Why I am choosing Clearview’s InFocus over Deltek Vision – Part I

Mobile Solutions from Clearview and Deltek
March 7, 2013
Why Choose Clearview’s InFocus – Part II
March 18, 2019

Why I am choosing Clearview’s InFocus over Deltek Vision – Part I

Written by Loren Saunders – https://www.saundersconsultinggroup.com/post/why-i-am-choosing-clearview-s-infocus-over-deltek-vision-part-i


Deltek Vision is an old ERP platform written over 50 years ago. It has evolved its functionality mainly through acquisitions of competing or complementary products with attempts to merely add on source code and database architecture into the existing platform without integration or re-design of underlying architecture.

The resultant frankenware leaves most customers unsatisfied and forced to spend money on outside consultants to make it work.

Their support is lacking and pricing and licensing models punitive.

Deltek’s strongest department is their marketing department.

Their only goal is to make money, and it shows.


1. Deltek Vision has a database architecture created over 40 years ago, and it shows.

The United States has an “aging infrastructure” problem. Your ERP platform shouldn’t be part of that problem.

I started my career as a software developer in the late 90’s. Since I had a business degree and had been programming since the age of 12, I was well suited to build database driven software for automating business processes. Somehow while vetting ERP platforms for a client in Irvine 2003, CA we found and chose to implement Deltek Vision 3.1.

Over the next 2.5 years I executed a phased implementation as we migrated one system after another into the single platform Deltek Vision. As I started working with the Vision system, it became apparent early on it had been written on mainframe computers in the 70’s and had not really evolved much since then.  The database had not been re-architected to fit modern best practices for transaction based software since the first version 35 years prior.

To this day, as I write this article, Deltek continues to NOT evolve their database architecture. They merely add patches to the existing system to try to move it forward, extracting as much “value” from their clients as possible for as long as possible.

In order to “evolve” the product they merely acquire competing or complementary products in the same space and attempt to “bolt” them onto the existing platform. The result is commonly called “frankenware”.

Because of this, it’s very hard for users to put data into the Deltek Vision ERP platform, and it’s very challenging to get it back out in any meaningful way. The interface is clunky and counter intuitive. It’s necessary to put the same data in multiple places to move through the mission critical business process, and the reports don’t show enterprise wide data without significant investment in custom reports written by consultants. The word “cumbersome” is not nearly adequate.

Data is everything. Your business needs accurate, accessible data to be viable. Your ERP platform should provide you with that.


2. Deltek Vision is a product built on promises that deliver to about 75%.

During my entire time working with Deltek Vision, 9 out of 10 clients approached me because they were disappointed with the platform and the service they had received from either Deltek Consulting or a Deltek partner. It seemed that everywhere they turned the path was a dead end or information was lacking. The term “work around” haunted their every day business operations.

Many companies find themselves waiting months and years for the “next release” because necessary features had been promised. Then as the features roll out, clients often find that those features don’t quite live up to the promises made by the marketing department. The next major release for 2019 is actually a “new version” called “Vantagepoint”. It has already missed release deadlines and according to attendees of the Deltek Insight, 2019 is not working as expected in many areas.

Many companies end up spending much more money than anticipated on trying to make the platform work for them, including spending tens of thousands of dollars on consultants like myself.

Most companies with a Deltek Vision implementation also still continue to use spreadsheets for their reporting needs as well as project management and resource planning needs because they either can’t get the “right data” out of Vision, or because they couldn’t find someone in their organization or any other that could provide a solution to the spreadsheet problem. Sometimes this problem is because of a bad implementation, sometimes it’s for lack of training or adequate adoption.

These recurrent issues are due to both the shortfalls of the product, and the lack of support from the software manufacturer, Deltek.

Product is also everything. Your business needs an understandable, reliable, usable product.


3. A great product can only work with great support; especially a complex ERP platform for the A&E industry.

Deltek’s marketing department is their strongest department. They do an excellent job at convincing customers and potential customers that their product is awesome.

At one point they had this tag line: “driving value deeper into the enterprise.”

That really reveals their position. IMHO what this statement really means is “extracting more money from YOUR enterprise”. You read that right, extracting value from deeper (and broader) in your enterprise, your business; meaning they extract it, not you.

All software documentation is outdated as soon as it’s written. This is a chronic and pervasive problem that 99% of software companies have not been able to solve. The Deltek Vision documentation set and associated training videos are inadequate at best.

Their front line support are product novices. Most of the time, you as a customer will know more about the product than their first line support.

Because of this lack of good product support and information, many consultants in the space make money just on training rank and file staff on how to use it! That means that good information about how to use the product has become a coveted commodity that can only be had at the right price. Companies ask themselves: “Didn’t we already pay licensing fees? Why do we have to pay more money for training?”

In order to make the best use of your ERP system, you need access to quality training and support as part of your license.


4. Deltek charges eye watering fees for their product.

Deltek has been pushing all of their clients to go to the “Deltek First” cloud for a few years now. Funny name that one is. Again it shows their true intent. Deltek comes first, not the customer.

My guess is that their intent to is to take away control from the client to make it even harder for them to switch out to a different platform if the fit is no longer viable. Pushing their clients into their cloud also puts a data fence around the application, forcing clients to buy more Deltek integrations rather than build their own.

They modularize their product to make it more “affordable” for some companies who don’t need certain components. However, if a company tries to “turn off” a component they aren’t using, like Project Planning for example, Deltek and its partners make explicit threats about “back dated” licensing fees that will need to be paid should the client ever change their mind and want to reactivate a module. The result is that their a la carte pricing model makes it more expensive for firms to use.

Deltek Consulting will also charge their clients the ENTIRE original development price for any custom work performed if that work needs to be upgraded to a new version just to stay current.

Your ERP platform forms the backbone of your operations so it’s not going to be cheap. However, it needs to be priced reasonably and provide good value for that price. Your ERP platform should not be so cost prohibitive to use that it becomes an operational risk.


5. Deltek’s only goal is to make profit.

If you’re an executive in the A&E industry, I’m just going to make a wild guess and say that the sole reason you’re in business isn’t just to make profit. Yes of course, we all want to profit from our business, else the business dies.

Your goals are probably more wrapped around making an impact, or making great bridges or buildings or beautifully designed towers. Isn’t that why most A&E business get started? If all you wanted to do was make money you probably wouldn’t be in this business.

Do you think a software company whose only goal is to make a profit has your company’s best interests in mind?


— End of Part I

* Disclaimer: this article is obviously my personal and professional opinion based on my 15 years of experience working with Deltek Vision customers, the platform and interactions with the company Deltek. It is not supported by objective data or independent research.