Unanet Releases New ERP Capabilities to Help GovCons Manage Subcontractors and Increase Analytics Insights
by Kim Koster GovCon, Unanet News
Oct 06, 2020
Dulles, VA, Oct. 06, 2020 – Unanet, the leading SaaS project-based Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) provider, today released new features of its industry-leading technology that will help U.S. government contractors (GovCons) understand their businesses more thoroughly through increased analytics and help them simplify subcontractor management. The new features further deliver on Unanet’s promise to invest in and expand its award-winning ERP solutions so all customers continue to have best-in-breed technology to help them run their businesses more efficiently, transparently and cost-effectively. Today Unanet unveiled these major new capabilities: Analytics+ – Adding to the Q3 release of enhanced analytics capabilities, all cloud customers will gain new visual-based reporting that helps them solve business challenges and increase business intelligence throughout Q4. Analytics+ integrates seamlessly into Unanet’s ERP for real-time data insight, and ease-of-use with existing interfaces. Analytics+ provides Express View Reports, Out-of-the-Box Reporting, and 1034/1035 Pixel Perfect Templates. Unanet customers can also take advantage of Studio Analytics for Advanced Pixel Perfect Templates, Custom Reports and Dashboards, and more.Subcontractor Portal – Unanet’s cloud-based financial customers now have a best-in-class tool to simplify the on-boarding process for subcontractors, minimize time and expense exchanges, and streamline processes and communication with subcontractors. These tools enable customers to shorten time-to-cash, reduce manual processes, decrease accruals, and improve many other financial and business functions.Hours-based Accruals – Organizations that have hourly employees will now have leave accrued by hours work done all within Unanet, reducing errors, saving manual work, and improving speed and accuracy. “GovCons are under increasing pressure to operate efficiently, and with the latest in compliance, cybersecurity and technology,” said Kim Koster, vice president of GovCon Strategy for Unanet. “We’re constantly enhancing our purpose-built ERP so GovCons can stay one step ahead of the ever-evolving requirements and keep their businesses running smoothly, effectively and with the peace-of-mind the attentive Unanet team delivers.” In 2020, Unanet has delivered four major product releases, giving customers a regular cadence of enhancements and upgrades, without long waiting periods. As customers communicate to Unanet their latest needs and requirements, and as the regulations are drawn up, Unanet immediately works to build best-in-class tools so customers can be assured their ERP is always effective and productive. Unlike some ERP providers, Unanet builds each feature specifically to work with and enhance the existing ERP platform, so customers have a seamless, integrated function. About UnanetUnanet is a leading provider of ERP solutions purpose-built for Government Contractors, A/E, and Professional Services. More than 2,000 project-driven organizations depend on Unanet to turn their information into actionable insights, drive better decision-making, and nurture business growth. For more information, visit www.unanet.com. Follow Unanet at @UnanetTech on Twitter and Unanet-Technologies on LinkedIn.
Why We Chose Unanet: OptoKnowledge
by Kim Koster ERP Software Best Practices, GovCon
Sep 17, 2020
First in an ongoing blog series detailing the reasoning behind a firm’s selection of Unanet’s ERP solution over other options. The firm: OptoKnowledge Systems, Inc. (optoknowledge.com), a Torrance, CA, company that develops imaging systems (hyperspectral imaging, night vision, situational awareness, and spectroscopy) for defense, security and environmental/energy applications. The company is primarily an R&D contractor for the Department of Defense, NASA and the Department of Energy. As accustomed as OptoKnowledge is to operating at technology’s leading edge as a developer of advanced imaging systems and sensors for night vision, drones, and other visibility-related applications, it needed an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system that could provide it with better visibility into its own business. Soon after purchasing the 30-year-old company in February 2020, OptoKnowledge’s new ownership realized the company could benefit from a new ERP system that could better support its strategic priorities — preferably one that’s fully integrated, proven in the government contractor space, and well-supported from a service standpoint. The effort to find a replacement for its inefficient and outmoded ERP system got off to a rocky start. The initial plan to transition from an obsolete version of that system to a newer version was abandoned, chiefly due to issues with data migration. Seeking another option, company officials reached out to their contacts in the GovCon space for recommendations. While the reports they got about one big-name ERP system were consistently less than glowing (mostly complaints about subpar support), the reviews their peers provided on another ERP software option were highly positive. Those positive reviews pertained to Unanet. Additional due diligence cemented Unanet as the right choice for OptoKnowledge, primarily for its strong data drill-down capabilities and its service and support, which got uniformly high marks from the current users with whom company officials spoke. A contract was signed soon thereafter, and OptoKnowledge is poised to implement Unanet’s purpose-built ERP software in November 2020. “We are so excited about the financial reporting,” says Ilana Gat, Chief Financial Officer at OptoKnowledge. “It’s impossible to ask staff to keep spreadsheets up to date, but with Unanet, our program managers will get real-time insights into their programs on a daily basis.” Using Unanet, she expects program managers will be able to see key information about their programs and projects in real time. She’s also looking forward to gaining a new level of granular insight into profit and loss by project/program, as well as the ability to drill into the data around individual transactions. The only drawback: waiting until these and other capabilities built into Unanet go live company-wide.
How a Project CRM Helps You Better Understand the Customer Journey
by Kim Koster A/E, GovCon
Sep 17, 2020
How’s your opportunity pipeline looking? What about the satisfaction levels of your current customers? Attracting new customers begins with understanding the needs of customers and improving their experience. The best way to do that is to establish a discipline for tracking and documenting customer touches and to have a method to analyze the data. This is where a project CRM comes in. What is CRM? Customer relationship management is a discipline for managing how you interact with both current and potential customers. These days, there are so many ways to get in front of or hear from customers: in-person meetings, blogs, social media, phone calls, webinars, emails, and so on. Project CRM software wrestles all of this information into one organized place and helps you better understand not only the roles and titles of who is buying your service or product, but the customer journey as well. Some of the benefits of a project CRM include: You gain instant access to prospects and customers in one central place.You can track the customer journey through the entire project lifecycle.You can gain insights into market trends and customer pain points and use this data to make better business decisions.You gain a better understanding of future revenue potential and resource forecasts.You can access a weighted forecast based on probability percentages. Our new ebook, The Business of Projects, is a guide to how ERP software can enable project success. Among the topics in this eBook is an introduction into CRM and the benefits of a project CRM solution. Download your copy of the ebook here and learn how ERP opens the door to capturing and winning more contracts.
For Third Consecutive Year, Unanet Earns Spot on Inc. 5000
by Carrie Mahon A/E, GovCon
Sep 17, 2020
When you do right by your customers, your employees, and the communities you serve; deliver quality products; support those products with strong service; and do all this on a consistent basis; you get noticed. That’s the case for Unanet, which in August was named to the prestigious Inc. 5000 list for the third year in a row. This year, Unanet ranks no. 4,189 on the publication’s list of America’s fastest-growing private companies. Earlier this year, Inc. also placed Unanet in the top 10% of fastest-growing private companies in the D.C. metro region. Consistently landing among the nation’s strongest private companies is largely the result of recent customer growth in the government contractor (GovCon) space, as well as the architecture and engineering (A/E) industries. Unanet has been particularly successful at attracting customers that are seeking a more service-oriented ERP platform. “One-third of Unanet’s customers have switched to us from a competitive product, and this trend is increasing,” said Greg Guelcher, Chief Financial Officer, Unanet. “Our growth is a result of the steady investments we’ve made in our software and our team, all due to collaboration with and feedback from our customers. Our customer-first, people-oriented strategy is paying off.” “The companies on this year’s Inc. 5000 come from nearly every realm of business,” says Inc. editor-in-chief Scott Omelianuk. “From health and software to media and hospitality, the 2020 list proves that no matter the sector, incredible growth is based on the foundations of tenacity and opportunism.” Complete results of the Inc. 5000, including company profiles and an interactive database that can be sorted by industry, region and other criteria, can be found at www.inc.com/inc5000.
Optimize Your Business with Crucial Technology & Benchmarking Insights | The 2020 GAUGE Report
by Kim Koster GovCon, Government Compliance
Sep 17, 2020
Between the COVID-19 pandemic, CMMC compliance, and social unrest—not to mention the usual myriad of unique industry challenges—2020 has been an unprecedented, arduous year for the GovCon industry and beyond. With so much change and so many surprises, many contractors are left with their heads spinning, wondering where to turn. One thing is clear during this tumultuous period: one of the best sources of advice for GovCons is each other. There’s great benefit in learning how other government contractors are confronting challenges and opportunities similar to yours. Unanet and CohnReznick’s fourth annual GAUGE Report can provide this guidance. This report is a collection of survey results from over 1,450 contributors in the GovCon sphere and provides performance metrics and business practices that are shaping this current volatile government contracting landscape. “The year 2020 continues to be a season of reckoning,” the report authors observe, “as government contractors are either reaping the rewards of having laid a sound business and technology foundation, or paying the price of playing catch-up.” Technology is the theme of this year’s GAUGE and the report explores how GovCon leaders need to leverage technology to best position their companies not only during this season of remote work but for the next five years. Some major takeaways from the report include: Optimism impacted: Prior to the pandemic in early March, 84% of survey respondents reported that they were either very or cautiously optimistic about their business outlook. Near the end of March, the percentage of respondents reporting this optimism dropped to 68%.Project and resource success: 59% of respondents reported that 76%-100% of their projects are on or under budget, and 55% of respondents rated their resource management at a high level of maturity, an improvement over previous years.Slowly adapting new technology: 53% of surveyed contractors use a project-based ERP system, while 18% use an entry-level system and 29% rely on other generic ERP tools. With the focus on technology in this year’s report, it is clear that GovCons’ success going forward depends on them “empowering teams to be productive in any setting and adapting quickly to new ways of operating” through the use of technology. You can get your own copy of the GAUGE Report here and begin leveraging crucial industry information and best practices. We’re excited to hear how the report helps your organization establish and refine company goals in 2020 and beyond.
How ERP Software Drives Business Forward in the Era of Remote Work
by Kim Koster A/E, ERP Software Best Practices, GovCon
Sep 17, 2020
As executives fight to maintain efficiency in the remote-working environment driven by the COVID-19 crisis, one thing is becoming clearer: silos of information are a significant hindrance to business, particularly in this environment. Business leaders are increasingly worried about maintaining collaboration and visibility in their organization. ERP tools help enable that collaboration and visibility that businesses need, so there is one primary repository of up-to-date, meaningful information. Stacy Critzer, Unanet’s Chief Human Resources Officer, and Kim Koster, GovCon Expert and Unanet’s Vice President of Product Marketing, wrote an insightful article for Strategic HR Review about how ERP software fits into the context of the current remote work climate and how to banish silos, maximize resources, and improve outcomes. In the article, Kim and Stacy also review a case study of a healthcare operation in New York City that has been able to eliminate silos and enable collaboration even in the wake of COVID-19, a shining example of what other organizations can achieve. If you subscribe to Strategic HR Review, you can read the article here. Or, click here.
Bring the Parts of the Project Lifecycle Together With a Project-Based ERP
by Kim Koster A/E, GovCon, Project Management
Aug 03, 2020
For too many organizations, the various parts of the project lifecycle are not treated as being part of one single system and data is kept in individual silos. This is a recipe for project failure. Before we discuss these crucial parts of the project lifecycle that your organization must learn to incorporate together, let’s level-set on what exactly a project is. A project is a planned piece of work that provides either a good or service and has a scope, schedule, and cost. Each project has a lifecycle, a series of elements that contribute to a project’s completion. These elements include: CRM Opportunity pipeline Resource management Budgeting, planning, and forecasting Time and expense Project accounting Billing and revenue recognition Financials Payroll Purchasing Real-time reporting, analytics, and dashboards So, how do you get the parts of the project lifecycle to flow together and increase your chance of project success? Utilize the power of a project-based ERP. A project-based ERP is the ultimate project management control center. It places all the necessary information into the project manager’s hands and brings together every part of the project lifecycle. Our new ebook, The Business of Projects, is a guide to how ERP software can enable project success. This eBook spells out in detail the nature of project-based work, the concept of enterprise resource management, and how organizations capture new business. Download your copy of the ebook here and learn how ERP opens the door to better planning, execution, and financial management through more robust project data.
