4castplus 3i – April 12th, 2015

There is a big list of new features in this release that we’re excited to share with you. Here’s a quick list to get you started – be sure to scroll down to check out each of these in detail further below:

  • New WBS Types for Sub-Tasks on Workpackages
  • New Labor Roles feature
  • Composite Rate Types for compounding multiple rates into one
  • Complete Expense Management
  • Pre-Configured Form Numbering for auto-sequencing of forms such as Change Order Number
  • Timesheet approvals moved to daily from weekly
  • Adjustment Timesheet for reconciling and posting adjustments
  • New Payroll Sync capability in the Quickbooks AppLink
  • Project-Only Labor Resources and Resource Assignments

These are all described in more detail below. There’s quite a bit here, so please feel free to contact us for more information.

AREA: PROJECTS

New WBS Types

We’ve added two new types to the Work Breakdown Structure:

  1. The Rollup Workpackage
  2. The Deliverable

Rollup Workpackage

A Rollup is a specific type of workpackage that allows the user to assign sub-tasks or “Deliverables” as child elements to the rollup. The rollup workpackage cannot be estimated or progressed – it depends on its sub deliverables for that. The estimate and progress values are effectively rolled-up to the Rollup. EVM reporting is performed at the Rollup workpackage. Other than the fact that rollups can’t be estimated or progressed, they are otherwise identical to other workpackage types
WBS with Deliverables

Deliverable

Deliverables are sub-tasks of Rollup Workpackages. Cost and revenue estimating is performed at the Deliverable level and the estimate (budget) values are aggregated to the rollup workpackage. Physical progress is measured at the Deliverable level and aggregated to the rollup. Actual costs and revenue remain captured at the Rollup Workpackage level.

One of the primary purposes of the Deliverable is to enable users to breakdown the work and budget in the WBS to a very granular level, without over-complicating how the project is tracked. By allowing project users to track at a workpackage and rollup-workpackage level – yet perform estimating and progressing down to a deliverable level – 4castplus provides for a more flexible WBS design.

  • Deliverables can be progressed using direct-entry percent complete and/or by rules of credit
  • Even though progress is gathered on the deliverable, EVM calculations are not performed there. EVM is performed at the rollup workpackage.
  • Deliverables inherit cost codes from the parent Rollup Workpackage
  • Deliverables inherit schedule from the parent Rollup Workpackage
Project Estimating by Deliverable

Cost Code Rules Moved to CBS Tab

The Cost Code Rules area has been moved to the CBS Tab.

Cost code rules on CBS

Labor Roles

In this release we’ve introduced the concept of Labor Roles. A “Role” is the specific function or duties a person performs on a project. Separate from their discipline or classification, the Role is meant to provide a way to assign what someone is actually assigned to do on a project. Role assignments are used for approvals, and for designated functions. Examples of designated functions are:

  • Project Engineer
  • Expeditor
  • Buyer
  • Project Manager
  • Site Foreman

The assignment of these types of roles will appear in select areas where more specific assignments can be made. For example, you may assign 3 people to the Expeditor role on your project. When creating a purchase order, those three names will be the ones that appear in the dropdown list choices for Expeditor (see the image to the right). Same would go for Buyer, etc.

You can use the System Roles already predefined, and you can also create your own custom Roles as needed. Roles are managed in the Configuration area (see below for more).

Primary and Delegate Roles

You can pick whether a resource is the primary or delegate for any role.
Primary and delegate assignments will be utilized for multi-level approvals available in the next release.

Project Role Assignments
Labor role assignments example - Expeditor

Project-Only Labor resources

In the resources area of a project, you can now create new labor resources that are either part of the company labor pool, or that are project-only. Project-only labor is for key contacts that are vital to the project, but do not belong as part of your labor pool.

Create Project only resources

AREA: RATES MANAGEMENT

Composite Rates

In the “Rate Types” area of Configuration, there is now the ability to create a compounded rate type called a “Composite Rate”. With a composite rate, you can pre-configure the rules for when the rate should jump to the next pay grade. For example, from Regular to Overtime. The timesheet user only needs to enter the total hours, and the system will auto-allocate to the correct rate.

For example, if your labor laws dictate that after 8 hours of work, certain individuals must be paid overtime. And then after 12 hours, they must be paid extra-overtime. To unburden the timesheet user or site foreman from having to know these rules, a composite rate can be setup. The underlying rates that are bound to the composite rate will create both cost and billing transactions (if applicable).

What if You Have to Pay Overtime but can’t Bill Overtime?

