Announcer 1: This is the ERP Advisor.
Announcer 2: The ERP Advisor's overview of Deltek.
Juliette: Hello, everyone, thank you for joining us today. This summer, ERP Advisors Group is spotlighting the most prominent vendors in the ERP software market. Today, we will be discussing Deltek's offerings and providing key insights into our experiences working with them. My guest today is Shawn Windle. Welcome, Shawn, thanks for joining me, good to see you as always.
Shawn: You bet, good to see you again.
Juliette: So, we are covering Deltek today as part of our summer series and when you say Deltek, you tend to think of project-based businesses. So, with that, can you talk to us a little bit about who Deltek is and what they do?
Shawn: I can, and you're spot on that Deltek really does focus on organizations, businesses mostly. I have to think through that actually, maybe nonprofit, Deltek if there's anybody they need to call and tell us if they do nonprofit because I don't think so.
Juliette: OK, interesting.
Shawn: I think the main, I know the main focus for sure is on project-based businesses. Big focus on organizations that do projects for government, different levels of government, federal, state, even county kind of local.
Juliette: Contracting for the government?
Shawn: Yes exactly, for lots of different levels of government a lot for the federal government, for sure. So, those are tough requirements, there's costing requirements, there are ways that you can recognize revenue that is different because of those contracts and…
Juliette: The bureaucracy and red tape let's go with that maybe.
Shawn: There may be a little bit. I'm not saying that *whisper* yes there is. *regular* But Deltek does a really, really good job with that as well as organizations like architecture, engineering, and construction organizations that have complex billing, percent complete milestone, fixed fee kind of stuff, and time tracking. All the jobs and all that kind of stuff that go with pretty complex projects, so that's, that really is Deltek.
Juliette: So, like project management or project managing, is that what it is? I don't want to simplify it but as a portion of it.
Shawn: Well, and that's interesting you say that because it does seem like it should be simple, but as soon as somebody starts to ask, “but what exactly does that mean,” it's actually very complex because there are four areas to a project space business that we look to software to fill.
Juliette: What are those?
Shawn: They're, the funny thing is, is there's really not a good solution for all four, so the first one which we see the most often is the financials, so the billing and the costing, right? OK, we did this project, we put in these people, we put in these materials also, what did all that cost us, and what was our profit? And then also we put in all this stuff, these costs, now we bill it to the customer. That's the first thing so you can think time, expense, billing, and financial reporting.
That's the thing that most people really, really want from a project-spaced ERP. But then to your point, the next thing they think about is “well, I want to manage my projects.” Like “well, you can, you have the financial,” “no, no, no, no I want to know tasks. I want to know the tasks that we need to complete, and I want to know the percent complete on tasks.” Ok, we can give you that in terms of percent complete of we estimated 20 hours and you're 10 hours in. That's good, but what's really good is we estimate 20 hours, we put in 10, but we're only 10% complete.
How do you figure that out in this system? Well, project management system has the ability for people to go in and sort of put in that they can say, “oh the ETC is 10% or it's deliverables based,” not necessarily just the dollars based, does that makes sense?
Juliette: Right, yeah, absolutely, thank you.
Shawn: That’s the project management, I'm still going.
Juliette: OK, yes.
Shawn: I'm on a roll, watch this, no.
Because we have to pick our own system and I mean, I had to go through this, it was a nightmare for us. You don't, I mean, it's Erica can tell you stories about other nightmares it is for me to make decisions, but on our ERP for ours, I was like “hey, you know, like this has got to be perfect,” but that's the second thing. The third thing that comes into play is called resource allocation. So every project-based company or every company that's doing projects for others, the biggest cost that they have and the biggest thing that they usually do projects with are, people.
And good old people, you know, we got to manage those people, and but we got to know the skill sets that people have. We have to know the availability that they have. We may need to know other information about those people, and we don't need to know about just one person, we need to know about all the people in the organization.
