With OfficeTools, tracking due dates is just the beginning. In this free 20 minute webinar, learn how an advanced workflow can take you to the next level.

About Free Training Thursday: Since the start of 2017, we have been holding these free 20 minute trainings hosted by our industry-leading experts and innovators who will teach you about AbacusLaw, Amicus Attorney, ResultsCRM, OfficeTools, Abacus Private Cloud, and more. If you would like to request a topic, please email webinars@abacusnext.com.

Alright guys. Good Morning. Today we're going to be talking about advanced project tracking in our free training Thursday. This is gonna be covering some of the more obscure parts of projects, making sure that you guys are aware of some of the things that are maybe hidden in the background, getting you guys just up to that next step on your workflow and due date monitoring through the use of projects. So that's gonna be kind of our goal for today.

If you guys didn't listen to, or weren't a part of our previous projects in getting started with projects webinar, we did talk about in that, what a project is, projects versus assignments, concurrent versus sequential workflow projects and work codes and what the difference between those are and how they work together. Basic workflow process, how to move things through their steps. And then some of the project reports that are available to you. So, we're not gonna backtrack on much of that stuff, so if you guys are curious on those types of things, make sure to go check out the webinars section on Abacus' website. We'll get to that point in just a second.

But let's talk about what we're gonna be kind of covering today in broad strokes. First couple things here is going to be diving into the worklist, budget, button. If you guys aren't sure what that is, there is a lot of options in there and it does lend a lot to what we would consider to be advanced projects. So we're gonna be talking about that type of stuff.

We're also gonna be discussing adding budgets versus adding assignments and what the difference between those two things are. When you guys are in your worklist and you click on the plus sign in there you'll see a couple options and we're gonna discuss how those are gonna work together.

Viewing associated time cards. A lot of you probably know that part already but we're gonna be talking about how to do that from with inside the project itself. That way you don't have to jump to the time section or jump to the billing section and filter and sort. You can just see the time that's been tracked against the project that you're on directly from the projects. We're gonna be showing you some of that stuff.

Some of the due date alert options and discussing the difference between due date alerts and unprocessed alerts and how you can manage those. There's some major things that come down the pipeline with that as far as questions so we're gonna discuss that.

We're gonna be diving into the manage button giving you guys some tips and tricks when it comes to how to manage things in mass for all clients. And then also, using notes, the notes section inside the project itself and how you can use that for review points and that type of stuff. A little bit more of an advanced option with that. That's kind of our game plan for today to discuss some more advanced options.

Here's some more information for ya, just ahead of time here. If you guys need any additional training after this or any support if something's not working or something like that, you can always reach out to us abacusnext dot com forward slash support. Then to take a look and see upcoming webinars or even accessing old past webinars that we've already done, like the beginning projects webinar, please visit the abacusnext dot com website forward slash webinars. That is a great starting point for all of the information that you guys need so please check that out. Again, abacusnext dot com forward slash webinars.

If you guys have any other training related questions, project related or otherwise, you can always email us directly here at office tools training at office tools dot com. That goes to our whole team and someone will get back to you as soon as possible with the answers to your questions. That is the best way to get ahold of us. Training at office tools dot com.

Last but not least, housekeeping stuff here. Abacus Maximus. This is our conference, our annual conference. It's being held this year, July 9th, 10th and 11th. Here's some information up on the screen. We do have keynotes, trainings, breakout tracks. We're gonna have a lot of great exhibitors, Abacusnext sponsors and partners. There's a couple events that you guys definitely don't wanna miss and tickets are on sale now. So for those office tools users who have been part of accelerate or our annual users conference before that, this is kind of what that is entail. It's gonna be a lot of users. It's gonna be a lot of office tools related tracks, industry related tracks and even going beyond our industry and into more ways to manage practices and that type of stuff. So please please please check that out. I know as you guys are winding down for office tools customers, as you guys are winding down from your busy seasons, that might be something now to start looking into. So, if you guys are curious on that, AbacusMaximus dot com. It's on screen there. Go take a look. Tickets are on sale, like I said before, so jump in now, prices do tend to go up. So if you guys are interested in that, definitely reach out and get your tickets now. AbacusMaximus dot com for more information on that.

