Basic budgeting principles for engineering projects

Portrait of Felix Nadar (1820-1910), Photographer and Aeronautical ScientistBlog posts are not great for long document, so we’ll focus on basic principles to use when preparing a project budget.

  • Is the project part of series of similar projects? In this case, project history can be used as a reference. For example, if I need to perform an assessment to automate an assembly line for a canned food factory and I’ve done similar assessments  in other factories, the data from previous projects would be invaluable to prepare the new project’s budget. Not only will the budget be more reliable, but we’ll be able to plan where potential problems may arise.
  • Is this project for an existing client? Do we know this client well? A client’s history allows for more accurate budgeting, since we know how to work with the client, their preferences and requirements. If we don’t know this client, we’ll want to add a risk factor in the project budget, to allow for adjustments to the new client’s unknown requirements.
  • Once we know the project and client, our next step is detailed planning of the tasks that need to be completed to deliver the project.
  • When tasks have been defined, we can assign them to the people who have the optimal expertise and experience. For example, we can assign junior employees to less technical tasks, and senior engineers to critical steps of the project. This way, we’ll be able to control our costs.
  • We also need to estimate the time required to complete the tasks, including “slack,” additional reserve time to address problems or “surprises.”
  • We’ll also want to plan for contractors and equipment needs, along with other expenses, such as mileage or other travel expenses.
  • If we have many tasks in our project, it may be logical to group them under phases, which creates a structure for the project and also facilitates invoicing: when a project phase is complete, we can invoice it. No need to wait at the end of the project.

With a detailed budget like this, we’ll be able to provide a much more accurate quotation and also increase our control over costs. With a cost management system like Abak, it will be easy to prevent and address cost overruns at the phase or even at the task level, rather than for the entire project.

Problem with vendor credits transfer to QuickBooks

We have identified and diagnosed a problem with QuickBooks quick booksaccounting transfer of vendor credits.

In Abak, when a vendor credit is entered, taxes are computed by Abak automatically based on the taxes configured for the vendor. When the credit is transferred to QuickBooks, the QuickBooks API ignores the tax override sent by Abak and adds its own taxes. The result is a vendor credit with two sets of taxes: taxes from Abak, and taxes from QuickBooks. The vendor credit must then be corrected manually in QuickBooks.

This problem occurs only with vendor credits, and not with regular vendor invoices. This problem does not affect client invoices, client credits, vendor invoices, expenses, or any other item transferred from Abak to QuickBooks.

The problem is caused by a bug in QuickBooks’ data transfer module, known as QBFC. You can read developer forum threads here and here for more details on the problem.

Until Intuit fixes the QuickBooks transfer module, there is nothing that we at Abak can do to eliminate the problem.

Thanks for your understanding!

Our March Newsletter is out: Abak Web is here!

In this issue:describe the image

Enjoy the read!

12 questions to answer before choosing a time and billing system

Tommy Dodgen, age 4, standing by the largest lamp in the world: Tampa, FloridaBefore starting your search for a time sheet, invoicing and project cost management system, several requirements must be established to help you narrow the choices down and make sure you look for what you really need.

Besides the software’s features and pricing, several other criteria should be included in evaluating solutions: usability, scalability, customer service, etc.

Twelve questions you should answer before choosing a time management solution

  1. Do I only need a simple time sheet and expense report application, or a centralized, integrated solution?
  2. How reliable is my current time sheet and expense report system? How do I control my projects’ profitability?
  3. Should the solution allow for project management and project budget control?
  4. Should the solution allow complex projet structures, with phases and sub-tasks?
  5. Should the solution allow for setting budgets at the task level within a project?
  6. Should the solution allow for both billable and non-billable items, should it support cost and sell rates?
  7. How flexible should the software be when it comes to rates? Should it allow special rate per project, per task, per employee, per time period, per role?
  8. Should the solution integrate with your accounting system and payroll?
  9. Which reports will you need to manage your projects? Can the solution provide those reports?
  10. Can your invoice formats be reproduced within the solution?
  11. How closely should your software vendor work with you? How will you add/remove licences, customize reports and invoices?
  12. Will you need a web-based interface to log time and expenses?