So you hear this phrase called resource allocation, resource management, where we really do need to understand, “hey these people are on these projects through this time. Those people are available now. We just sold a big project, but it requires these people down here still who were already booked.” I mean, it's a nightmare.
Juliette: Can that be related to the task portion of it too?
Shawn: It can, yeah.
Juliette: Right, where a person that's assigned to a specific task.
Shawn: Exactly right and you'll see there's this, there's this linkage between all this too, that I'll talk about in a minute, but that resource allocation is awesome because then on the sales side, you can look in and say, “ok, my people are allocated for this time on these projects right now. Here's when they become available and then we can sell it, or the salespeople can just sell it anyway which is what they should do. And then we figure it out on the backend.
But that resource allocation is very, very strategic to any company that, again is doing a lot of projects. Now the fourth area is really the one that it's really, I'm trying to think because it's there's this concept of actually like work, because you think about this,
I mean imagine that this is like the projects, like tracking the financials, then there are the tracking tasks, then there's tracking the people, well, what about the work? Can't we get some tools that help people work better? And that's project collaboration tools
Juliette: To make it more efficient?
Shawn: Make people more efficient; how can we work on a document together? How can we put in information and track communications about an issue that's on a project? How can we share our information about a task that we're working on and actually have tools that help us accomplish the task, so we call that project collaboration.
Shawn: So, you think about financials, work breakdown, structure, and task management; we think about resource management, resource allocation, and then project execution collaboration. And that fourth one is really interesting because really all of the vendors in this space that's called professional service automation that collaboration side is just, it's just so ambiguous and it's so unstructured. When you have financial systems like Deltek, man, this stuff has got to be structured, like somebody puts in their time and the government contract the far requirements say that we can only bill up to this certain amount. You better only bill with that certain amount or you break the law, and you go to jail.
I mean this is the real-time. It's not like “whoops, sorry client, we overbilled you.”
Juliette: Right, we went over budget like well, we’ll negotiate if you're not willing to pay the full amount; that doesn't work like that.
Shawn: That's right, good luck with the FTC or with these whatever. But so that collaboration area is so interesting because Deltek has tools and things that make that easier and are helping with that process for sure, but those are the four areas.
Juliette: Right, so Shawn, let me ask you this. What does the partner eco structure look like for Deltek from your experience of working with them?
Shawn: It's definitely a diverse, well, not really actually. I'm kind of thinking through actual experiences, there are great partners that know the Deltek solution. Deltek also has a professional services function where they do a lot of work themselves.
Juliette: They do OK.
Shawn: They get busy, everybody gets busy, everybody gets yelled at. “You're too busy. You didn't do blah, blah, blah.” Ok, fine. But the partner structure is actually pretty strong, and we've worked with several kinds of systems integrators, value-added resellers, and independent software vendors. So, there are folks that implement the software for sure. There are a couple of big firms that we've worked with over the years. There's been some consolidation over the last probably 10 years, but there are still good partners out there that can sell you the software. They work with Deltek to sell the software and then do the implementation. There are other partners that build modules and different pieces of functionality that also work with out-of-the-box Deltek solutions.
Accounting consulting firms that can help you with Deltek as well and remembering that you sort of have this; I mean Deltek has two, well three prominent solutions in the market, and all three are targeted kind of at, they're definitely project-based businesses, but they're a little different. One of them, cost point, is definitely about government contractors. The Deltek vantage point is the architecture engineering kind of construction solution. There's also Maconomy; which is a professional services solution we were working with a top 20 CPA firm that was implementing Maconomy.
So different kinds of customers, we can talk more about that, but then the partner ecosystem sort of reflects that as well so you'll have a great partner that knows government contracts and that's huge.
We want that for sure.
Juliette: Right, they specialize in that industry. So, you did touch on this, but I was going to ask you what were the prominent features of Deltek and why a company would choose them over someone else?
Shawn: I think ultimately companies choose Deltek because they are all about the projects. That's really where it comes from, and of course, there are financials and there are other capabilities, but when it comes to really deep core projects, you just can't beat it. So, we were on a call a couple of days ago and for kind of a construction engineering firm, but they also have they distributed items too--all of our clients are so diverse my goodness.
