Cloning Tasks/Stages/Phases

A Job/Project Task is the bit of the job you are working on – and can budget against. Sometimes they are called Stages or Phases.

What if I use the same tasks all the time?

When you set up Abtrac we recommend you create a non-billable client for your own company, and within that client you can setup some template jobs and assign the tasks which are structured with the details of the most common types of jobs you undertake.

Once you have template job and tasks created, each time you create a new client job you can choose to Copy Tasks from the template job to the new job.

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Cloning Jobs/Projects

If you find that you work on the same types of jobs/projects and some of the information is the replicated from one job to another, then you can use the Clone Job/Project feature in AbtracOnline. This will simply duplicate the job and selected details and save the job to the existing jobs client.

You can setup template jobs/projects for the different types of work you do and then clone these jobs when you have a real job of the same type.

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Actual vs Budget Reports

Once you have started using Tasks for your jobs/projects and timesheets, you can learn from them over time.

Tasks (also known as Stages, Phases or Matters) can be used to see how good staff are in getting through work allotted to them, as well as how good you are in your estimates.

You can analyse data entered against tasks either as hours worked or a budget amount.

Even if you don’t have a budget or estimate for a task (be it a variation, or something that you are charging at an hourly rate) it is a good idea to assign the item of work as a task to your job/project. You can leave the hours and fee value equal to zero.

Later on you can look at the actual time and cost assigned to the task and get a better idea of budgeting for the next job of the same type. Or you can use the tasks to simply know approximately how much time these variations to jobs typically take (and how they can affect staffing and scheduling of other jobs).

After using Abtrac for about 18 months, one of our clients, told us “I work out the budget very scientifically and then I add on 30%”.

He had learnt after using Abtrac for that period of time that he was under-quoting and thus writing off to that extent on nearly every job/project.

We would recommend reading this article about Actual vs Budget reports in conjunction with our Creating and Managing Tasks article, and also this one here which includes a glossary of the data within the Actual vs Budget reports.

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Abtrac Job/Project Templates

Abtrac Job/Project Templates aka Proposals, Fee Estimates, and Mail Merge Documents allow you to create templates that contain information from Abtrac such as client, job/project and task details that can be intertwined with other information, such as your proposals or mail merge type documents.

How it works is you create the different report types that you use i.e. proposal, letter of engagement etc., and within those reports, you add different sections with the required information.

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Job/Project Forecast

This feature enables you to forecast fees and resources (hours) for a period estimated in the Tasks/Stages/Phases screen.

When you provide the estimated Start date and End date of a Task, Job Forecast will disperse the estimated fees and hours within the given period on a monthly basis.

You can then edit them and forecast the resources in a way that suits your cash flow.  You can even forecast the Subtask resources for each Task.

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Creating and Managing Tasks

A Job/Project Task is the bit of the job you are working on – and can budget against. (Sometimes they are called Stages or Phases)

Tasks are the most efficient and effective way to measure and manage your jobs.

Generally, your job tasks will match those items detailed on your original fee proposal letter.

If you’re not sure whether you should be using tasks or activities, then this article is a good place to start.

There are quite a few key details to get your tasks set up and working the way you need them.
If you are new to tasks and budgeting in Abtrac, then it’s a good idea to read through this article from start to finish, but we have also summarised the key components below for quick reference:

About Tasks, Sub Tasks

Where to enter job/project budgets, as fee estimates, percentages or building the scope with detailed estimates by employee

Template Tasks

How to set up templates and clone frequently used tasks when creating new jobs/projects

Configuring the layout of the Tasks screen

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Making Tasks Mandatory in Timesheets

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Renaming Tasks to Stages – Phases – or something else

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Task Threshold Warnings

Scope Creep Notifications. How to enable a warning on timesheets when task budgets are exceeded

Entering Progress Assessments

For job/project management and billing estimates

Managing Variations

And reporting on variations by using the Actual vs Budget by Job/Project, Task and Additional Values report

Click on the links above, or read on for details

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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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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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