Product Update

November 1, 2003

1. Projects: Split tasks; gap hours; copy auto-billable settings; enhanced copy/move for phases and tasks; advanced filter in project task list; update pricing analysis from project booking grid.

Project managers have many new features at their disposal with this month’s release of OpenAir. First, you can now split one task into several parts, with interruptions between the parts. This can be useful if you are waiting for materials to be delivered, for example, or if some other contingency interrupts the flow of work on a task. To split a task, click on the task name in the project outline view. In the Edit task form, click the Create button next to “Split the task”. A popup window allows you to enter dates for one or more blackout periods, along with the reason for the split. No hours are assigned during the blackout periods; this will be reflected in the utilization chart for the project (Projects > Projects > [select Project ID] > Utilization), or confirmed in a task assignment detail report (Reports > Detail > Projects >Task assignments). You can include the splits (dates and descriptions) in the project task detail report (Reports > Detail > Projects > Tasks) as well.

A second new feature is gap hours. This gives project managers access to another measure of project progress. Gap hours are planned hours minus worked hours. They can be displayed in the project list view or the project outline view. To display gap hours in the list views, simply click the customize link at the bottom of the list. Add “Gap hours” to the list of selected values on the right, order as desired using the up/down arrows and click OK. Gap hours can also be displayed in the project task detail report.

Third, project managers can copy the auto-billable settings for billing rules when creating a project from another project. If you want billing rules to run daily, weekly, or on some other schedule, you no longer have to configure the schedule manually, but you can copy it from an existing project that has already been configured with an auto-billing schedule. This makes it even easier to create projects from a template, or from another existing project. Users with the role privilege to create projects navigate to the Projects module, and from the New entries > Create dropdown, choose "Project from another project". Name the project, select a client and select a project from which to copy phases and tasks. Then, check the boxes provided to duplicate billing rules, auto-bill settings, recognition rules, project pricing and custom fields. Configure the remaining project fields as desired and save.

Fourth, the copy/move functionality for tasks and phases has been enhanced this month in a couple of ways. You can now duplicate a phase or task within the same project, via the new "duplicate" link on the Edit task form. In addition, you can now copy a task to a different project even if the task has associated transactions, such as hours logged against it. Use the "Copy" link on the Edit task form to copy the task, with planned hours and user assignments (but without the worked hours) to the new project.

A fifth enhancement is the addition of an advanced filter to the project task lists. This will enable accounts with a large number of tasks to display the task lists more quickly. Each list (pending, completed, all tasks) displays a maximum of 2000 tasks. If more than 2000 tasks are found in the account, the user will be directed to create/modify a filter to reduce the number of tasks to be displayed. The criteria for display include client, project and task names, users assigned, start date, project stage or project-related custom fields.

Finally, if the project has a project booking grid set up, there is an option to update the pricing analysis dates and period from the booking grid settings. This enables the project manager to configure a pricing scenario that correlates to the existing project booking grid, without the need to manually configure it separately. This option can be found by selecting a project, clicking the Pricing link and then navigating to the Project pricing > Analysis > Options form, which can be accessed by selecting a project and clicking the Pricing link.


2. Exchange: Update OpenAir projects from changes made in Microsoft® Project; import Microsoft® Project task into existing OpenAir project; select an OpenAir project stage during import.

For users of Microsoft® Project, we have enhanced our Projects Connector to make data exchange with OpenAir projects more flexible. First, you can now update OpenAir projects from changes made in Microsoft Project. This enables project managers to modify tasks, phases, assignments, start dates etc. in Microsoft® Project and update the project in OpenAir by running the OpenAir Projects Connector. Note that under this feature, which can be selected on a project-by-project basis, the project manager can still collect hours worked, approved, billed, etc. in OpenAir but cannot edit the tasks, phases and assignments in OpenAir; these fields will be locked for editing online. To enable this feature for a particular project, create the project in Microsoft® Project. Open the Project Connector and select to import a project into OpenAir. Specify the project and client, and map Microsoft® Project resources to OpenAir users. Upon clicking the button to finish the import, you will be presented with a dialog that says: “Would you like to be able to update this project in the future from the changes you make to the Microsoft Project file? If yes, you will not be able to modify it online.” Click Yes to modify the project in Microsoft® Project and lock it in OpenAir; click No if you wish to edit the project in OpenAir online.

A second enhancement to the Projects Connector allows you to import a task from Microsoft® Project into an existing OpenAir project. When you open the OpenAir Projects Connector, select the radio button “Import Microsoft Project file into OpenAir Projects module”, then check the box “Import to existing OpenAir projects”. The OpenAir project must be either empty (that is, it must have no phases or tasks already created) or it must be locked (as described in the preceding paragraph).

