Product Update

January 27, 2004

1. Projects: Assignment groups; project task end dates; run billing, recognition across all projects.

In the Projects module this month, OpenAir introduces several new features designed to make project management easier and more flexible. First, project managers can now assign users as a group to project tasks. The assignment groups feature will greatly speed up assignments in cases where many users may be working on a task. Administrators set up assignment groups in the Account tab. The same user can belong to different assignment groups. In the Projects module, when assigning users at the project level or task level, the new assignment groups will appear in the assignment dropdowns or pick lists, in addition to regular and generic users. Assigning a group to a task has the same effect as assigning the individual members of the group. In the Outline view or Edit tasks/phases view of the project, “Assignment group” is hyperlinked to a list of the users included in the group. As mentioned above, one user may belong to multiple assignment groups; however, if there is overlap between groups, the system will not allow both groups to be assigned to the same task, as this would create a duplicate assignment. It will also prevent an assignment group from being modified, if the modification would create a duplicate assignment on any task in the system. In both cases, an error will be generated specifying where the duplication exists, and the error will have to be corrected before the task or assignment group can be saved. If your account uses the feature to input planned hours for each user assigned to a task, then the hours planned that you enter will be assigned to each user in the group (i.e., if you assign a group to a task, enter 4 planned hours for the group and the group has 4 members, the total planned hours for the task will be 16). If your account uses the standard method of entering planned hours for the task, then the hours planned will be divided among all members of the group (in the example above, if you enter 4 planned hours for the task, each member of the group will be assigned 1 hour).

A second new feature this month allows project managers to specify hard end dates for tasks. This is an extension of the existing FNLT (Finish No Later Than) functionality. Normally, the end date for a task is calculated by the system, based on hours assigned, percentage of users’ time allocated, users’ schedules, and dependencies among tasks. The FNLT feature, added last year, was designed to accommodate task deadlines. It allowed a project manager to enter a date by which a task must be complete, over-riding the system-calculated finish date. It did not cover the case where a task should last longer than the system-calculated finish date. Under this month’s feature, the FNLT date becomes a fixed end date. If the system-calculated finish date is March 1, but the task will actually extend until March 31, entering the end date of March 31 will cause the assignment to be spread out over the full duration of the task. The user allocation percentage will be automatically reduced so that the task will not end sooner that the end date selected. Both FNLT and task end dates are features enabled by an internal switch; please contact OpenAir support if you want to have them turned on for your account.

Turning to the project accounting side, we now enable you to run billing across all projects at once, through the pending billings report. Previously, this report would identify all projects with pending billings, but the actual billings had to be created one project at a time. As of today, we provide a link at the bottom of the report results that lets you create all billing transactions across all projects, with one click. (Of course, the report also allows you to filter on pending billings for a subset of clients, projects, project owners or project stages.) The report also now gives a count of how many projects have pending billings and the number of potential billing transactions. Corresponding features to allow revenue recognition to be run across all projects in the account, with counts of projects and proposed transactions, have also been added to the pending recognition report. Both reports can be accessed by users with the appropriate permissions from Reports > Advanced > Projects.


2. Reports:Weighted utilization, availability values; booked/assigned hours with actuals; fixed fee projections; custom aging periods in accounts receivable report; run reports in background; other reporting additions.

OpenAir provides a wide range of reporting options on resource utilization and availability, both historical and forecast. This month, we have added four new values: “Weighted percent booked utilization”, “Weighted percent booked utilization with actuals”, “Weighted percent booking availability” and “Weighted percent booking availability with actuals”. The weighting is based on the “probability of closing” figure entered in a pricing scenario for the projects to which the user is booked. (For details on the project pricing feature, please click the Help link in the Projects module. Under Projects tab, click Pricing.) These reports give managers a view of staffing requirements that takes into account the level of likelihood that projects a user is booked to will actually close. The weighted booked utilization value calculates the percentage of a user's work schedule time or base work schedule time that has been booked to projects, taking into account the probability of closing for those projects. The booking availability value represents the percentage of a resource’s unbooked time, also taking into account the probability of closing on projects s/he is booked to. In calculating the numerator for these values, the hours booked are multiplied by the percentage probability of closing entered in the pricing scenario. In the case of utilization or availability with actuals, the numerator is based on time entry data from timesheets for periods occurring before the current date, whereas booking data is used for periods including or after the current date. The denominator in all cases is schedule hours, with the option to choose either work schedule hours or base work schedule hours. The reports offering these values are in Reports > Advanced > Resources, and Reports > Summary > Account-wide > Users. The reports and values will be available only if there is at least one project pricing scenario created in the account. Probability of closing is also now available as a detail field in the projects detail report (Reports > Detail > Account-wide > Projects) and as a project detail field in summary reports.

In addition to utilization and availability percentages, this month we also give managers the ability to view the number of hours booked with actuals, and number of hours assigned with actuals. These values allow managers to look at hourly figures for both past and projected bookings or task assignments in a single report, and to compare them (for example) with the number of hours in the user’s schedule. The “Booked hours with actuals” value displays the number of hours worked (from time entry data) for the period up to the present date, and the number of hours booked (in either the Resources or Projects modules) for periods including or after the current date. The “Assigned hours with actuals” value displays the number of hours worked (from time entry data) for the period up to the present date, and the number of hours assigned to tasks (in the Projects module) for periods including or after the current date. Both values are available in most of the account-wide summary reports as “Resources – booked hours with actuals” and “Projects – assigned hours with actuals”. “Booked hours with actuals” is also available in all account-wide summary reports on resources. “Assigned hours with actuals” is available in all of the account-wide summary reports on projects.