Analytics Capabilities for Government Contractors Highlight Latest Unanet Release
by Kim Koster ERP Software Best Practices, GovCon
Jul 23, 2020
How to improve what is already the standard-bearer for project-based Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software for government contractors? By adding several features that enable GovCons to unlock new efficiencies and insight within their data. Announced in late July, the latest enhancements to Unanet’s purpose-built ERP software are analytics-focused — and designed to be simple to use and immediately impactful. They include: Analytics+, a capability we expect to quickly emerge as best in its class for its dashboard and reporting functionality. The new analysis and reporting capabilities build upon the software’s real-time data visualization features that enable GovCons to aggregate data from multiple sources across finance, accounting, and project management for automatically generated reports, including statements of cash flow. It’s included in customers’ cloud subscription. Analytics Studio, which is tailored to GovCons whose businesses demand advanced analytics and custom reporting to further mine their data for real-time insight. It provides a deeper level of interactive analysis and drill-down capabilities, with embedded, eminently customizable and feature-rich dashboards, including dashboards designed specifically for the C-Suite. Automated Invoice Attachments is a feature that gives finance teams a tool to shorten time to cash, with its ability to automatically generate required or supporting documents for invoices. Unanet’s new release is designed to equip government contractors with more tools to meet mounting business and compliance challenges, explained CEO Craig Halliday. “From the C-suite to the project management level, finance to operations, our new analytics capabilities allow for better decision-making across virtually every function.” The July software release is the first in a series of enhancements that Unanet expects to unveil over the course of 2020. You’ll be the first to know what our development team has in store to simplify life for our valued GovCon clients. In the meantime, to learn more about the latest software enhancements, click here.
How ERP Software Can Unlock Better Project Data, Insights, & Growth
by Kim Koster A/E, GovCon, Professional Services, Project Management
Jul 17, 2020
Do you have a complete picture of your project data? If your organization is stuck with multiple silos of project data, it’s difficult to access vital decision-making intelligence. Achieving project excellence takes strategic alignment of people, processes, and tools, which is no easy task. The most successful project-based organizations have learned to harness their project data by putting it into one place: the project-based Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) tool. Our new ebook, The Business of Projects, is a guide to how ERP software can enable project success. This eBook spells out in detail the nature of project-based work, the concept of enterprise resource management, and how organizations capture new business. Each chapter contains an overview of a key part of the business of projects and how, with the help of an ERP solution, you can open the door to more complete project data, insightful analytics, and greater decision-making. The basics of a project-based ERP Capturing and winning contracts Project management, planning, execution, and analytics Financials tracking Considerations for compliance for government contractors Download your copy of the ebook here and learn how ERP opens the door to better planning, execution, and financial management through more robust project data.
An Up-Close Look at DCAA’s Ambitious Audit Plans for 2020
by Kim Koster GovCon, Government Compliance
Jul 16, 2020
Government contractors, prepare for closer scrutiny from the Defense Contract Audit Agency in fiscal 2020 and beyond. Having cleared its longstanding audit backlog, the DCAA has returned to performing a full range of audits, the agency’s director, Anita F. Bales, declared in a recent letter to the U.S. Congress. In fiscal 2019, the DCAA “focused more effort on other audits such as business systems, Truth in Negotiation Act, Cost Accounting Standards, and labor and material reviews,” she said in the letter, which accompanied a report summarizing the agency’s activities last fiscal year. “We also successfully met the Congressional requirement to complete incurred cost audits within one year of adequate submission as well as contracted with seven independent public accounting (IPA) firms to perform 101 incurred cost audits.” The DCAA’s renewed commitment to timely audits is expected to continue in the current (2020) fiscal year, putting the onus on government contractors to prepare for a busy compliance season. In particular, DCAA said it “prioritizes the audits that pose greatest risk to the government,” namely contracts that “involve significant costs, significant audit findings in the past, or circumstances that reduce the incentive to control costs, such as those inherent in cost-type of contracts.” Here’s what the agency says about various types of audits: Incurred cost audits “continue to be a priority to meet both the adequacy review (60 days) and completion (12 months) timelines.” Forward pricing audits “net the highest rate of return and are time sensitive because to be of value they must be completed before contract negotiations.” Special audits are prioritized in coordination with contracting officer needs. Other audits become a high priority “when DCAA or the contracting officer identifies a high-risk area such as inadequate business systems. DCAA assigns priority to additional audits based on individual contract and audit risks to the government.” To maintain timeliness with its audits and prevent another backlog, the DCAA indicated it plans to continue using IPA firms to conduct select incurred cost audits. To support a more aggressive audit caseload, the DCAA said it is focusing on recruiting, developing and retaining high-quality auditors and support staff, such as with hiring events and internship programs aimed at bringing college students into the fold and grooming them to become full-time employees. As it ramps up its caseload, the DCAA also has increased its industry outreach. In July 2019, it adopted the materiality guidelines from DoD’s Professional Practice Guide to “help oversight professionals plan their work and provide the information contracting officers need to make reasonable business decisions.” The agency also has been regularly engaging with industry groups, resulting in a proposed FAR change and improvements to the incurred cost electronic (ICE) model. It also is working with the acquisition community to mitigate the risks associated with using Other Transaction Agreements, or OTAs. The goal: ensure cost reasonableness “without hindering the speed that makes OTAs so valuable.” Moving forward, expect the emphasis on Truth in Negotiation Act audits to continue. The DCAA said it is stepping up efforts to train and educate its staff about TIN audits, and that beginning in fiscal 2020, its field audit offices will join its headquarters TIN team in conducting TIN audits. ”These collaborative, proactive efforts are vital as DCAA will double the number of hours dedicated to these audits in FY 2020.” Also expect the DCAA to continue to leverage technology — data analytics, “intelligent documents,” etc. — as it moves away from outdated Excel and Word-based audit tools. Looking ahead to fiscal 2020 and beyond, DCAA said it expects to “move away from complex, specialized audits performed by dedicated teams, like TIN and business systems, to performing these audits with our FAO staff.” The agency also plans to finalize its strategic plan in FY 2020, meaning more changes to audit processes and procedures could be forthcoming. We closely monitor the DCAA here at Unanet, so stay tuned to this space for updates.
One-Third of Unanet’s Customers Made the Switch From a Competitor. Here’s Why.
by Carrie Mahon A/E, GovCon
May 22, 2020
One of the questions we get frequently from customers and prospects alike is, “Why Unanet instead of Deltek?” We welcome this question each and every time because it gives us a chance to explain why one-third of Unanet’s customers made the switch from Deltek. They tried the competition’s solution, and for some compelling reason, decided our solution would better meet their needs. The most glaring difference between Unanet and other ERP solutions is that Unanet GovCon was built specifically from the ground, up, for government contractors. Likewise, Unanet A/E was purpose-built for architecture and engineering firms. This means there are no bolt-ons, incompatible features, or awkward forcing of disparate solutions, which is rampant among competitive products. Designing purpose-built software requires an extra level of understanding of customer needs, along with a commitment to developing and refining solutions that actually enable customers to address their business challenges through smart engineering and elegant design. In short, it’s about walking in our customers’ shoes to understand exactly what they want from an ERP solution. As one customer, Frontier Technology Inc., learned after making the switch to Unanet from Deltek, purpose-built means their new ERP is more capable at handling business needs and growth. “I have done a lot of enterprise data work, and I can see that the architecture of the Unanet system was done correctly to handle a company like ours with rapid growth,” said Tom Batty, Director of Corporate Staff Operations, Frontier Technology Inc. Another common reason customers switch to Unanet is the real-time data management and access it offers. Too often solutions that were cobbled together take extra steps, additional credentials, and even require two different systems to find one specific data point. Information doesn’t flow through from one point to another. Unanet’s GovCon and A/E solutions deliver real-time information that’s been completely synthesized automatically, giving companies one single source of truth. This creates incredible efficiencies and saves customers time. Just ask Chantelle Miner, Financial Controller for Magnolia River, who, after her firm made the move to Unanet from Deltek, said, “Having the real-time data makes us so much more efficient. The time that we have saved on invoicing alone has been dramatic.” Purpose-built software with real-time data are two critical reasons customers made the switch to Unanet, but the third is probably the reason we hear the most: Unanet’s service. The people of Unanet are dedicated to serving our customers. From your first interaction, to implementation, to training, to ongoing maintenance and updates, Unanet prides itself on treating our customers with friendly, knowledgeable service. Through Unanet University, we provide highly relevant training, market insight, and expertise to keep customers apprised of what’s happening in their industries that may affect things like their financial management, regulations, and human resources. We treat our customers with respect each and every time, and add value in every interaction. David Baker, President of the Rehancement Group, another company that made the switch to Unanet from Deltek, said, “We are no longer at odds with our software provider. We have a true partner who is there to ensure our success.” Bigger doesn’t mean better…it just means bigger. And in many cases bigger means bloated, unnecessarily complex, and not always attuned to customers. Unanet is 100% dedicated to our customers’ success, with purpose-built software that provides real-time accuracy and insight. Want to learn more about making the switch to Unanet? Read about these companies that switched from Deltek to Unanet: Frontier Technology Magnolia River Semper Fortis Relyant Global The Rehancement Group WBB To learn more about switching your ERP software to Unanet, please contact our sales team.
Need Help with CARES Act, PPP, or Section 3610 Compliance? Read This First
by Kim Koster GovCon, Government Compliance
May 13, 2020
For government contractors and other firms that succeed in securing government relief during the COVID-19 crisis, an important question looms: What accounting, audit, and reporting capabilities must we have to meet the compliance requirements associated with these new programs? An article written by Unanet VP of Product Marketing Kim Koster and recently published in Compliance Week provides government contractors with the compliance answers they need to successfully navigate the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), and other federal relief programs. In the article, Koster identifies four critical areas where companies are likely to need an elevated level of end-to-end visibility to maximize the relief they receive, and to meet the new compliance responsibilities that come with it. She touches on the key data govcon firms will need to segregate and track to claim payroll relief under Section 3610, the documentation they’ll need in order to support their PPP loans and to claim CARES Act workforce retention credits, and other reporting and auditing responsibilities that companies will need to fulfill in pursuing the relief they need — and in justifying that relief with data when the compliance bell rings. To access the complete article, click here.
DoD Underscores Requirement of Segregating Covid-19-related Costs with 3610 Guidance
by Kim Koster GovCon, Government Compliance
May 11, 2020
For government contractors that managed to secure relief under the CARES Act or PPP, big questions still remain about compliance, reporting, auditing, and accounting. As usual, the details matter, and in the case of these emergency pieces of legislation, the details weren’t always addressed upfront. So, it’s good news that the Department of Defense (DoD) recently provided guidance for contracting officers (COs). Click here for a copy of the Class Deviation – CARES Act Section 3610 Implementation. But what’s most compelling is that these guidelines make it clear that it’s more critical than ever that GovCons prioritize their relationship with their CO during this unusual time, and have strong control measures in place. First, here are a few basic highlights from this recent guidance: COs must put in writing that a GovCon cannot perform its contracted work at a government facility due to facility closures, nor can they do the job via telework. Paid leave for employees idled by the facility closure, including sick leave, may be direct charged to the affected contract, and not as regular leave that would have been recorded as fringe expense in the normal course of business, so long as it can be attributed to the Covid-19 outbreak from Jan. 31 – Sept. 30, 2020. The leave charged to the contract must be necessary to maintain the workforce in a ready state to permit a return to work upon facility re-opening and to ensure the safety of the workers. Finally, and most important of all, the 3610 guidance is very clear that in order to be eligible for reimbursement of the cost of paid leave, GovCons must segregate these specific costs and actions so that compliance with these terms can be reasonably identified. The guidelines say, “segregation and identification of costs can be performed by any reasonable method, as long as the results provide a sufficient audit trail.” How can GovCons do this simply and effectively? This article in Compliance Week: Preparing for the compliance caveats that accompany CARES Act, PPP, gives good counsel on the value of ERP to resolve this segregation issue. Your Unanet platform will enable your business to accurately track, manage, and segregate costs associated with the Covid-19 outbreak so you can specifically demonstrate to your CO precisely where your business incurred costs that are eligible for reimbursement. Want to understand more about how Unanet can be a solution to helping your business segregate costs for reimbursement and manage your projects? Check out our white paper, The Business of Projects.
