Bret will introduce each of us and use our bios we provided.
Bonestroo is an engineering firm and has been in the industry for over 50 years.Our headquarters is in St. Paul and we have several office locations with around 300 employees.As a firm, we manage around 1500 – 2000 projects at one time with over 2000 active clients and use Deltek Vision to help us manage those.We’re currently running Deltek Vision 5.1 and are in the process of moving to 6.1 this summer.
What prompted Bonestroo to look more deliberately at business intelligence and decision making?As with most businesses in the last few years, the economic changes and challenges facing our industry have really demanded that management be able to make time-efficient and effective decisions to react to market conditions. We were also encountering a struggle with each business unit trying to manage themselves with their own set of metrics. Often times each business unit was tying up accounting or IT to get specialized reports which took some time to produce. And in many cases there was simply too much information on the report so it was taking lots of time to interpret the results so you were looking at things after-the-fact.Bottom line, we needed to find a solution to help us start managing better and more efficiently and allowing us to look to the future and be more proactive.
Do you have any examples of how you are using analytics to drive effective decision making?Sure…we currently focus on two main metrics: Direct Hours and Revenue ForecastingDIRECT HOURSIn the past we used the standard Time Analysis report for utilization reporting but it didn’t include targets and didn’t accommodate changing work schedules as it was based on a single factor for the entire year.We now have the ability to set weighted direct hour targets using our corporate budgeting software – Satori and pull these into Vision. We also pull the individual work schedules from our HR system – Spectrum iVantage/Epicor into Vision and are able to calculate a standard utilization while comparing actual vs. target direct hours.This allows us to better align our demand and supply sides while managing staff.(direct hours/std hours = std utilization)REVENUE FORECASTING (backlog and opportunities)It’s critical in today’s economy to have the ability to forecast our future revenueWe’ve added some functionality to the standard Opportunity Forecasting report in Vision and now can report on not only the opportunities that are in our system but the backlog of our projects. Having an on demand, rolling revenue forecasting report by period enables us to react and make better pricing decisions on projects and how aggressive we need to be to meet our revenue goals while also allowing us to look at specific lines of business and assist us in better managing our clientsHow Is Revenue Forecasting Calculated?Backlog + Estimated Future RevenueBacklog (the amount of revenue not yet earned) spread evenly through the end dateEstimated Future Revenue (weighted revenue of opportunities) spread evenly between start and end datesWe also have some secondary metrics that we report on but for the sake of time won’t be getting into the detail of those. I can say however, that it’s imperative that all your business units are using and reporting off of the same metrics.“The metrics you have mentioned certainly come from various areas of Vision, have you been using a mix of Vision’s data delivery mechanisms to deliver this data to the Bonestroo staff?”Yes, we’re using a mix of Vision standard reports, custom reports, analysis cubes and spreadsheets to deliver the various metrics that were mentioned.Bonestroo presented a couple of sessions at Insight this year on the topics of Analysis Cubes and Revenue Forecasting and are willing to share those presentations with our attendees so the information will be given at the end of our presentation.
How has your firm responded to the availability of this type of information?Overall, we’ve had a very positive response to this type of reporting – across the boardWe have the ability to compare historical information along with predicting future revenue which sets us in a much better position and gives us an advantage over our competition.Executives are better focused on where we need to drive the business and can quickly determine the areas that need attention and make more effective decisionsTeam leaders have timely information to effectively manage their staffSo again, a very positive response to this type of information and reporting.
In terms of analytics and performance management, what’s next for Bonestroo?We definitely want to be able to deliver more graphical views of our data which will make it even easier for users to spot problems and be able to drill-down into the detail real-time.We want to increase our usage of KPI’sWe need to allow our users to be connected to this live data but be able to deliver it with role-based security.We’ll also be looking further into Vision’s Performance Management and see what benefits that can provide us.
In order for this to be successful, it’s imperative to have top-level support and a willingness for them to enforce compliance. We’ve struggled with that in the past. One of the things that forced our users to really start using the system was when they met with their manager and/or the group the only way that discussions would take place is if they had reports directly from Vision. If they brought their own spreadsheet with it wouldn’t be discussed. Everyone had to start using the same type of reports so we had one source of truth and were talking on the same page. Another thing to do is to publishreports that flag out the users that aren’t maintaining the data in the system and you know, it doesn’t take very long for users to start updating their data when they start showing up on that list.We’ve made the mistake in the past of trying to track too many metrics at once and then nothing works. You have to take just a few key metrics and really focus on those to begin with. You also have to have realistic goals and the ability to report against them.Don’t make the mistake of producing “nice-to-have” reports. Avoid information over-load and only distribute reports that you can actually do something with.
Well, I would say the first bullet of…This again goes back to management support and enforcing compliance. Unless you can get your end-users to enter the data in a timely manner and be committed to keeping it updated, your reports are meaningless. Try to provide an easy way to enter and maintain the data and provide good reports that reinforce the importance of managing the data.
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