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Unanet CRM Joins Unanet Connect Giving GovCon, Architecture, Engineering and Construction Firms Best-in-Class Integrations

by Kim KosterAEC, GovCon, Press Releases, Unanet News

Jul 28, 2021

Dulles, VA, July 28, 2021 – Unanet CRM, the award-winning option in the Unanet suite of solutions, has joined Unanet Connect, a one-of-a-kind open integration marketplace where government contractor (GovCon), architecture, engineering and construction customers can access many of the key building blocks for a digital ecosystem that connects seamlessly to their CRM software. “Unanet Connect delivers a completely upgraded approach to bridge the gap between key systems without losing any functionality or insight,” said Assad Jarrahian, Chief Product Officer, for Unanet. “Unanet CRM is committed to supporting all our customers strategic growth plans with investments, innovation and a relentless focus on delivering what customers tell us they want and need.” Ease of integration is one area where Unanet CRM stands out and Unanet has expanded the categories of new connectors that are now available in the Unanet Connect marketplace, including: Unanet AE, and many other project-based ERPs, to collaborate across architecture and engineering firms’ accounting systems and other key business functions such as marketing, sales and project management. Digital asset management tool, including industry leader OpenAsset, to help companies store, organize and find marketing images more easily Email marketing tools, including Hubspot, so businesses can reach their target audience every time HR systems – From the most common HRIS systems such as BambooHR and more, firms can glean the most relevant and up-to-date information on personnel. “Unanet Connect is a game-changer for our firm. It has already started to make a huge difference with our growth goals,” said Ashley Hartman, Marketing & Business Development Manager, Above Group, Inc. “Our previously un-synched systems led to outdated or conflicting data, which required three times the work to edit. Removing those siloes is an enormous relief for us and it’s certain to produce measurable benefits, including the time we’ll save because we no longer have to maintain three project lists between accounting, executive and business development.” Unanet’s ERP allows companies to control complexity and compliance with one streamlined platform. It has consistently been touted by industry analyst groups and business leaders as the best project-based ERP. Most recently, Unanet was named the Gold-level winner in the American Business Awards for ERP solutions. To learn more about Unanet ERP and other solutions, please visit www.unanet.com. About Unanet Unanet is a leading provider of project-based ERP and CRM solutions purpose-built for Government Contractors, architecture, engineering, construction, and professional services. More than 3,200 project-driven organizations depend on Unanet to turn their information into actionable insights, drive better decision-making, and accelerate business growth. All backed by a people-centered team invested in the success of your projects, people, and financials. For more information, visit www.unanet.com. Media Contacts: Claire Mylott Feed Media for Unanet claire@feedmedia.com 303-257-2928

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Unique Project Costing Challenges for Architecture & Engineering Firms

by Lucas HaydenAEC, Project Management

Jul 09, 2021

For architecture and engineering firms, proper project costing is essential for success. Projects are the business, and without profitable projects, there is no business. At the center of project profitability is an accurate picture of project cost. Project Costing is the practice of correctly planning and tracking the resources needed to complete a project, and their associated cost. True project cost is paramount to understanding your project financial performance and that requires maintaining laser-focused control over your projects. It is only by gaining clarity and insight into the financials of a project that teams have key information that allows them to monitor project status in real-time so that the project stays on budget. And while it may be obvious why this is so important; project costing can be a major roadblock for AE firm success. AE firms face unique project costing challenges. It is well-known that many projects fail to finish within the initially set budget. Key challenges and the unfortunate repercussions specific to AE firms include: Unplanned financial adjustments mid-project Every project kicks off with what are believed to be reasonable expectations, but very often surprises arise. This can usually be traced back to the team not having access to necessary information mid-project, which leaves them grasping for straws and coming in late and over budget. Resource course correction At the start of every project, firms assign resources based on anticipated needs, but often a project gets derailed when teams realize that those allocations were off target; and if the team does not have visibility into this during the project, the project can fail. Disorganization leading to errors Throughout the project lifecycle, it is essential to be organized. This requires constant monitoring of financial metrics and the latest information, but in the absence of this kind of visibility, errors often occur. Client relations Invoicing clients at set intervals throughout the project is protocol and being accurate and timely reinforces your valued client relationships. When the project costing system is not in sync with your billing and invoicing clients receive errant invoices, placing your cash flow and client experience at risk. Lack of visibility into the whole picture The best way to ensure accounting best practices is with 100% visibility into every aspect of the project. However, when teams rely on archaic systems to help steer the project, they cannot see the full picture, leading to costly mistakes. Lack of accountability Projects keep moving when the people managing them are held accountable for their tasks, but when these people struggle to obtain real-time information, maintaining accountability becomes much harder, and the project—and the company’s financial health—can suffer. What is project success and how does project cost management play a role? Project costing is critical for firms needing to achieve clear objectives to meet both internal objectives and client expectations. It is paramount for project cost management to be a clear priority, as it is foundational for profitability. For a project to be deemed successful—for both the organization and their clients—it must meet clear expectations for timing and budget, as well as be delivered with superior quality. And while all these elements are essential, project cost management is at the core. For every project, the firm begins with determining a budget; the rest of the project, from timing, to resource allocation, to selection of materials is based on that budget. Having real-time insight into every aspect of the project every step of the way is critical. Despite knowing how important this is, it more than often seems projects can spiral out of control. Too many moving parts and disorganized systems disrupt a clear, real-time view of progress or lack thereof. On top of that, there is no real understanding, once the project is in motion, of the possible need to change direction, re-evaluate resources or navigate potential unexpected new costs. The good news: unique solutions for distinctive challenges AE firms have been trying to manage project costing without the needed resources for years. The results can be devastating to the firm and its clients, and yet it has continued to be widespread practice for firms to keep using spreadsheets, along with archaic software, in hopes projects come in on budget. The problem is this simply does not work; project managers and executives keeping their fingers crossed is not the solution. The good news is that AE firms can have project profitability at their fingertips with real-time data available in a seamless, interactive dashboard that allows everyone to access information minute-to-minute through an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system. By doing so, teams: Accurately and quickly measure project profitability Implement project costing methodologies that really work Gain flexibility, agility, and efficiency Boost project profitability with powerful, accurate time and expense tracking Through a seamless, automated, real-time ERP, teams gain control over budgeting, estimation, and resource planning, all of which are necessary for accurate project costing. An ERP helps firms address each of these areas with ease and accuracy. Project Cost Budgeting and Control Creating and effectively managing the budget throughout the life of a project is essential for staying on course and coming in on budget. Both are needed so firms can keep control of their margins and better plan for future projects. Project Cost Estimation A lot of information is required to estimate project costs, especially given the often-large number of resources required. An ERP helps serve as a guide as project managers go about the task of allocating resources, as well as determining the amount of time and the appropriate materials they will need. Project Resource Planning An ERP helps project teams take in needed data, easily determine requirements, review past schedules and output, and more accurately allocate resources for projects. The reality of project costing for AE firms is that they need a trusted system to plan and complete successful projects and overcome the unique challenges of the industry. An ERP is an effective tool to help firms meet those challenges head on. For more information on project costing, including maximizing profitability, download this free guide.

