Using Project Management

When you use the Project Management feature, you can do everything that the basic Projects feature enables you to do, and more. To begin using Project Management, the details in this topic can help familiarize you with ways to use your account that optimize the feature.

Project management records are created and tracked as individual records separate from customer records. However, you can associate projects with customers by selecting the customer on the project record.

Project management records can be created manually or can be created automatically from service items. Read Creating a Project Record and Setting a Service Item to Create a Project.

Project Records as a Workspace

Project management records are intended to function as a workspace and help you with each step of the project management workflow, from the earliest planning stages though the final work on tasks and customer billing. By having all your data and transactions processed in a centralized place, the project information is always accurate and current.

When you create a project record, you create a place to organize data based on information supplied by your customer, ideally, from the opportunity record.

The Project Manager field is prominently displayed in the header area of the project record. This helps improve project transparency and clearly identifies who is in charge of the project.

As you enter project task records, a project schedule is created on the Schedule subtab of the project record. The project schedule is the heart of the project workspace, where you can assess and process many aspects of the project as it moves forward. From the Schedule subtab of project records, you can add new tasks, edit tasks and set up task hierarchies to organize project work phases. For more information, see Working with the Project Schedule.

When you are done Setting a Project Baseline, work can start and time is entered against project tasks. Then, you can view a Gantt Chart that compares actual progress against your original baseline goals. Using the Gantt Chart you can view your projects critical path and if time or costs are running over for the project, you can make adjustments accordingly.

NetSuite calculates the actual work spent on the project and the remaining work. The Percent Time Complete field calculates the amount of the project that is done and the Estimated Labor Cost field calculates your labor investment for the project. Labor costs estimates are based on the time budget and labor rates for resources assigned on project tasks.

After you create a project record, you can link the project to the appropriate opportunity record. This enables you to keep items and records in sync during the course of the project. Read Refreshing Project Items on Transactions.

Asynchronous Project Plan Recalculation

You can enable a preference enabling your project plans to recalculate in the background when time is tracked against that project, or when you approve the time off for your employee. Enabling this preference can speed up the time-off approval process for an employee assigned to your project since the project plan is recalculated with this time-off approval. This is especially useful for very large projects with many tasks, charge rules, or assignees. When project plans recalculate asynchronously, you maintain access to NetSuite and your project plans during recalculation.

Note:

Because recalculations are asynchronous, project plan data may be out of date when accessed before the recalculations are complete.

When the recalculation is complete, the updated project plan is displayed the next time it is opened. If the recalculation fails for any reason, a warning appears at the top of the project the next time it is opened.

To enable the preference, go to Setup > Company > General Preferences. Check the Asynchronous Project Plan Recalculation box, and click Save.

Project Center

With Project Management, you can assign project resources a standard Consultant role with access to the Project Center. The Project Center allows access to NetSuite using a specialized interface that routes the most important functions of project work directly to the home page. 

The Project Center has the following tabs: Home, Activities, Projects, Time & Expenses, Reports, Documents, and Support. Each tab offers access to links and information that deal directly with project management in NetSuite.

For information on giving access to employees, see Giving an Employee Access to NetSuite.

Project Dashboard

Similar to your main NetSuite Home dashboard, you can also access a project dashboard with information specific to an individual project.

The project dashboard offers portlets and quick links for creating project tasks, managing resources, viewing the Gantt chart, and entering time and expenses.

There are visual indicators to quickly give you an idea of the project’s status. You can view a list of project tasks and resource allocations directly from the Project Dashboard. You can also view the Project Manager role.

You can customize the dashboard with additional standard and custom portlets and rearrange how they appear by clicking Personalize Dashboard at the top of the page.

To view the project dashboard for a project, click the Dashboard icon at the top of the project record or in the Projects list. For more information, see Project Dashboard.

Project Indicators

As a part of project dashboard page, Project Indicators portlet informs you about project status, any change or possible issues on the project and any actions that are required. The portlet consists of three notifications:

Project Indicators portlet always gathers data from last week. For example, any new expense lines submitted on Tuesday will not be taken into consideration on Wednesday the very current week, but instead can be approved by the start of the upcoming week.

Note:

You can also access the Project Indicators from the subtab on the project record.

Project Tasks and Task Hierarchies

Create a project task record to track each activity that must be completed for each project. Project tasks represent individual actions within a set of actions that must be completed to achieve a goal. For example, a project includes a Consultation task and an Installation task. The Installation task has a set of subtasks that define work required to complete the installation.

Creating a Project Task Record and setting up hierarchies helps you organize, plan, and work on the project. Project tasks record what work needs to be done, who needs to do it, and the order to perform the tasks.

For each project task, enter start dates using the Fixed Start or As Soon As Possible constraint. NetSuite automatically calculates the end date for each project task based on the estimated work, the work calendar, and the unit percentage availability for each assigned resource. A scheduling algorithm uses task duration combined with the predecessor relationships (Finish-to-Start, Start-to-Start, Start-to-Finish, or Finish-to-Finish) and constraints of other project tasks to calculate the project schedule.

Parent tasks organize the hierarchy of work tasks that are subordinate to other tasks required to complete a project. For example, to define an installation task that is composed of 3 individual tasks, you can set up task records as follows:

  1. Create a task record for the installation. This task becomes the parent task after you identify it as the parent of other tasks.

