4castplus 3i – February 8th, 2015

There is a significant amount of new functionality packed into this release of 4castplus. One of the major new features is the new Resource Forecasting tool. This provides a powerful and easy way to forecast by resource quantity (see below for more). A further critical enhancement comes after receiving many customer requests: the time-phased budgeting module has now moved from monthly to weekly time-phasing increments. Additionally in this release; we’ve also added the ability to set the cutoff date for your submitted progress measurements.
That’s just the start – there’s a lot more to talk about, so please read on to discover it all; and be sure to click on the screenshots for a quick-view on how to get started. Some of these enhancements and new modules are quite rich with capability, so please feel free to contact us to arrange training if you want to take advantage of them.

Area: Forecasting

Resource Forecasting

Also called “Quantity Forecasting”, this module enables users to enter forecasted remaining quantities of any budgeted or non-budgeted resource on any project workpackage.  Here’s an example of what that means:

  • You’ve budgeted 120 hours of Civil Engineering on Task A.  And you time-phased that to burn evenly between Jan 1 and Jan 31.
  • On Jan 15th, you launch the resource forecasting tool, and it shows you that you’ve already burned 35 of those 120 hours, leaving an estimated 85 hours remaining
  • You know that you’re going to need more than 85, so you enter an FTC (Forecast to complete) of another 115 hours. See the second screenshot to the right.
  • By doing that, you’re forecasting an extra 30 hours above the original 120.   This would result in a forecast variance at complete (VAC) of 150 hours
  • You also want to time-phase that extra 30 hours to be burned in the first week of Feb, so you launch the time-phased tool to allocate that 30 hours for that week
  • By using this tool, you are in fact creating a Change Forecast estimate in the background.

With this ability to do Resource Forecasting, you now have a much more powerful way to plan your anticipated resource requirements. It also gives you convenient insight into burned & remaining quantities according to budget. Also, with the move from monthly to weekly time-phasing, you can be much more granular about when these quantities are expected to play out.

Project Forecasting by Resource Quantity

Budget and forecast by resource quantity

Time phased forecasting

Progress Measurements

You can now set the status date (or cutoff date) for a progress measurement. Now when creating a progress measurement, you’ll be prompted for the status date. This allows you to, for example, do your progress measurements on a Wednesday for a cutoff date of last Sunday. The system will automatically update all budget and actual values to reflect that date. For budget, only approved change orders with a date on or prior to the status date will be calculated into the Current Budget value.

EVM Progress measurements

Time-Phased Budgets and Forecasts

As per requests from clients, Time-phased budgeting and forecasting has moved from monthly to weekly increments. You’ll also see that the time-phased tools in Change Management now have more information about burned quantities to date on the week that they were burned. Additionally, 4castplus now keeps track of the time-phased plan for: Baseline, Current and Forecast. Previously, there was only one time-phased plan for everything.

One more thing about time-phased budgeting. An additional new feature we brought in is an auto-update to the time-phased plans when you change the schedule on a workpackage. Consider this example:

  1. You have a workpackage that is initially scheduled from Feb 1 to Feb 21; and you’ve also created a time phased plan for certain resources to follow their own unique curve of consumption within that schedule. 
  2. Then as the project progresses, that task gets delayed by a month to be rescheduled to March 1 to March 21.
  3. On the workpackage, you update the schedule accordingly. But, what then happens to the underlying time-phased plan overrides?
  4. 4castplus will now prompt you to see if you want the time-phased plans to update to the current schedule.

Project Time phased budgets and forecasts

Area: Reporting

Custom Reports

Several enhancements have been made to the custom report builder. Including:

  • A new dataset: Project Details. This dataset allows you to create custom reports based on all project transactions.
  • Many new data fields have been added to the Project WBS report datasets. For those of you running billable projects, creating customer-facing EVM reports on cost and hours is now tremendously more flexible and powerful. To get a glimpse, download a sample report by clicking here. This report was generated using the 4castplus custom report builder. The template for the report is available in the system templates.
  • There are many more EVM-related data fields available in custom reports
  • There are now “Resource Forecasting” data fields available to provide for reporting on the resource forecasting tool

Custom Ad-Hoc project reporting

EVM Reports

The S-Curve report can now be visualized by Cost, Revenue or Hours. Choose the perspective using the available tabs. You can also now export the charts to PDF and to Excel. The Excel version also includes the tabular data.

Increased reporting is now available for EVM metrics reporting, including:

  • Enhancements to the S-Curve. See screenshot to the right.
  • The EVM Metrics are now all available in Cost, Revenue and Hours options. See screenshot.
  • CPI and SPI are now shown together on the same chart

Project S-Curve EVM Chart

EVM Metrics charts

CPI and SPI chart

Project Summary Report (formerly project Quick Report)

The Project Summary Report has a new look and now provides multiple new options and data columns.

Project EVM Summary report

Cost-Code Forecast Report

This new report is effective for its ability to split out each cost code element into individual columns. This allows you to group, sort, filter by cost code element – and then report to Excel.

Cost code forecast report

Area: Configuration

Customers

Additional configurable properties and locations are now available to be set on the customer record.

  1. Multiple Customer “Remit-To” addresses – For each Customer, you can now create multiple unique sub-addresses & contacts as unique “Remit-To” targets.
  2. Billing Profile – For each customer, you can now define one or more unique billing codes as part of a billing profile. These codes can be activated for each project and available for your invoice backup. This powerful coding system enables you to define a tailored coding profile for each client and each project.

Multiple remit-to addresses for each customer

Project billing profile

Business Dimension

There is now a specialized way to define a business unit or division within your company. If you have multiple unique business units using 4castplus as their own individual accounts, each can have its own business dimension. This is key for integrating with your financial system or ERP, so as to uniquely identify the division by its dimension.

Codes and Fields

A new section has been added to configuration to specifically manage the many codes and fields required for tailoring 4castplus to your business. Within this area are new fields for configuring the following:

  1. Billing Fields – customizing the specific codes required by your customers for billing.
  2. Project Type – this enables you to establish multiple project types.
  3. Text Format – this allows you to encode standardized fields that have a complex pattern or “mask” for user input. This can be used for location or other identifiers – such as DLS or NTS well identifiers for wellsite or jobsite project management.

Configurable Project codes and fields

Configure text format for project location

Upcoming in the next release:

We have a lot of exciting new features planned, here are a couple that may interest you. As always, we welcome your ideas and suggestions.

  • Quickbooks LiveLink extensions to include Payroll and Accounts Payable
  • New Work breakdown structure “Deliverables” level
  • Formalized Expense Management

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.