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.

How do I decide whether to enter Sub-consultant details in Abtrac, or whether to enter the costs as regular time or disbursements?

If you regularly outsource work to third parties – and they work on a number of projects with you, you may find it worthwhile to enter the costs as a Sub-consultant, managing and tracking the process with Sub-consultant reporting.

But if you outsource part of a job to a third party and they invoice you once or twice for their time and costs on a job, we advise simply entering them as Disbursements on an as required basis.

If you outsource work to a third party and they invoice you on the basis of time engaged (essentially being engaged as a quasi-employee) then we advise as above to enter their invoices as disbursements. Or indeed they could be set up as employees and enter their time directly into Abtrac with appropriate permissions – so they can only see jobs in Abtrac which they’re allowed to see.

There’s a process to follow when managing sub-consultants in Abtrac:

Setting Up a Sub-Consultant

Sub-consultants are entered into Abtrac in the same way as a client is entered, with one distinguishing feature. Go to Clients, Contacts & Jobs >> Add Client or Contact. Enter the details for the sub-consultant. You need to tick ‘Is a sub-consultant’ box.

After saving the record, you can then click on the ‘Work This Subconsultant Does’ button to record the type of work the sub-consultant does.

In doing so, you can subsequently query all sub-consultants who do the same type of work.

When clicking on the button, a new page opens. To start with, there are no records in the grid. Before adding a record, you will want to add Sub-consultant Work Types by clicking on the ‘Manage Subconsultant Work Types’ button indicated below.

This opens a pop up page into which you can add a list of generic sub-consultant work types.

After saving and closing this pop up, we can now add the sub-consultant and the type of work they do. Here, we’ve added Acoustic Services Pty Ltd with a work type of Acoustic Engineering. Now save by clicking on the save button to the left of the subconsultant.

The sub-consultant grid above auto-filters based on the sub-consultant you were on in the ‘Clients and Contacts’ page. Removing the filter from the column head enables you to view all current sub-consultants. Had we also added a sub-consultant rating, we could have then filtered by that to find the best rated acoustic engineering sub-consultant.

In all other ways, in the Clients and Contacts pages, sub-consultants behave like clients i.e. you can add addresses, people, jobs even if you do work for them in addition to them doing work for you.

Assigning the Sub-Consultant to a Project

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

In this example we have moved to another job. The client is Dressings Howe Ltd, the job is an audit of some sort. The page below shows the tasks (aka Stages or Phases) for this job.

We want to let a contract to Acoustic Services Pty Ltd for the acoustic engineering component of the job for Dressings Howe. To do this, click on the ‘Subconsultants’ button as indicated.

Here we have added the sub-consultant. This sub-consultant record has a tick in the box indicating we will invoice the client and therefore we will pay the sub-consultant directly as opposed to forwarding the sub-consultant invoice onto the client for payment. The agreement is, the sub-consultant will invoice us $6,500. Independently, we will invoice the client $8,000.

From this pop up page, you can also raise a purchase order for this sub-consultant by clicking on the button indicated.

For more information on purchase orders click here.

Managing Sub-Consultant Invoices

As the project progresses, the sub-consultant will present invoices for payment as a creditor.

From the menu, choose Time & Disbursements >> Subconsultants Invoices.

Select the subconsultant from the dropdown box and click on the ‘New Subconsultant Invoice’ button indicated. The below window pops up.

  • Verify the sub-consultant name, enter the date on their creditor invoice and their invoice reference.
  • Enter either the gross or net amount and whether sales tax applies. Doing this automatically calculates and enters the other amount fields. A comment is optional.
  • Then save the record.

The page below presents the details you have entered. It also shows the other Jobs, if any, this sub-consultant is working on, with metrics showing what has been claimed already for each of the jobs versus the agreed fee.

Clicking on the little down arrow to the left of the job to which the sub-consultant invoice applies, will post an entry into the ‘Invoice Line Details’ grid. The ‘Amount Excl GST’ field will be automatically populated.

You can adjust the ‘Amount Excl GST’ if, for example, the one invoice is a claim for more than one job or task. In which case, you would append a second line to the Invoice Line Details grid by repeating the above.

Approving and Posting the Sub-Consultant Invoice Line as a Disbursement against the Job

From Time & Disbursements >> Subconsultants Invoices >> New Subconsultant Invoice, click on the above indicated edit button in ‘Invoice Line Details’. The page below opens, in which you can approve the claim.

Once the claim is approved by ticking the OK for Payment box, you can post it as a job cost through into a Disbursement sheet by clicking on the button indicated.

For this you need to enter first the ‘Amount to Client’, select a disbursement type and disbursement sheet from the dropdowns. The disbursement sheet can be an existing one or you can enter a new office disbursement period from Time & Disbursements >> Office Disbursements as shown below.

The cycle is complete. The job cost now appears as if it had been entered manually as an office disbursement.

Sub-Consultant Reporting

In the menu, go to Reports >> Performance Reports >> select ‘All’.

There are three reports in the main reports page specifically to report in sub-consultants.

These are below the Timesheet Entries and above the Invoicing sections in the report list.

As with all other reports, these can be exported to Excel or as CSV if required, from the preview page for the specific report.

Abtrac KB# 2090

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