For accounts that bill projects by fixed fee, we have added a new report to show the total billings or revenue recognition anticipated under the fixed fee rules. The report is in Advanced > Projects > Fixed fee projections. Select whether you want to run it on billing or recognition rules. For recognition, both fixed fee on date or milestone and fixed fee on percent complete rules are considered. Configure the report layout and apply filters (including approval filters) as desired. For future billings or recognition, specify the period and number of periods into which amounts should be broken out, if desired. The report shows the total value of all rules; the amount used (that is, where the rules have already been run and transactions created), the percentage of the total used, and the amount remaining.

In the Invoices area, we have enhanced the Accounts receivable report to allow users to create customized aging periods. Up to five periods can be specified by designating a start and end day for each “bucket”. (No end day needs to be selected for the last period.) The report shows the amounts that fall into each customized period, in addition to amounts that are current based on the payment terms of each invoice. If the report is sub-totaled by invoice number, the age of each invoice is displayed as well. This report can be accessed by administrators and those with the necessary permissions from Reports > Advanced > Invoices > Accounts receivable.

Another reporting feature we have added is an option to let you run reports in the background. Most reports in OpenAir now include a checkbox for this feature. If you check the box, and click to run the report, you get a message telling you that the report is running in the background, and that you will receive a notification email when the report is finished. Click OK, and continue your work in OpenAir. The notification email will have a link that brings you to the report results. If you logout of the session, you will no longer be able to access the background reports created during the session (unless you have saved the report, in which case you can run it again). This option is very useful for reports that take a while to run; it will prevent long-running reports from timing out, as some users had experienced.

Other additions to reports this month include: (a) the ability to display the phase that a task belongs in Reports > Detail > Projects > Tasks. The phase associated with the task can also be displayed as a detail field on task in Summary reports; (b) the ability to display Probability of closing (from project pricing scenarios) in Reports > Detail > Projects, and as a detail field on project in summary reports; (c) new detail fields for Signer accepted and Signoff history are available. Please see the last paragraph in section 1 above on the new Projects module features for a full description.


3. Resources: Bookings chart color-coded by booking type; weekly view for bookings chart.

In the Resources module, the bookings chart has undergone two enhancements this month. First, a weekly display option has been added. Bookings can now be viewed in the chart by day, week or month. Second, the chart can now display bookings color-coded by booking type. Booking type can be useful in reporting to distinguish among different categories of bookings (for example, billable vs. non-billable, or hard vs. soft). Now, in addition to getting this information in reports, the booking chart can display it visually with color. To configure the settings for the booking chart, including color-coding for booking types, administrators and those with the required privilege navigate to Resources > Bookings > Chart > Settings. Set the detail level (day, week, month) and duration for the chart. Select whether to display bookings by number of hours or percentage. Define the resources to be included in the "Resource limiting settings" section. Finally, select color-coding for your booking types. Up to seven color codes are supported, and the order of the colors can be changed. Once the settings have been configured, click Save. Then, click the Chart link to view the bookings chart. There is a dropdown at the top of the chart to let you toggle between the standard view (bookings vs. overage) and the new color-coded by booking type view. If there are bookings that do not have a booking type, or if a particular booking type has not been assigned a color in the settings form, the bookings will be displayed as gray.


4. Invoices: New layout options.

Invoice presentation has been enhanced with four new features this month. Administrators can configure the invoice by going to Invoices > Options > Invoice layout. First, we have added the ability to suppress grid lines on the invoice. In the Other section, select “No grid lines” from the Grid style dropdown. Second, we have standardized the order of timebills on the invoice by type. Hourly timebills now appear first on the invoice, followed by Other rate, Flat price and Expense item. Third, hours can be formatted to display two decimal places, making the hours column easier to read. To select this option, in the Invoice layout form, under Other, check the box to “Format hours to two decimal places”. Finally, there is a new option to “Hide uncombined values”. The “Combine timebills” feature was added in July of 2003, to facilitate the roll up of timebills or charges with varying degrees of granularity, up to a single line item if desired. It allows you to roll up expenses to the expense item level, or hourly timebills to the service/activity level, or both, and to break out charges by date, by rate or by user within the roll up. The new feature hides the values that are not combined, affording another element of flexibility in configuring invoice layouts. So, for example, if you want to combine timebills for each user, but not to break out the user’s charges by date or rate, the new feature will hide the dates and rates for the combined timebills.


5. Administrative: Inactive records indicated in filter sets; option to remove grid lines from expense reports, timesheet reports, proposals, purchase orders, purchase requests and schedule requests.

To assist administrators with the task of filter set maintenance, we have added a feature to show which items included in the filter set are inactive. The [Inactive] flag will be displayed both in the access control page of the filter set and in the picker when selecting items for inclusion/exclusion. This will facilitate “cleaning up” filter sets in cases where there are large numbers of inactive items. Please be aware, however, that removing inactive items from filter set access will affect reporting results, since items removed from filter sets will not appear in reports.

We have also added an option to remove the grid lines from expense reports, timesheet reports, proposals, purchase orders, purchase requests and schedule requests. (The same option has been added to invoice layout options, as detailed in the section on Invoice layout changes, above.) Administrators can make this selection by clicking the Options tab on the right in the Expenses, Timesheets, Opportunities or Purchases modules. In the layout configuration tabs to the left, select “No grid lines”, in the Grid style dropdown.


6. Would you like to see previous OpenAir product updates?

Click here to browse previous product updates including all new features, modules and functionality.


7. Suggestions, problems or questions?

As always, please contact us at or 888.367.1288 (outside the U.S. and Canada, call +1.617.351.0226). We pride ourselves on the outstanding care we give our customers. Please let us know how we can improve your experience with OpenAir.