Managing Sub-consultants

You can use sub-consultants in Abtrac if you outsource work to third parties, and need to manage them over the duration of one or more projects.

They may submit invoices for you to authorise and pass on directly to your client for payment. Alternately they may submit invoices to you which you pay and then you invoice your client as if the sub-consultant is part of your team. At that stage you may also apply a margin to the sub-consultant invoice.

The essential feature is they are submitting their claims as a series of creditor invoices as they work through their contract requirements on projects for your clients. You need to know what they have already invoiced, what is this particular invoice for, and how does it fit within the contract agreements you have with them.

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Job/Project Documents

The Abtrac document manager is where Abtrac can keep a reference to the documents associated with any Job/Project and where these documents are stored on your local machine/server.

N.B. This feature works with files on a Windows machine where the machine knows the type of file it is trying to open. i.e. it cannot open files that the machine doesn’t have the specific software for.

The installation of this will allow you to easily manage and access these documents from within Abtrac and the Job/Project itself.

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Using Work Items to Track Deliverables and Quality Assurance Standards

Work Items are a list of things to do on a job. They are lower than tasks, (aka stages or phases). They are small steps of work that can be ‘ticked off’ as they are completed. If you already have a QA Check List of some sort for each job/project, then Abtrac Work Items are quite possibly the exact same concept. Examples of a work item might be a day-long site visit, or a 4 hour piece of work in the office to write a report. Each of these and more may all be under a task (aka stage or phase) of ‘Feasibility Planning’.

Most offices start the week and look ahead several weeks when sketching out work to be done and spreading it around the office for people to do. Using Abtrac work items, the benefit is that everyone knows what is being done and how long it is expected to take.

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Creating a Purchase Order

A purchase order can only be created for an entity we call a Sub-Consultant.

Sub-consultants and contractors are managed and linked to jobs (projects) in Abtrac through the tasks module.

Before creating purchase orders, you will need to have created Sub consultants within Abtrac. For more information on Sub consultants and sub consultant invoices, please refer to this knowledgebase article.

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Transfer Jobs (Projects)

In Abtrac you can transfer a job from one client to another using the job transfer function.

This feature is most commonly used where:

  • a job has been assigned to an incorrect or duplicate client or
  • where a job managed via a referral/intermediary client can now be managed directly.

It is not possible to merge two jobs (projects) belonging to the same client.

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Employee Charge Rates: Specific Rates

Employee Charge Rates in Abtrac can be as simple or as flexible as required.

It is possible to enter unique charge rates for specific clients, jobs, projects, tasks, stages or activities. These unique rates will override the default charge rate for the specified employees (or in the case of activities, the rates will apply for all employees)

Here’s how to ensure you have the right charge rates in the right location for your billing requirements.

There’s a bit of a hierarchy as to which rate is applied when, read on for details.

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Actual vs Budget Reports: Data Glossary

Before you start using Actual vs Budget reports it’s useful to understand where the data they display comes from. We’ve included a definition for the relevant columns, (including an example calculation where applicable) in this article, to be read side by side with Creating and managing tasks, and Actual vs Budget Reports.

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Tasks or Activities, Which should I use?

One Frequently asked question from new Abtrac users is whether to use Tasks or Activities in their timesheets.

Here’s the difference between the two: Tasks are Quantitative, Activities are not.

Tasks are where you enter the budget for the job.

2016_TasksTasks are also sometimes called Stages or Phases.

They should be exactly the same as budget items on the fee agreement you document to the client.

You give each task an estimate of both time and fees, and then analyse them later using reports such as Actual vs Budget by Task, or Invoice Preparation Information Report. These reports compare your proposed amounts, time spent, and amount invoiced.

You can learn from them over time to see how good staff are in getting through work allotted to them as well as how good you are in your estimates. If necessary you can modify your thinking and estimating to more correctly budget the next job based on what you’ve learnt from previous jobs.

Examples of Tasks (depending on your line of work): Concept Design, Feasibility Study, Developed Design, Media Monitoring

Activities are not Quantitative.

2016_Activities.pngIf Tasks are the bits of the job you’re working on, Activities are what you’re doing on each bit.

Really activities are to save you typing the same comments over and over again.

There are limited reports based on activities other than those used when reviewing timesheet entries and preparing descriptions for invoice lines.

Activities are generic across all jobs whereas tasks and the values associated with them are very much specific to a particular job, especially when there are variations and extras on a job by job basis.

Examples of Activities (again depending on your line of work): Office Work, Travel, Research, Meetings, Site Visit

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Invoice Addresses

Abtrac addresses can be as simple or as flexible as required. Here’s how to ensure you have the right address details in the right location for your billing requirements.

Addresses can be stored at the Client, Job (Project) and Invoice level. There is a bit of a hierarchy as to which address is shown on your invoice, it works out like this:

Abtrac Billing Address Relationships and Process

Abtrac Billing Address Relationships and Process

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Search Clients, Contacts & Jobs(Projects)

In AbtracOnLine you can search and quickly access a range of job(project) related data from Clients, Contacts & Jobs >> Search Clients and Jobs.

The Search screen allows you to preview a wide selection of Clients, Contacts & Jobs(Projects) data.

It is also a handy place to browse information before drilling down to specific client details.

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Back to basics – Job/Project Status

Abtrac’s Job/Project Management suite has plenty of fields available to build a detailed, real-time analysis of your job/project progress and profitability. It is something that sets us apart from our competitors.

But before you get carried away with Milestones, Scheduling, Tasks and Budgets…spare some time for the humble Job/Project Status.

It crops up in quite a few reports, and you’ll probably find it pretty handy.

Keep it simple when using job status, between 3 – 6 options are usually plenty. Something basic like “Not Confirmed, In Progress, Started, On Hold, Completed” is often useful. Rather than micro-managing the status; you can add more detail in the Tasks(Stages) screen if needed.

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Teams or Departments, Which should I use?

In Abtrac both Employees, and Projects can be assigned to a specific Team or Department for reporting purposes. The main difference is…

  • A Team is assigned to an Office, and as such can be filtered in reports by office.
  • A Department is a stand-alone group that both employees and projects from multiple offices can belong to.

Both groups can be created and maintained from the Administration screens.

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