Will COVID-19 Impact CMMC?
by Kim Koster GovCon
Apr 08, 2020
Background The rollout of the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) as a mandatory contract requirement for government contractors working with the Department of Defense (DoD) is an enormous undertaking involving government, a newly established non-profit, many independent assessors who need to be accredited, and up to 300,000 firms in the Defense Industrial Base. The CMMC Version 1.0 model was published on 1/31/2020 and, separately, the non-profit independent CMMC Accreditation Board (CMMC AB) was established. The CMMC AB will be responsible for training and certification of independent assessors that will verify that government contractors are compliant with CMMC. In case you missed it, check out our quick review of the CMMC in our blog post. A key purpose of the CMMC is to provide a unified cybersecurity standard for DoD acquisitions. The model includes five levels that describe the maturity of a government contractor’s cybersecurity practices and processes. Levels 1-5 are labeled Basic, Intermediate, Good, Proactive and Advanced/Progressive Cyber Hygiene respectively. All DoD government contractors will be required to be compliant with at least Level 1, with government contractors who manage Controlled Unclassified Information required to be at Level 3. Levels 1-3 of the CMMC are largely based on the NIST 800-171 standard. Learn more about these levels and the CMMC in our white paper. The next key milestones for CMMC include developing training material by the CMMC AB and the training of the first group of assessors. This was scheduled for late March through June. The schedule was recognized as challenging given all the work that needs to be accomplished to develop a robust mechanism that is cost-effective and affordable, especially for smaller businesses. In the June timeframe, the first RFIs with the CMMC requirement will be issued, with the first RFPs in October 2020. In parallel, changes need to be made to the DFAR rules that will make the CMMC standard law of the land (i.e. replacing NIST 800-171) by October 2020. Impact of COVID-19 on CMMC Schedule Given the rapid and unanticipated impact of Coronavirus/COVID-19, there are questions from many industry observers whether this demanding and aggressive schedule can now be accomplished. Katie Arrington, the Chief Information Security Officer for the DoD’s acquisition office, and who leads the CMMC effort for the DoD, is very active providing briefings on status and progress. Katie maintains that the DoD intends to stay on schedule while respecting health concerns and to do that, will turn to do more remote training via webinars. In a recent webcast, Katie was adamant that training of assessors will occur by June and RFIs with CMMC requirements are still expected to come out in June 2020 as well. Katie also recently confirmed that the DoD has achieved another important CMMC milestone and officially entered into an agreement with the CMMC AB for its CMMC program. As of early April, the Memorandum of Understanding has yet to be released publicly but is another indication that COVID-19 will not impact the timeline for the CMMC requirement for all DoD government contractors. In other recent developments that may be related to help the CMMC rollout stay on track, the DoD has assigned the National Institute of Standard and Technology to help create requirements for independent assessors under the CMMC program. The CMMC AB will remain as the main entity for overseeing training and certification for third-party evaluators. Katie stated that the CMMC AB will also have the authority to make modifications to the credentialing process. Katie noted that NIST will work to prevent conflicts in the certification process in line with the CMMC AB’s “very stringent ethical rules”. In summary, Katie’s schedule for CMMC continues to meet its milestones. While the schedule is very aggressive, the odds are that CMMC rollout will continue as announced.
The Basics of Government Contracts
by Kim Koster GovCon
Feb 17, 2020
In this blog, we’ll explain the basics of Government Contracts. We’ll begin with the history and basics of each contract type, as well as obligations and the risks for each category. Also discussed are the different features of each contract and some of the newer hybrid contracts emerging in the industry. Brief History of Government Contracts: Contract types have been around since the very first financial transactions. In the beginning, all contracts were Fixed Price. When World War I came around, the concept of tear down and repair contract types were introduced. There was a Fixed Price order to tear down a piece of equipment that had failed. However, the problem was identified, and a proposal was prepared to repair it. Next, a Time and Materials (T&M) order was issued to make the repair. This type of contract is still very common today, even at your local auto repair shop. A major difference is that the auto repair shop usually does the diagnosis part at no charge. They look at it and tell you what’s wrong with it and do the proposal on speculation. When World War II rolled around, the concept of Cost Reimbursable contracts was born because there simply wasn’t time for definitive specifications. The contractors found themselves developing things while the specifications were being written. It’s just not possible to provide a fixed price for an effort like that; you don’t know where you’re going, much less where you are. In the 1950s, the government forayed into R&D, like project Moho, where the government gave Howard Hughes a contract to drill a hole to the center of the Earth, and he figured out he couldn’t do it. It was a Fixed Price contract, and rather than roll over and let the government do to him what they do to you when you fail to complete a Fixed Price contract, he sued. The resulting court case established the principle that when performance and cost risk is very high, the federal government should assume the risk, and the Cost Type contract was born. The DoD has experimented over the years with Fixed Price contracts in all kinds of areas, including R&D, mostly unsuccessfully. The last significant Fixed Price R&D contract was for the NAVY 8a12, the very first stealth aircraft. This was in the early 1990s, when stealth aircraft didn’t exist, and it wasn’t even certain that it was possible to have an aircraft that could evade radar. The researchers weren’t successful, and the government terminated them for default. This was eventually converted to a termination for convenience, and the last of the lawsuits were settled at over 20 years old. Fixed Price R&D’s have never been particularly successful, but, Fixed Price contracts make for good press. The reality is that when the risk is very high, both cost risk and performance risk, Fixed Price just isn’t appropriate. The three basic contract types are fixed price, also called Firm Fixed Price and abbreviated FFP. If you are looking in the dictionary of acronyms, you will find FFP under contract types, Time and Materials, or labor hour T&M contracts, and Cost Reimbursement or Cost-Plus type contracts. There is a lot of variation within these contract types. Your contract could have a mixture of Fixed Price labor and Cost Reimbursable for other direct costs. It could also be a fixed price contract with time as a unit of measure that is really Time and Materials. Another deviant is Fixed-Price services with level of effort, that has a special contract type that will be discussed later. There can be several combinations here and these mixed contracts are referred to as hybrids. Hybrid contracts are experiencing an increase in popularity. So how much money does the government spends on these contracts, and how much is allocated to each type? The chart below is not as easy to analyze because the annual totals are changing, but you can see the contract percentage mix. Note that there is a lot of money in fixed price, this is not because fixed price is inherently better or worse, it because very large production and construction contracts are always fixed price. While it is a lot of money, it represents a relatively small number of contracts. You will notice that cost type contracts remain between 31% and 32%. This stability is a result of the principle that what the government buys determines the level of risk and the level of risk determines the type of contract. All the pounding on the podium that the politicians do and all the preferences that the administration states for the types of contracts has had little impact for 20 years. The number of dollars spent on caucus type contracts is still roughly the same proportion—approximately a third of all procurement spending—simply because about a third of everything the government buys can’t reasonably be fixed price. This is because an important factor is unknown: either the delivery specifications, the delivery schedule, when we want it, where we want it, what we want to buy, or something similar, that makes the risk inordinately high. What is the difference between contract types? Firm Fixed Price contracts: This contract type should be used when requirements are known and can be precisely described. We also know exactly when we want it and where we want it. Cost of performance can be reasonably predicted. We know what it ought to cost and the risk is relatively low, making a fixed-price appropriate. Time and Materials contracts: This contracting type is used when requirements are poorly described and we don’t know exactly what we want or exactly when or where we want it. It is typically services; the cost of performance can be predicted with a reasonable degree of certainty with respect to the cost per hour. However, when it’s going to be performed, where it’s going to be performed, and which categories of labor might be used are less understood. With the unknowns, the use of individual delivery orders is appropriate. Often T&Ms are Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity contracts (IDIQs). The basic contract’s an empty template and the delivery orders carry the money specifications and other details. Cost Reimbursable contracts: This type is a good option when the requirements or ability to fulfill the requirements are uncertain. In the case of Howard Hughes and project MoHo, it wasn’t certain that the task the government gave him could be even be completed, a perfect example of the use of cost reimbursable contracting. It is also appropriate when we are sure something can be completed but we are unsure of the cost. When costs cannot be predicted with any degree of certainty, a cost type contract is appropriate. Fixed Price Contracts Let’s look first at the fixed-price contract. This category can be broken into two different contract types: Fixed Price completion contracts and Firm Fixed price. Fixed Price Completion Contract: The contractor’s obligation is to simply deliver the goods or the services. The government’s obligation is to pay on delivery, to pay promptly, provide inspection acceptance, and presentation of an invoice are all required. Once those things have been fulfilled, the government must pay the agreed upon price. This type of contract is most of the fixed price contracts. Fixed-Price Level of Effort Contract: The contractor’s obligation is to deliver exactly the hours specified in the contract level of effort. If you don’t meet the goal, the contract requirements are not fulfilled, and you don’t get paid. If you go over, you don’t get paid any more. This is a fixed price contract, but it’s dependent on fulfilling exactly a certain level of effort by labor category. Firm Fixed Price: The government’s only obligation is to pay, once all the hours are delivered as specified in the contract. However, certain fixed level of effort contracts will occasionally have a special provision in them or clause that treats them like a Time and Materials contract during performance, especially if they’re going to last more than three or four months. This means the contractor does not have to finance the entire performance of the contract, only getting paid at the end. Time and Materials Contracts Time and Materials contract: This type is used when there will be non-labor costs involved in the contract like travel, materials, and usage of equipment. Typically, travel, materials, and other direct costs (ODCs) are reimbursed at actual cost. The government’s obligation here is to pay for the hours that are delivered and accepted upon pursuant to a proper statement of work. Acceptance of hours under a T&M Contract is one of the steps. There is a provision in every T&M contract that allows the government to require that hours that were not acceptable be reworked at no cost. It isn’t invoked very often but can be very expensive. Cost Reimbursable Contracts Cost Reimbursable contracts: This type comes in multiple variations, with the two basic types being completion type and level of effort. These are often referred to as a “best efforts statement of work”. The contractor’s obligation is to provide his or her best efforts in pursuit of the objectives stated in a statement of work. There is no other obligation under a cost type contract whether it’s completion type or level of effort. When the money runs out, you are supposed to stop. If there is a cost growth after the contract is completed, like rates and direct rates, you can collect that over and above the original estimate. The government’s obligation is to reimburse the contractors total cost of performance, if the contractor has abided by all the allowability and eligibility rules. Contracting Risks Risk is inherent in all contracts; it just depends on what side of the contract you sit. It is a very important aspect of contracting and it comes in two forms: performance risk and cost risk. Performance risk revolves around these questions: Can this be done? Is the schedule realistic? Is the timeline attainable? The contract will establish responsibilities in the event the contract cannot be completed or completed on time. Cost risks are used in situations where we know something can be done and how long it will take, but we do not know the final cost. For example, this can be due to fluctuation in precious metal costs that are driven by market supply and demand. A very important yet often overlooked aspect of a contract is obligations. If you are performing services or delivering goods to the federal government, you need to understand your obligations under the contract and the government’s obligation to you. Fixed Price Risk Fixed price completion contracts performance risk for the contractor is very high. There are obligations to perform: deliver the goods, deliver the services, no matter what it costs. So, both performance risk and cost risks are very high. The government’s risk on a Firm Fixed Price completion contract is very low. They have no obligation to the contractor to pay or do anything else until the goods or services are delivered, inspected, and accepted, then they pay. That’s about as low risk as it gets. For the level of effort Fixed Price contract, it’s exactly the opposite. There the performance risk is very low, and the cost risk is also moderately low, because the contractor’s sole obligation on a fixed price level of effort contract is to furnish the hours purchased—exactly the hours purchased, no more, no less. For the government the risk is high, because they’re not assured that when the level of effort has been provided, that the job will be done. All they know is how many hours they’re going to get. They don’t know what work is going to be finished, so performance risk is high on that. There is a variant of fixed price contract called a fixed price incentive contract. This is always a completion type. With this type, the government puts into the contract what are called cost shares, so if the contractor underruns the contact, the government shares part of the savings. On the flipside if the contractor overruns the contract, the government pays part of the overrun, not all of it. So, it’s still high risk for the contractor, but the risk is less than with Firm Fixed Price. Time and Materials Risk For Time and Materials contract, they are always level of effort contracts, because that’s what a Time and Materials contract buys: hours. The contractor’s performance risk is very low, because the only obligation is to furnish the hours. The cost risk is also moderately low because remember part of Time and Materials is Cost Reimbursable so there you’re going to get back whatever you spend. It’s only the labor that has any risk at all, and that’s only the pricing of the labor and the indirect costs. If your pricing model is good, then the cost risk is going to be low on the labor portion of a Time and Materials contract. The government’s risk is just like a fixed price level of effort; it’s going to be high because there’s no assurance they’re going to get what they want. The only assurance they have is that they’re going to get the hours they ordered. Now the cost risk is relatively low because they know exactly what every hour is going to cost upfront. What they don’t know is whether they’re going to get what they wanted out of those hours or not, and that’s why the performance risk is high. Cost Reimbursable Risk For all the cost type contracts—whether it’s fixed fee or an incentive fee—where the contractor has an incentive to achieve something technical, they will get more fee if they achieve that objective. For the contractor, performance risk is very low across the entire Cost Reimbursable contract spectrum. Why? Because the contractor has no obligation except to do their best. Cost risk is very low on cost plus fixed fee, incentive fee, and award fee contracts because the government’s going to reimburse all the costs. That’s the obligation of the government under a cost type contract; the government’s risk is very high. The reason it’s very high is because we don’t know whether the task can even be done or not, or—if it is possible—how much it’s going to cost. That’s why we’re in a cost type environment to begin with, so the government’s risk is as high as it gets in the cost type environment. Hybrid Contracts This contract type evolved from a strong Government/DOD preference for fixed price contracts. These contracts feature multiple characteristics of various contract types but are labeled as fixed price. For example: Fixed Price Labor but Cost Reimbursable sub contracts Labor billed as a unit of time rather than hours, such as a Fixed Price per month, but then they go on to define month as X number of labor hours, so it’s really a Labor Hour contract, or a Time & Materials Contract. However, because it is described in the statement of work as a Fixed Price per unit of time, it might be reported in the data as a Fixed Price Contract. DCAA audit with hybrid contracts Sometimes these hybrid contracts will contain the allowable cost and payment clause. If they do, that triggers the requirement for an Incurred Cost Submission. DCAA considers the Fixed Price hybrids, if they have cost type features, to be cost type contracts. They look for them in the Incurred Cost Submission schedules, and they will reject the submission when they find a hybrid contract that has been “improperly classified”. These things are difficult to detect and they’re often missed, especially on a cursory review, and DCAA will sometimes miss them until it’s time to audit the incurred cost submission, three, four, or five years after the costs were booked. They then find that the contract was misclassified, reject the submission, and it must be done all over again. The Incurred Cost Submission is used to establish a firm’s indirect rates for each year. Your fringe rates, your overhead rates, your General and Administrative or G&A rate, your Subcontract and Material Handling or SCMH rate, this is required if you have any contracts with the Allowable Cost and Payments clause in them. It is not determined by contract type. Contract type should be determined whether the clause is there or not, but if the clause is there, then the incurred cost submission is required, so it’s worth looking in your contracts and contracts groups to determine whether the clause is there or not, and not look at what the contract type says it is. Conclusion What does the government look for in selecting contract types? Here is where a government contract really differs from a commercial negotiation. In the commercial world, the contract type is a matter of agreement between the parties. The buyer and the seller agree on what kind of arrangement they’re going to have, but in the government world, that’s all determined before the solicitation is ever issued for contractors to bid on. In the government contracting world there is not a choice of contract type. Competition, price, cost, complexity, frequency of need, and segregation/fragmentation are all factors that play into the upfront contracting type decision made by the government. As a government contractor, you may have no choice about the type of contract you are bidding on, but you sure have the choice to understand the impact that contract types have on your overall financials. Selecting the right tool, one battle tested by government contractors can help you navigate the financial nuances of each contract type. To learn more about how Unanet can help you effectively manage your government contracts, contact us.
