June 19, 2003
1. Data Exchange: Export OpenAir task assignments, bookings, schedule requests to Microsoft® Outlook Calendar; automatic backup service FTP transfer option.
The OpenAir Outlook Connector is now available for download from My Account > Exchange > Add-on services. This tool allows Microsoft® Outlook users to view their OpenAir commitments in the Outlook Calendar in the context of their overall schedules. The integration requires Microsoft Windows 95/98/Me/NT/2000/XP and Microsoft® Outlook 98/2000/2002. As with the other add-on services in the Exchange tab (OpenAir OffLine, OpenAir for Palm, and OpenAir Projects Connector), there is no additional charge for this application.
Download and installation are quick and easy. From the Exchange page, under OpenAir Outlook Connector, click the link “Download 1.02”. Click Open to start the wizard-based installation process, which can be completed with a few clicks. Once the application has been downloaded and installed, the exchange process is very simple. Just launch the Connector and then click the OpenAir button to establish login settings. Click the Outlook button to select the Outlook Calendar to which you want to export and the OpenAir items (task assignments, bookings and/or schedule requests) you wish to export from OpenAir to Outlook. Click Start.
Selected items will be exported from OpenAir and imported into the MS Outlook Calendar. If task assignments, bookings or schedule requests are later updated or deleted from OpenAir, a subsequent running of the Outlook Connector will update/delete those items in Outlook as well.
A second change to the data exchange features this month is an enhancement to OpenAir’s Automatic backup service. The Automatic backup service allows you to schedule regular delivery of your OpenAir account data to an email address or FTP server. Your data is compressed as a ZIP file and can be PGP encrypted for additional security. This month, we have enhanced the FTP transfer option, by allowing you to specify a directory on the FTP server into which the data should be transferred. To subscribe to the Automatic backup service, which is available for an additional monthly charge of $24.95, administrators can navigate to My Account > Exchange > Automatic backup service.
2. Projects: Filter project time billing rules by task; associate revenue recognition transactions with a service; project booking grid enhancements; copied project respects non-billable status of tasks.
Several new features have been added to the Projects module this month. First is an enhancement to project billing rules. OpenAir’s project billing rules give managers tremendous flexibility in determining rates, dates, services and expenses included, and other terms by which each particular project is to billed. This month, we increased that flexibility by adding a task filter to time billing rules. This enables project managers to customize billing rates depending on what task(s) the user was working on. To take advantage of this new filter, administrators or users with the requisite role privileges navigate to Projects > Projects > [select project ID] > Billing. Create a time billing rule, or edit an existing time billing rule. The billing rules filters section now lets you filter the billing rule based on task, in addition to user, service, or time type.
The second new feature in the Projects module is in the area of revenue recognition. The revenue recognition feature now permits billing or accounting managers to associate a service or activity with revenue recognition transactions. This will enable managers to report on how much revenue has been recognized, by service. To associate a service with revenue recognition transactions, managers navigate to Projects > Projects > [Select project ID] >Recognition. Create or edit a revenue recognition rule. From the Service dropdown, select the service with which the recognition transaction is to be associated. The Recognition transactions detail report can be configured to include the service associated with each transaction, along with amount recognized, project, etc. To run this report, users with appropriate privileges can navigate to Reports > Detail > Projects > Recognition transactions.
The third area of enhancement in Projects is the project booking grid, which saw two new features added in this release. First, the grid can now be configured to display approved hours worked by the user, as well as booked hours. This gives the resource manager the ability to compare at a glance projected and actual approved hours spent on a project by the user for the period. Second, the grid can be configured so that historical data is displayed as read only and thus cannot be edited for periods ending prior to today. To enable these features for the project booking grid, please contact email@example.com.
Finally, the fourth project-related enhancement this month was in the feature that allows OpenAir project managers to copy projects from a template, or from another project plan. When a manager creates a new project by using the “Create project from another project” functionality, the copied project duplicates the phases, tasks and user assignments of the original project. This month, we added a feature so that if any of the tasks in the original project are marked non-billable, that status will be respected in the corresponding task in the new project as well.
3. Resources: Restrict booking types users can create or edit; turn off email notifications for bookings by type.
Booking types (for example hard vs. soft bookings) provide resource managers with a convenient way to distinguish among bookings as they assess staffing levels and needs. Administrators or resource managers with the role privileges to create booking types can do so in the Account tab by going to the New entries > Create dropdown and selecting Booking type. OpenAir has added to the flexibility of booking types by allowing administrators to restrict the booking types a user can create or edit, based on the user’s role. One or more roles can be given the privilege of creating soft bookings, for example, while the right to create hard bookings could be reserved to a different role, with fewer users having access to that right. Users will still be able to see any booking type that is included in their filter sets. To take advantage of this feature, an administrator edits the booking type, selecting any roles that should NOT be permitted to create or edit bookings of that type. Navigate to Account > Resources > Booking types > [select Booking type] > Restrict booking editing by role.