    Note:

    You do not have to assign resources or estimate work for a parent task. The estimated work for the parent task is the aggregate of its child tasks and any estimated work for the parent task. Without entering an assignee or any estimated work the parent task will initially be saved as a milestone. It will be converted to a parent task when subtasks are created.

  2. Enter a work task for each of the three individual tasks. Identify each as a subordinate, or child, of the installation parent task.

Milestones

Project milestones are used to mark a point in your project, usually completion of a set of tasks or as a project health check to determine if you’re on schedule.

Project milestones cannot have estimated hours, assignees, or a Finish No Later Than (FNLT) constraint. When viewing a project Gantt chart or schedule, milestone tasks are differentiated from regular project tasks.

Project Templates

Project templates enable you to create project records in NetSuite for projects your business performs repeatedly. You can include as much or as little detail as you like in your templates. Templates offer your project managers a standardized starting point when planning projects. For more information, see Project Templates.

Resource Assignment

When you identify employees and vendors as project resources, you can select these personnel as resources to be assigned to project tasks. Assign resources to projects to designate who should do the work necessary to complete each task.

You can also select a project resource as the project manager on your project records. In the Primary information section of the default entry form there is a Project Manager field available. This field significantly helps to improve project transparency and ability to see who is in charge of the specific project.

A project resource must be designated as a project manager on the employee record before updating the project record. You can designate any project resource as a project manager by checking the Project Manager box on the Human Resource subtab of the employee’s record.

Assigning Project Resources can be done in one or two steps depending on whether you are:

When you designate resource assignments on tasks, you can select service items to define the services to be provided during the course of the task. For time and materials projects, these service items eventually populate transactions such as estimates and sales orders, and as work is done, are billed on the invoice.

If you enter a labor rate for each resource, you can calculate resource profitability on projects. Project costs are sourced from the resource assignment rows. The work cost designated for the task defaults from each resource record. The price defaults from the service item and respects customer price levels as well as employee billing classes. The projected cost and revenue for all tasks combine to produce the total expected cost and revenue for the entire project.

You can also optionally choose to restrict time entry to only resources assigned to the project. Read Restricting Time Entry on Project Tasks.

You can use the NetSuite Project Task Manager to manage project resources and tasks. For more information, see Project Task Manager.

If you use Resource Allocations, you must first allocate resources to your project before they can be assigned to tasks. For more information, see Resource Allocations.

Project Billing

Project Billing for orders is based on Project Billing Schedule Types. The billing schedule type specified on the project determines the type of project:

When you first define a project, depending on the type of project, you can create a project-specific billing schedule or select an existing billing schedule. The billing schedule selected on the project transfers to the project's associated transactions (estimates, sales orders), creates a billing forecast, and determines billing dates for the service items. When an order includes work that has been completed and is ready for billing, that order automatically shows in the bulk billing queue or shows the Next Bill button on the sales order form.

The project record also provides financial data for the project manager regarding the expected margin, based on the project plan. Having an understanding of the expected profitability at the beginning of the project, enables you to decide if the margin is sufficient when considering the risk for the project. If a project requires a minimum gross profit percentage, you can monitor the percentage during the life of the project to maintain that goal.

Forecasting Project Billings

When a project specifies a Time and Materials or Fixed Bid schedule, that billing schedule is applied to the associated estimate or sales order. Then you can use billing schedules for Forecasting Project Billings.

Billing forecasts are generated based on the effort planned to be expended across the planned project billing interval to determine when you expect currency to be billed.

Service items across the project tasks are sourced to provide a summary of quantity, cost, and revenue for the project. Then, this information is used to calculate the gross margin for the project.

Projected billings associated with a project are included in financial forecast reports. The forecast adjusts automatically based on actual work performed and any changes made to the schedule.

Billing forecast data can be examined using project billing schedules, sales order reports, the History subtab on sales order transactions and the Estimated Profitability by Project Report.

Creating Estimates and Sales Orders from Projects

After a project is set up, Generating an Estimate from a Project pulls the information you set up on the project record to create an estimate. You can generate multiple estimates over time to reflect changes and refinements based on customer feedback.

Check or clear the Available in Customer Center box on estimates to determine whether they show to customers in the Customer Center.

When the project detail is finalized, the next step is Creating Sales Orders from Projects. When you create a sales order directly from the project, the pricing and billing information carries over from the final estimate, which originates from the linked project record.

Creating Projects from Service Items

Alternately, your process can utilize Setting a Service Item to Create a Project. In this process, the service item is tagged to create a new project record automatically each time you sell it.

For example, set the item Deluxe Widget Installation to automatically generate a project by checking the Create Project box on its record. Then, each time you sell a Deluxe Widget Installation, a project record is created that lists the tasks that installers must complete for each sale of this item.

Note:

Projects created from sales orders do not automatically leverage the functionality associated with billing types. You also cannot refresh items on the transactions with changes made on the project record.

Related Topics:

Creating a Project Record
Creating Projects from Sales Transactions
Setting a Service Item to Create a Project
Working with Resources in Project Management
Managing Time and Expenses for Project Resources
Forecasting Project Billings
Project Risk Forecast

General Notices