The CMMC Has Arrived. Here’s What DoD Contractors Need to Know to Comply
by Kim Koster GovCon
Feb 06, 2020
Government contractors that want to do business with the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) soon will have to prove to a third-party auditor that they meet new elevated cybersecurity standards to be considered for DoD contracts. The new DoD compliance regimen known as Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) was released as Version 1.0 on January 31, 2020. It’s based on a unified cybersecurity standard modeled after management maturity models used by other entities inside and outside the government, with a set of five levels that describe the maturity of a government contractor’s cybersecurity practices and processes. The CMMC could have major compliance implications for DoD contractors, as detailed in a new white paper from Unanet, a leader in ERP software purpose-built for government contractors. We’ve been following the CMMC process closely here at Unanet. To assist government contractors in their efforts to comply with the policy, we have integrated capabilities into the Unanet software platform to support the relevant technical requirements within the new model. What’s more, our Cloud Operations team has been diligent about keeping abreast of new DoD policies and has taken the necessary steps to ensure that its processes and procedures are similarly aligned with CMMC and NIST 800-171 standards. For information on how Unanet can support and simplify your organization’s compliance with Federal government requirements, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NIST 800-171 and CMMC Compliance for Government Contractors
by Kim Koster GovCon
Jan 31, 2020
The initial deadline for government contractors to be compliant with NIST SP 800-171 was December 31, 2017, but that passed and there was much discussion in the community whether this would be a focus for contracting officers. Recent events have brought cybersecurity to the fore with the announcement of the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) and it is clearly a very high priority now in the DoD community. This blog post helps explain how the standard applies to your company. Every day, the news is filled with stories about cyber-attacks or breaches. What if one happened to your company, would you be ready? How do you get started? One of the best ways to protect your company is to begin to define security processes, procedures, and controls, and the time to start is now. Being prepared to handle cyber-attacks will ensure that your business operations and valuable data are protected. As a government contractor, you have the added responsibility of safeguarding our nation’s valuable data assets. To guarantee that risks are mitigated, cyber risks standards are now being applied to contracts that are issued by the DoD. The standards are outlined in the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS). The DoD requires contractors to demonstrate cybersecurity adherence for protection of Covered Defense Information (CDI) and Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI), or Unclassified Controlled Technical Information (UCTI). If there are any doubts about the nature of your data, make sure to discuss with your Contracting Officer (CO). Exhibit 1 – Types of Information Expect to see the following DFARS references in your contract. You will be expected to demonstrate compliance to these standards. Exhibit 2 – DFARS Clauses – Cybersecurity The three DFARS clauses above mandate that defense contractors adhere to the security requirements, demonstrating cybersecurity protections are adequate to protect information from attack. The security requirements are specified in National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Special Publication (SP) 800-171, “Protecting Controlled Unclassified Information in Nonfederal Information Systems and Organizations.” For ease of use, the security requirements are organized into fourteen families. Each family contains the requirements related to the general security topic of the family. There are 110 controls around non-classified controlled information. This sounds like a lot but keep in mind the type of information that is being protected. In many cases, these controls represent best practices that you may already have adopted. 14 control families: Audit and Accountability Identification and Authentication Awareness and Training Incident Response Media Protection Risk Assessment System and Information Security Physical Protection System and Communication Protection Security Assessment Personnel Security Maintenance Configuration Management Access Control Defense contractors must also have in place a mechanism and communication plan if they identify an incident or breach. The notification must happen with 72 hours of the breach. Incident reporting is done via the DoD’s Defense Industrial Base (DIB) Cyber Incident Reporting & Cyber Threat Information Sharing Portal. Be prepared to address the necessary information on the form and provide supporting documents and evidence relating to the breach. What Do You Have to Do to Reach NIST 800-171 and CMMC Compliance? Contractors initially faced a deadline of December 31, 2017 to attain compliance with all the security requirements in NIST SP 800-171. Contractors that did not have all the NIST controls implemented were to submit a written explanation of how 1) the required security control(s) is not applicable, or 2) an alternative control or protective measure that is used to achieve equivalent protection. All controls were to be addressed, either through implementation, remediation, and/or documented explanation of non-applicability. In June 2019 the DoD announced the Cybersecurity Model Certification which builds on, and formalizes, the requirements of NIST 800-171. The implications of CMMC are significant: All DoD Contractors will need to become CMMC Certified by passing an independent CMMC Audit to verify they have met the appropriate level (1 – 5) of cybersecurity for their business. The Federal Government will determine the appropriate level for the contracts they administer, and not all contracts will require the highest levels of security. The required CMMC level will be contained in sections L & M of Request for Proposals making cybersecurity an “allowable cost” in DoD contracts. Audits will be performed by an independent CMMC Third-Party Assessment Organization (C3PAO) that has been accredited by the CMMC Accreditation Body. The following important milestones have been identified: Contractors should determine now where they stand regarding NIST 800-171 controls and the CMMC Level they want to achieve in order to be certified by the 2nd quarter of 2020. In November 2019 the DoD released additional drafts of the CMMC Levels and their associated NIST 800-171 controls. In January 2020 the official CMMC Levels and requirements will be released. The DoD will also announce the non-profit that will be in charge of the certification process who will start training independent Certified 3rd Party Assessment Organizations to conduct audits on DoD contractor information systems. Certifiers will be available soon thereafter to begin audits. There is likely to be a big backlog since there are an estimated 70,000 companies in the Defense Industrial Base requiring audits in a short time-frame and a very limited supply of certifiers/auditors. In June 2020 the CMMC requirements will be in Requests for Information. In late 2020 DoD contractors will need to be certified to bid on Requests for Proposal. More information on Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification is available from Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition & Sustainment at: https://www.acq.osd.mil/cmmc/draft.html Getting prepared for this requirement is important for your company. Unanet is participating in industry groups and working with partners to carefully watch each draft of the CMMC requirements prior to the final version being published so that we can support our customers CMMC certification efforts. You may consider hiring a consulting service to assist you on this journey. It is critical for the overall success of keeping and winning new government contracts. Your Unanet Project Management and Accounting System The Unanet hosted environment on the AWS cloud will provide the basis for your compliance. We have been diligent regarding compliance requirements as they have been published and updated. Unanet undertakes, and passes an annual independent SOC 2 Plus audit which addresses the NIST 800-171 requirements. This section discusses NIST 800-171 controls which relate to: Multi-Factor Authentication Identification & Authentication Controls Cyber Incident Reporting Data Encryption Multi-Factor Authentication To deliver robust support for individual customer’s requirements for multi-factor authenticated access both to Unanet and other information systems which contain CUI, Unanet integrates with leading providers of Identity and Access Management (IAM) tools such as OneLogin, Duo and Okta, and other providers, via SAML. Identification & Authentication Controls IAM vendors, such as those identified above, include robust capabilities related to logon management, and password complexity and reuse that satisfy the relevant NIST Controls. Prompt Cyber Incident Reporting Customers using Unanet’s cloud offering will be notified of any unauthorized intrusion. Data Encryption The requirements for data encryption are met through use of SSL, and the availability of the Unanet cloud platform in a FedRAMP Moderate environment that uses data encryption at rest. Contact your Customer Success Manager for more information. US-Based Support You should also be aware that all Unanet software is developed, hosted and supported in the United States, and exclusively by US citizens. This is not a requirement of the NIST standard. It does, however, provide an important additional measure of assurance to government contractors. This is especially important in comparison to other industry ERP software developed and supported in countries known to conduct state-sponsored hacking of US organizations.
Could Your Small Business Benefit Big from Runway Rules for Government Contracts?
by Kim Koster Business Development & Growth, GovCon
Jan 15, 2020
Recent initiatives adopted by the U.S. Small Business Administration to act on 2018 legislation are expected to open the door for more small businesses to vie for federal government contracts. Enacted by SBA in January 2020, the long-awaited rules implement provisions of the Small Business Runway Extension Act of 2018. As detailed in a 2019 Unanet-sponsored webinar on recent legislative and regulatory developments impacting small businesses, the law extends the look-back period for calculating the size of a business (based on annual revenue using receipts-based size standards) from three fiscal years to five fiscal years. Here at Unanet, we expect this “runway” extension will be a positive for small businesses by essentially enabling more companies to stay within the small business size standard for the purposes of competing for federal contracts. In particular, it may enable companies that have experienced a recent surge in annual revenue to retain their small business status and thus their eligibility for small business set-asides. For more on the law and the new rules that implement it, check out this article in Government Executive. Want to tap into Unanet’s expertise in small business government contracting for a deeper understanding of the new rules and how your company may benefit from them? Get in touch! We’re here to help!
Cash is King for Government Contractors: How to Accelerate Cash Flow
by Kim Koster Business 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 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 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!
Clearview and Unanet Combine to Accelerate Development of InFocus
by Lucas Hayden A/E, GovCon, Professional Services, Unanet A/E News, Unanet News
Oct 17, 2019
Unanet, a leading SaaS project-based Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) provider, has acquired Clearview Software to continue and accelerate the development of InFocus as the leading project-ERP software for Architects & Engineers. Why Unanet? This is a strategic decision that included many factors. We have had no shortage of interested investors over the years, and while past opportunities presented to us meant potentially losing our culture and control of the direction of our product, with Unanet we are able to maintain our focus with additional resources. Additionally, what separated Unanet from the rest was our similarity in our culture and goals. Both we and Unanet have been bootstrapped, founder-owned and operated companies, and we are walking through this door together as we look to maximize our potential. Will InFocus continue to be supported and developed? Absolutely. We’re very excited about the opportunity to put more energy and effort into further developing InFocus. It was one of the major factors in choosing Unanet. We also just released a major InFocus update to all of our customers who received new features at no additional cost. We have more releases already scheduled for next year and are continuing our commitment to product development and support. Will Clearview be shifting its focus away from A/E? Absolutely not. We were looking for a partner that would help us serve more of the A/E market. By combining our resources with Unanet, we will be able to compete with legacy vendors in our market more effectively. There’s a lot of work to do here, and we’re very excited about that. What if I just bought InFocus? You made the right decision and your investment just appreciated in value. We strongly believe that our partnership with Unanet will drive InFocus forward in ways that would have been more difficult otherwise. Who do I contact for support now that Clearview is part of Unanet? Is my account manager changing? Nothing has changed on that front, and all Clearview staff members remain in place. Our current and future customers will continue to reach us at all of our previous contact methods and you will have all the same contact personnel as before. We are dedicated to continuing our excellence in customer service and have increased our support and sales staff in the recent weeks to support our planned growth. What does the future look like for Clearview? The future is bright! Clearview will now have access to more resources to develop and support our software than ever before. We plan to continue adding staff, features and support tools to help our customers run their firms on the best ERP software in the A/E industry.
