Deltek Vision is a powerful accounting tool used by many architecture, engineering and construction firms to manage expenses and invoices for projects. Like many business applications, one of its strengths is the ability to bring different types of data from other applications. By using the Deltek Import Utility, you can automatically import new employees, contacts, projects, accounts and even billing expenses. But the power of the Import Utility is one of the reasons mystifies so many Deltek users.
We’re going to help unravel the mystery and show you how different data types can help you bring project-related expenses, like print, copy, scan and phone activity into Vision automatically for invoicing.
At Sepialine, we’ve been integrating with Deltek Vision for close to 10 years. One of the powerful features of Argos, our cost recovery software, is its robust integration with Vision. However, because Vision is used by firms of many different sizes – small 10-person shops up to 10,000+ global organizations – the biggest challenge we find is understanding what “integration” really means.
How does Argos integrate with Deltek Vision?
- Argos synchronizes its project list from Deltek Vision
- At the desktop, Argos prompts user to allocate expenses to projects using that synchronized list
- Argos tracks everything in one place
- Argos pushes the data back to Vision, automatically, or manually
When that data is pushed into Vision, there are several different ways to display it on customer invoices. Each format has its own strengths and weaknesses.
I’m going to cover the three most common data types we run into: Units, A/P Voucher and Prints & Reproductions.
Unit billing is unique to Deltek Vision, and offers a lot of flexibility in both how the print data is imported, and how it is displayed. That flexibility comes with a price – there is a lot of set up, and sometimes other formats are simpler to use.
If you have picky customers who have different requirements for what they see on invoices, Unit billing is your friend. Different charges can be summarized or detailed depending on cost per print, and you can change settings per project or per invoice.
But what the heck is a “unit”, you ask? If you’re familiar with how Argos media & pricing works, think of a unit as a single price point. An Argos media (small format printing) might have a few different costs under the pricing umbrella:
- B&W Letter prints at 10 cents per page
- Color Letter prints at 25 cents per page
- B&W Tabloid prints at 20 cents per page
- Color Tabloid prints at 50 cents per page
Each price point would be a “Unit” in Vision, and could be controlled separately on an invoice.
Unit billing requires a lot of set up and an accounting team that understands its features. By using Unit tables, you can control pricing and invoice display with granularity. For a more hands-off approach, other data formats are more useful.
Prints & Reproductions
Prints & Reproductions is a data format Deltek designed specifically for print data. It works best on invoices with summarized data. Some Deltek Vision users prefer a single line item for printing on every invoice – just showing a total number of prints and a cost. Others want different media to have their own line items, and both options are available with Prints & Reproductions.
One limitations is that the display format cannot be edited, and will always show columns for “originals” and “copies”. Years ago, it was common to charge a different rate for a “first out” print and additional copies. This was because there was significant overhead involved with creating a first blueprint, and making additional copies was not as expensive. But with digital printing, it no longer is more expensive to create a first print than a copy, so this practice is mostly abandoned. Vision’s invoice format has not caught up with the times yet.
We’ve had a lot of customers requesting A/P Voucher formatting recently. This is partly due to some shifts in the reprographics industry. As reprographers rebrand themselves as “MPS Consultants” rather than printer salespeople, they are changing the way print equipment and services are provided to companies. It is less commonplace for a firm to purchase equipment outright – instead the equipment is leased, and the MPS consultant will determine a single per-page rate that includes all equipment, paper, toner, maintenance and software. In some cases this will be translated into a single monthly rate for all printing across multiple offices and multiple device types. These contracts are appealing the accounting and IT staff at firms because they no longer worry about unexpected printing costs or time spent fixing devices.
So what does that have to do with Deltek Vision? Because the printers are not owned by the firm, the MPS consultant is the printing vendor. When cost recovery software like Argos is placed with the equipment, the MPS provider can provide 3rd party billing through an A/P Voucher. To the end clients, this looks like external costs just being passed through from the vendor. But what they don’t see is that the per-page rate is often inflated to include costs to cover additional services provided by the MPS consultant, like on-site staff payroll.
Pass-through vendor costs are appealing because clients are less likely to dispute a charge coming from an outside vendor than an internal charge.
We have some customers who even take this approach further and create an internal company for their print room, and use A/P Vouchers to pass printing costs from the “vendor” back to the company, even though the print room is part of the firm. There are a number of creative ways to use A/P Voucher billing!