Error getting theme layout

Managing Chaos with OpenAir – Part 1

Posted @ 9:35 am by Tiara Moske | Category: SolutionSet | 0 Comments

For a services firm like SolutionSet, hours billed equals revenue in the bank and improved profit margins. Hours worked but not improperly allocated — or worse, not tracked  — affect our bottom line negatively.  To help insure our financial success SolutionSet implemented processes, an organizational culture, and most importantly a web based system, OpenAir (internally referred to as “OA”) to streamline the management and visibility of our business pipeline, active project billings, resource allocation and timesheet management —  to name a few.

With almost two years of OpenAir under our belt, we have a well oiled machine. It’s not perfect, but it runs smoothly. The benefits of the web based system are endless, but it is the highly trained and technical customer support team at OpenAir that enables us to continually refine various modules and business processes that  impact our bottom line. As project managers, we found that the time tracked by staff, integrated with the project financials, made running reports to determine if we were on budget that much faster and easier.

There are several benefits to the system. In the first part of this posting, I’ll discuss the benefits of OpenAir to Project Management. In the second, I’ll discuss the benefits of OpenAir to other aspects of the company.

Project Management
We manage multiple aspects of a project from OpenAir. When we get a client lead, we put the client information into OpenAir as an Opportunity. When we get a project lead, we add it in as a Deal. Once the account managers solidify all the particulars of a contract with the client around the project, the Deal becomes a Project. The project contains several pieces of information that help project and account managers keep on track:

This information includes the project name, what client the project is for, the estimated or fixed fee for the project, and who the account and project managers are.

Tasks are the services employees track their time to. This information is usually up to the project and account managers to determine. For the most part, it is usually the project role (project management, development, creative, etc.), but it can also be by milestone (requirements document, design signoff, etc.), or by phase (define, design, development, deploy). There is also the option to upload a Microsoft Project file into OpenAir. This allows for employees to track their time to specific line items within the schedule. However, this option is a bit cumbersome and gets confusing at times.

As with any company, tracking financials on a project is very important. OpenAir allows us to indicate billing rules that automatically set up invoices to be generated by the accounting team. For fixed fee projects, it usually means a fixed amount will be billed when a milestone has been reached. For time and materials projects, OpenAir will read how many hours have been tracked to the project (as well as whatever expenses have been billed to the project, if any) and create invoices based on rates put into the system for that project.

It also allows us to estimate what our revenue will be each month. For fixed fee projects, we can estimate how much of the total will be used per month. It may not be an even amount for each month of the project, so the estimation comes from both experience with past projects and an estimation over time (example: if you start a 3 month project in the middle of July, you probably won’t be doing 30% of your project in July). For time and materials projects, we can estimate the revenue in a given month based on how many hours the client has booked for the said month. These numbers then get updated at the end of each month to the actual revenue amount.

OpenAir has many reports and most of them are customizable to however you wish to use it. We can also save reports for future use, and share them with others. Each department (project managers, account managers, resourcing, accounting, etc.) has a set of reports all their own. The reports are essential to managing any project within OpenAir. One of the most important reports is to determine how much time employees have spent on a given project. Others we use often include how employees are booked on projects, what availability employees have over time, and how projects are looking from a financial point of view (which is tied to how employees are booking their time).

OpenAir has made managing project financials much easier for the Project Managers at SolutionSet. In the next posting, I’ll discuss how it aids in other aspects of the project.

Leave a reply

Error getting theme layout