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SLAM Increases Planning Efficiency by Pairing Bizview With Deltek Vantagepoint

24 05 Cs Slam Collaborative Website

In Brief

  • After years of time-consuming, disconnected budgeting processes, SLAM was looking for a budgeting and planning solution that would integrate with its Deltek ERP.
  • After finding insightsoftware on Deltek’s partner marketplace, SLAM knew its Bizview solution was the right choice for budgeting and continuous planning.
  • Bizview reduced SLAM’s overall budgeting season by 53% and its rolling forecast time by 67%.

Founded in 1976 and boasting nine locations nationwide and a team of 300 design and construction professionals, the SLAM is an architecture, engineering and construction firm headquartered in Glastonbury, Connecticut. Clients come to SLAM from a wide range of industries, including education, healthcare, and corporate projects, for architecture, landscape architecture, structural engineering, civil engineering, and master planning. SLAM also offers construction management services on select design projects.

Budgeting and Planning was Time-consuming and Error-prone

Lucy Conway, SLAM Corporate Controller, says she has seen a lot of change as the company has grown from three offices to nine with 300 employees through mergers and acquisitions. Along the way, the company’s planning processes had to grow and scale to keep pace.

When the company was smaller, it was possible to complete all planning and budgeting processes with a spreadsheet-based process. It wasn’t always perfect, but it worked, for a while. “Twenty years ago, everything was done on spreadsheets, and everything was linked together,” Conway said. “So, if you were entering data or inserting lines and you weren’t careful about what you were doing, you would end up breaking links or the information wouldn’t align. And then you had to go back and figure out what you did wrong and fix it before you could move forward. We realized that wasn’t the best way to do things anymore, so we decided to look for a software that would help us to do a better job with our budgeting.”

SLAM found a budgeting software solution that worked well for its needs. Like the spreadsheet-based process, it wasn’t perfect, but it allowed the growing company to complete its budgeting and planning processes with greater speed and accuracy. Eventually, though, the company outgrew this solution. “After about 10 years, it started to get really complicated to use the software,” said Conway. “The vendor started making changes to the software; something that you were used to finding in one place was moved to someplace else and you had to look for it within the system, which slowed our processes down.

“We also could not easily link to Deltek. This meant I had to manually input new employees, remove former employees, and update salaries. Downloading our general ledger information from Deltek then uploading it into the budgeting software, to be able to run actuals versus planned, had gotten to be a time-consuming process.”

As longtime Deltek users, SLAM’s team needed a new solution that would integrate with the ERP for seamless planning and budgeting. Knowing this, SLAM visited the Deltek Marketplace, and found insightsoftware.

Bizview Worked With Deltek and Made Planning Easy for SLAM

As a trusted Deltek Marketplace Partner, insightsoftware offers a range of financial reporting and budgeting software solutions that integrate with Deltek ERPs to streamline processes and optimize results. Conway found insightsoftware’s Bizview and, after a thorough product demonstration, decided its integrated, scalable budgeting, planning, and forecasting capabilities were just what SLAM needed.

Bizview integrates with Deltek to allow real-time data access. This gives SLAM the ability to:

  • Leverage Excel-like functionality to develop accurate, integrated plans in a familiar environment
  • Shorten planning cycles to support continuous rolling forecasts and budget maintenance
  • Scale and adapt to its growing business needs with easy, custom planning

“I saw that insightsoftware was a partner with Deltek and, after the Bizview demonstration, I knew that this would be the best product for us. The Deltek integration was key.”

After a Smooth Implementation, SLAM was Ready for Budgeting Season

After more than 30 years with the company, Conway had been through several software implementations. She knew that the difference between an unsuccessful implementation and a successful implementation was preparation. Keeping that in mind, her team worked with insightsoftware consultant Will Farrell to map out the full implementation process, including a complete rundown of how SLAM’s team used their legacy software and systems and their goals for Bizview.

Thanks to exhaustive planning and excellent communication, the process went smoothly. “Will was very, very knowledgeable,” Conway said. “Whenever we hit a bump with something, he would bring it to my attention and the two of us would talk about it and come to a decision of how we wanted to customize the system to work for us.”

Conway and her team trained on the software as it was implemented to ensure that it was working as expected. This not only ensured that SLAM got the results it needed, but that the implementation process was completed in a timely manner and users were ready to hit the ground running come budget season. “It was just a good experience all around and I can’t say enough about the consultant that I worked with. Will Farrell was fantastic. I loved working with him.”

Since Implementation, Budgeting Takes Less Than Half the Time

Conway saw a difference right away. Thanks to Bizview’s Deltek integration, starting the budgeting process was a breeze – she was able to import employee data directly from the ERP with a single click! From there, authorized business users could use its collaboration tools to gather each team’s expected labor hours, marketing hours, studio hours, etc. By leveraging the software’s built-in drivers for paid time off and other benefits, Bizview decreased initial budget reporting time from 34 hours to 18 hours – a 53% savings.

“I didn’t have to import anything into my worksheet because it was already there,” Conway said. “Once they saved the information out, all I had to do was refresh my worksheet and the information was current. There was no manual entry for any of it.”

But the time savings didn’t end there. Conway completes rolling budget maintenance every month and said it was a 1.5- to 2-hour process each month with the former software. Thanks to Bizview, rolling budget maintenance only takes about half an hour each month – a massive 67% time savings.

“Bizview is going to be a huge time saver for me.”

Why Bizview Works

Deltek Integration

The biggest selling point for SLAM was the ability to connect Bizview to Deltek. Without the instant data connection, Conway’s team wouldn’t see the streamlined processes and massive time savings. SLAM no longer has to key in new employees or manually copy general ledger data. As long as the data is current in the ERP, it’s current in Bizview.

“When I’m ready to run a rolling budget, it takes our actuals and combines our planned budget remaining for the year, and we’re able to quickly and easily predict our end of year totals,” Conway said. “With the live data connection, all I need to do is make sure that the general ledger is current, and I can run the reports that I need to see. There’s no extra processing for me at all.”

Planning Agility

For Conway, Bizview’s ability to support rolling forecasts and scenario planning have been key. SLAM relies heavily on rolling budgets to forecast its profitability, and Bizview has made this process significantly faster and easier. “The general ledger information is imported automatically, so at any given point in time, I can run an income statement to see where we are with actuals and forecast our expected revenue at year end,” she explained. “As we get closer to the end of the year with the actuals loaded in there, we’ll have a good idea of where we’ll be profit-wise for the end of the year.”

The ability to model different scenarios is particularly useful as the company continues to grow. If SLAM executives are considering a new acquisition, Bizview makes it easy to create multiple versions of the budget to model the potential impact the acquisition will have. With better forecasts, company leaders can make better decisions, faster.

Excel-like Environment

Like most finance professionals, SLAM’s teams use Microsoft Excel for many reporting tasks. Because Bizview has an Excel-like interface that looks and feels familiar, SLAM’s users can quickly adapt to the new software and get results without the usual growing pains of a software implementation.

“It’s just really easy to use.”

As SLAM continues to grow the business and its relationship with Bizview, Conway looks forward to training more team members to use the software to streamline budgeting and planning processes further. She also plans to create dedicated executive dashboards so company leaders will have one place to access budgeting information quickly and easily at any time.

A lot of companies claim that they can do something and then when it comes down to it, they don't always deliver. insightsoftware delivered. I think Bizview was a good choice for us because it's scalable and it's a tool that will help us to grow.

Lucy Conway Corporate Controller

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