So, without further ado, we're gonna go ahead and jump into the program here. We're gonna follow our plan of action. We're gonna start taking a look at the worklist slash budget options. So, we're gonna be working in the context of this project that we have here on screen. This is just an 1120 corporate tax return project. Just fake data. This is just what we're gonna be working within. So, if you guys aren't familiar, your worklist slash budget option is located here in the toolbar. We are on a project and we are on a client at this point, so the worklist slash budget does apply to the selected project. So understand that. You are going into a very specific project at this point.

So what's inside the workflow slash budget? Well right now, while your project remains in unprocessed status, this is going to be empty, depending upon your workflow options, which again, we touched on in our previous webinar, you may have this prefilled, you may have built this as you worked through your assignments. This should be something that should always have something in here, once you've started your actual project.

So, we're gonna go through the typical motions here of us just assigning this project to it's first step. We'll go ahead and choose input prep. It has assign date and a due date and we'll just give it to our staff member here and we'll notice that it pops up down here on our list. Now, what you will notice is that that worklist slash budget option does light up red. That indicates that there's information that is stored inside of there. That's a common theme throughout all of office tools just in case you didn't know that or weren't aware of it. That indicates, hey you have something in there. Something is stored inside of there.

There is the update over here on the right hand side that does show that it's in that assignment but if we go into the worklist here, we can see that it shows us that assignment that we just created. It shows us the staff. It shows us the assignment, the note that might be associated with that assigned date, due date, so on and so forth.

Now, this is a very important tool in your advanced project options because it's gonna show you a lot more than just a list of assignments. This is gonna show you budget information. It's gonna show you actual information as you can see on here, and it's gonna go well beyond just seeing what the assignment is, and who it's assigned too.

Now, even that is accessible in different manners. So what we wanna make sure of is that you guys are aware, inside the worklist, there is a settings icon up here in the toolbar. This is really important because of the fact that it allows us to increase the amount of information that is showed on this worklist. So right now, we have checked off your showing budgets. So if you guys aren't aware, showing budgets is kinda what puts these columns here at the end. If we uncheck that, you'll notice that that goes away and it's just basically now your list of assignments.

So, if we go back into those gears, we click on show budgets, you can see it as your original hours, current budgeted hours, actual time tracked, remaining budget hours, all of your budget rates and budget totals inside of here. So it goes into the budgeting and we'll kinda touch on that a little bit as well as we move through here. We can also check off this option to show billing, which you can see it adds at the end to your actual rate and then actual dollars. So once you've created an invoice, this will show you once you've billed the time that's associated here, how much you actually invoiced when it boils down. So that's something to be aware of.

We can also go in here and show costs, so basically what this is building for us, is a primitive version of profit and loss on an assignment by assignment basis. So we're gonna be able to see how much we tracked, how much we billed, and how much it cost us to do those each individual assignments. Now, understand that this is not meant to replicate the profit and loss report, so if you are looking for that type of information, please run that report. But this will give you some basic information about how much your assignments are generating in whip, how much they are being billed out at, and how much they are costing you to actually accomplish. And that's all happening within that worklist right inside of the project. There is no report that you have to run to get this information, it is within a couple clicks for you to get this basic profit and loss information right inside the project.

We go into that gears option as well. We can also put in a couple more columns so you can load a show location in grid, show work code in grid. Don't get too confused on this. All that's doing is adding the column that it's saying. So if we click show location and show work code, it puts those columns into this worklist window. So that's all it's doing. It's not adding any additional layers of information. It's just putting those pieces in there in the grid, which, obviously can be important and it's gonna lead us into a couple things here, but, under the gears there, that's what that's for. Show checklist is down here at the bottom. If you guys are using checklists to help manage your workflow, your assignments, then your checklists will show here at the bottom. If you uncheck that, then you'll notice that that part goes away. So, that's kind of some of your more advanced options when it comes to the worklist and getting some of that to show up.