Let your resources in charge filter their projects in Abak

When accessing project management functions, resources in charge of projects usually see all projects in the system. They would rather like to see only projects that are related to them (e.g. as project manager).

Abak can make them happy!

First make sure to give access to the “In charge filter” dropdown, in security management in the Project management header (Contract -> Show Resource in charge Filter) for appropriate security groups.

Now when opening in project management window, those users can see a dropdown field at the right end of the header. Six options are available. Four of them match with the type of resource in charge as defined by Terminology settings in System configuration.

When selecting one of these options, a list of projects will show only those where the user is established as that type of employee in charge (e.g. project manager). Two other options are available: “All” will show all projects where the user is defined as one type of resource in charge (whatever it is), and “None” will show all projects without any filter.

You can define which filter will apply by default when accessing the project management window in the resource profile, in the “Security” tab and “Options” dropdown window.

  • If you select more than one, the first one will apply.
  • If no selection is made, then the “None” filter will apply by default.
  • This filter applies in addition to any filter set as “Query server”
  • Take note that this filter will also be available in the Assignment feature.

Missed the basic invoicing training? It’s back!

AbaKast training sessions

Do you feel like invoicing is difficult in Abak? Do you feel lost when it comes to invoicing? Then this month’s AbaKast is for you!

AbaKast 103: Invoicing for beginners

Thursday, March 17th
1h30 – 3h30pm, Eastern Time

Get acquainted with the basics of invoicing: from the time sheet to a finished invoice in just a few minutes.

  • Time and materials billing
  • Fixed fee billing
  • Manual transactions

Only 99$

Register now!

Also, check out the full training schedule here

Women in business

Electronics technician, Goodyear Aircraft Corp., Akron, Ohio (LOC)Today is International Women’s Day. Let’s take this opportunity to reflect on the impact that women have on the world of business.

In Canada, women represent 47,3% of the workforce, but only 14% of the members of ruling boards for the country’s 500 largest firms, and occupy 3,6% of high-level management positions.

We could stop the conversation here and comment the small part played by women in steering big companies in Canada. Women are still half of the work force in Canada. Even if they are not in the highest leadership roles, women do have a strong impact on business.

From the administration perspective, most firms rely on women to keep things running smoothly: from human resources to invoicing to payroll and accounting, women are the backbone of business.

So today, let’s take a minute to recognize how lost we would be without women in our business.

To know more aboure Internaitonal Women’s Day, go there.

Abak joins the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies

ACEC logoIt is with pride that Abak has joindes the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies | Canada, the leading voice for the business of consulting engineering in Canada.

The Association of Consulting Engineering Companies (ACEC) represents companies in Canada that provide professional engineering services to both public and private sector clients. These services include the planning, design and execution of all types of engineering projects as well as providing independent advice and expertise in a wide range of engineering and engineering-related fields.

Just like ACEC’s, Abak’s mission is to help consulting companies be more successful. With our time and billing system, engineering companies bill more accurately, control costs more efficiently, and are able to take on more projects.

You’re invited! Sage Accpac 6.0 Launch in Quebec City and Montreal

Sage Accpac

You are invited to attend the Sage ERP Accpac 6.0 Launch at the Montreal Science Center on April 5th 2011 and at the Aquarium du Québec on April 7th 2011. Abak will be there to show off our new web module!

Register for the event here

The Launch of Sage ERP Accpac 6.0 in Québec is a unique event worldwide! Version 6.0 is not a standard update but, rather, a revolution!

It’s a new generation of ERP software that is one of a kind in terms of ergonomics, functionalities and analysis tools. It is therefore with great pleasure that the SageQuebec team put together two Sage convention days to allow customers to come explore the world of Sage ERP Accpac and all its possibilities.

The participants will discover:

  • Information booths on add-in products
  • Related services booths
  • A big-screen presentation of version 6.0
  • The sharing of a strategic vision for the development of versions 6.x
  • Multiple 15-minute capsules featuring the different functionalities of Accpac
  • Meetings with Sage’s senior managers
  • Gifts and door prizes
  • And much more!

We look forward to meeting you!

Register for the event here