Quick start: how to approach creating a project

Getting underway with Project Works is pretty easy, lots of the concepts are easy to understand, and the process for getting some key data in are straightforward.

So without providing a deep dive into the specifics, this article provides a high level introduction for creating a project and getting some key details onto the organisations radar. Before getting started though, it is worth pausing for a second to clarify at which level of a project key information is entered.
  • Resourcing - is done at a project level
    • You can allocate resourcing as soon as a project is created
  • Financial forecasting - is done at a module level (links to GL Codes)
  • Project Budgets - entered at a module level (links to GL Codes)
  • Time recording - is done at a task level

In reality there are two categories of information that will be of interest to different people.

  • Resourcing & Forecasting: Early visibility of this information is very helpful to management and can assist with making management decisions. It is also essential for managing a project and monitoring the financial performance.
  • Project budgets and work breakdown structure: Tracking a project budget is a key aspect of managing a project. Setting the budget up correcting, with the necessary work breakdown structure for tasks (time codes) is essential to manage the project.

Typically once a project has been created you will first either want to assign some resourcing to it (to book people to work on it), you might want to set up a detailed work breakdown structure, or you might want to add financial forecasts. It doesn't matter which order you do them, however there are a couple of dependencies.

Create the project

All projects need to be associated with a client so if the client hasn't been created yet you will need to set it up. Once the client has been created you can add a project.

Refer to the clients section for more information, including: creating a client

Tip: Check the Client Directory or use the search to verify the client hasn't already been created. A project can be created from either the Clients Directory or Projects Director, and requires quite a lot of information to be specified. For the purposes of this exercise we won't dwell on the various details captured when creating a project, instead we will focus on what can be done once the project is created. 
With a project created you can start to add the various pieces of information to build up the structure of the project and to provide valuable to various management reports. There isn't a set order the next bits need to be done, different people will do it in a different order and it might depend on the information you have at the time. There is no right or wrong way, do whatever suits the way you work..

Assign resources to the project

Resourcing doesn't require a project to have modules and tasks set up, you're good to go as soon as the project has been created. Obviously to resource people to the project they will to have been set up in Project Works, with all the necessary details. You do also have the option of creating shadow resources for the project, which you can swap out for "real people" at a later date.

Remember, within Project Works resourcing is the process for booking people to work on a project, for a certain number of hours per week. It is different to assigning tasks to people for them to work through and record time against.

By adding the resourcing to the project the organisation wide resourcing utilisation will be updated. Bench (availability) will be reduced accordingly and you will be helping paint a clearer picture of what work is expected. This is very valuable information and helps with capacity planning, resource sharing and can even help guide recruitment discussions. The value of the resourcing that has been allocated will also be calculated allowing you to start validating to budgets and forecasts.

Refer to the resourcing section for more information:
overview of resourcing | entering resourcing | shadow resources | bench report

Add a financial forecast

Another key piece of information that can add value to the organisation is the financial forecast  This is where you indicate how much you intend to invoice each month,You are able to cross reference the financial forecast to the value of resourcing you have allocated as a way to validate the "spend and revenue" are aligned.

To enter a forecast you first need to create at least one module for the project. The module serves a few purposes, one of which is to allow financial information to be tracked against GL Codes - a key part of financial reporting for your organisation. At a minimum you will need to set up a module for each different GL Code you will need to enter a forecast for. Typically you will have at least one module which relates to services (time based activities such as consultancy). You may also need to have some non services modules, if you have non time based activities (such as hosting, licencing or disbursements) that require forecasts. 

Refer to the forecasting section for more information:

Set up the project budget

Budgets are set against modules, with the sum of all module budgets being the overall project budget. It is good practice to align the setup of modules to the structure of the Statement of Work (contract) for the project. As each module has a GL Code associated with it, not only does project level budgeting help you manage the project, it feeds into your organisation's financial reporting.

For modules linked to Services GL Codes, the budget that you sets allows you to monitor against the value of hours that get assigned to people, as well as the value of time that is worked and invoiced. The financial details associated with a module are a very good way to help monitor the overall financial performance of a project. 

For example, the value of time that has been allocated to people for tasks and the value of time that has been recorded against a task rolls up to the module level and can be compared to the budget.

Note: You will need to have a module for each GL Code that you intend to invoice against.

Create tasks and allocate hours to people

Once modules have been created you will be able to set up tasks. Tasks are the most granular level of information set up for a project and is what people record their time against. If someone asks you for a timecode, they are essentially asking for you to assign them to a task and allocate them some hours. 

As you assign people to tasks and allocate them hours you are essentially providing some of the module budget to the task. The value allocated is calculated by multiplying the hours by the relevant rate for each

The number of tasks you create really is up to you, how you want to work and track progress, and how detailed you need people to record their time.If you are running an agile project, you may set up a single task to be used by a team for the duration of a sprint. If the project is to be delivered in a waterfall process you may want (or need) to set up quite detailed tasks. It all depends on the level of tracking you need to do at the task level within Project Works.

It is quite common for an organisation or project team to be using a separate system to track and manage tasks from a delivery perspective. For example, you may be using something like Azure DevOps, VSO, Trello or Jira for detailed task management from  delivery perspective. You won't always need to have a one-to-one relationship between how you need to track tasks from a delivery perspective and the task people use to enter time against.

You can also generate a Gantt chart schedule from the tasks to provide a visual representation of how the project will be scheduled and delivered.