So, one thing that I do wanna bring in when it comes to your assignments and workbooks here, is that you can click on the search icon, and search within these columns. Now, it doesn't go into the dates or into the totals. This is gonna be more of an alpha field, but it does allow you to actually search for specific pieces of information. So if you guys see that in the upper right here, if we go in and type input, just as an example, and we just click enter, you'll notice that it puts searching input here and if we had other assignments this list would be filtered down. So I don't know if you guys knew about that, but it is a good tool to help you start managing things within this worklist. To get rid of your search, you just click on the search icon again and it gets rid of your search inside there, so just as an option inside of that section. I wanted to bring your attention to that.

Now, obviously this is good, the information is good, but how does it actually help us in the long run? This is the way that the worklist slash budget is gonna help you just expand the way that you're using projects. Inside of here, there is a plus sign. And this is getting into adding budgets versus actual adding ness of assignments. So, if we click on the plus sign here, you'll notice that it says "add budget", and "add assignment". Add assignment is basic. You guys should be familiar with that concept. Hitting assign work will create an assignment. Completing an assignment off of your activity list will create the next assignment in most cases. That's all that that's going to do. You should be very familiar with this window right here. If you're using projects at all you will have seen this at some point. So this is where you pick your assignment, your assign date, due date, staff member who's associated to that specific step and move it to their activity list.

However, if we go into that plus sign, and we click on "add budget", that's where things get a little bit different. So the add budget section resembles that add assignment window. But it's not the same. It doesn't work the same. It doesn't have the same requirements. So your create new budget window here, allows you to fill in specific pieces of the puzzle without filling in everything. For example, if you wanted to create a budget for, let's just say this staff member, of five hours, on this project, you could go in, choose that staff member, plug in five hours, and then click okay. It allows you to create that budget, that time budget without associating a specific assignment to it, ahead of time. That way, any time you go and use that staff member, so let's just say we checked this off as being done, we do our time tracking there, and this pops up. When we pick the next available assignment, and then we choose admin inside of the screen here, you'll notice that it fills in that estimated hours, that five hours that we populated in is now part of the budget for this staff member.

So you can use the worklist slash budget section up here to actually preassign time. You could use it to preassign specific steps to the amount of time. This just allows you access to create these things without sending them to the activity list, without pre assigning them. This is giving you a little bit more flexibility and functionality to create budget without creating actual tasks. And that's really key. A lot of questions come through on pre assigning. A lot of questions come through on budgeting time and this should be the answer to those questions. So you can choose your assignment, you can choose your staff, you can put in your hours, whatever piece of information you want inside of here, that's fine. It's going to let you out of this screen. It's just meant to help you make sure that the pieces that you want are in place to make sure that the process is streamlined and efficient. And that your staff isn't necessarily responsible for filling in those details.

So once you start working through everything, that's a big piece to the puzzle. That worklist slash budget is gonna give you a lot of options that aren't immediately available nor necessary when you're just utilizing projects on a basic level. But it will give you more advanced options.

Just to jump to the next topic here. We have viewing associated time from the project. This is important to really understand because in the long run it's going to help you kinda see how much time you're spending on a project and get a good basis before you bill it, before you move it on to the next step, whatever it is. Obviously there is this section down here at the bottom for hours. This will show you the actual amount of time tracked.

A lot of time what happens is, you get to the point where you're over budget and you wanna dive into, why are we over budget? Where did it go wrong? What step is the step that causes the issue? What staff member is struggling? Whatever the case may be, this doesn't give you that information by viewing it in the budget section here. You do need to go in and actually view the time that's been tracked. Now you can do that from the worklist as well. But things might get a little muddied inside of there so going into this icon here where it says timecard, will allow you to show the associated time that's on this project.

Now obviously we don't have any yet, but you can see that this is gonna show you all of the time cards that have been tracked. You have the opportunity of filling in filters and you can also see totals here as well. So this will give you the ability for you to check and see where you are inside of this project. What staff member is tracking what. And make sure that you are on top of things before going in and being surprised on a report. Running monthly whip reports or however often you guys are running your whip, a lot of times that's not the time that you want to figure out that you're over budget. You want that to be something that's in front of you and that you can check while you are working on the job. So understanding where to access that information is really important and does lend itself to more of an advanced project usage. Again, under the timecard button here in the toolbar, you just click on that show associated time cards gets you to that window.