Unanet 19.1 Release Includes Expanded Capabilities for Purchasing and Reporting
by Lucas Hayden Accounting, GovCon, Press Releases, Unanet News
Oct 04, 2019
Unanet 19.1 Release Includes Expanded Capabilities for Purchasing and Reporting Dulles, VA, October 4, 2019 – Unanet, the leading project-based Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) provider, has announced the availability of Unanet 19.1 for On Premise customers. Cloud customers will be migrated on October 19. More than 1,200 project-driven organizations rely on Unanet to manage their projects, people, and financials. The latest release of Unanet includes expanded capabilities for purchasing and reporting, including the ability to create a Vendor Invoice for each Purchase Order with matched transactions, Purchase Order export and import, Vendor Invoice Export, the ability to attach documents to a bank account reconciliation, added approval status for Purchase Requisitions, Purchase Orders, and Vendor Invoices, and more. “This latest Unanet release continues our investment in product enhancements driven by customer input. Unanet has unique capabilities to help professional services organizations optimize their purchasing processes. This release includes very popular requests from our customers that will help accelerate subcontractor management with new features for approval reporting, alerts, and automating labor intensive processes,” commented Richard Hayden, Unanet’s Senior Vice President of Marketing. About Unanet Over 1,200 professional services organizations trust Unanet’s ERP platform to scale their businesses while drastically reducing G&A in a “Single Source of Truth”. Unanet delivers resource scheduling, budgeting & planning, time & expense reporting, billing & revenue recognition, real-time project management analytics and dashboards, GL, AP, AR, purchasing, cost pool calculations, and indirect allocations, in one integrated system. www.unanet.com Media contact: Richard Hayden Senior Vice President of Marketing, Unanet 703-689-9581 email@example.com
Building a Strong Opportunity Pipeline
by Kim Koster GovCon
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. 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 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.
What is the DCAA, and What Audits Do They Perform?
by Kim Koster GovCon, Government Compliance
Aug 08, 2019
What is the DCAA? Let’s quickly level set on the mission of the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA). Their primary function is to perform contract and financial audits for agencies that are responsible for acquisition and contract administration for the US Government. DCAA audits ONLY government contractors. They conduct these audits in accordance with the Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards (GAGAS). The principles that GAGAS embodies are unbiased audit conclusions based on facts. DCAA is a very vital part of the acquisition process for the Department of Defense (DOD) and certain other agencies. Their charter is to make sure that the taxpayers’ money is spent responsibly and ethically by conducting audits that ensure the validity of costs throughout the acquisition process. They have a tremendous amount of influence because they communicate with the Contracting Officer (CO) and make recommendations that have an impact on contract negotiations. The recommendations help the CO understand what the price of the contract should be. In the past, the relationship between the government contracting community and DCAA has been strained. DCAA is making a concerted effort to improve overall relationships with government contractors by improving communication and coordination. Common DCAA Audits Understanding the various audits the DCAA tends to run is necessary for preparing for them. In future blogs, we will dive deeper into each audit, but for now, here is a quick description of some of the most common ones: Incurred Cost: The most common type of DCAA audit, an incurred cost audit exists to ensure that claimed actual costs and billed costs reconcile. Forward Pricing: This audit is conducted on contract proposals, are related to a specific contract, and are conducted prior to award. The purpose of this audit is to ensure out year rates are reasonable and realistic for use in forward pricing. Pre-Award: Accounting System Audit: An Accounting System Audit is performed to ensure that a government contractor’s accounting system complies with laws and regulations, is reliable, there is a minimal risk of misallocations and mischarges, and allocations and charges are consistent with billing procedures. Timekeeping: This audit aims to ensure the contractor is compliant with its timekeeping practices, that the employee time records are correct, that employees perform in their assigned job classifications, and time is charged to the proper cost objective. Special Audits: Special audits may be performed for a variety of reasons, but typically occurs when a Contracting Officer needs an independent financial opinion on specific portions of a contract for a contractor’s accounting business system. Other Audits: These audits are usually performed for a variety of reasons, usually when there is potential for a high risk of misallocation or mischarging of costs. Ease the Path to Compliance with Unanet What is the DCAA? Something you don’t have to fear with the help of Unanet! Remember that there is no such thing as DCAA compliant software. It is your organization and procedures that will be assessed for compliance. That said, Unanet is uniquely designed for government contractors and has been battle-tested for compliance rules and regulations. Our compliance features are built into the tool, making compliance part of the fabric of your business. Unanet currently has over 2,000 clients using and trusting the system. Unanet supports compliant accumulation and allocation of costs utilizing time keeping, expense accounting, cost pools, indirect rates, revenue recognition, and project management all in one truly integrated system. Whether you are a small new or a seasoned larger GovCon, you can count on Unanet for your compliance needs. Unanet is recognized by the audit agencies as being “compliant ready,” giving you an immediate advantage in the audit process. To learn more about the DCAA, download our white paper, “A GovCon’s Essential Guide to DCAA Compliance.”
The Benefits of Digital Transformation for Government Contractors
by Kim Koster GovCon
Jul 02, 2019
Digital transformation appears to some as a just a buzzword. However, it’s fast becoming an essential business priority for the C-suite in all sizes of government contractors in the drive for sustainable competitive advantage. What is the significance of digital transformation for government contractors, and what outcomes are being reported? C-suite executives are finding enormous value in automating time-consuming and inefficient tasks by integrating project management, accounting, and finance. This eliminates time wasted in reconciling transactions between systems and thereby freeing up time and resources to focus on strategic priorities. This is the foundation for digital transformation. Small and mid-sized GovCons have reported the following startling improvements: We have been able to grow topline revenue by almost 40% without having to add $1 of G&A support” “We reduced our invoicing process from 20 to 7 days, we can complete all month close procedures in 5 –7 days and improved our DSOs from 60 to 50. Additionally, we grew top line revenue by 25% in one year with no additional accounting staff. “Since implementing Unanet, invoicing takes between five to ten days, a reduction of more than 20 days from before. While major clients are demanding credit terms to 60 days, DSOs are reduced in 2014 from 160 to 70 days.” “We reduced invoice processing time by 65%. All invoices are now delivered with 48 hours of period end.” “We eliminated all off-system accounting, shortening the time to ‘close the books’ by 60%” “Our profit margin improved by 4% since Unanet went live.” “We increased the revenue dollars processed per $1 of accounting department salary by more than 300%” Unanet Customers Share Their Experience with Digital Transformation for Government Contractors At the 2019 Unanet Champions Conference in San Diego, four GovCon Financial Executives shared their perspectives on how their businesses have been transformed with Unanet, driven by both quantitative and qualitative improvements: Mark Rothman, CFO, NETE Shilpa Amato, Executive VP, Nalas Engineering Services Thomas Batty, Corporate Staff Operations, Frontier Technology Lisa Martin, Contracts/Accounting, Trevet “What was life like before Unanet?” Mark: Information was not timely, it was hard to get the data out, and we needed technical experts to write custom reports. Shilpa: We had disparate systems; our accounting system couldn’t provide Project Managers with information on project cost and project health. Billing was a nightmare. We couldn’t do Cost Plus billing directly from the system and had to resort to complex workarounds in Excel. Thomas: Before Unanet, data was always behind the times. We needed multiple spreadsheets to track everything. To make it worse, we received very poor response/support from our legacy vendor (Deltek) who was always focused on upselling. It was a bad time and lasted 10 years! Lisa: We were using a legacy product (Deltek GCS) which was being sunset and we were not happy with the idea of Deltek and Costpoint as a future solution due to the poor service we experienced, and the complexity of Costpoint. With Deltek GCS we leaned heavily on Excel to fill the gaps in the reporting we needed. We also relied on custom reporting which required Impromptu expertise. The relevant project information in the financial system was not accessible to Project Managers. Unanet’s one system solved all our problems. And in Deltek GCS the ability to only have two periods open was a major limitation. “What was the most significant benefit of moving to Unanet?” Lisa: Simply a more up-to-date integrated system where we did not need to import and export data; a huge improvement was the accessibility of data to Project Managers and executives. Thomas: The real-time availability daily of labor information was a game-changer. Project Managers know their status and backlog now rather than in 45 days. With all the information in one place wasting time reconciling data is eliminated. Shilpa: I can get any answer to any question at any time in minutes. Accounting is happy, Project Managers are happy, leadership is happy. I love depth of standard reports. Billing is shortened from a week to a day. Mark: The real-time visibility for Project Managers without resorting to home-grown spreadsheets (which very likely had errors) is now critical to how we manage our business. We slice and dice data in different ways and in whatever periods are required; daily, weekly, semimonthly, quarterly etc. Immediate visibility of timesheet status helps with accuracy and efficiency too. Learn How Unanet Can Provide Digital Transformation for Government Contractors Unanet is now the clear market leader for small and medium-sized GovCons. Not just an alternative to Deltek, but as a clearly superior choice for organizations who want to transform their business. To schedule your personal consultation, contact us.
5 Steps to Resource Management Maturity
by Kim Koster GovCon, Resource Planning
Sep 09, 2019
Where do you stand with your resource management maturity? About 55% of respondents in our 2019 GAUGE Report said they have reached resource management maturity for their organization. Does your business fit into this category? Resource Management Maturity People really are the most important asset a company has, yet so many companies struggle to truly manage this resource. How much more profitable would you be if you increased utilization of your resources? How much more on-time would your projects be if you had the right people at the right time for the right tasks? In this blog, we’ll walk you through 5 steps to resource management maturity so you can see not only at what level your organization currently sits, but where you’d like to go in the future. Resource Management Maturity Level One – Ad-Hoc or Initial At this level, achieving resourcing goals depends on individual effort and heroics. Work gets done but it is not sustainable for the long term, and key staff may be lost to burnout. How to move from Level One to Level Two: Agree as an organization that you are ready to mature your resource management practice! Create and document policies and procedures Policies should establish best practices for your organization Assure they will help the teams be successful Make sure there is a repository for easy access Feedback loop to make sure policies are being followed Create a self-audit plan Concentrate on the basics – resource names, availability, skills, and utilization Define Key Performance Indices (KPIs) for your project Provide role-based training on policies and procedures Evaluate tools and evaluate future needs Resource Management Maturity Level Two – Project by Project or Basic In level two, resource management processes are in place and the necessary process discipline exists to repeat earlier successes on projects with similar applications. How to move from Level Two to Level Three: Measure adherence of enterprise policies and procedures Information is shared across projects with modern tools Enterprise wide labor categories and skills inventory/classifications Defined skill levels used for resource selection People, processes & tools provide an enterprise wide resource forecast Resources are budgeted and forecasted at the task level Supply and future supply of resources is visible Resource demand is visible to all project stakeholders Projects are being planned with resource constraints in mind Decide on a common set of enterprise wide and project level KPIs Automation of the process with the right tool Resource Management Maturity Level Three – Organization-Wide Processes are documented and standardized at level three, with approved tailored approaches being adopted as needed. How to move from Level Three to Level Four: Use data (historical and current) to drive hiring and placement decisions Common tool for enterprise level resource and skills budgeting and forecasting that all stakeholders have access to Formal resource requesting process Standard resource management metrics/KPIs with visibility of performance goals/thresholds Self-reporting on utilization Align resource forecasts and plans to corporate goals and objectives Realtime resourcing information – reports and dashboards Utilize KPIs to directly influence achievement of business goals and to make great business decisions Pipeline is also resourced for full look at the total needs of the business Tools now support the process with minimal manual touches Continue role-based training for all stakeholders Tools training is a recurring activity Resource Management Maturity Level Four – Quantitative/Data Driven At level four, detailed measures on process of resourcing practices are quantitatively measured, understood and managed. How to move from Level Four to Level Five: Invest in your people with training and a career path Establish a continuous feedback loop from all stakeholders Incentivize employees to be creative and listen to the suggestions Continue to evolve your processes looking for areas to improve Collect and utilize lessons learned and drive them into your process You will feel the organization firing on all cylinders Resource Management Maturity Level Five – Continuous Improvement At the final level of the resource management maturity level, continuous process improvement is enabled by quantitative feedback from the process and from piloting innovative ideas and technologies. “Sounds great, but do we have to be a Level Five?” As an organization, it is important to decide what level is needed to achieve your business objectives. You might not need to walk through all 5 steps to resource management maturity. Some may say that level 3.5 is adequate and it will meet their needs. Others might need a complete managed process that is striving for optimization, so a 4.3. Making that decision is key to establishing a roadmap and overall timeline. Benefits of Adopting a Resource Management Maturity Model: Improved visibility and control into enterprise resource needs and utilization Improved predictability and understanding of overall performance Common organizational standards ensuring consistent reporting, reduction of rework, and reduced dependence on heroes. Optimization of the project management staff, allowing them to focus on their customer, not on turning the crank. More efficient communication within project teams and to senior leadership. Delivery of real-time insight on project financials and enable resolution of identified risks. More on-time and on-budget projects, which equals a delighted customer. Mature Your Resource Management Process with Unanet Understanding that resource management is a true discipline that should be practiced and matured can be the difference between successful or failed projects. We all know what happens with failed projects and none of us want that. A resource management system can greatly aid your mission to improve your resource management maturity. An integrated comparison of actuals with budgets, plans, plans and variances gives project managers unparalleled insight into their projects. Dive deeper into how to improve your resource management maturity by watching our on-demand webinar.
