One of the key advantages of TimeControl is its ability to update planned tasks with the actual progress. We often think of managing the progress of resource assignments in the simplest of terms: I assign you to do something, you tell me when you’re done and how much time you spent. Yet, real life presents us with so many different resource progress options. We won’t cover the many aspects of resource assignment management here and will, instead, look at just resource assignment progress. We’ll cover just a few of the many ways TimeControl deals with resource progress by looking at specific business challenge scenarios here.
It’s more than just hours
TimeControl has always had the ability to go beyond the hours. In some cases, costing of resource assignment progress is critical. TimeControl is excellent at that. In some cases you will want to identify the work remaining (Estimate to Complete) as a percentage or hours. In some cases you will want to distinguish the assignment progress with the task progress. TimeControl manages that as well. In some cases you will want to go into more detail than the task assignment and TimeControl allows for lower entries with a summarization to the task and the assignments. In some cases, there are progress costs that are both for labor and non-labor. TimeControl’s expense entries or, in TimeControl Industrial, materials entries can handle that.
When transferring data to a project system, the options include hours, assignment progress, task progress, and costs.
A person does the assigned work of someone else
An assignment is made in a project management system and assigned to a particular person. It turns out that someone else now completes the assignment even though they weren’t assigned to it themselves. How can TimeControl manage that?
This is something TimeControl has had to deal with since its infancy in 1994. When data is transmitted back to the project management system, the project manager has a choice:
- Do they wish to reject actuals in this situation or;
- Do they wish TimeControl to create an assignment in the project management system.
The results are quite different and the best choice is dependent on your project management process and what your project managers are happiest with.
In option 1, the actuals which can find no assignment with that individual will be rejected and those rejections will appear in a log. Then the project manager will have to go to the project management system and alter the assignments to remove the first person and insert the second person. Then the transfer can be restarted and those previously rejected records will go through. For some project managers this is ideal.
In option 2, there will be a new assignment created in the project management system in the associated task. The result will be a task that has one assignment for person 1 with no progress and another assignment for person 2 with completed progress. Project managers then have to create an exception report to highlight tasks with progress for the last week but with assignments that have no progress. Then they will have to decide how to alter the assignments to best reflect what actually happened.
One of the things about TimeControl that is handy is that this is not a global setting. One project manager may be more comfortable with option 1, the other with option 2.
A person does work at different rates at different times of the day
This is a common request and we are often asked why project management tools don’t offer more options with rates in their systems. The short answer is that when you are planning, you typically don’t think of all the rate variations that are likely to appear in real life. It’s not something that occurs because you plan for it.
Let’s say a person works on multiple projects. On project #1, they are billed at $75 per hour. On project #2 they are billed at $60 per hour. TimeControl handles that easily by having multiple rates. But, you say, what if they are billed at those rates but we pay them the same internally. Again, no problem. Each rate code can have multiple values associated for things like Internal Cost, Billing Value, Project Average Cost, etc.
Ok, let’s say there is one project and someone is working at different rates for different situations. For example, we cost them at one rate when the weather is good and at a hazard rate when the weather is bad. TimeControl handles this easily. It allows the same task to appear multiple times in the same timesheet so that you can enter values like the Rate Code or other User Defined fields for that same task. When this information is sent back to the project system, the project manager has the option to send the costs as well or just to send the hours. The choice depends on what the internal costing process is for the project manager and the company but TimeControl will maintain the auditable values at a detailed level no matter which option is selected.
A person works as part of a generic or role definition of resource
When looking at resource assignments in a project system, project management software vendors would love it if you only made assignments at the individual level. This is largely due to the licensing advantage to those vendors as each individual will now have to look at the system to see their tasks and then those people will need to purchase an individual license. That’s all understood but this method then disables one of the project management systems’ most powerful tools: resource leveling. Resource Leveling at an individual level makes no sense. The algorithms and concepts are most effective when we use generic or role-based resource assignments. If we do that and leave individual assignments as a separate exercise for team leads, you can end up with a project/timesheet disconnect.
Not in TimeControl.
In TimeControl for each employee, there is an option to say what resource code that employee is associated to. That can be an individual resource code. That’s certainly the easiest. But, it can just as easily be a generic or a role resource. Then when progress from that person is recorded, it is sent to the project system not as an individual but rather as the role or generic resource, aggregated with all other employees who are defined to that role or generic resource.
A person works part of the day as one resource and another part of the day as a different resource
In this situation, we have people who have different roles in different parts of the day. Perhaps someone is a designer in the morning and billed at one rate but will be working as a documentation specialist in the afternoon and billed at a very different rate.
TimeControl handles this with the optional “Line Item Resource”. When activated, a user can select in their timesheet what resource code they would like associated to each line. That leaves them as many choices as are appropriate to their situation as you wish. When data is sent back to the project system, the resource progress will be sent back line-by-line, assignment-by-assignment with the resource codes that were chosen.
Of course, we’re not done. Sometimes it seems that there are as many resource management scenarios as there are clients and having a tool as flexible as TimeControl means we’re almost always able to adjust to accommodate a particular resource process. Plus, for many, many, clients sometimes simplest is best and none of these more involved scenarios apply. In this case, you can reduce or even remove resource assignment and progress management altogether.