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What is ERP and How Can It Improve Your Business?

by Kim KosterAEC, ERP Software Best Practices, GovCon

Jul 02, 2021

In today’s environment, most project-based organizations use some sort of technology to help run their business, and ERP systems are becoming an increasingly popular choice for their ability to streamline processes and align businesses for growth. But first: what is ERP? In this blog, we will help answer this question and review some of the key features and benefits of a project-based ERP system. What is ERP? ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning. An ERP system includes financials, pipeline, time, expense, resource management, purchasing, project management, reporting, dashboarding, and more. Something to note when understanding the definition of ERP systems: “system” is not interchangeable with “software.” An ERP system goes beyond just software and includes the people and processes of an organization. The ERP will touch every part of the organization and keep all the gears turning together. Project-Based ERP vs Generic ERP Businesses that execute projects as opposed to mass production of products require an ERP system that is tailored specifically to them, instead of trying to squeeze value out of a “one size fits all” solution. A single product like toothpaste, for example, is sold to hundreds or thousands of people, but projects tend to be more unique and customized. For projects, the “product” being sold is service, and each customer will have different nuances and requirements. Generic ERPs are costly and can be very difficult to maintain. They usually manage the general ledger account and the department/organization, while projects are tracked separately. In generic solutions, the project is an afterthought when it should be the center of the universe. ERPs that are project-based, on the other hand, are designed to manage every part of the project lifecycle, from pipeline management to planning to accounting. They provide real-time information and a single source of truth for executives to make informed, strategic decisions. Here are a few other reasons to use an ERP system purpose-built for projects: Transactions are associated with a project, department/organization, and a general ledger account and can be viewed or reported through a lens using any of those dimensions Time is collected directly to the project tasks that the individual works on and is visible in real time in all projects, plans and forecasts Costing architecture is tailorable for each project and task through a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) that can be as simple or complex as required and can be unique for every project Visibility is available in real time into the financials of each project (profit, cost, billing and even forecasts) Resource management tools that provide project managers with information on what skills are available when and even where Complete financial reporting that keeps the project at the forefront Project based key performance indicators help drive the organizational and project goals and keep them aligned System controls send notifications when project restraint thresholds are met, configured, project by project, to the needs of the business To summarize: Project-based businesses need project-based ERP. It’s as simple as that. The Benefits of an ERP System Single Source of Truth with Real-Time Data Project-based organizations who haven’t yet adopted an ERP system might be using disparate solutions, spreadsheets, or some other homegrown combination of the two to manage their business. Each of these provides its own distinct information—its own version of the truth. These separate solutions do not integrate with each other and provide stakeholders with a clear picture of the entire business. Project managers and executives spend a lot of time simply trying to find the latest version of the data or trying to “sync” the separate datasets. The project-based ERP system is the center of the organization’s activity. The finances, purchasing, resource management, project management, and more are all together in a single solution. The data and information flowing through the system is real-time, so anyone can see exactly where a project stands at any given moment and have all the information they need to make informed, strategic decisions. Automated and Streamlined Processes ERP solutions automate several once-manual processes and operations. With an ERP system, project managers can set up automated reminders for time, expense, and invoicing, as well as establish reports that run automatically. This improves operational efficiency and allows managers and executives to get out of the business of completing tedious, repetitive administrative tasks that add little value and turn their attention back to running the business. Connected and Empowered Teams People are the most important resource in project-based businesses. They are the ones who ultimately execute the projects and grow the business. Projects are social and require constant communication and collaboration between employees to keep them running smoothly—or to quickly course-correct and avoid disaster when needed. An ERP system gets all employees engaged with one solution and reviewing and working with the same real-time data. Employees will be able to instantly access the information they need to check project status and make decisions. Businesses armed with a project-based ERP are poised to unleash productivity and innovation with the power of collaboration. Compliance Confidence Government compliance is always top of mind for government contractors, but especially now as the cost of compliance has doubled over the past three years1. DCAA, CAS, CMMC, and other guidelines require GovCons to keep detailed records for time, cost accounting, and more. Without automated support for these requirements, GovCons face increased cost and increased compliance risk if there just isn’t time to do it all. With an ERP system that is purpose-built for government contractors, teams can manage risk and ensure compliance with built-in compliance and controls. With the right system, DCAA compliance and audit confidence are foundational, not simply a goal to achieve. Integration With Other Business Tools Running a project-based business has a lot of moving parts, and often means tracking data, information, trends and metrics across multiple applications. Keeping them all up-to-date is time consuming and error-prone. The best modern ERP systems integrate with other best-in-class applications, allowing the business to automate workflows and keep information in sync. By flowing data to every part of the organization, ERP systems bring processes and teams together in a way that unlocks more collaboration, better insights, and the ability to move projects forward. How to Find the Right ERP System As discussed above, project-based organizations require ERP software that manages the entire project lifecycle and have robust functionality for pipeline, customer relationship management, resource management, budgeting and forecasting, revenue recognition, time and expense, billing, real-time reporting, and more. It must provide a complete picture of the health of the organization and empower stakeholders to make strategic decisions. The software should be backed by a provider that is dedicated to the organization’s success, providing strong customer support and training. 1: 2020 GAUGE REPORT Industry Roadmap of Benchmarks and Trends for Government Contractors. Unanet and CohnReznick. September 2020 Learn more about what to look for in an ERP and financials system in our eBook.