Like I said, you can also view it inside the worklist if you guys have the budgets turned on, it will show you that as well. Who's over budget, on which step down the line. Obviously you guys are creating more than one step for the same, let's just say, prep, then again that can become a little bit muddied, but in the long run, this should give you some pretty good information as far as the budgets as well.

Next thing that we wanna talk about, it's not necessarily advanced, but it's something that comes up very very very often, most of the time you should have discussed this on your basic project training when you first started. But some people gloss over it or don't really understand it at the time. Now that you guys are looking to get more advanced, it's important to understand how these actually work. So, we're gonna be talking about the reminder options for due date, and the reminder options for unprocessed and get you guys on the same page for that.

A lot of times, what happens is, down here at the bottom, you get four, three, four alerts for the same project it looks like and people tend to start panicking with that, like, why do I have the same alert on my list four times? Obviously office tools is broken. And that's not necessarily the case. Where these options are located is gonna be under the setup menu. So if you go to setup and then we go to my company and go to information and settings, we're gonna see all of our global options here. We're gonna choose projects.

Now, a lot of these we should have discussed prior to this, so you should have most of these already selected but for this specific option, we're gonna jump to your reminder options tab here. Now inside of here, you guys have three alerts. And remember that these are gonna be global. You also have these same alerts on a project level. So if you go back to your project definition, you should have these same type of alerts. But inside of here, we have project due date reminders and we have if this project remains unprocessed. And these are the two that we're gonna focus on. So your project due date reminders, a good way to think of this is, if this is going to alert you, if the project is not done within five days of the due date. So if you get to five days before the due date of a project and that project is not finished, this alert will pop up on the project manager's activity list. So that's important to understand. Your due date reminder is an unfinished alert. That's a good way to think about it. Unfinished alert is the due date reminder.

If this project remains unprocessed, that is a lot different than the due date reminders. If you guys aren't sure, if this project remains unprocessed, what that means is if that status up here in the upper right remains in the unprocessed status, which is what all projects get by default, then this is going to say add to the activity list 30 days before the due date. So we have our unfinished alert up here at the top. The way to think of unprocessed is to think of unstarted. It's not started. Your project has not been started yet. Add to the project manager's activity list 30 days before the due date of that project.

Now a lot of times, people are gonna pick one or the other here. They don't typically want both, because of that option, so you wanna make sure that you guys are thinking of which one you want to utilize, but remember, your due date reminder is going to be unfinished and your unprocessed reminder is going to be unstarted. So that's kind of our options on that.

So we have a couple questions I'm gonna go ahead and look at here. It has to do with how best to replicate the project checklist between jobs rather than copying line by line. This is if we have a new client who's going to use the same checklist as an existing client. Alright, so as far as checklists go, if you hand create checklists, meaning that you go into the project manually and fill it in, there isn't really any way to copy that to another project for a different client. But you can pre build your checklists on a global level. So if it's more job specific than client specific, you can, under your project definition, jump into that and go to your checklist options here to pre build your checklists. So that would apply to the project as a whole, so anybody that uses that project would get the same checklist. But if you manually key that checklist in for one client, there isn't really any way to take that and copy it to another client. So understand that.

If you guys aren't aware, go ahead and fill in any questions that you guys have. Over on the right wherever you guys moved your thing, type in your questions there and I'll go ahead and answer them as they come up and become relevant.

Next thing that we wanna talk about here is gonna be the manage button. Just in case you guys aren't familiar with the manage button, it's extremely, extremely, helpful. But it's also extremely powerful. So, what you wanna make sure of is that you limit the access that people have to this button so if you guys aren't familiar, there is a section for user rights. Under that there is a section for projects. And that projects user rights options, there is a manage button option inside of there. Not the project manager button, but the manage button. Go ahead and uncheck that for people who shouldn't really be in here. And the reason why I say that is because this manage button allows you to do things in mass. And that does include deletion. So if you have maybe somebody that's disgruntled, or somebody that's click happy, they could go in here and accidentally delete all the projects that exist in your database.

Now, there is a level in there of security. It's not just as simple as deleting, or hitting the delete button. You will have to type in the word delete, case sensitive, so it's not just like, oh I could accidentally click two things and everything's wiped out. If it happens, you'd know that somebody did it 'cause they would have to have typed the word delete in there. But this is, as a whole, is going to show you all of the active projects that you have. You can see in here, it says active projects. It doesn't mean that it's gonna show you completed things. So if you're looking for that, you gotta run a report. But anything that is currently active, currently unfinished, that exists in your database, will show up inside of here. And this is all clients, all projects, all types of projects, all assignments, all project managers. This is just gonna show you everything.

