the information they provide is the BACKBONE for the entire organization. Unanet can help. Unanet provides general ledger, accounts payable, cost pools, PO 2-way or 3-way match, and more accounting features in one single source of truth, allowing you to eliminate spreadsheet chaos once and for all. Many Unanet customers have greatly reduced their month end close cycle and allowed them to increase efficiency and focus on other aspects of their business. Read Phase One Consulting Group’s success story to learn how they reduced their invoicing process from 20 to 7 days. Want to dive deeper? Check out our white paper, “Project Accounting – The Basics!”


Functions of a Project Management Office

by Kim KosterProfessional Services

Oct 07, 2019

Is Your Project Management Office (PMO) a Vital Part of Your Organization? The Project Management Office’s (PMO) mission is to make projects successful by providing the structure needed for an excellent project management approach. There are two types of PMOs: centralized and decentralized. Centralized PMOs are enterprise-wide and decentralized PMOs focus on a program or project. Regardless of PMO type, the major function is to provide decision support information for projects. The Project Management Institute (PMI) Program Management Office Community of Practice describes the PMO as a strategic driver for organizational excellence, which seeks to enhance the practices of execution management, organizational governance, and strategic change leadership. According to recent studies, organizations that have a PMO function are more likely to have project success, which has led to a rise in PMOs. Primary Functions of a PMO: The major function of the PMO is to help project teams manage and execute their projects successfully! Whether starting a new PMO or reviving an old one, the first step is to create a mission statement and a vision. Example PMO Mission Statement: “The Unanet Project Management Office (PMO) supports an effective project management methodology, empowering our enterprise to deliver projects on-time, on-budget, and with the highest possible quality meeting and exceeding our customers expectations.” Example PMO Vision: “To make Unanet a recognized leader in delivering projects that exceed customer expectations and improve our profitability and efficiency.” To fulfill that mission and vision, the PMO will need to perform the following functions: Create and maintain policies and procedures Policies should establish best practices for your organization Assure that the policies and procedures help the teams be successful Provide standardization across the enterprise (Level 3 Maturity) Have a repository giving all stakeholders access to current documents Create a feedback loop to check for adherence Have a self-audit plan and corrective actions Embrace project management maturity – Since project management depends on the strategic alignment of people, processes, and tools, it only makes sense to concentrate on the level of competency of each of these attributes throughout your capability evolution. Engineering and professional services organizations are all on different journeys as it pertains to capability evolution. Increase in maturity equals increase in successful and predictable outcomes. Resource Management – People are a company’s biggest investment and in turn it is the largest revenue generator for service-based companies. Resources should be managed during the entire project lifecycle: starting a proposal, project initiation, execution, and closeout. Enabling projects and programs to measure the utilization and demand of resources is critical. Below are a couple of questions you should be able to answer during the resource management process. A PMO that supports a strong resource management discipline will be a major differentiator for winning new business and executing existing projects. What utilization do you need to be profitable? What utilization should you aim for to avoid burnout? Understanding billable and non-billable utilization? Project probability in people forecasting to more accurately understand both billable revenue and utilization KPIs and reporting for the projects and the enterprise at large – KPIs measure activity that reveals how a business is performing against its goals. KPIs measured against a specific target or benchmark is an indicator of good or bad performance. If a measurement of activity does not directly influence the goals of the business, then it is not a KPI, it is a metric. The business may want to measure many metrics but not all metrics are Key. A KPI is only as valuable as the action it inspires. The PMO should assist the business in defining KPIs that drive the success of projects, programs, and portfolios. The PMO can also be a major player in the communication of the KPIs through standard dashboards and reports. Communication is extremely important as succinct, clear, and relevant (current) information is much more likely to be absorbed and acted upon. One way to evaluate the relevance of a KPI is to use the SMART criteria. The letters stand for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-bound. A proactive PMO will help establish SMART KPIs for the teams and executives. Role-based training on policies, procedures, and tools is a critical activity for the entire project team. Understanding the basics of the policies and procedures as well as the impact on other teams helps stakeholders understand their role as well as what other groups are doing. Project management discipline and competency training is necessary and PMOs/Organizations that recognize this will reap great rewards. Project management is a mix of learned skills, experience, and basic leadership capabilities. Project managers that are exposed to skills and role-based training are more likely to have successful project outcomes. Organizations will attract great project managers if they recognize the importance of the project management discipline and have a training program, provide a career path, and have established project management processes and procedures. Align with Corporate Goals – The PMO, must embrace the overall culture and corporate strategy to gain traction in the organization. Effective PMOs break down silos and help organizations execute with a common purpose enabling project teams, functional organizations, and executives to be in complete alignment. The goals and mission of the PMO should be aligned with corporate goals. The more successful the PMO, the more influence it will have. As the PMO takes on the role of “trusted advisor” and “project execution specialist” the more support they will gain from the C Suite. The more support they get, the more likely your PMO will help shape strategy and become “best in class.” To learn more, download our white paper, “Benefits of Maturing Your Project Management Discipline.”