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Expert Advice: How to Make the Right Go/No Go Decision

by Sarah LorekAEC, Construction, Cosential, CRM, Uncategorized

Mar 07, 2021

Is your firm wasting time and money pursuing projects that… You have no chance of winning? Don’t make good business sense? Don’t fit your firm’s strategic goals? You’re not alone. Tons of firms go after every single opportunity that comes their way, thinking that gives them the best chance of winning as many new projects as possible. That’s simply not the case. Every second your firm spends on the wrong pursuits — every phone call made, every email sent, every piece of marketing collateral produced — is time you’re not focused on opportunities that actually make sense for your firm. And spending hours and hours chasing projects your firm ultimately loses will demoralize and burn out your marketing and business development staff. Not exactly a recipe for success. That’s why it’s crucial to develop an effective Go/No Go process. Consistently making the right Go/No Go decisions will empower your firm to focus on high-probability, high-profit projects. [Free tool]: Make Go/No Go Decisions in Seconds Below, industry experts share their advice for developing a Go/No Go decision-making process that supports firm-wide success.   5 Expert Tips to Improve Your Go/No Go Decisions Keep the Big Picture in Mind for Projects Understand Where Your Firm is Today and How You Plan to Grow Commit to the Process Only Pursue Opportunities that Inspire Passion Seek Outside Information   1. Keep the Big Picture in Mind for Projects One thing many firms lack when creating a Go/No Go decision-making process is a strategic firmwide plan. Without knowing your goals and how you define success, it’s impossible to know which projects are worth pursuing. “You have a ‘Go/No Go’ process, and sometimes your senior folks actually follow it. But you lack a major tool that would make your ‘Go/No Go’ process truly efficient: a PLAN! “The ‘Go/No Go’ process is designed to help you say ‘no’ when ‘no’ is the appropriate answer. The hard part is determining when ‘no’ is the appropriate answer. With a Strategic Plan, Marketing Plan and/or Business Plan, this determination is much easier.” — Bernie Siben, CPSM, AEC marketing consultant   2. Understand Where Your Firm is Today and How You Plan to Grow Go/No Go decision-making is about determining which projects you’re most likely to win and putting your firm’s effort into those opportunities. But that’s only half the story. It’s also important to develop a strategic plan for growth and view Go/No Go decisions based on where you see your firm several years down the line. “The framework of a go/no-go tool must blend strategy and historical evidence. For instance, the firm must use criteria that helps define its success, coupled with a blend of factors that enable the firm’s strategic plan. “For example, Brand X Construction’s ‘sweet spot’ is defined at $7 million in project revenue. This is an important characteristic to understand, as it helps create a picture of the ideal customer or project. Notice this does not say ‘average project size.’ It is important to conduct a thorough study of where a firm excels and where it does not. “The strategic growth niches also help define categories that are worthwhile targets. Without them, the firm might acquiesce and simply engage in identical work. While it may be currently profitable, it may also be myopic and fail to include a balance of long-term strategy.” — Gregg M. Schoppman, consultant at FMI [Get the Guide]: Top 5 Ways to Win More Work with an AEC-Focused CRM   3. Commit to the Process Your firm will never follow any process 100 percent of the time. And that’s okay. There are certain circumstances you can never plan for. You need to respond to each situation appropriately, regardless of the rigid rules you’ve put in place. But be careful. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking every opportunity deserves special consideration. That’s just not true. In the vast majority of cases, you should follow the strategic Go/No Go process you put in place to give your firm the greatest chance of success. “Be wary of end runs around the go/no go process. Sometimes there are bona fide emergencies or other reasons to stray from the committee review process, but the odds of getting stuck with a losing, or expensive, project increase if the go/no go process requirements are too easily sidestepped. “One example is that a business unit may delay asking for a ‘go’ decision, then claim it is too late for management to say ‘no go.’ The theory may be that commitments have been made to the subcontractors or JV partners, or that estimators have already done so much work and would be demoralized if the plug is pulled. Effective management should not allow this ‘end run’ tactic to be rewarded.” — Tom Porter, JD, DBIA, EVP at Barton Malow Company   4. Only Pursue Opportunities that Inspire Passion You can’t afford to think of every single Go/No Go decision solely in terms of numbers. While metrics and data are crucial to success, your firm and your clients consist of people, and that means emotions and mental states play a role in every task and initiative. Before making a final decision, find out how your staff feels about pursuing and working on the potential project. Their excitement — or lack thereof — just might sway your choice. “Are you ALL in it to win it? Mentally, we are wired to believe we can do anything and sometimes we can climb seemingly impossible mountains. The whole team must recognize the ‘fire in the belly’—the passion and inner drive to take action—when pursuing the win. If everyone from leadership to seller/doer, PM to marketing professional has the fire, then: GO. If even one person has reservations about getting to the top of the mountain, you will likely not get to the top: NO GO.” — Frank Lippert, FSMPS, CPSM, partner at Go Strategies   5. Seek Outside Information Even if you have the ability to access and analyze mountains of data about a potential opportunity, there’s likely certain information you can’t learn on your own. Take some time to research what those outside of your firm have to say about the client you’re evaluating. “Working with unappreciative clients, will sap your time and energy from working with great clients and designing top projects. You must research both the company and its leaders online and through speaking with colleagues, contractors, and furniture suppliers.” — Richard N. Pollack, FAIA, FIIDA, managing principal at Pollack Consulting   Take an Objective Approach to Go/No Go Decisions By developing and implementing an effective Go/No Go decision-making process, you’ll empower your staff to focus on the opportunities that make sense for your firm. While your total pursuits will decrease, your hit rate will likely improve at a level that increases your total wins and/or profits.   Want actionable tactics that can drive results? Get the calculator below! Download this 17-point, weighted-scoring tool to quickly and objectively determine which projects are worth pursuing.   If you liked this article, you might also enjoy: [Blog post] How to Get Free Construction Leads [eBook] Top 5 Ways to Win More Work with an AEC-Focused CRM [Blog post] Quick Tips to Improve Your Go/No Go Assessment