So, we ended up with more of a diverse platform solution, and as we've gone deeper and deeper into the implementation the real challenges are on the project side, like how do we support all these crazy different billing methods and all this stuff? And I actually had the thought that Deltek handles this stuff out-of-the-box, and I will tell you we didn't select Deltek on this project. Like I said, there are other areas of the business that Deltek doesn't automate, and it. And it kind of hurts not to have that kind of a specialized solution.
So, I think a lot of customers say, “you know, we really have these kinds of requirements.” Deltek is a proven solution, tons of customers, I mean 30,000 customers, 3,000 employees minimum, so real strong firm for that.
Juliette: And so, is it customizable to your needs? Is it like you buy it out-of-the-box, so to speak, but you can customize it for your needs. Is that how it goes?
Shawn: Yep, that's exactly right.
Shawn: And I was on another call this morning where I threatened--I think I've threatened this so much I should probably do it--on an implementation to get T-shirts that say, “no customization,” everybody wears “no customization,” you don't really want customization. We talk about this all the time.
Juliette: Right, right.
Sometimes you don't have a choice, right?
Shawn: Sometimes you don't have a choice. Sometimes you have got to do it in the platform that the Deltek solutions are built on; enables that where it can happen. And that's where the partners come in and help with that too, and Deltek professional services.
Juliette: So, speaking to the ownership structure of Deltek, does the ownership structure impact what they offer their clients and the services they provide? Can you talk to us a little bit about that.
Shawn: Yeah, it's really, I'm trying to think if there's anybody similar. Well maybe Infor to a certain extent, but Deltek is owned by an organization called Roper Technologies. And Roper has many, many holdings of different types of solutions, so I really actually have to look at their website to keep up with it because.
Juliette: That's not a common name.
Shawn: It's not, that's right, but they've got holdings for application software like Deltek and probably ten others, network software, technology-enabled products, and other things. So it's a very diverse technology, kind of a holding company that’s purchased these solutions and I think there are strategic reasons why they pick up the software--of course, there are--it's not just let's buy it, put money in, and sell the asset.
Juliette: And hope it works.
Shawn: Right, there are linkages behind the organizations that they purchase and the solutions that they purchase, but I mean in my experience, I've seen a lot of benefit of what Roper has done. We've had other clients that are actually owned by Roper, two totally different businesses, and I think their methodology and their approach.
Juliette: Clients or vendors?
Shawn: Clients. Yeah, some of our clients have been owned by Roper, Deltek’s owned by Roper, go figure. But a lot of industrial, more core business types of organizations, and like I'm saying kind of industrial, that's the thing about Roper and I think they've done a great job. I think they've put a lot of money into Deltek, we've seen their software go. We could talk about their cloud strategy; I think especially with their vision product, for again project based. They’ve moved to a vantage point and we're just talking to a partner the other day and you know, they put the money in and it's gotten to the point where it's really solid. It's not just in parity with the old vision that's been around forever, but it's actually exceeding the functionality there and I think Roper helped make that transition happen because it's like buying a house and there really is no good analogy, but just go with me for a minute.
It's like buying a house and you're like “oh my gosh, we have got to continue to grow this and expand it and blah blah blah this.
Juliette: Remodel add-on.
Shawn: Right, and then you, all my analogies are going to come off completely wrong, so they're not going to work. But I don't know you have somebody in your life who comes in and is like “hey, I'm going to help you make your house better,” maybe it's a spouse, it's somebody that's a significant other whatever, and they get a lot of money.
They come in and they help you make the house better. Maybe you didn't have it on your own, but you'd had enough to get the house there, and then you put some money and you make it look beautiful. And you don't just sell it, but you then enjoy the fruits of it; that's where I see that Deltek is at.
Juliette: Oh, interesting.