The Booking type edit form also now gives administrators the option to turn off email notifications for bookings by type. This would permit a resource manager to send booked users email notification of hard bookings, but not soft bookings, for instance.
4. Timesheets: Disable overlapping timesheets.
A new option this month allows administrators to disable users’ ability to create overlapping timesheets. Many accounts encourage the use of overlapping timesheets to enable users to submit partial-week time when a reporting period ends mid-week. For example, a user may submit a timesheet for Monday-Wednesday, Wednesday being the period ending date, and then may create a second timesheet for Thursday-Friday. However, if you prefer users to complete the week’s timesheet even though month-end occurs during the period, you may not need the overlapping timesheets feature. To disable it, administrators simply navigate to My Account > Company > Settings > Timesheets options. Check the option “Disable overlapping timesheets” and Save.
5. Expenses: Require task on receipts.
Administrators now have the option of requiring users to specify a task when they enter receipts, thus allowing the tracking of expenses to the task level. To enable this feature, administrators navigate to My Account > Company > Settings > Expenses options > Require a task selection on receipts. Once this requirement is enabled, if the user selects a client:project for the receipt and if s/he has a task assignment on that project, the system will not permit the receipt to be saved unless the user also makes a selection from the task dropdown.
6. Workspaces: External links for workspaces.
OpenAir’s Workspaces module is a powerful collaboration tool, permitting the sharing of information across the enterprise through stored documents and threaded discussions. In the past, Workspaces could be linked to other OpenAir entities, such as clients, projects or users. This month, we’ve extended this feature to allow you to create links to external data. To create an external link, a workspace member can navigate to Workspaces > Workspaces > [select Workspace] > Links. The New entries create dropdown now has selections for Internal links and External links. Select External link. Enter a complete URL (for example, http://www.openair.com). In addition to HTTP, other types of sites (such as FTP, SSL, etc.) and Internet services (such as telnet, gopher, etc.) are also supported, but in all cases, the URL must be fully formed or it will not show up as a link. External links will appear on the workspace dashboard. Clicking on the dashboard link will open a new browser window pointing to the URL for the external link.
7. Reports: Notes field on saved reports; new reports on retainer activity, retainer and payment detail; detail reports option to display filter set inclusion/exclusion; reset report filters.
OpenAir continues to enrich the reporting options available to users, this month making five noteworthy enhancements.
First, OpenAir now gives users the opportunity to enter Notes as well as a title when saving a report. The Notes field can be displayed in the list view of Saved reports > [My reports | Shared reports | All reports] by clicking the customize link at the bottom of the list. The Notes field can be quite helpful both to the user who created the report, and to users with whom a saved report is shared, in describing with more detail than a brief report title might do, the nature, subject, time frame, etc. of the report.
Second, a new report on retainer activity has been added to advanced reports. In Reports > Advanced > Invoices, select Retainer activity. Administrators or users with appropriate privileges can enter a date range, and filter on client, if desired. The report gives client name, activity date, description (e.g., receipt of retainer, draw against Invoice #XXX0), amount, and a running balance.
Third, we have added two new detail reports in the Invoices area: for payment detail, users with appropriate privileges can navigate to Reports > Detail > Invoices > Payments. For retainer detail, they can navigate to Reports > Detail > Invoices > Retainers. In both cases, the report can be filtered by client and can be configured to show client, date, amount and currency of payments and retainers, respectively.
A fourth addition to reports this month is a new layout option, “Appears in Filter Sets”. This layout option has been added to detail reports on customer, project, service, user, expense item, time type, and booking type. When running a detail report on any of these entities, if this field is included in the report layout, it will show the filter sets in which the entity appears, and will specify whether the entity is included in, or excluded from, the filter set.
Finally, a new option to “Reset the report" has been added to all reports which currently have the Save button. “Reset the report” resets all of the report definition fields on the form to their factory defaults. Previously, if a user had configured a report with multiple filters and detail fields, and then wanted to re-run the report without filters, s/he would be required to clear each filter and detail field setting separately, by clicking the Edit button for each, then adding/removing all items in the selected list and clicking OK. The new “Reset the report” feature allows you to clear all previously entered dates, filters, detail fields, title, etc. before running a report again, with one easy click of the “Reset the report” button.
8. Administrative features: Filter set user access extended to generic resources.
OpenAir filter sets allow administrators to control with great specificity the clients, projects, services, time types, booking types, expense items and users to which a particular user has access. The user access portion of filter sets has been enhanced this month to include generic resources as well as regular users. This permits administrators to give a particular user or group of users access to all, none or some subset of generic resources.
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