Creating and Managing Tasks aka 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)

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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Simple reports to get started with invoicing

Getting started with your invoicing normally starts with a few reports to see who you are invoicing and for how much. This can then be checked with job (project) managers to confirm they are ready to invoice the clients and if they are happy with the amounts.

There are two basic reports that can get you going. Unbilled Work Quick Summary and Timesheet Entries.

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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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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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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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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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Flexible Timesheet Layouts with User Control Settings

Check out our new articles on Timesheets and Customisations using the links below.

Timesheet views

Layout Customisations

We talk timesheets every day with our clients and we understand there’s often a bit of resistance to that dreaded daily data entry.

Some companies use incentives, and some use penalties to ensure that accurate timesheets are entered. But another technique for getting comprehensive timesheets – is just to make it really easy to enter the data.

We’re preaching to the converted a little bit here – if you’re reading this email then you’re already using a pretty flexible and simple timesheet entry system 🙂 But have you tailored your timesheet layout specifically for your staff and jobs? Or are you still using the ‘off-the-shelf’ layout?

Take time to adjust your Timesheet Control Settings in Abtrac and make your daily data entry just that little bit simpler. Continue reading