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Transform your address book with Unanet CRM by Cosential CallerID

by Kellye KingAEC, Cosential, CRM

Mar 01, 2021

Regardless of our role, business size, or even geolocation, so many of us – even in this moment – share one thing in common: we all likely have our smartphones in our pocket or securely nested by our computer monitor for quick access. According to Inc.com, on average, we tap, swipe, and click our smartphone 2,617 times a day. The moment your screen lights up from an unknown caller? Forget it. Numerous research studies shared with the FCC show 76% of phone calls go unanswered when the call comes from an unidentified or unfamiliar number.   Business Development in AEC is all about building relationships, educating prospects on why your company is the best choice for them. It’s safe to say your smart phone is your lifeline because you’re on-the-go constantly.   You are the expert on the state of your business, so you should never be caught off guard with an unknown call from a business contact due to pursuit data that’s not readily available on-hand. Momentum to capture the market is lost when you’re stockpiling contacts in disjointed systems. What happens when that business pursuit call goes unanswered?  You need a solution made for how you spend your time – we know the fastest way to bring teams and their data together is to enable the way you execute project pursuits today.    It just became more seamless with Unanet CRM by Cosential.  Never miss a critical conversation, or be caught off-guard while on-the-go: Unanet CRM for Mobile’s latest feature, Unanet Caller ID, surfaces key Contact and Company information instantaneously to your phone while receiving a call tied to your pursuits. While you’re receiving an incoming call, Unanet CRM simultaneously searches and links the number from your Unanet CRM Contact List- surfacing back the Contact and Company name to you.   “We’re continuing to deliver on our promise: Unanet CRM by Cosential delivers the right information to you at the right time. This new Cosential for Mobile feature is all about driving user experience which grows user adoption. Cosential truly becomes your single address book that is used by everyone in your firm.“ Akshay Mahajan, VP of Product at Unanet   Accomplish even more while you’re on-the-go with Unanet CRM Caller ID:  Seamlessly infuse your mobile address book with key contacts from Unanet CRM  Automatically recognize name and company with each inbound call received  No need to sync or download additional data 

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No Business Card? No Problem. Create Leads On-the-Go

by Kellye KingAEC, Business Development & Growth, Cosential, CRM

Jan 21, 2021

You need smart technology that fits in your pocket. According to JB Knowledge’s 2020 Technology Report, 92% of the construction industry uses a smartphone daily for work. Think about it, business developers and seller-doers are truly on-the-go while out nurturing prospects in meetings, or on calls – but how many of those Leads come with a business card, and if they do, which desk drawer are they getting stockpiled in after-the-fact?   No one wants to lose out on key opportunity data from the various contacts they’re interacting with by holding that lead information hostage in an email thread, jacket pocket, or piling it onto their institutional knowledge center (that’s right – keeping it locked in their memory). But, they also don’t have time to stop and create additional tasks for themselves at the end of the day. Manual data entry isn’t a very scalable or efficient way to pursue business. Over time, Business Developers forget, miss out, and rarely find the information needed to be put to good use.   Simply put – momentum to capture the market is lost when key pursuit data is stockpiled in disjointed systems.   You need a solution made for how you spend your time – we know the fastest way to bring teams and their data together is to enable the way you execute project pursuits today. Firms need a solution that meets Business Developers in the moment of capturing critical milestones in a pursuit, so no time is wasted chasing the wrong business or being strapped in at a desk manually inputting old business card data.   That’s why mobile matters when it comes to your CRM data, and Unanet CRM by Cosential’s take on User Experience is unmatched in the industry. In fact, since Unanet CRM by Cosential for Mobile’s debut in The New Business Development Experience, well over 20 enhancements have been dedicated to our mobile app alone, continuously up-leveling the on-the-go experience. Today, you can grow and enhance your Contacts, understand your connections and business insights, and now even create Leads right on the spot with Unanet CRM by Cosential for Mobile. No business card scan needed.   “Mobile matters. AEC needs smart technology that fits in their pocket. Our dedication to building an unparalleled mobile experience in AEC for our users enables them to take technology to-go. Unanet CRM by Cosential’s approach to meeting Business Developers and Seller-Doers where they are, in the real-life context of how they spend their day has been proven as the right choice to drive user adoption.” Lisa Pitts, Product Manager at Unanet     It just got easier to drive ahead with business pursuits while you’re on-the-go. With Unanet CRM for Mobile’s latest feature, you can take Leads to-go:  Create leads without a business card scan.   Search for a Lead while you’re on-the-go.  Create Call Logs from a Lead straight from your phone.  View a list of all Leads right in the palm of your hand.      Learn  how easy it is to drive ahead with business pursuits while you’re on-the-go with Unanet CRM  for Mobile: download the  Unanet CRM for Mobile Product Overview  for  iOS  and  Android.  

