The General tab is separated into three sections. The selections in these sections set distinctly different options which should be carefully considered when making the selections. The importance of setting these options correctly prior to your production roll-out depends upon how it is being used. The following factors will mean that a detailed understanding of these settings is critical prior to the production roll-out of Project Insight:
- Customer projects will be billed based on time and/or expense information.
- High volumes of new projects and tasks are expected to be implemented immediately upon initial roll-out.
- Differing resource work schedules are expected to automate scheduling changes within projects.
Default Project Options Make No Changes to Existing Data
One very important rule as to changes in these Default Project Options settings is that they do NOT change settings in existing projects. The only exception to this rule is one global setting in the first check box to "Enable Project Managers the ability to add resources to the projects they manage." No other changes will change existing data in the system. Changes to options simply change the default settings for any new items (projects) added. Let's make sure this rule is very clear with a couple of examples:
Example 1: A Project Insight application administrator changes every check box and selection on the Default Project Options page, other than that very first check box noted earlier as an exception to this rule. Users and project managers will see no change to any existing projects. The options for the existing projects are already attached to those projects and do not change. This no changes rule includes new projects added from existing templates if those templates were added prior to the administrator's Default Project Options changes. Templates work just like other existing projects and new project's get their Project Options from the template, not the Default Project Options. If changes to the Project Options on previously existing projects (including projects in the Template state) are to be changed, a project manager for each of those projects will need to individually change each project.
Example 2: For this second example, we'll move down to the Default Task Options as set on a single project to demonstrate how this rule applies down through the task entries as well. A project manager opens the Project Options within a single project and changes the Default Task Adjustment Type from % of Resources' Workday to Resources' Work. No existing tasks within the project will change to adjust to Resources' Work, but rather will remain with the task adjustment originally assigned of % of Resources' Workday. New tasks entered will default to the new adjustment type of Resources' Work. If the project manager wants changes to the task adjustment type for the previously entered tasks, then the project manager must individually change each of the previously entered tasks.
Enable Project Managers the ability to add resources to the projects they manage
This option is used only for a global configuration in which the project resources are always assigned to projects by resource managers instead of project managers. This box is checked by default and rarely unchecked. Unchecking this box means that project managers either need to be set as resource managers in their user profile or they will need to enlist the help of others who are resource managers whenever they need to add resources to the projects they manage.
A large corporation within which the project managers must utilize only the team members granted to them on a project might uncheck this box as a method to enforce such a policy. This is normally considered too restrictive for most project management offices.
Use the Resource's Personal Work Calendar
If a resource's personal calendar is used on projects schedules, that resource's schedule can force an automatic change in the project schedule. Although this is a desirable feature to automatically reschedule tasks if assigned to resources who are not working all of the days schedule for the task, it can be confusing to the project manager. If a project manager assigns a task to one resource who is working al of the assigned days for a task on the schedule, then reassigns it to another resource with some of those days off, the duration for the task will increase to accommodate the non-working days.
This is advantageous only if the user manager is keeping the personal schedules up-to-date for all of the resources. This could be quite cumbersome for some organizations. It often means either duplicate work to manually adjust user work schedules or custom integration with personnel systems to keep up to date.
A popular alternative to this option is to use projects for PTO (paid time off) and maintenance work allocations which can be displayed as non-project time in resource allocation reporting. Project managers can use these reports to prevent the overallocation of resources while assigning tasks. More information on these maintenance and PTO projects is covered in the Project Insight Community.
Use Contract Rates (if set) on task assignments
Contract rates are most commonly used to manage billing rates when work on projects is being charged to customers. Contracts can include burden rates as well, but usually do not. The primary usage of the billing rate on a contract is to manage a consistent rate for work in the project based on the type of work, or skill set being utilized regardless of the specific person assigned. For example, you may have a contract which states that all senior engineering work is to be billed at a rate of $150 per hour. A task assigned the resource type/role of Senior Engineer will user the contract as a lookup table for the rate and calculate time entries at that rate regardless of which resource is assigned to the work or that resource's burden rate. Even if you change resources by assigning the task to a person with a different cost, the billable rate will remain at $150 per hour.
Enable Resource Type/Role to be set by task assignment
If you may need to assign more than one resource to a task, and sometimes those resources will perform differing skills sets at differing billable rates, you will need this option. While the task can only have one resource type/role assigned to it, this option allows you to associate a resource type/role specifically to each individual resource on the task. A senior engineer and a junior engineer assigned to the same task will charge based on the resource type/role assigned to themselves on the task instead of the resource type/role assigned only to the task itself. If no resource type/role is set on the resource assignment, then it will revert back to the billable rate for the resource type/role of the task.