Shawn: I see that they put the money, the time, they bend through the long hards of really getting pure cloud-based solution, it's there. The functionality is there, the partners all understand it, the ecosystem understands it and man, they're sitting on a lot of companies that need to do that upgrade.
Juliette: Oh boy.
Shawn: It's busy.
Juliette: It’s busy, everyone’s busy. From your experience, do people tend to transition to the Deltek cloud if they're already running on Deltek?
Shawn: I would say it's the same thing as the house. We've been in this house, and we see how we can put some more money into the house, and we can get to the next version. The cloud-based solution gives us more feature functionality, better reporting, all the problems that you have with the old versions. I'm really talking about vision now, vision vantage point. Some people decide “I don't want to put the money in the same house, I'm done, I want to go someplace else.”
Juliette: It just still isn't a fit, even if we do the remodel and the add-ons, it's still not there.
Shawn: We got more kids, we got more furniture, we got more whatever, dogs, cats, birds. What do people do these days? I don't think I want to even know. Covid did some strange things to people with their pets' habits, I think. The dogs are like, you know, I saw I saw a little van going through my neighborhood yesterday and I swear it was to pick up dogs to take them to the doggy daycare because it had the dogs and it was like a doggy cabin, or doggy whatever it was.
Juliette: Oh my God.
Shawn: And I was like, there you go.
Juliette: Is it dog walkers you have, like a little doggie bus, right?
Shawn: I really think it was a doggy bus that they pick up your dogs.
Juliette: Oh my gosh.
Shawn: We should do that for enterprise software somehow, but I don't know. The key thing with, again that I'm saying is that the customer base of Deltek, I do think it's, I think it's loyal.
Shawn: You, I mean, you have a lot of really technical people that use this software. Other software vendors, maybe their people aren't quite as technical, so they're a little more enchanted with this solution, that's not the case with Deltek. It's like you've got a lot of engineers and technical industrial fabrication companies that have these huge jobs that they're building for the government. These guys and gals are analytical and they're like down in the details of it, and they're like “oh, this software is terrible,” well ok maybe they're all that way, you know?
No, honestly, none of them are perfect, I'm just here to tell you that. So, then they have to look at this “ok what's the effort to upgrade?” And frankly, the effort to upgrade is always less than to go to a new solution.
Juliette: Right, we've talked about that for years, just the undertaking and of trying to switch everything you have.
Shawn: We've talked about that a lot, but it is a good time to look at switching also.
Juliette: That's right. That's right.
Shawn: So, there are a lot of good solutions in the market. But again, I think if you look at who is behind all project-based businesses, who is feeding their families off of project-based businesses, who are thinking about best practices with earned value management and ways of reviewing financials and analytics that project companies are concerned about. I mean Deltek really does lead that for sure.
Juliette: So, Shawn, from your experience working with our clients and Deltek through the years, why does Deltek tend to win over their competitor?
Shawn: I think it's exactly what I just said. Technical, they're on Deltek, but even I'm thinking of the accounting firm that went with the Deltek solution and good pricing, very effective pricing in the market, good feature functionality and I think it's a little bit more of a technical sale, I never spotted that before. But I don't get like a, you know, other vendors, again, I won't name any names, even though I really want to, but it's about the experience and it's about the relationship. And that's not the case with Deltek, that's important, but it's about “hey, here's the app you're buying, and it needs to support your business.”
Juliette: That's right, what your needs are.
Shawn: That's right, what your needs are when you have a buyer who's savvy to that, then they're going to see that. They're going to see Deltek, and it's like “oh, this makes a ton of sense,” and again, effective pricing is a big deal too.
Juliette: Well Shawn, thank you as always for joining me and for sharing all your knowledge and expertise.
Shawn: You're very welcome.
Juliette: Well, be sure to join us as we continue on this limited, multi-part series that will help you advance your ERP knowledge and allow you to take advantage of over a century of combined ERP experience from our expert consultants here at EAG.
Thank you again for joining us today. Thank you, Shawn.
Shawn: You're welcome.