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It’s true, your new mobile app is here.

by Kellye KingAEC, Cosential, CRM

Oct 21, 2020

As a Business Developer, it’s safe to say your smart phone is your lifeline: according to a Nucleus Research report, 65% of companies using mobile CRM meet, or exceed, their sales quotas. Most projects come from your relationships, but where do those check-ins, decisions, and insights go?   We know the fastest way to bring teams and their data together is to enable the way you execute project pursuits today, so when we introduced the new Unanet CRM by Cosential for Mobile on iOS with The New Business Development Experience to help you drive forward with pursuing and winning more business – we couldn’t stop there.   Since it’s debut, our completely re-imagined mobile app has made it easy for Business Developers, Doer-Sellers, and professionals out in the field to manage contacts and feed teams critical milestone moments straight from their smart phone – and that was just the beginning.  “I like it. Especially since we’re widening our range, and moving into other states – so, Unanet CRM for Mobile by Cosential is definitely something for our future that is definitely useful.” – Marketing Manager at a Leading Construction Firm. Since the time of its release, over 18 enhancements have been dedicated to Cosential’s new mobile app, continuously up-leveling your on-the-go experience. Now, the debut of Unanet CRM by Cosnetial’s Android app has arrived, making Unanet CRM by Cosential  for Mobile accessible and easy for all Business Developers & Doer-Sellers out in the field to be equipped with strategic insights straight from their smartphones.   Take business on-the-go with Unanet to:  Grow and enhance your Contacts on the spot   Understand your connections and business insights   Uncover past records associated with any Contact Learn how easy it is to drive ahead with business pursuits while you’re on-the-go with Unanet CRM by Cosential for Mobile: download the  Product Overview for iOS and Android.   Access The Unanet CRM by Cosential for Mobile in the Apple Store, or Google Play.  

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Our engine now runs even better.

by Kellye KingAEC, Cosential, CRM, Security

Sep 16, 2020

When you invest in a software platform to drive your firm forward, this guiding principal should simplify the partnership each side enters: “do the right thing” – one of the core values that Unanet embodies for each other, Unanet CRM by Cosential, and our customers. That’s why it should come as no shock that over the past weekend we overhauled our entire system in upgrading our SQL Server – all within the blink of an eye, and with no disruption to our customers.   What’s happening below the surface matters.  You can’t always see enhancements or upgrades made to infrastructure – but I promise you will be able to feel them. The decision to upgrade our infrastructure aimed to make us even more secure and up-level our reliability in a proactive manner.   This milestone is an important moment to celebrate.  It enables us. Upgrading Unanet CRM’s infrastructure means improved database performance and better data insights – which allows us to make product decisions faster and ultimately pass those benefits directly to our customers.   It protects you. Unanet just proactively improved the reliability and security of the platform you run your business on. This SQL provides a powerful level of encryption and dynamic data masking that clamps down at even the sheer possibility of an intruder benefiting from any type of breach.   Better Performance meets best-in-class security: underneath the hood, Unanet CRM  now has a much better engine, and we’re excited for the continued path of innovation this will have us pave with the best in the AEC industry.    

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Contact Management just got smarter.

by Kellye KingAEC, Cosential, CRM

Sep 15, 2020

You dedicate a significant portion of time to managing your contacts through follow–up emails, e-introductions, and even surfacing new contacts discovered throughout your pursuit of the next big project. Due to this, it’s safe to say the business contacts you’ve developed throughout the timespan at your firm has likely grown exponentially when you factor in your Outlook inbox. In fact, the total number of business and consumer emails sent and received per day is forecasted to grow to over 347 billion by the end of 2023 (Radicati Group).   What happens when one of those contacts moves firms, introduces you to someone in a different region, or you find yourself needing to reach them on their direct line and not the conference number where you were introduced? You’ve likely heard the old adage “work smarter – not harder”, it just became a no-brainer to take advantage of the business data that’s in your email with Unanet CRM by Cosential for Outlook’s latest Contact Management feature; now helping you grow contacts and stay up-to-date with absolutely no effort.    Your Contact Management feature in Unanet CRM for Outlook is now fueled with machine learning to take the heavy lifting from manually creating new business contacts to keep you driving forward with project pursuits. Unanet CRM  works in the background while you’re in your inbox to smartly surface new contacts on your behalf and accurately identify information changes to existing key contacts straight from the email signature. In one single click you’re now notified that a Contact is being created and added to an existing or new Company in Unanet CRM. That’s right – one click, and you’re done.   “I like to think of Unanet CRM for Outlook’s latest feature enhancement as an ‘Easy Button’ for user adoption. There is no downside to this – it really is delightful.  If you have users new to CRM that don’t like entering data, or you are trying to excite your colleagues about your new CRM– this is for you. Unanet CRM can help you get meaningful data into your system of record easily without leaving your inbox.” Lisa Pitts, Product Manager at Unanet Unanet CRM for Outlook allows you to manage your contacts in one place and jumpstart growth by feeding your system of record up-to-date, accurate, information seamlessly– all within the context of your inbox. Never sweat the details again, ensure your contact data is up to date with these new smart contact management features working for you:  Grow contacts with a single-click by automatically populating record details across email signatures and social media.   Surface key contact details and auto-associations straight from email through machine learning.   Plus, auto-update Contact records with changes while you work.    Learn how easy it is to leverage Outlook and Unanet together to instantly access meaningful contact and pursuit data at your fingertips.   Download the  Unanet CRM by Cosential for Outlook Overview.  