DCAA Compliant Software
by Kim Koster ERP Software Best Practices, GovCon, Government Compliance
Jun 13, 2019
Just to be clear, there is no such thing as DCAA Compliant Software! It is your organization and procedures that will be assessed for compliance. That said, software such as Unanet, that is purpose-built for government contractors can significantly help you with achieving compliance. DCAA compliance requires that your accounting and related business processes which collectively including policies, manual procedures and tools be compliant. Software alone is not audited for DCAA compliance or certified, nor approved as DCAA compliant. However, Unanet software has been reviewed by DCAA auditors at more than one thousand customer sites and, along with the customer policies and procedures, approved as supporting DCAA requirements. Unanet software makes implementation of the DCAA regulations easy and efficient. Here is a small sampling of the DCAA regulations that a compliant accounting system must include and that are directly supported by Unanet accounting software: Proper segregation of direct and indirect costs Identification and accumulation of direct costs by contract Method for allocation of indirect costs A Timekeeping System that enforces specific requirements related to charging hours Labor distribution – how costs are allocated to charged time Segregation of unallowable costs Accumulation of costs under General Ledger Control To learn more, download A GovCon’s Essential Guide to DCAA Compliance.
What to Look for in a Billing and Invoicing Tool
by Kim Koster Budgeting & Forecasting, GovCon
Jun 06, 2019
As a professional services company, it is critical to be able to automate and shorten the bid-to-bill lifecycle. Professional services organizations need revenue recognition and billing to be completely in lock step. The concept of billing and invoicing does not need much explanation as we deal with bills continually in our daily lives. Billings/Invoices typically are a form that contain information like name, address, payment terms, a unique id, elements of cost, direct costs, and indirect costs applied. Choosing a billing and invoicing software can help you maintain accuracy and efficiency. But how do you find billing and invoicing software that will give your company all the features it needs for success? When looking for a tool, it is important to have… A time application that is a part of the project based ERP system so that billing can be done quickly Traceability of all transactions Ability to create multiple, standard invoice formats to be used across projects, showing summary or detailed level information Hide or show Cost Element detail on Cost Plus Invoices Include Fixed Price, Time & Materials, Pre-Bill Labor, and Additional Items on the same invoice Defer items from the current invoice for future invoicing Add one-time items such as additional fees or discounts The Benefits of Billing and Invoicing Software Once your organization finds the right system, you will enjoy the following benefits: Billable expense markup ensures company or project-specific markups can be applied. Manage different contract types including Time & Materials, Fixed Price, Pre-Bill Labor and Cost Plus. Estimate and record what is billable, billed and earned. Enable review of draft invoices by project management roles. Manage bid-to-bill lifecycle in Unanet, or feed data to other systems Feed other systems with accounts receivable, or journal transactions at summary or detail level. Flexible invoice formats per project to reflect client needs and level of detail. Streamline Your Billing and Invoicing Process with Unanet When searching for the perfect billing and invoicing software for your organization, Unanet is the clear choice. Our software can automate the “bid-to-bill” lifecycle, allowing your organization to forecast and track revenue across different contract types, and provide authorized managers with real-time insight. Our software promotes faster invoicing which in turn results in a faster closing of the books and reduced DSOs. By providing a single integrated system to manage the entire services bid-to-bill cycle, Unanet gives businesses the opportunity to replace their disparate standalone systems, resulting in greater productivity, fewer errors, lower costs, and less stress for your team.
What You Need to Know About the Contractor Purchasing System Review
by Kim Koster GovCon, Government Compliance
Jun 13, 2019
What is a DCMA Compliant Purchasing System? A DCMA compliant purchasing system is one designed to ensure that purchases are made at fair and reasonable prices and in compliance with the applicable contract terms, regulations and public laws. The first thing a contractor needs to understand about contractor purchasing systems is what constitutes a purchasing system. Many contractors think a purchasing system is something that can be purchased off the shelf and installed, like a mechanical system. However, as depicted in the figure below, a purchasing system is an amalgamation of people, processes, and tools that must work together to achieve the goal of spending taxpayer dollars wisely. Advantages of a DCMA Compliant Purchasing System Maintaining an approved purchasing system (i.e. one that has passed a CPSR) benefits the contractor for many reasons, including: It may fulfill a contractual requirement. All Department of Defense cost plus or time and material (T&M) contracts will contain a clause (252.244.7001) that requires the contractor to maintain a compliant purchasing system. If the contractor is subject to the Cost Accounting Standards, the clause allows the government to withhold up to 5% of the payments if the contractor fails to maintain an adequate purchasing system.Some solicitations require the bidders to have an approved purchasing system. Others, such as the recent General Services Administration (GSA) Governmentwide Acquisition Contract (GWAC) solicitations, offer bonus evaluation points for contractors that have an approved purchasing system.Providing advance notification and obtaining the contracting officer’s consent to enter into a subcontract is generally not required when the contractor has an approved purchasing system. Not only does this eliminate some bureaucratic paperwork, it also significantly reduces a contractor’s risk. If the contractor was required to provide advance notification and obtain consent for a subcontract and did not––or cannot prove that they did––the government can disallow all costs for that subcontract. Why is a CPSR Performed? When, how, and why is a CPSR performed? The objective of a contractor purchasing system review (CPSR) is to evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness with which the contractor spends government funds and complies with government policy when subcontracting. The review gives the Administrative Contracting Officer (ACO) a basis for granting, withholding, or withdrawing approval of the contractor’s purchasing system. Though contractors will benefit from passing a CPSR, they cannot initiate one. Rather, once a contractor’s sales to the government—excluding competitively awarded firm-fixed-price and fixed-price with economic price adjustment contracts and sales of commercial items pursuant to FAR Part 12—are expected to exceed $50 million in the next 12 months, the ACO is required to conduct a risk assessment. The ACO will review the contractor’s past performance and the volume, dollar value, and complexity of their purchasing to determine if the risk of ineffective or inefficient purchasing justifies the costs and effort required to perform a CPSR. Though the ACO is solely responsible for initiating a CPSR, it is possible other government organizations can determine the risk justifies the effort and ask the ACO to schedule a CPSR. A CPSR, as contemplated by FAR Subpart 44.3 and DFARS Subpart 244.3, will be conducted by the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) in accordance with the CPSR Guidebook. All CPSRs, except a follow-up review, are predicated on a risk assessment. Take the time to understand what DCMA will be looking for in your purchasing system and carefully review the DCMA CPSR Policies and Procedure Checklist. There are 24 DFARS criteria that must be met and at least 65 items on the DCMA checklist. CPSR References: DFARS 252.244-7001, Contractor PurchasingSystem Administration DCMA CPSR Policies and Procedures Checklist DCMA CPSR Guidebook Risk Assessment Form Now that you know why a CPSR is performed, let’s talk about the risk assessment form.The ACO will conduct the risk assessment utilizing the CPSR risk assessment form. Some of the information that will be requested is company information, last CPSR date and recommendations, sales data, contract type mix, sales to the government as a percent of total sales, number of POs/subcontracts by dollar values for the most recent year, type of business, and if you have been suspended from doing business in the past three years. The ACO will submit your completed risk assessment form to the CPSR Team to determine if the CPSR Review will be scheduled. If you have reached or are about to reach the $50 million threshold, it is time for you to make sure your purchasing system operating in a manner that can pass a CPSR. Don’t wait until the ACO calls. Start preparing today. Policies and Procedures are a Big Part of the CPSR Having and adhering to policies and procedures is the largest part of this review. So, making sure your documentation is in order, up-to-date, followed, and monitored is critical. TIP: Establish a self-audit program and document the results. DCMA will see this as a very favorable activity. Below are some basic, overarching guidelines for your CPSR policies and procedures: Establish clear lines of authority and responsibilityEnsure that all purchases are based on authorized requisitions and include documented support for vendor selected, price paid, and files, which are subject to government reviewImplement internal audits or reviews, training, and policies for the purchasing department to ensure the integrity of the systemInclude a system description detailing policies, procedures, and purchasing practices that comply with the requirements of the FAR and DFARSInstall a sound organizational and administrative structure to ensure effective and efficient procurement of requirements at the best value from responsible and reliable sourcesEstablish a role-based training program for all who participate in the purchasing process CPSR Requirements and DFARS 252.244.7001(a) The Business Systems Rule sets forth 24 system criteria that must be present in all contractor purchasing systems for a purchasing system to be “acceptable.” The criteria are outlined in DFAR 252.244-7001(a). In this blog, we will review these CPSR requirements. Below, the DFARS criteria are grouped into summary activities with the applicable criterion. Procurement Planning/Market Research (2 Criteria) Apply a consistent make-or-buy policy that is in the best interest of the governmentEnsure proper type of contract selection and prohibit issuance of cost plus a percentage of cost subcontracts Conflict of Interest/Misconduct (1 Criterion) Enforce adequate policies on conflict of interest, gifts, and gratuities, including the requirements of the Anti-Kickback Act Competition (2 Criteria) Use competitive sourcing to the maximum extent practicable, and ensure debarred or suspended contractors are properly excluded from contract awardRequire management level justification and adequate cost or price analysis, as applicable, for any sole or single source award Negotiated Procurement (1 Criterion) Document negotiations in accordance with the FAR requirements for negotiation Memoranda Cost of Pricing Data and Price Reasonableness (5 Criteria) Evaluate price, quality, delivery, and technical, and financial capabilities of competing vendors to ensure fair and reasonable pricesPerform cost or price analysis and technical evaluation for each proposal or quote to ensure fair and reasonable subcontract pricesDocument negotiations in accordance with FAR 15.406-3Take discounts, including cash discounts, trade discounts, quantity discounts, rebates, freight allowances, and company-wide volume discountsEstablish and maintain procedures to ensure performance of adequate price or cost analysis on purchasing actions Source Selection (3 Criteria) Use competitive sourcing to the maximum extent practicable, and ensure debarred or suspended contractors are properly excluded from contract awardEvaluate price, quality, delivery, technical capabilities, and financial capabilities of competing vendors to ensure fair and reasonable pricesEstablish and maintain selection processes to ensure the most responsive and responsible sources and to promote competitive sourcing so that purchases are reasonably priced and from sources that meet quality requirements Contract Formation and Content (3 Criteria) Ensure purchase orders and subcontracts contain all flow-down clauses, including terms and conditions, and any other clauses needed to carry out the requirements of the prime contractNotify the government of the award of all subcontracts that contain flow-down clauses that allow for government audit of subcontracts, and ensure the performance of audits of those subcontractsEnsure purchase orders and subcontracts contain mandatory and applicable flow-down clauses, as required by the FAR and DFARS Foreign Purchasing and Performance (3 Criteria) Ensure compliance with all relevant domestic preference requirementsEnsure compliance with export control regulationsEnsure agreements are not executed with prohibited parties Procurement Administration (4 Criteria) Maintain subcontract surveillance to ensure timely delivery and procedures to notify the government of potential subcontract problems that may impact delivery, quantity, or priceDocument and justify reasons for subcontract changes that affect cost or priceEnsure that proper types of subcontracts are selected, and that there are controls over subcontracting, including oversight and surveillance of subcontracted effortEstablish and maintain procedures to timely notify the contracting officer, in writing, of excessive pass-through concerns Tips for a Successful CPSR The process kicks off with the risk assessment and a series of detailed data questionnaires. Make sure your data is correct and that YOU understand what the information means so you can easily answer the reviewer’s questions. Answer clearly and timely so that the reviewer can understand the answer. Contractors that don’t have CPSR experience in-house may find it beneficial to engage a consultant to help prepare for the CPSR. Review the below tips for a successful CPSR: Prepare a strategic plan for compliancePrepare yourself with policies, procedures, and toolsSelf-audit plan executed and documentedUnderstand the purpose of the purchasing reviewStudy the guidebook and all references that DCMA providesHave at least one member of the executive team and ALL other participants at the entrance meetingChoose a point of contact to be a liaison with the CPSR teamKeep a copy of all questions and answer documentedAt the exit meeting, make sure that you have all the stakeholders and understand issues brought up by the team The CPSR report will state recommendations that the CO/ACO will use to make the final determination of approving or disapproving the purchasing system. Common Issues Some common review issues can be easily corrected by taking the time upfront to put together a comprehensive plan. Planning the system is very important, so don’t rush through it. Make sure you are thorough. After the system is planned and documented, it must be executed and maintained to avoid issues. Below are a few common issues, but this list is by no means exhaustive: Policies and procedures don’t address the requirementsThe actual practice doesn’t match the policies and proceduresLack of competition – too many sole-source with inadequate justificationsInadequate FAR/DFAR flow-downsInadequate price analysisInadequate documentation Procurement planning is essential. It is difficult to pass a CPSR if every purchase is urgent. Having a Successful CPSR Requires an Integrated ERP Tool Unanet purchasing software delivers powerful functionality to manage and simplify your buying process, designed to address the specific needs of professional services firms. With Unanet’s one system, purchasing integrates directly with timekeeping, expense, financials, and billing, saving time and money, and increasing accuracy. Our web-based system makes the process easy and visible from purchase requisition (PR), to issuance of the purchase orders (PO), through to customer invoice. Through Unanet’s workflow and approval process, all purchasing transactions can be tracked efficiently and integrated into the project forecasts. With Unanet, the overall purchasing requirements for the CPSR will be met. You can trust the accuracy of the data you are providing to the CPSR team as well as provide reports with all the needed traceability. To learn more, download the Aronson and Unanet white paper, The Contractor Purchasing System Review (CPSR) – What You Should Know.