Auto-Populate Resource Rates
When a resource is added to a project, the burden and billing rate remain null on the resources list for the project by default. Selecting this option would alternatively populate the rates of the resources for the project. This option is primarily for legacy purposes and not recommended for new implementations. Once the rate is associated with the resource at the project level it must always be updated on the project. If the resource gets an increase in pay and/or the resource's billable rate is increased, the project manager for each project would have to change the rate for that resource in each project. It is usually more desirable to manage burden rates at the user profile level and billing rates at the contract level. Exceptions may be made on a resource-by-resource basis to assign rates at the project level, but an exception is not reason to use this auto-populate option.
Auto-Populate Rates on Task Assignments
When a resource is assigned to a task, the burden and billing rate for the resource on the task remain null by default. Selecting this option would alternatively populate the rates of the resources for the task when the resource is added to the task. This option is primarily for legacy purposes and not recommended for new implementations. It is usually more desirable to manage burden rates at the user profile level and billing rates at the contract level than to assign rates at the task level. Exceptions may be made on a task-by-task basis to assign rates at the task resource level, but an exception is not reason to use this auto-populate option.
Auto-Populate Work from Duration
Placing a work value into the task can be a helpful data entry option. The work value calculated can be overwritten during the task data entry process just as easily if it were not being auto-populated. If a work value already exists in the task, either because an existing task is being edited or the work was entered on the task before the duration, this setting will have no effect.
This is not the same as the Default Task Adjustment Type, which is referenced at the bottom of this page, because it does not force the number of hours in the work value. It simply pre-populates the work hours with the assumption that one resource will be assigned at 100% allocation throughout the duration. For example, 40 hours will auto-populate in the work if a duration of five days is entered for a task on a project with a 40-hour work week schedule. If the project manager wants to change the 40 hours to 20 hours, that change to 20 hours will not cause any other change as a result of this setting. The duration will remain five days. Again, this is simply in reference to whether or not this auto-populate option is selected. Other settings might cause the duration to change, such as the Default Task Adjustment type, but all else being equal this option checked or unchecked will not change the value of any other task data.
If a "Task Adjustment Type" for a task is set to "Resources' Work" or "Task Duration" this setting will have no effect because either the work value or the duration value would be restricted from editing during the task entry/edit process.
Auto-Populate Duration from Work
This is the same type of option as the above-referenced "Auto-Populate Work from Duration" with the difference being that the duration is auto-populated from the work rather than the work being auto-populated from the duration.
Auto-Populate Estimated Hours from Work
This setting only displays if you have configured Project Insight to use Estimated Hours in the System Configuration -> Project tab. It is intended for use only if estimated hours are intended for tracking and comparison at a later point in time. Similar comparisons between original estimates and the current work plan could be made using baselines, which is a more standard practice. Selecting this option sets it so that when initially entering the work hours, the estimated hours will automatically be entered with the exact same value. It will not perform this function if there is already a value in the estimated hours data field, as it only works when the estimated hours value is null.
Auto-Populate Proposed Hours from Work
This setting only displays if you have configured Project Insight to use Proposed Hours in the System Configuration -> Project tab. Proposed hours are usually configured for environments in which customer proposals wish to be tracked separately from the Work. In some cases, the proposal may differ from the work even during the initial planning. An example is work planned for a customer which will take longer than the proposal because the work plan includes an investment to improve a product which will benefit all customers. Selecting this option sets it so that when initially entering the work hours, the proposed hours will automatically be entered with the exact same value. It will not perform this function if there is already a value in the proposed hours data field, as it only works when the proposed hours value is null.
Automatically Synchronize Estimated Hours from Work
When using estimated hours, you have the option to include an estimated rate. This estimated rate will not change regardless of the resources assigned to the task. If you wanted to have an estimated rate which would always multiply by the number of hours in the current work plan, you could set this option so that estimated hours will always equal the work hours. For example, you may have estimated that the work rate will be approximately $50 per hour for the work on the task and you want to always track that rate multiplied by the work hours. You can make changes to the resource assignments and the work hours on the task without having to change the estimated hours. The work budget might change the task hours and the rates for the task, but the estimated budget in this scenario will only change the hours in accordance with the work and the rate will remain $50 per hour.
Automatically Synchronize Proposed Hours from Work
When using proposed hours, you have the option to include a proposed rate. This proposed rate will not change regardless of the resources assigned to the task. If you wanted to have a proposed rate which would always multiply by the number of hours in the current work plan, you could set this option so that proposed hours will always equal the work hours. For example, you may have proposed that the work rate will be $150 per hour for the work on the task and you want to always track that rate multiplied by the work hours. You can make changes to the resource assignments and the work hours on the task without having to change the proposed hours. The work budget might change the task hours and the rates for the task, but the proposed budget in this scenario will only change the hours in accordance with the work and the proposed rate will remain $150 per hour.
