Project Control is a tool in BillQuick that helps eliminate micro management of projects and improve estimates for new jobs. No longer will staff and managers need to check and double-check their time and expenses because they misapplied their hours to the projects. Also, your budget or profitability information won’t be skewed because someone charged the wrong activities. Project Control provides a solution to the question: “How do you get the right employees to record the right activities and expenses to the right projects?”
Take a common situation: A project manager, partner or principal prepares a project estimate. Often it is a guestimate of what it will take to complete various activities. Typically, the manager will create ‘a working budget’ in BillQuick, convert it to an estimate, and then submit it with other proposal documents to the prospect. In most companies, employees have only ballpark information about their tasks. They don’t have specifics, like how many hours are allocated to them. This leads to inaccurate and unrealistic budgets.
Project managers track progress, say budget used, by reviewing after-the-fact reports like Project Budget Comparison. But it’s always too late and the time is already spent. Management could review the budget comparison daily, but in the real world there are too many projects and other things to do. So, the common situation is that the project manager—and perhaps the principal—just react. They may adjust activities to stay within the contract and be profitable. A “fudge factor” may be part of the budget, but that offers only a buffer. If you need to react to a situation, it is often too late to go back to the client to discuss adjusting the contract.
Bottom Line: You react rather than act. Your employees are in the dark. Profits are at risk.
The Project Control screen is designed essentially for timekeepers, limiting who can charge time and expenses to a project and for which activities. Depending upon your selection–Employee, Activity or Expense—you can view and assign employees, activity codes or expense codes to the selected project. Only assigned and selective items will be seen in the drop-down lists of the time and expense entry screens.
Project managers can especially benefit from the improved capability to schedule their project hours and prioritize tasks using the Allocation screen. They can limit allocated hours to start-end date range, putting a target date or deadline on the work. After allocating hours and units, employees can view Assigned Hours, Used Hours, and Remaining Hours on the time and expense entry screens. The main benefit of the Allocation feature is that it can bring staff into the estimating process, producing more realistic budgets. BillQuick customers report that consulting with staff on estimates results in a higher level of ownership of the work. If they say it will take 40 hours to complete a task, they organize and manage their activities to do it within those 40 hours.
Using Project Control with Allocation is a powerful combination. Because there are fewer chances of errors and employees know what is expected, they can police themselves. It’s human nature to try to complete a task within expectations. Equally important, setting expectations of what it takes to be profitable leads to employees taking ownership of the project. It encourages them to communicate situations before the budget for the task is exhausted. For example, staff may be only 30% done with their tasks but may have burned 50% of the allocated hours. They know this because they see it every time they record a time entry. This gives the project manager information to respond proactively. This self-policing result in less time micro-managing and more time doing important, productive, and proactive activities.
Project Control Benefits
- No more micro-managing
- Less errors and more accurate data entry
- Proactive, not reactive approach
- Greater possibility that projects will be completed within time and budget
For more details, please read the BillQuick Help.