Scaled Cost Rates

If you are using AbtracOnLine reports for KPI’s it’s possible to balance the reporting of employees working overtime by looking at scaled cost rates.

Scaled cost rates spread an employee cost across their actual hours worked, as opposed to cost rates which work with the required hours for the period.

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The following reports in Abtrac include an option for scaled cost rates:

  • Invoice Listing
  • Invoices vs Time and Disbursements by Project
  • Fees & Cost by Employee, Client & Project

Scaled Cost Rates are a modified version of the cost rate. They effectively scale back the cost rate across an excessive number of hours to those specified in an employees required units per timesheet.

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Actual vs Budget Reports

Once you’ve started using Tasks for your 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’s a good idea to assign the item of work as a task to your 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’d learnt after using Abtrac for that period of time that he was under-quoting and thus writing off to that extent on nearly every project.

We’d 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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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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Tips for using multiple Offices

From System Management in Abtrac your business details can include information for multiple branches/offices.

These Offices or Branches can also be applied to each employee, job or project and carried through to invoicing and analysis.
You can then run reports by office – comparing performance and profitability between branches and managing workflow.

It’s also useful when you have one tax entity but different physical addresses, and different invoicing and accounting requirements between locations.

There’s also an option to limit access for Abtrac users by office, enabling them to only view and edit offices to which they have been assigned.

When using multiple offices in Abtrac there are a few things to bear in mind.
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Exporting Abtrac Data and exporting reports to Excel

You can export any data from Abtrac to Microsoft Excel for analysis via the reports screen.

In some instances, for commonly exported screens and reports the data is ‘pre-cleaned’ and will export in a similar format to the report preview.

In other instances the export may result in ‘messy’ data, where the formatting is not as expected. This export format depends on the report data, your version of Abtrac, and your version of Microsoft.

You may need to ‘clean up’ the exported file in order to remove blanks and groupings from the original report. Read on for tips on using excel to tidy your exported information, and how to export data from reports and other screens in both AbtracOnLine and Abtrac5.

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Bulk Edit Timesheets

This screen is useful when you need to update timesheet details in bulk, it eliminates the need to open and edit individual users timesheets .

This timesheets maintenance screen is most typically used in the following situations:

  • Updating Employee rates
  • Editing Stage/Task or Activities that have been incorrectly assigned
  • Changing the job code an employee is assigning time to
  • To check if/when timesheets have been billed and
  • To check which invoice the WIP has been assigned
  • To obtain data not available in performance reports for specific employees, in particular to view timesheet data for employees who are no longer current.

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Invoice Listing Report

The invoice listing report shows: invoice date, project code, name on invoice, the assigned time and cost, write on/off amount, billed total (ex tax), and incl tax amounts – for each invoice number.

The report is run between two dates and will sorted by either name on invoice or by project code. You can also choose whether the time and cost data displays as either charge or cost rates. It optionally filters invoices by office, client, project, and project owners.

The invoice listing report is one of the staple reports of Abtrac, used throughout billing and in month end reporting.

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Timesheet Entries Reports

The Timesheet Entries report shows : timesheet comments, timesheet units and the total charge/cost extension for each timesheet line. It also provides detailed entries for employee and company disbursements.

There are quite a few variations on the ‘basic’ timesheet entries report with options for lots of different filters, groups and sub-groupings.

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How many billable hours do you write off?

A new survey came out last month – the Trends & Challenges in Architecture and Engineering International Report 2014* and it had some most interesting (but perhaps not surprising) statistics.

Architecture and Engineering firms throughout Australia and New Zealand are missing out on invoicing up to 30 percent of billable hours. According to the survey, almost three quarters of businesses indicated they recovered only 61-80 % of billable hours.

Loss of billable hours is a common challenge for all time based billing professionals, regardless of whether you bill on the basis of time engaged or a fixed price contract. It’s a challenge that needs to be constantly managed.

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Write Off Reporting

As well as looking at how much was billed each month end we recommend you look at your write off percentages. Use one of the WIP reports from Performance Reports > Management Analysis:

  • WIP Write-offs and Write-ons by Invoice
  • WIP Write-offs and Write-ons by Project, or
  • Write-offs and Write-ons by Project and Invoice are all good places to start.

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Write Offs and Profitability Reports

Some management reports in Abtrac review data by invoice, others do it by individual invoice lines. In particular some Employee Profitability, Fees Earned, and Write Off reports go into this detail.

If you want to analyse write offs (ons) at the employee or invoice level then the method you use to write off time is important.

When choosing an existing invoice line to assign WIP you need to be aware that this write off time will affect these reports. And reports already circulated will then have different recovery numbers which will obviously confuse some people.

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