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You Can Now Do Even More With Your Pipeline

by Kellye KingAEC, Business Development & Growth, CRM

Aug 14, 2020

As a Business Developer, you need a platform that makes it easy to breathe strategic insights throughout the entire lifecycle of your project pursuits — but where does that happen during the key juncture when a casual business connection you’ve been exchanging communication with develops into a full-blown opportunity for your firm?   No surprises here, it’s likely your inbox. Email is a way of life. It’s so ingrained into daily habits that it’s hard to imagine how to nurture relationships and close business without it. The great thing is, with Unanet CRM by Cosential, you don’t have to.  Since the recent debut of The New Business Development Experience – introducing entirely new ways to drive forward with business pursuits – we haven’t stopped meeting Business Developers in areas where their daily habits already thrive.   “This is helpful. I’m an engineer, so this would be where I’m mostly involved. When you talk about the business development team… everyone who is an Engineer is in [Business]Development, so, in a sense we need to get a license for everyone here. [Unanet CRM for Outlook] tracks Leads and submittals that are related to Me.”–Strategy & BD Principal, at an award-winning geotechnical engineering firm. Unanet CRM for Outlook allows you to maintain your pipeline in one place and jumpstart growth by feeding your system of record up-to-date, accurate, information seamlessly– all within the context of your inbox. With over 15 dedicated enhancements to our Opportunity Management features, you can now do even more in your pipeline without ever leaving your email, including these new stand-out capabilities:  Easily drag and drop Opportunities to closed stages to streamline your pipeline view. Quickly identify which pursuit needs your attention and create Call Logs bringing key stats straight to the Opportunity card. Bundle up critical connection insights by linking Opportunity, Client Owner, and Company details to Call Logs straight from an Opportunity card within Pipeline view. Learn how easy it is to leverage Outlook and Cosential together to instantly access meaningful contact and pursuit data at your fingertips.  Download the Unanet CRM by Cosential for Outlook Overview.

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The Importance of Remembering Your Employee’s Birthday

by Sarah LorekAEC, Architecture and Engineering, Construction, Cosential, CRM

Feb 18, 2020

In How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie has his famous fourth principle: “Become genuinely interested in people.” And one way he did that was by remembering everyone’s birthday. Carnegie famously kept a birthday book where he wrote down people’s birthdays, and when their day came he would send them a telegram or a letter. “What a hit I made!” he declared. “I was frequently the only person on earth who remembered.” Remembering your employee’s birthday is a great way to show that you are interested in them.But we get it. It’s impossible to remember everything. You have 100+ employees on several projects going on simultaneously, so many of them being subcontractors that you haven’t worked within months, not to mention new people on the job that you don’t know all that well. And on top of all that you have to pick up your son from the mall, drop your daughter off at her friend’s house, and go grocery shopping before dinner. Wait, when was the last time you had a checkup at the dentist? Or went to yoga? And taxes . . . Geez! Did you file your taxes yet?!?! Look, we are certainly not judging. Instead, what we are doing is helping. In Unanet’s user-friendly modules you can keep track of both your employees’ and your clients’ birthday. In Contact Manager, along with their birthday, you can store all of your client’s necessary personal information: phone number, email, credentials, recent projects, and any other relevant information. In the Personnel module, you can do the same thing with your employees—all their contact information, project experience, certifications, leads, and so forth, so you never have to slap your head and say, “Did I forget your birthday? I’m so sorry!” Remember the last time you were at work on your birthday, walking with your head down looking at a file trying to perform some calculation in your head. The last thing on your mind was the fact that it was your birthday, and then all of a sudden someone says, “Hey! Happy birthday!” And what did you do? You looked up with a huge smile on your face. Doesn’t it feel nice? (Unless, of course, you would prefer not remembering your birthday. But that’s another story entirely . . .) Remembering your employee’s birthday is a great way to show that you care. It’s a way to show your employees that you have a relationship with them beyond the lead metrics and projected sales revenues, that they’re people, just like you. If you are in need of a solution for your data, proposals, or customer relations we would love to show you our CRM. Book your demo now! Feel free to also reach out to our sales team here or call 800-505-7089 ext. 1 with any questions you may have. Here are other articles that may be of interest to you: Here’s How to Get Free Construction Leads Transform your address book with Unanet CRM by Cosential CallerID. Expert Advice: How to Make the Right Go/No Go Decision

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Quick Tips to Improve your Go/No-Go Assessment

by Sarah LorekAEC, Architecture and Engineering, Construction, Cosential, Uncategorized