Now where this comes in handy, is when you need to mass assign things or you need to maybe move all of your unfinished types of projects to an extension date, or something like that. This is where that comes into play. And again, it just lends itself to that advanced project option. So inside of here, just so you guys know, there is a select button so you do have to select the projects that are applicable and you can use filters to boil that list down to specific types of projects, specific date ranges, whatever it is. Then you can use the change or assign options inside of here. Let's just say change. We'll go ahead and choose this project here. And this is where you can move it to a different project manager.

You can assign it and move it to a different assigned staff if somebody leaves you or goes on maternity leave or something like that, you can move all of that person's projects to somebody else. You can update it. You can mark it completed. Move it to first extension. You have a lot of options inside of here. And you can also assign things out from here as well. So you can choose the staff member of the current assignment that you wanna move, you have a couple options as far as how far in advance to assign these projects so you have a lot of things that you can utilize from inside of here.

You could also view the worklist. You can print this sucker out. This is all applicable to you. Dive into this. Start looking at this. Obviously be careful. 'Cause as you can probably see, this is a very powerful screen. But if you guys are looking to kinda take a look on a firm level and manage the projects that you have a little bit better, that manage tool will come into play pretty heavily. It's just a version of reports, but it's something that's dynamic. You can make changes from that screen. All of that information is also located in your reports section, utilizing current status report, or due date report. That should all be in there as well.

Q&A

Alright, next question that we have typed in here is, "is the received date in the project assignment independent of the received date on the project home screen? How does the assignment received date display on reports?" Typically your assignment received date isn't gonna be on reports. It's gonna be more focused around your project received date right here, or your delivery date basically inside of the assignment you have a received that basically just allows you to track when you got information. That's really what that's for when it comes down to it. That really won't show very often on reports. It's more based on when it was assigned and when it's due. Received date in an assignment doesn't really carry through. Alright?

Next question that we have here is, "Can you complete projects from multiple clients from the manage screen?". Absolutely. If you go into the manage section, you'll notice that there are different companies over here on the left. If we select multiple projects here for different companies and go into the change option, we can mark both of those completed and apply that to those projects. So absolutely. You can assign things for multiple clients. You can complete things from multiple clients. This is what that screen is for.

Next question that we got inside of here says, "Can you prevent the delivery date from being auto populated on projects?" Yes. That's just located in your global options for your project definition. So if you go into your project definition under setup and then, projects, project definitions. If you look at that, you'll notice that right here it says auto populate your promise date. So that fills in there. Typically, that piggy backs on your global global options, where you have it set to mark project received with first assignment or post first assignment when project is received. That typically is what marks your project received and then fills in the delivery section as well. So if your having things that are markin' received and you don't want them to, this is where your options are located, along with the piggy back option that's located inside of the actual definition itself.

Next question that we have inside of here, let me scroll down a little bit, we have, "If you mark the project complete in manage, what happens to the whip?" That's a good question. Nothing happens to the whip. The project system inside of office tools while definitely lends itself to billing, is separated from the billing system. So all of your whip will still be located here, inside of the billing section, under the time button and you can still invoice that time the same way you would've invoiced it if it was incomplete. So completing a project does not have any bearing on the whip part of office tools.

That brings us to our time guys. If you guys have any additional questions or something didn't make sense, or you want a little bit more information, please email us, training at officetools dot com. Go ahead and check out Abacusnext forward slash, or Abacusnext dot com forward slash webinars. See what's upcoming. See what webinars are coming up next that you guys might wanna be a part of. And make sure that you guys check out AbacusMaximus dot com. It is a slew of training information for advanced users, for beginning users, whatever you guys are on your journey of office tools, that will help you guys out. AbacusMaximus dot com. Please check that out. Thanks again for joining me today. And, again, if you have any other questions just send them over to me, training at officetools dot com. I'll get you guys squared away. Alright? Alright we'll see you guys next week.

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