Projects are premeditated. They may start out as proposals, may be tracked with an opportunity, may require a quote. Much more than tickets, projects are connected to a sales effort.
Suppose that one of your customers wants time and cost estimates for a project to assess their network status. This project could lead to a lucrative contract to upgrade and expand the network. The starting point for any project is to win the business. When you negotiate with the customer, you expect to complete specific steps: review their network infrastructure, rate it against current standards, and develop a baseline that you can use for a future network remediation project.
It might go something like this:
Prepare a Proposal project in the Projects module. If needed, consult with a Network expert so you can outline the phases and tasks that must be completed. Then look at your resource availability, estimate the time required, plan the budget, and price the project to manage internal and external expectations.
You can either create an original proposal or, if you have done similar projects in the past, use information from a Project Template. After you win the opportunity, the Proposal project will eliminate any concern as to how you arrived at the proposed budget and price.
If your company works with sales opportunities in the CRM module, you can create an opportunity and link the proposal to that opportunity. Opportunities record and monitor projected revenues. If you use the Procurement module, you can generate and follow the progress of a sales order. In some organizations the opportunity might be created before the proposal, especially if you have a separate sales team. Refer to Opportunity and Proposal Project
Whether you start with the proposal or the opportunity, when you link them, you can generate a quote that will combine all labor items in the proposal and present them as one labor line item. The quote can include additional products and services related to the opportunity. Additional quoted costs can later be billed as project charges.
If you use quotes, you can email the quote directly to the customer for review and comment. Refer to Quote labor based on a project proposal.
When you win the opportunity, the Won Opportunity Wizard will convert the linked proposal project to an active client project. Project tasks will be assigned and you can begin to manage the project in Autotask.
You might also use Autotask's Word Merge feature to take the project proposal information and export it to a Word document that you can use as a Statement of Work (SOW) for your customer to review and sign. Refer to Step 4: Select Actions.
Another option is to integrate the process with an external quoting application. Some external products offer integrations with Autotask. Others can import data that you export from Autotask in the form of .csv spreadsheets. For more on product integrations, refer to Quoting & procurement integrations.
If you use Microsoft Excel to manage projects, you might choose to work in Excel during the quoting/proposal process, and then simply import the data into Autotask. Once your project is in Autotask, you can bill for project work and track your project's progress using task, resource, and financial reports. Refer to Populating the Project Phases and Tasks import template.
Once you've won the business, you can refine your project into phases with detailed tasks, and schedule resources for the work.
If you have imported your project from an external application, many of your phases and tasks will have already been created and you'll just need to adjust them. Refer to The Project Schedule page.
You can easily access all project information, including the schedule, from the project pages. Even designs, specifications and other external documents can be stored as project attachments.
Resources are automatically notified of their assigned tasks. They can access tasks from the project schedule or their My Tasks & Tickets page, enter their time directly on the task, and update the task status as work progresses.
Labor and charge entries are automatically available for billing. The schedule, project tabs on the dashboard, and reports provide useful information about revenue, deadlines, overdue tasks, and resource availability. And, if needed, you can adjust the schedule and move tasks as the project develops.
There are various ways to bill a customer for completed work and associated charges. You can:
- Bill for labor hours and charges using your standard default rates and billing schedule (biweekly for example)
- Bill for labor hours and charges using special rates for this customer (by applying a Time & Materials type contract to the project)
- Bill a flat rate for all the work, in portions, as the work is completed. In Autotask these portions are called "milestones" and can be associated with phases of the project. In the network-assessment project, we could bill on completion of the network survey and again on presentation of findings and recommendations.
It's likely that you will have specific types of projects that you'll sell repeatedly to different clients. To save time and simplify the project management of such projects, create a project template that you can use each time. Or, you could do this in Excel and then import it into Autotask for each new project. Refer to Save a project as a template.