Jun 11, 2019

Quick Tips to Improve your Go/No-Go Assessment When designing your Go/No-Go process, it’s helpful to leverage the metrics you’re already tracking like relationship strength, competitive analyses, teaming partners, internal resources, hit rates, etc. to make more strategic decisions on which projects to chase. These questions will guide you toward building a Go/No-Go form to identify your firm’s winnable projects: Is the project in alignment with our Core Values? Do we have the staff available to take on the project? Do we have the marketing resources available? Is this a strategic owner, client, or prospect? Do we offer all the services in-house or do we have to contract them out? What is our relationship like with the client? Are we prepositioned for the RFP? What is the client payment activity like? Characterize our competitors’ relationships with the client? Is the contract with a developer or any other entity other than the owner? Is the project funded? Is a bid bond required or surety letter required? What are the project’s risk elements (i.e. schedule penalties)? If you’re using Unanets Go/No-Go functionality, you may want to add a workflow that alerts all necessary parties. Notify leaders if the score is too low so they can decide whether the project should be pursued Staff can be alerted when the score passes a certain threshold to take on next steps If the score is too high, leaders can be notified to confirm that the form was filled out accurately We hope these quick tips can help you make more informed decisions in your Go/No-Go strategy. Our clients have reported an increased hit rate and decrease in wasted resources after implementing a successful Go/No-Go process. If you are in need of a solution for your data, proposals, or customer relations we would love to show you our CRM. Book your demo now! Feel free to also reach out to our sales team or 800-505-7089 ext. 1 with any questions you may have. Here are other articles that may be of interest to you: Expert Advice: How to Make the Right Go/No Go Decision How to Get free Construction Leads Unique Project Costing Challenges for Architecture and Engineer firms Don’t forget about our resources page. It is packed full of whitepapers, case studies, ebooks and other goodies to help out your business.

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What Architects Should Look for In CRM Software

by Sarah LorekAEC, Cosential, CRM, ERP Software Best Practices, Uncategorized

Feb 13, 2019

Clients buy into ongoing relationships when they are sold on the experience your firm provides. How can you deliver at the highest levels on every project and gain an edge over your competition? Consider investing in an architecture CRM system to manage your business processes end-to-end. What is CRM? CRM is shorthand for customer relationship management. It’s more than just another software package or cloud-based service. Customer relationship management is a business strategy that helps architecture firms to increase revenues, reduce operating costs, build and nurture client loyalty, and improve bottom-line profitability. Think of CRM as an information hub. It gathers data from various sources including project budgets, conversation logs, project proposals, and invoices to give you a holistic real-time view of your clients and projects. Why architecture firms need CRM CRM helps you improve responsiveness and communication. Not only does it help improve direct communication with your client, but it also allows your employees to be more responsive to team members and be more proactive in completing tasks that make your projects run smoothly, completing them on time and within the budget. CRM allows you to measure the value of each client and each project. You’ll gain insight into how well you provide value to your clients. Together, this information helps you identify growth opportunities and develop strategies to expand relationships with your key clients. CRM in architecture not only helps you manage client relationships, but it also supports every component of business development from bidding and proposal delivery through project lifecycle management. 5 Features Every Architecture Firm CRM Must Include There are many CRM systems on the market. Some are specific to the architecture, engineering and construction industries while others are designed to work across a much wider variety of product and service industries. Here are the must-have features for an effective architecture CRM system. Project-based sales Configurability Go/No Go functionality Central database Relationship intelligence 1. Project-based sales You sell finished projects instead of physical products. Winning the next bid hinges on using information from the last project you completed. You may already use robust project management, PM, system and overlook this essential feature when selecting a CRM for architecture firms. When choosing a CRM, you can select a system that links to and integrates data from your existing PM tool, or use a CRM with project management features incorporated. Keep in mind the differences between the two. Project management focuses on short-term items including start and end dates, milestones and deliverables, workflow management, and task tracking. Customer relationship management focuses on long-term goals that support relationship building that leads to more business. Both PM and CRM support communication tools for contact management and emailing, scheduling and time tracking, and planning and analysis tools. An efficient project-based CRM gathers information from the systems and processes you already use to complete projects. It supports your proposal and bidding process with analytical tools to help you estimate budgets, completion timeframes, and logistics schedules to deliver more accurate project bids and proposals. 2. Configurability Configurability, including scalability, will ensure that your CRM will serve your business needs through crucial growth periods and beyond. When searching for the right CRM, remember that customizable and configurable are not the same thing. In software, customizing involves coding. In other words, you’ll need your IT person to custom code the fields, features, and functions you need. Configurable CRM systems allow non-IT users to change features and functionality through the built-in native tools in the system. Configurability does have limitations. You’ll need to consider whether the CRM system is designed for wholesale or retail product distribution, home or business service providers, or project-based service delivery. While a product-driven CRM may be fully configurable, it lacks the project-driven components that are essential for architecture firms. Additionally, ensure that your CRM is scalable and adaptable as your business processes change. One example of a scalable and configurable CRM feature is telephone dialing, call logging and recording, or message transcribing for mobile and desktop users. An effective CRM supports your staff through internal process changes without the need to migrate to and learn new systems each time you make small changes to your business model. 3. Go/No Go functionality Automating opportunity analysis supports intelligent business decisions. Early in the business development process, your CRM should be able to qualify or disqualify, leads and projects together and separately. To analyze new potential deals, you can configure the CRM to score a lead according to user inputs and reach a go/no-go decision. When bidding additional projects for existing clients, your CRM can pull details from previous projects, timelines, budgets, and customer experience data along with user input to yield a go/no-go on specific projects. 4. Central database Being able to find the data, documents, and information you need all in one place ensures a faster, more seamless workflow. The ability to search and sort, upload and download, retrieve and duplicate information, files, and data from a variety of locations is an essential feature of a robust customer relationship management system. CRM should bring together back-office documentation and client-facing information making them accessible in a few clicks. Also, your CRM should be able to extract data from one source and copy data into other functions to streamline workflows, task completion, and milestone delivery. A highly functional central database supports you in administrative processes such as onboarding new clients and finalizing completed projects. 5. Relationship intelligence Data without context doesn’t supply you with useful information. You need details that help you understand your clients and metrics that let you evaluate the impact on your bottom line. Relationship intelligence helps you achieve your most important business development and client-specific objectives. The most important function of the relationship intelligence feature in a CRM system is its ability to provide users with predictive information. It tells you if your firm’s relationship with a client is on track and profitable or if it’s at risk in any way. Automated relationship intelligence tracks interactions across multiple projects, can flag potential issues, and create a corrective action plan. With relationship intelligence, your team members know what needs to happen at every stage of a project and throughout the client life-cycle. Architecture CRM Meets Needs of Forward-Thinking Firms In summary, choosing a customer relationship management system is a critical decision for your company. Architecture firms sell experience and expertise. Being able to quickly and easily access past and on-going project information is crucial for writing winning architectural project proposals. Static, one size fits all solutions won’t get the job done. You need a robust CRM solution that allows you to configure your specific workflows, reporting, and analytical tools. Interested in winning more work with a CRM built specifically for architecture? Check out this free eBook. Architecture firms need go/no-go tools that help them quickly determine whether opportunities are worth pursuing, which projects get automatic approvals, and which ones require management input. A centralized hub for data facilitates better deal analysis and faster proposal creation. Architecture is a highly relationship-based industry. Therefore, make sure that the CRM architecture and design you choose supports your ability to determine how clients, internal project teams, and external partners impact your firm’s bottom line. If you like this article you may also like: What’s a CRM & Why It’s Important For Your Business