For billing purposes, hours entered in under the Composite Rates can be displayed as allocated to their rate types i.e Hourly or Overtime. Or if your customer pays the same rate for all hours, regardless of whether they are regular or overtime hours, you can set up the Composite Rate to display all hours combined, under a single rate type, ie. Regular

Composite Rates for Labor

AREA: EXPENSES

There has been a significant amount of improvement and new capability in this release of 4castplus around the management and reporting of Expenses. “Expenses” can be anything like flights, hotel, meals, fuel, subsistence, allowances, etc.  Previously, expenses were not configurable or assignable; and there was no concept of a formalized Expense Form. As of this release, expenses are now managed similarly to other resources (like materials & labor).

Expense Resource Type

The expense resource type is the actual expense item that will be used on the Expense Entry form in the timesheets area.

To create the full configurable environment for expenses, you can configure the following:

  • Expense Rate Types
  • Expense Cost Rates
  • Expense Billing Rates
  • Expense Classes
  • Expense Categories
Configure system expenses

Project Expense Permissions

Each labor resource on a project can be restricted to only being permitted to charging assigned permissions. In the Resources tab of any project, there is now a new sub-tab called “Expenses”. See the screenshot to the right. In this segment, you can select the expenses that are appropriate for each project labor resource. Only those selected will be visible for that user on the Expense Entry area of Timesheets.

Project expense permissions

New Expense Entry and Expense Form

In the “Timesheets” area, on the Expenses Tab, you’ll see a new interface that allows users to specify pre-configured Expense Types and add them to a timesheet. They can generate an Excel-based Expense Report Form which is pre-formatted for submission to HR, Accounts Payable and/or the client.

Project expense entry and reporting

AREA: CONFIGURATION

Labor Roles Management

New in this release is the concept of Labor Roles (described above). In Configuration under “Manage Resource Classes and Roles”, you’ll find an area for adding and editing Labor Roles. There are a number of roles already configured for you there. These are System Roles which you can opt to use or not (by setting any one of them to inactive). System roles have built-in logic for certain areas of the application. You can add and edit roles as needed.

Thresholds

For each role, there is an option for defining a $$ amount for an approval threshold. This is in place in preparation for the next release which will have approval workflows that include Delegation of Authority. Stay tuned for more on that – or feel free to contact us to learn more now.

Manage roles and DOA thresholds

Form Numbering

Another feature just added in this release is the optional ability to pre-define form numbers. A “Form” is an application item that can have a numbering system associated with it – such as a Change Order, Purchase Order, Invoice or Project Number. With this feature, you can define the standards around the rules for numbering and sequencing. There is also a convenient Log that shows the history of numbers used.
Auto Form Numbering

Contact-Info on Labor profile

The labor profile in configuration now has a new tab for capturing a user’s contact information such as address, phone number and alternate email address.

Contact information on labor form

AREA: TIMESHEETS

Daily Approvals

After a great deal of feedback, timesheet approvals have moved from weekly to daily approvals. This provides you with much more granular ability to approve partial weeks – especially when invoicing needs to be completed mid-week. To accomplish this, the approver’s interface has changed to enable daily approvals. In the screenshot to the right, you’ll notice that the employee has been selected in the top grid; which loads the approval days for that time-span in the lower grid. Each day in the approval grid has actions in the column headers for approving, rejecting, and entering comments. These are color coded to help with quickly visualizing the state of the week for that individual.

Timesheet approval Interface

Adjustment Timesheet

The “Adjustment Timesheet” provides a formalized tool for making transaction-level adjustments on any entry.

Adjustment Timesheet

AREA: PAYROLL

New Resource Management reports in BI

Two new reports have been added to the Business Intelligence suite of reports for visibility into Payroll Management:

  1. Payroll Export Audit Trail. This provides visibility into payroll exports exported into your financial system through the QuickBooks App Link for Payroll.
  2. Payroll Management. This provides a place to report on and manage labor resource payroll information.
    Set up your payroll cycle in Configuration and use the Payroll Management feature in Business Intelligence to get a handle on all labor hours – submitted, approved and unapproved.   For more information on this feature, and how to use it for your organization, contact your Customer Success Manager.
Labor resource payroll management

Quickbooks Payroll Export

A new addition to the Quickbooks LiveLink tool that allows synchronization of payroll data with Quickbooks.

Upcoming in the next release:

We have a lot of exciting new features coming up, as usual. Here are a few that we’d love to tell you about.

  • New Document Management Capabilities
  • New Daily Jobsite LEM Tracking module
  • Integration with Primavera P6

There’s More of Course

As with any release, we continue to add Usability Enhancements and Bug Fixes as requested by clients and discovered by us. We’re committed to providing vital enterprise tools to make the management of engineering and construction projects easy and rich with powerful features.

To learn more about this software upgrade and more, please feel free to email us at info@4castplus.com or sign up for a free live demo of 4castplus.