Finally, if you use project stages in OpenAir, you can specify the project stage when importing a project into OpenAir from Microsoft® Project using the Projects Connector.


3. Timesheets: Copy defaults when creating new timesheet; display gap hours on timesheet report; enhanced copy feature for monthly and semi-monthly timesheets; require description on timesheet entries; bulk rejection of timesheets; submit timesheets with zero hours.

Several enhancements to the Timesheets module this month will permit easier data entry for end users, and provide more feedback to them and to their managers on hours worked and task assignments. First, a new setting allows users to copy defaults from their most recent timesheet when creating a new timesheet. When users create a new timesheet, the defaults for time type, customer: project, service/activity, and overlapping timesheets will be entered automatically in the new timesheet. If the user is copying a timesheet from another timesheet, the "change hours" value will also be remembered from the last timesheet. To turn this feature on, administrators navigate to My Account > Company > Settings > Timesheets options. Check the box "Remember the last used 'new timesheet' form settings" and save.

Second, the timesheet report layout has a new option to display a summary of tasks assigned to the user and gap hours on each assigned task. As described in Section 1 above, gap hours are planned hours minus worked hours. If this feature is turned on, both the user and the approvers of the timesheet get an immediate read on the status of each task on which the employee worked during that timesheet period, in that they can see at a glance how many of the hours planned for the task have not yet been worked to date. To display this field on the timesheet report, administrators navigate to Timesheets > Options > Timesheet report layout. Check the box to "Show gap hour summary by task" and save.

Third, for companies that use semi-monthly or monthly timesheets, we have enhanced the “create timesheet from another timesheet” feature so that the system will shift the hours worked to the appropriate days on the new timesheet. To take advantage of this feature, the user checks the box "Shift the hours so that the days of the week match-up", when copying a timesheet from another timesheet.

Fourth, administrators can now require users to provide a description on time entries in timesheets. If this feature is enabled, the user will not be able to save the timesheet without entering a description for every time entry, by clicking the blue dot to the right of time cell. The approver is relieved of having to reject a timesheet that doesn’t have a description for each time entry. This description entered by the user can be displayed on the timesheet report itself or reviewed in the time entry detail report (Reports > Detail > Timesheets > Time entries). To enable this feature, navigate to My Account > Company > Settings > Timesheets options. Check the box "Require a description on time entries" and save.

A fifth new feature allows an approver to reject timesheets in bulk. To reject timesheets in bulk, the approver navigates to the Timesheets > Submitted sub-tab and clicks the “Waiting my Approval” link. Check the boxes for the timesheets to be rejected, and click on the circling arrows “run” icon. In the window that pops up, select “Reject the selected timesheets” (there is also an option for bulk approval). You must enter a rejection reason, which will be applied to all timesheets rejected.

Finally, this month, we’ve added a feature that allows users to submit a timesheet with no hours. To enable this feature, administrators navigate to My Account > Company > Settings > Timesheet options. Check the box "Allow empty timesheets" and save.


4. Expenses: Default currency for new envelopes.

In multi-currency accounts, the currency for a new envelope now defaults to the currency of the prior envelope created by the user. Previously, the new envelope defaulted to the base currency of the account.


5. Administrative: Historical job codes for users and generic resources.

Support for historical job codes has been added in this month’s release. Job codes represent general positions for which an internal cost can be established, and to which billing rates can be assigned in rate cards, which are then used in project estimating and billing. Up until now, a user or generic resource could be associated with only one job code. Reporting on past periods would be based on the user’s current job code. The addition of historical job codes means that reporting on costs and income in project estimating, billing and financial analysis will be more accurate: the job code cost and hourly rates may change depending on the user’s job code at the time the work was done. To enter historical job codes, administrators navigate to the Account tab. Select a user ID or a generic resource ID, and click the Job Code link. Enter a current job code, any historical job codes with start/end dates, and save.


6. Reports: Generic resources in account-wide summary and task assignment detail reports; splits and gap hours in project task detail report.

We have also made a few additions to OpenAir’s reporting capabilities this month.

When running account-wide summary reports on bookings, schedules or project task assignments, if a generic resource has transactions, you can include the hours in the results. The generic resource will be available for subtotaling, filtering and detail field display as well.

Generic resources are also now included in the task assignment detail report (Reports > Detail > Projects > Task assignments).

Data on split tasks and gap hours (as described in Section 1, above) can now be displayed on the project task detail report (Reports > Detail > Projects > Tasks).


7. Would you like to see previous OpenAir updates?

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


8. 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.