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What’s a CRM & Why It’s Important For Your Business

by Sarah LorekAEC, Cosential, CRM, Uncategorized

Feb 20, 2017

There are plenty who have heard those three letters “CRM” and aren’t sure what the acronym stands for. Quite often at events our staff asks or gets asked, what the acronym means and it’s a testament to the more recent awareness and adoption within AEC firms that many people to this day cannot define it. That’s okay; you’re not alone. CRM in concept is arguably one of the newest types of software to be implemented within AEC firms and the timing, while arguably late against other verticals, certainly aligns with younger generations joining and taking the helm.   CRM by common definition means “Customer Relationship Management”.  The earliest adopters are the organizations who have sold products, software, or “stuff” for decades.  They operate in a world of high-volume conversations, pitches, and attempts to win over most of their perspective TAM, or Total Available Market. AEC firms that sell projects over products are adopting CRM’s for core reasons such as having one source of truth for contact information, lead and opportunity pipeline management, and streamlining marketing efforts such as accessing historical project records for proposals and/or easily organizing email campaigns to clients, partners and prospects. Arnold Neustadter first marketed this practice in 1958 with his rotating index file cardholder we all know as the Rolodex. That type of tool reigned arguably well from its conception to the 1980s when Robert and Kate Kestnbaum pioneered database marketing. In 2007 the CRM took off fueled by the SaaS market and while you may have not known the acronym of CRM until recently it’s highly unlikely you have not heard of Salesforce, arguably the most popular and traditional CRM used by product and software-based companies to date. If we were immortal, only loyal to one employer, had immaculate memories, and of course telepathic there would be no demand for a CRM.  Perhaps in a galaxy far away this is the case but here on Earth, that’s not the case. At a business level, the information gained through years of relationships and transactions is the lifeblood of a company.  Documenting client names, contacts, contact information, and history is vital. So here we are, human.  We are forgetful tend to change jobs from time to time.  Combing through a departed employee’s laptop to recoup business intelligence is a familiar sight, but not needed for businesses capitalizing on technology such as a CRM.  The “tribal knowledge” of a company’s relationships can and should be documented within a modern, easy-to-use forum so much that when CRM is done right it’s the source of truth for your staff. What Do Most CRM’s do? The elevator pitch for a CRM is that it’s a software system businesses used to document the existence of prospects, customers, and house anything and everything associated with them. Expect a CRM to house accounts, and all the contacts with their respective telephone numbers, email addresses, notes, and conversations. Most CRM’s have a component that automatically logs every email between companies, showing who sent what and when with complete transparency.  At a minimum, all CRM’s allow users to log their own notes related to an account, contacts, and sales pipeline.  It’s the sales pipeline that business leaders focus on. Having a single pain-of-glass view showing what deals are in work, closed, and forecasted aligned with the ability to quantify or dig into activities is vital for leaders and executives.  That is what affects major business decisions and what feeds information back to owners, boards or investors. Life without a CRM Every business with ambitions to stay alive must have an aggregate view of performance. Traditionally those without a CRM live within an endless array of emails, spreadsheets, and attachments with a poor soul tasked to consolidate the data frequently.  It’s that simple, but it’s not. In such a world like this the more people contributing data the higher the odds of it either being vastly inaccurate and extremely subjective in format and content. Redefining the “C” in CRM: Fortunately, the first letter of the acronym CRM is flexible. The official definition is Customer Relationship Management.  But do you think of your projects as customers? Do you vest into having customer support lines, or a venue for customers to make returns, submit trouble tickets? For AEC firms the answer is obviously not. Unanet has redefined this “C” for years in marketing to AEC firms as a “Client Relationship Management”, tool and a taking a step further with “Company Relationship Management”.  When you consider how AEC firms manage not just clients, but partners, suppliers, and prospects, a CRM truly allows a firm to have a fantastic grasp on all relationships that matter. What if you could automate a process to reward your subcontractors with a gift or a shout-out for receiving the highest average customer satisfaction score from your most recent client?  What if you could do that without lifting a finger?  Relationships drive your business. One day you may be competing head to head with a firm and the very next day, teaming with them to win a big project.  The relationships you manage with Architects, Engineers, General Contractors, Sub Contractors AND clients are equally important.  One squeaky wheel can derail an entire project. Interested in learning more about how Unanet can help your firm stay on top of your personnel records? We would love to show you, request a demonstration today. Feel free to also reach out to our sales team here or 800-505-7089 ext. 1 with any questions you may have.