Understanding The DCAA Accounting System Audit
by Kim Koster Accounting, GovCon, Government Compliance
May 15, 2019
The topic of this blog is the post award accounting system audit. The post award accounting system audit is an examination of the accounting system at non-major contractors after contract award. The objective of the post award accounting system audit is to determine if the contractor’s accounting system complies with the DFARS 252.242-7006, Accounting System Administration, requirements. A post award accounting system audit is usually performed at the request of the contracting officer when: a follow-up audit to a preaward survey (SF1408) is recommended or a preaward survey was not conducted prior to contract award, and the contracting officer determines that an audit is now required to support contract requirements. What are the characteristics of an acceptable accounting system? Acceptable accounting system means a system that complies with the system criteria below to provide reasonable assurance that: Applicable laws and regulations are complied with; The accounting system and cost data are reliable; Risk of misallocations and mischarges are minimized; and Contract allocations and charges are consistent with billing procedures. What is DCAA Looking for in the Accounting System Audit? This list of criteria below is very similar to the SF1408 Preaward Survey. A sound internal control environment, accounting framework, and organizational structure Segregation of direct and indirect costs Identification and accumulation of direct costs by contract Consistent allocation method for of indirect costs to intermediate and final cost objectives Accumulation of cost under the general ledger control Reconciliation of subsidiary cost ledgers and cost objectives to general ledger Approval and documentation of adjusting entries Management reviews or internal audits of the system to ensure compliance with the Contractor’s established policies, procedures, and accounting practices A time keeping system that identifies employee’s labor by intermediate or final cost objectives A labor distribution system that charges direct and indirect labor to the final cost objectives Interim determination of costs charged to a contract through routine posting of books of account Exclusion from costs charged to the government contracts of amounts that are not allowable per FAR 31, Contract Cost Principals and Procedures, or other contract provisions Identification of cost by contract line item (CLIN) and by units if required by the proposed contract Segregation of preproduction costs from production costs Billings that can be reconciled to the cost accounts for both current and cumulative amounts claimed and comply with contract terms Cost accounting information, as required: By contract clauses concerning limitation of cost (FAR 52.232-20), limitation of funds (FAR 52.232-22), or allowable cost and payment (FAR 52.216-7); and To readily calculate indirect cost rates from the books of accounts; Adequate, reliable data for use in pricing follow-on acquisitions Accounting practices in accordance with standards promulgated by the Cost Accounting Standards Board, if applicable, otherwise, Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. A common question is what are some of the typical pitfalls contractors have when completing this audit. Our answer is that all of requirements are important and non-compliance could leave you with a non-adequate system. If the Contracting Officer makes a final determination to disapprove the Contractor’s accounting system, and the contract includes the clause at 252.242-7005, Contractor Business Systems, the Contracting Officer will withhold payments in accordance with that clause. No one wants to not get paid!! A tried and trusted tool like Unanet can help you meet the requirements above. If you are not comfortable with taking this on yourself please do reach out to Unanet as we have a partner network that can assist you every step of the way. It will be worth every penny you spend. Good luck on your audit and hope that there are many contract awards coming your way. For more information, download A GovCon’s Essential Guide to DCAA Compliance.
Alternatives to Deltek – What to Look For
by Kim Koster GovCon, Professional Services
May 13, 2019
Two words. Caveat Emptor (Buyer Beware). You’re in the market for a system that will support your entire business lifecycle. You need a robust system that can handle your financials, accounting, budgeting & planning, timesheets, expenses, project management, resource management, real-time reporting and more— all in one place. So, it’s time to research the market and find the best business software at the best value. Simple, right? Well, yes and no. Proceed with caution, ask the right questions, and you can figure out which system is the best fit for your business. Here are some questions to ask as you evaluate the myriad options for business software: 1. Are all of the products on one database? Unfortunately, many of the business software systems on the market are essentially a conglomerate of smaller products that have been acquired over the years, patched up to look similar, but running on different databases (this is the case with Deltek). This means that you are really dealing with multiple products, each with a different schema, different technology stack, and different security model. These disparate products interface through a system of importing and exporting, each time introducing an opportunity for error. What you want here is one unified application – one user interface, one database, one security model. Anything else is just a mess of leftovers served up in a single bucket. 2. Are project and resource dashboards, KPIs, and analytics reported in “Real-Time”? Another consequence of using business software that is a conglomeration of smaller products is that users will need to learn multiple products and go to multiple places to get the information they need. Because data is stored in numerous places and requires transfer and synchronization, their information is not truly “real-time”. With Deltek’s disparate systems, data needs to be combined to produce reports, and reports will show different output in different systems. Unanet, however, provides managers and project managers with real-time, “live” reports – instead of having to wait for weeks or even months to receive a report from an accounting system. 3. How can I ensure that only authorized employees have access to sensitive information? You will need to make sure your business software includes roles-based access for all members of the company. Unanet ensures security of information by providing real-time access to management without having to give them access to the backend financial system. 4. Is the software made in U.S.A.? Many companies save money by outsourcing the design and development of their software to offshore developers. Unanet is 100% designed and developed in the United States. 5. Will I have the customer support I need and want? Ah, the controversial question of where to base customer support. Again, it is cheaper to outsource customer support overseas, but this frequently results in customers complaining about high turnover, that they never talk to the same person twice, the rep can never answer questions, etc. Don’t get me wrong, it can be done well, but that’s rarely the case. Unanet believes that customer satisfaction and responsiveness are the highest priorities, and we have the customer feedback to prove it. We have an experienced, US-based team of dedicated, knowledgeable, responsive, and just plain nice people who will make sure you get an answer to your question and will support you through every step of implementation. As a self-funded company, we don’t answer to private equity or venture capital firms, so we are not forced to outsource our customer service. After all, a system that meets your desired outcomes is more than just technology. You need expert assistance in order to accomplish true business transformation. 6. What is the total cost of ownership? Yep, the million dollar question (well, let’s hope not – that’s a lot to pay for business software!). Ultimately, many decisions about purchasing new software for your business will come down to price. What do you get for your money? Be sure to compare not only the functionality of the software systems, but also the implementation costs, consulting costs, subscription/license fees, and, of course, the human resources you need to operate the software. Unanet’s intuitive, easy to use, easy to operate interface enables our customers’ finance teams to focus on transforming the business rather than running monotonous transactions. We feel confident that you will discover that Unanet offers the best “bang for your buck” when it comes to selecting high-value, low total cost of ownership software to manage your projects, people, and financials. Still struggling over your ERP software decision? One-Third of Unanet’s Customers Made the Switch From a Competitor. Here’s Why.
Getting Ready for a DCAA Audit
by Kim Koster GovCon, Government Compliance
May 22, 2019
Let’s quickly level-set on the mission of the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA). Their primary function is to perform contract and financial audits for agencies that are responsible for acquisition and contract administration for the US Government. DCAA audits ONLY government contractors. Each DCAA audit is conducted in accordance with the Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards (GAGAS). The principles that GAGAS embodies are unbiased audit conclusions based on facts. DCAA is a very vital part of the acquisition process for the Department of Defense (DOD) and certain other agencies. Their charter is to make sure that the taxpayers’ money is spent responsibly and ethically, by conducting audits that ensure the validity of costs throughout the acquisition process. They have a tremendous amount of influence because they communicate with the Contracting Officer (CO) and make recommendations that have an impact on contract negotiations. The recommendations help the CO understand what the price of the contract should be. In the past the relationship between the government contracting community and DCAA has been strained. DCAA is making a concerted effort to improve overall relationships with government contractors by improving communication and coordination. DCAA Audits are a Fact of Life for Government Contractors During our most recent GAUGE Report, we noted the types of audits that were most prevalent. There are many audits that a GovCon can be subject to. Below are those results with the ICS being the largest audit by far. Tips to Prepare for a DCAA Audit 2019 GAUGE survey respondents said that their DCAA oversight is increasing, 6% more than last year. So, it is important to understand how you can best manage your compliance and audits. Here are a several tips you can use to help ensure a successful DCAA audit. Why Unanet for DCAA Audit Preparation? Unanet is purpose-built with the project or contract in mind. It is uniquely designed for government contractors and has been battle-tested for compliance rules and regulations. Our compliance features are built into the tool, making compliance part of the fabric of your business. Unanet currently has over 1,000 clients using and trusting the system. Unanet supports compliant accumulation and allocation of costs utilizing time keeping, expense accounting, cost pools, indirect rates, revenue recognition, and project management all in one truly integrated system. Whether you are a small new or a seasoned larger GovCon, you can count on Unanet for your compliance needs. Unanet is recognized by the audit agencies as being “compliant ready,” giving you an immediate advantage in the audit process. Click here to learn more.
What Makes a Project Based ERP System Special?
by Kim Koster ERP Software Best Practices, GovCon
Mar 20, 2019
Every project based business requires projects to keep it running smoothly and growing, so why not choose an ERP system that is built to manage them? A project based ERP system can help a business streamline and automate its project management process to avoid delayed projects, a lack of skilled employees, and unbilled hours. In short, project based ERPs are designed to promote project success and company growth. But what about generic ERP systems? While they have a few benefits, there are a few key differences between generic and project based ERPs. Generic vs Project Based ERP Systems Generic ERPs are still prevalent in the marketplace today, but they are costly and very difficult to maintain if your business is projects. These ERPs typically do not have the project as the center of the universe. Generic ERPs focus on the account and the department/organization, and the project is accounted for with a separate tool. In a generic world, the project is an afterthought. Why Project Based ERP Systems? In a recent blog, we discussed what to look for when choosing project-based ERP software. But why are project based ERP systems the clear choice for project based organizations? We explore 8 main reasons below: Transactions are attached to a project, department/organization, and a general ledger account. This ensures that transactions do not get lost in the midst of a project and prevents team members from tracking them down while running expense reports. A time collection system attaches charges directly to the tasks that the individual works on. This makes tracking billable hours much easier and more intuitive. Costing architecture is tailorable for each project and task. No two projects are alike, so why should there be a single costing architecture? Costs are often outlined in a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), which project managers and standard employees alike use to monitor the progression of the project. Visibility is provided into the financials of each project (i.e. profit, cost, billing). This visibility and transparency is crucial for all team members be aware of what the project is costing and make adjustments if needed. A resourcing tool provides project managers with information on what skills are available at what time. This prevents surprises and winding up with a lack of skilled employees to handle a project. Complete financial reporting with the project in mind. Financial reporting of a project plays a large role in the project being an efficient success or dragging on for months. Project based key performance indicators to help drive the organizational and project goals. System controls that send notifications when project restraints are met, configured to the needs of your business To Best Manage Your Organization’s Projects, Trust Unanet’s Project Based ERP System Project based companies require project based ERP systems. It’s as simple as that. Unanet’s project management software allows you to align projects to corporate strategy, lower project management costs, gain key real-time project insights, and much more. Learn how you can unlock greater productivity, operational efficiency, and profitability with project clarity and control, download our ebook, The Business of Projects for dummies.