Building a Strong Opportunity Pipeline

by Kim KosterGovCon

Sep 21, 2019

Why Should You Manage Your Pipeline? Pipeline = Strength of the Business Pipeline = Growth or Velocity of the Business Pipeline = Direction of the Business Pipeline = Financial Health of the Business Let’s start off by level-setting on the definition of an opportunity pipeline. For a project-based business like yours, it is the visualization and/or measurement of contracts or projects that you will attempt to win over time. The time horizon can be “time now” to 10+ years into the future depending on the planning needs of your business or the length of your sales cycle. An opportunity pipeline is the incubator for your business growth and it should reflect your company’s overall business strategy. Potential opportunities in the pipeline will be in different stages as defined by your company’s business development processes. Often pipeline is depicted with a funnel. The top of the funnel is wide and it is taking in potential opportunities for new and exciting projects. The opportunity will then move through the business development decision gates (down the funnel and will either continue through the gates or be eliminated through the process) defined by your company until it reaches the Request-For-Proposal (RFP) Stage. Out of the tip of the funnel will come projects that you have won and that you must now execute. Also important are the losses and understanding why you lost. Keeping a set of lessons learned will make sure you don’t make the same strategic mistakes again. Having a gated and structured BD process will assure you are bidding on the right opportunities and making the most out of your bid and proposal budgets. Pwin = Probability that your company will with the business based on discriminators, competition, or other factors. Pgo = Probability that the customer will fund the project. Pwin x Pgo = Probablity of Award (POA) With structured tracking, valuable reports and KPIs will be available to help make those critical business decisions. You will be able to analyze what is happening to opportunities throughout the process, look for patterns, see which portfolios are the most profitable, forecast your labor demands, and project the trajectory of your business (funded vs. unfunded backlog for example). A structured process will also improve the chances of pursuing the right opportunities and closing more deals. Want to learn more about pursuing the right opportunities? Download this free go/no-go calculator from our partners at Cosential.  Pipeline Management is the Starting Point for the Project Lifecycle Unanet is a powerful project-based ERP solution that can truly help your business manage the lifecycle of the project from pipeline to closeout. It is the only project-based ERP system today that provides one system for projects, people, and financials. What do You Need From a Tool to Manage Your Pipeline? Customer Relationship Management (CRM) – track your customer interactions. We recommend Cosential CRM by Unanet. Contact categorization for easy reference (decision maker, geographic location, golf buddy, etc.) Workflow optimization assigning tasks and providing notification Opportunity tracking by phase Easy to use reporting, dashboards, and metrics to direct business decisions Real-time data Project notes and code fields for unparalleled analytics Resource demand planning with both current and TBD resources Ability to shift forecasts to the right or left Ability to make POA adjustments as opportunities moves through the funnel One-click transformations from proposal project to an executable project Cloud based system so there is 24/7/365 access to your information What are the Results of Better Managing Your Pipeline? Better pipeline management has a variety of positive outcomes. You will be able to experience higher win rates as you have gained more visibility and control over your entire BD process. You will be better able to evaluate opportunities and will spend your valuable time bidding on the right opportunities at the right time for your company. And finally, you will be able to maximize your bid and proposal expenses.