We’ve all heard it before: “Time is money!”
Nothing could be truer in today’s service-based economy. However, through automation, we can reduce human error and overhead, thereby saving time: a win-win for everyone.
With that fundamental understanding, what follows is a discussion on project automation ‘must-haves.’ Beyond reducing corporate waste, the following automations can also improve the Project Management Office (PMO) and project managers (PMs) insight into forecasting and planning.
How? Keep reading to learn more.
Schedules on Resource Requests
One of the biggest challenges facing project managers and the PMO is resource visibility - specifically, a resource’s current and proposed assignments. However, this level of visibility can be achieved by automating the creation of a Resource Request schedule. The Resource Request will now show on the Resource Planner (RP) and Project Planner (PP), and a project manager can use these tools as a visual aid for managing resources and backlog. This medium complexity solution requires the use of hours and dates from the Resource Request; a Schedule Record is created, and then attached to the Resource Request.
Using Generic Resources
Often when a Resource Request is created, the named Resource to be used isn’t known at the time. Without having a name attached to a Resource Request, a schedule can’t be created to display on the Resource and Project Planner.
The solution? Automating the use of Generic Resources. The first step is to create a Generic Resource for each role, regardless of region or practice. Next, when creating a Resource Request, automate the resource field to populate a Generic Resource, based on the role. The advantage to this, along with the automated schedule, is that ALL resource requests will now show on the Resource Planner. The PMO and PMs can then view Resource Requests, nested by Role, on the planner, and take action accordingly.
This level of visibility helps streamline backlog management with increased transparency. Automating Generic Resources is a medium complexity effort that requires creating the appropriate Resource Records and flow to assign the correct Resource to each Request.
Resource Held Checkbox
The Resource Held Checkbox is a little known and understood feature that comes directly out of the box in the FinancialForce PSA system. However, this powerful feature can help save time and reduce errors. Provided the Resource Request is without an Assignment, and the Resource Request has a Schedule, and by changing the box from TRUE to FALSE, a related Assignment and Schedule are created. The new Assignment is then referenced on the Resource Request.
Pro Tip: Create a custom button for the Resource Request Page Layout called ‘Convert to Assignment.’ The objective of the button is to run code that simply sets the Resource Held field to FALSE. Using a button, as opposed to manually unchecking the field, makes the solution look much more impressive.
This is a low-to-medium complexity effort. If simply using the Resource Held Checkbox, only a page layout and permission updates are required. The complexity slightly increases if you go the custom button route. The custom button will require apex code to make the field update. Most importantly, remember to make sure the button is compatible with both SalesForce Classic and Lightning Experience.
Projects and Opportunities
Projects are often based on an Opportunity. For bottom-up planning, keeping all data and tasks tied to a central collection is important. By tying projects to an Opportunity, bottom-up planning becomes much easier to manage.
However, human error could cause the project linkage to break. By automating the link between project and opportunity, the integrity of data integral to the planning is maintained. The complexity for linking projects and opportunities is low. Linking is accomplished by modifying page layouts and ensuring internal best practices are established and followed.
PSA has tools for forecasting; some tools more complex than others. At the same time, cost and revenue changes to a project will cause forecasting discrepancies. Cost and Revenue changes can occur for many reasons; changing resource requests, miscellaneous adjustments, or even a revenue impact at the milestone level. Automating an Outlook Report will help alleviate problems caused by changes.
The Outlook Report will create a record for a time period showing cost and revenue changes for the affected object. The records will improve forecasting capabilities while eliminating the need to configure a more complicated Forecasting Engine. Therefore, whenever the underlying Outlook record changes, the rest will automate. The Outlook Report is the most complex of all the automations covered; you may want to seek the help of a developer for the best results.
Understanding Flows and Process Builder will provide the basics for achieving the goals listed above. Therefore, practicing building flows, executing via Process Builder, and understanding and following best practices is critical to improving your automation skill set. Remember, the more you can properly automate for the client, the more value you create, and the more you’ll look like a hero.
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