What to Look for When Choosing Project Based ERP Software
by Kim Koster ERP Software Best Practices, GovCon
Mar 11, 2019
If you are considering using ERP software for your business or are not satisfied with your current one and are looking elsewhere, understand that not all ERP systems are created equally. As we think about what makes great ERP software, we should consider the project lifecycle and the process of project management. The ERP should have all the elements of the project lifecycle as a basic part of the system. Below are only a few of the elements your ERP system must have in order to be a good fit for your business: Customer Relationship Management Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a discipline that manages your company’s interaction with current and potential customers. CRM has become a priority to improve overall relationships with customers, specifically to focus on customer retention (stickiness) and to drive sales growth. Opportunity Management An opportunity pipeline for a project-based business is the visualization and/or measurement of contracts or projects that you will attempt to win over time. Visibility into the pipeline gives vital information on needed resources, enterprise growth, profitability, and revenue trajectory. Resource Management Project stakeholders can visually see the availability, skills, utilization, and time phasing of the resources. Resource management’s level of visibility and control will help maximize overall performance and profitability. Budgeting A budget represents what the business believes is achievable and what it intends to accomplish. The project establishes a budget that becomes the baseline for performance management. Visibility into budget vs. actuals is important project manager information. Forecasting Throughout the execution of the project plans may change, the resources may change too, and it is the responsibility of the project manager to revise the work to best accomplish the end goal. How much is it going to cost and when will the project finish? The forecast will answer that question. Earned Value Earned Value Management (EVM) is a project management best practice that flows directly with your established PM policies. The basics of EVM are plan, execute, assess performance, and monitor the project. Project managers can assess completion of the work at the task level and by doing this will get a host of metrics on current and future performance. Revenue Recognition Revenue is the amount of income the organization is making. It is one of the most important metrics/KPIs that a business/project monitors. Project Managers are responsible for achieving revenue goals, so having the ability to track revenue real-time is a huge benefit. Time and Expense Time collection systems are used by every employee in the organization. They collect hours for tracking project effort, and are supporting systems for payroll, invoicing, project accounting, chargeback, and job cost accounting. Expense systems track employee expenses to a project. Integration of time and expense directly to the project keeps project managers up-to-date on resources and current costs. Billing As engineering companies, it is critical to be able to automate and shorten the bid-to-bill lifecycle. Engineering organizations need revenue recognition and billing to be completely in lock step. The concept of billing and invoicing does not need much explanation as we deal with bills continually in our daily lives. Billings/Invoices typically are a form that contains information like name, address, payment terms, a unique id, elements of cost, direct costs, and indirect costs applied. Real Time KPIs and Reporting Real-time information is key to managing the day-to-day operations. Project team members need information throughout the life of the project. For instance, project status reports, EVM, time and expense, financial, and resource reports are a must. Dashboards are eye candy for all levels within the organization. They are a real-time visual representation of the role-based business information needed to manage the business. PMs should be able to quickly see with colors and graphs where they are against plan. Key Performance Indices (KPIs) provide actionable insights to help execute projects. Your Search is Over! Choose Unanet’s Projct Based ERP Software When it comes to an ERP system, your business needs a streamlined, efficient solution that helps you manage resources, staff, projects, and more to keep you organized, on schedule, and under budget. Unanet is here to help. To learn more about the moving parts of ERP software, download our ebook, Selecting an ERP for Professional Services, or our white paper, “Have You Outgrown Your Existing ERP?“
What is SF1408?
by Kim Koster GovCon, Government Compliance
Feb 21, 2019
Just in case you are completely new to Government Contracting, let’s quickly level set on the mission of the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA). Their primary function is to perform contract and financial audits for agencies that are responsible for acquisition and contract administration for the US Government. DCAA audits ONLY government contractors like you. They conduct these audits in accordance with the Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards (GAGAS). The principles that GAGAS embodies are unbiased audit conclusions based on facts. If you are interested there is a ton of information on the DCAA website dcaa.mil to help you more thoroughly prep for impending audits. With all that said, let’s focus in on the topic of this blog, which is the Pre-Award Accounting System Survey (SF1408). The Accounting System Survey is considered “pre-award audit” and it is necessary for the award of any Cost Type contract. Below is an excerpt from the DCAA Letters to Congress about Pre-Award Audits: Pre-Award Audits. Pre-award audits determine whether the design of a contractor’s accounting system is acceptable, which is a necessary condition for awarding cost type contracts. To better meet the needs of buying commands, DCAA prioritized these audits and developed tools to assist both contractors and auditors. As a result, DCAA has reduced the number of days to complete pre-award audits going from approximately 120 days in FY 2012 to about 60 days in FY 2016. Those measures, combined with effective communication between audit staff, contracting officers, and contractors, has allowed us to more quickly identify system deficiencies, provide workable solutions, and reduce the time between solicitation to award. Additionally, a part of our outreach to small businesses focuses on the necessary components of an acceptable accounting system, which we feel also contributed to this success. The “Pre-Award Survey (SF1408)” is conducted prior to award and is contract specific. It results in an opinion that the system is “acceptable” for use on the contemplated contract. It should be noted that this is NOT a true audit because it does not look at any actual costs – only the system capabilities. It is referred to as a “Survey” in the document and it is considered a “review” in auditor terminology. It can, and often is, done on a system that is not yet implemented based on the software capabilities and pro forma company policies and procedures. The Survey is a Pre-Award Survey known as Standard Form (SF) 1408 which is asking questions about your accounting system. Below are some of the inquiries of the form: Is the accounting system in accordance the GAAP? Accounting System provides for: Proper segregation of direct and indirect costs Identification and accumulation of direct costs by contract Method for allocation of indirect costs Timekeeping System Labor distribution Segregation of unallowable costs Accumulation of costs under General Ledger Control Accounting System provides financial information Required by contract clauses concerning limitation of cost (FAR 52.232-20 and 21) or limitation of payments (FAR 52.216-16) Required to support requests for progress payments Is the accounting designed to have reliable and accurate data? Is the accounting system fully operable? This overall process can be tricky for new government contractors and it is highly suggested that you have the right processes and tools in place to assure success. If you are not comfortable with taking this on yourself please do call Unanet, as we have a partner network that can assist you every step of the way. This is a great example of investing upfront to ensure the success of your project. It will be worth every penny you spend. For more information, download the SF1408 Overview.
Project Management Maturity
by Kim Koster GovCon, Project Management
Feb 19, 2019
Achieving a strategic level of project management maturity should be on the mind of every project-based business, especially professional services firms. Proposals, budgets, resources, estimate-at-complete (EAC) are activities a project-based business can’t live without. In a perfect world, the project management activities will connect directly to time and financial systems. The integrated system (people, processes, and tools) will provide a level of visibility and control that will help mature your discipline and will improve execution success. Project Management Maturity = Project Success and Predictability Evolving the Project Management Discipline 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. Professional services organizations are all on different journeys as it pertains to capability evolution. Which one of the below levels accurately depicts your current maturity status? Level 1 – AD-HOC Achieving goals depend on individual effort and heroics. This is typically chaos and you might picture this state as people running around with their hair on fire. Level 2 – BASIC INFORMATION Basic project management processes are in place and the necessary process discipline exists to repeat earlier successes on projects with similar applications. Level 3 – ORGANIZATIONAL STANDARDS Processes are documented and standardized, with approved tailored approaches adopted as needed. Level 4 – QUANTITATIVE Detailed measures on process adherence and cost/schedule performance are quantitatively measured, understood and managed. Level 5 – CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT Continuous process improvement is enabled by quantitative feedback from the process and from piloting innovative ideas and technologies. By committing to mature your project management discipline you will realize the following benefits: Improved visibility and control into project performance Improved predictability and understanding of overall performance Increase in realized profitability Common organizational standards ensuring consistent reporting, reduction of rework, and reduced dependence on heroes. Optimization of the project management staff allowing them to focus on their customer, not on turning the crank. More efficient communication within project teams and to senior leadership. Delivery of real-time insight on project financials and enable resolution of identified risks. More on-time and on-budget projects, which equals a delighted customer. What is PPM? Today we hear so much about PPM, but what exactly is it and how many organizations are really doing it effectively? What makes implementation of this discipline so difficult? The root cause is disparate systems and lack of process standardization make reporting and managing projects and portfolios very challenging. So, what is PPM? Wikipedia does a great job on the definition: “PPM is the centralized management of the processes, methods, and technologies used by project managers and project management offices (PMOs) to analyze and collectively manage current or proposed projects based on numerous key characteristics. The objectives of PPM are to determine the optimal resource mix for delivery and to schedule activities to best achieve an organization’s operational and financial goals, while honoring constraints imposed by customers, strategic objectives, or external real-world factors.” Portfolios are groupings of projects that have common characteristics (example: customer, product line, etc.). The portfolio will not change, but the underlying projects and proposals will continue to change and evolve. The art of PPM is to plan resources, analyze data and resultant KPIs, and understand each project’s status all in one ecosystem (people, process, and tools). 6 Steps to Implement PPM: Get buy-in from all stakeholders: executives, functional leaders, portfolio managers, project managers all need to agree or at least understand the vision and the reason for PPM. Build a team with champions. Make sure you pick a team with the necessary expertise and if you don’t have the necessary expertise, consider hiring an outside firm. If you have a centralized project management office (PMO), they can be a huge help in providing expertise and direction for the PPM implementation team. Begin collecting project and program data in a central repository. An integrated project portfolio management tool will make a significant difference in the availability and accuracy of the data used for decision making. Common processes for all projects for the organization is a MUST. Processes must be current and realistic, and teams need role-based training. Projects all have nuances, so it is important to have tailorable processes to accommodate project size and type. The implementation team should lead this charge along with the PMO. Establish portfolios (in accordance with strategy) and align the projects to them. Assign portfolio managers and assure portfolio reporting is available. Common KPIs should be established with visual dashboards for the portfolio management team. Roll-out the discipline of PPM. Advertise to the organization and provide role-based training for all stakeholders throughout the organization. Benefits of PPM: Common communication of business information produced from sound processes, assuring decisions are made based on accurate information that aligns with corporate goals Ability to manage the opportunity pipeline of all projects that can be rolled up to program and portfolio What-iffing and modeling aids decision making by allowing you to establish the best path for the business. Revenue, cash, project, new orders, and growth are a few financial metrics that support strategy Enterprise planning of resources assuring right resources, right time, and right place Analyze KPIs at all levels of the organization and communicate to the enterprise Portfolio reporting and drill down so that the status of all projects can be analyzed as a part of the overall portfolio Visibility into all the projects in a portfolio making sure that all projects are performing to expectations Common governance of projects and programs allowing for a repeatable and tailorable process for all project sizes and types. Unanet Can Help You Get Started with PPM What better way to achieving project management maturity than with project management software supporting your projects? Unanet’s Project Portfolio and Project Portfolio Financials software offer one single source of truth for every aspect of your projects: expense reporting, budgeting and forecasting, time reporting, pipeline management, and more. We’ve helped over 2,000 customers transform their project management processes. See Unanet in action by contacting our sales team. Download our white paper, “Benefits of Maturing Your Project Management Discipline” to learn more.
DCAA Timekeeping Requirements and Timesheet Software
by Kim Koster GovCon, Government Compliance
Feb 04, 2019
Unanet has timesheet features and functions that directly support the DCAA timekeeping requirements stated in the Automated Timekeeping Systems section of the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) regulations and Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR). Note that DCAA requires that the timekeeping process, collectively including policies, manual procedures and tools be compliant; timesheet software alone is not audited for compliance or certified, nor approved as DCAA compliant. However, Unanet timesheet software has been reviewed by auditors at hundreds of customer sites and, along with the customer policies and procedures, approved as supporting DCAA timekeeping requirements. Unanet timesheet software makes implementation of the DCAA regulations easy and efficient. Here is a small sampling of the DCAA regulations supported by Unanet: Employees charge time to authorized, open projects An employee access their timesheet through a secure password Employee records are viewable and there are auditable comments for any timesheet change Supervisors approve the entire timesheet All time must be reported (total time accounting) Administrators monitor delinquent timesheets Learn more about how Unanet timesheet software can help support DCAA timekeeping requirements! For information on controls checked during a DCAA audit please refer to publication 7641.90 titled, “Information for Contractors,” or contact the Defense Contract Audit Agency at the address below: Defense Contract Audit Agency ATTN: Policy Auditing Standards Division (PAS) 8725 John J. Kingman Rd., Suite 2135 Fort Belvoir, VA 22060-6219 (703) 767-3234 (FAX)