Enables the Task to Capture Time
Resources can enter time for a task only if this box is selected. This is a good default selection to allow time entries for all tasks. This option could be disabled by default and enabled by the project manager only for tasks within which time entries are desired, but normally it would be enabled by default if time entry is desired.
Enable the Billable Time Flag by Default
This setting is usually enabled and all time is automatically entered as billable. Resources would not normally determine whether or not the time they enter is billable when they make their time entries and setting this automatically marks those entries as billable time when they are entered. The project manager may opt to disable this setting for any specific tasks which are predetermined as non-billable for all time spent on the task. See Billable & Non Billable Entry Management for more information.
Enable Resource Ability to Toggle Billable Time Flag
Resources may be allowed to toggle the billable flag on or off for time entries on their own if desired. This is not normally recommended unless the project environment is such that all resources assigned to a task are responsible for the budget and manage billable versus non-billable. See Billable & Non Billable Entry Management for more information.
Enables the Task to Capture Expenses
Resources can enter expenses for a task only if this box is selected. This is a good default selection to allow expense entries for all tasks. This option could be disabled by default and enabled by the project manager only for tasks within which expense entries are desired, but normally it would be enabled by default if expense entry is desired.
Enable the Billable Expense Flag by Default
This setting is usually enabled and all expenses are automatically entered as billable. Resources would not normally determine whether or not the expenses they enter are billable when they make their expense entries and setting this automatically marks those entries as billable expenses when they are entered. The project manager may opt to disable this setting for any specific tasks which are predetermined as non-billable for all expenses entered on the task. See Billable & Non Billable Entry Management for more information.
Enable Resource Ability to Toggle Billable Expense Flag
Resources may be allowed to toggle the billable flag on or off for expense entries on their own if desired. This is not normally recommended unless the project environment is such that all resources assigned to a task are responsible for the budget and manage billable versus non-billable. See Billable & Non Billable Entry Management for more information.
Enable a Task Resource to Edit Custom Fields on Tasks
If task custom fields have been configured, this option will allow resources to change the fields. It is not usually known whether or not this option is desirable by default on projects until such time that custom fields for tasks are configured. As is the case with most data fields on tasks, custom fields can only be entered and changed by project managers. This setting changes this rule so that resources can add and edit those custom data fields for tasks. The resource is restricted, however, to adding and updating data in the custom field for only those tasks assigned specifically to them as a task resource.
Automatically Calculate Task Scheduled Based on the Actual Start and End Dates
Actual start and end dates can be entered by either project managers or the task owners provided the next option referenced below is enabled (Allow task owner to set the actual start and end dates). It is recommended to keep these actual date entries separate from the scheduled dates so that project managers can make the decisions at to what schedule changes, if any, should be made based on the actual start and end dates as entered by the task owners. Automatic calculation may be desired on occasion for some tasks, which is most often how this setting is used. It is left disabled by default and selectively used as needed only on special tasks.
For example, you may have a task assigned to an accounts receivable person called "receive payment." This task updates the schedule for itself and all successor tasks after the payment receipt task is updated with an earlier actual end date and 100% completion. In this example, the payment receipt task would normally be scheduled with a worst-case-scenario end date to lower the probability that task successors will show up on the assigned resources' schedules prior to the payment receipt.
Allow Task Owner to Set the Actual Start and End Dates
Actual start and end dates can be entered by either project managers or the task owners with this option enabled. It is recommended to enable this because it allows the task owner to update the project manager as to any actual start or end date which varies from the planned schedule. These actual start and end dates will not update the schedule unless the option referenced above is enabled to automatically update the schedule.
Default Task Adjustment Type
Tasks have three scheduling values in the formula which relates to resource assignments:
Percent (%) of Resources' Workday
Two of these values can be entered, while the third must be calculated by the formula. It is easiest to think of the adjustment type as the value you would NOT normally enter. The default setting for this is to adjust the "% of Resources' Workday" and allow the project manager to enter the duration and work hours for the tasks. If you normally think in terms of how many working days you get on the schedule and how many hours of effort it will take the assigned resources to get the work done during that duration, it is recommended to leave this setting as the default (% of Resources' Workday). Alternatively, if you know a resource will be on a task for 20% (% of Resources' Workday) of their time over the course of a five day (duration) working week, you might choose "Resources Work" as the adjustment type.
As with the other task default settings, this is simply a default which can be changed on a project-by-project and task-by-task basis. It is quite common to leave most tasks with the default adjustment type, but adjust others differently because of the type of work or resources utilized.