Staff Allocation Solution Getting Started
Welcome to the Staff Allocation Solution. This software will help you staff your accounts appropriately, reduce over-servicing, understand which types of assignments are not profitable and monitor the utilization of your employees. In short, it will help you run your business like a business. Once you are logged into the system you need to set up your company. You will need to do this only once. Here’s the sequence you should follow for set-up:
If you would like to give more than one day for a holiday, simply click the calendar next to the holiday date and select the range you want. For example, if Thanksgiving falls on November 26, you can set the range from November 26 to November 27.
If there is a holiday you recognize that is not listed, click "Add Custom Holiday" and add it. In addition, if you typically give a half day off before a long holiday weekend you can add a custom holiday and select the box next to "Is this a half-day holiday?"
Please note that you have the option of over-riding the rate or billable target for specific individuals at a given level. This feature will be covered later.
If you are using a seven-hour standard you may want to consider using the following billable targets:
Assistant Account Executive 95%
Account Executive 90%
Senior Account Executive 85%
Account Supervisor 80%
Vice President 75%
Senior Vice President 70%
If you are using a higher standard, you would modify these numbers to reflect the higher total. For example, if you use an eight-hour standard, merely divide the respective number above by eight and multiply it by seven. That would equate to a billable target for an account executive at 78.75% of an eight-hour standard.
If you do not need to break down your business into component areas, you can skip this section.
An agency branch is basically a grouping of staff or clients that may or may not have a separate manager, but will be used for reporting purposes. This will allow you to assign clients and employees to specific areas and to restrict managers to see relevant information only, as well as further break down over servicing reporting.
To create branches, you will need to first create the branch types by clicking on the "Branches Types" tab. A branch type is just a definition to be used for your branches. Some examples would be group, office, department, etc. You will notice that you can create a hierarchy for branch types that will be inherited to the actual branches themselves.
After you have created your branch types you may now create your branches. Just click on the "Branches List" tab, click on "Add Item", fill out the form, and then select the appropriate parent branch ("move to branch id"), if applicable.
If you have a large number of employees you may want to import the information from another source, select the "Import Employees" button. Next, click on "Download Example Excel Spreadsheet". This will bring up a spreadsheet with the required columns. Put your data into this format and save the file. Then select the "Choose File" button, pick the file you want to import and click on the "Import Employees" button.
Leave the status as "active". You can change the status to "disabled" if the employee leaves the company.
- Admin – Select this for individuals who will have access to all components of the system including entering clients, employees, jobs and budgets. This is the top-level power user and should be limited to select admin and finance personnel.
- Top Manager – This person will have access to scope of work (SOW) and reports across all clients and employees, and can see, but not change, clients, budgets, jobs and employees. This is the second level power user and should be for managers who have responsibility for the entire company
- Manager – This person will have the same access as a Top Manager, but only for clients and employees in his/her group. This is the third level of power user.
- Account Manager – This level allows an employee to see time that has been allocated to him/her on the SOW and the time spent by him/her on the employee time reports.
- Employee – This gives the employee only access to his/her time sheet.
- Employee (no login) – This is used if you want to have an admin input time for someone else. It is generally used for freelancers.
Next, select whether the person is billable or unbillable and create an employee ID. The ID must be unique for each person. If you do not currently use employee IDs, we suggest you use the employee’s e-mail address.
Select the appropriate job title for the person. This will automatically set the billing rate and billable target for that person, based on the standards you specified under the job titles section. Do not fill in the target daily hours, billable target or billing rate unless you want something different from the standard for that particular employee.
If, however, you would like to set a new rate or billable target for someone, you can do it here. To change the billable target, simply click in the box where the standard appears and overwrite the percent. For example, if one of your Vice Presidents spends a large portion of his or her time on new business, you may decide to set a lower billable target for that individual.
When an employee goes on leave you will want them to be excluded from some reports. The "Leave Management" tab allows you to place the employee on leave.
The next section on the upper toolbar is "Clients" which allows you to input general information about your clients, including client name, address, e-mail, contact person and phone number. In addition, each client should be assigned a client code that will help you identify the client easily. This field is alpha-numeric: you can use any combination of letters and numbers that works for your company.
Generally, it is best to put a zero in the box titled "Client Budget". This action will set up the client for all future programs and assignments for that year.
Next, click on the green box on the right to create a "Sub Budget". Input the name of the specific budget (i.e. "Project 1") the amount of the fee/time budget and the start and end dates of the assignment. Then check the "Add to Parents" box and click on the green check box. The budget will appear on this line and will add into the budget on the top level.
In each case as you add budgets at lower levels, they will add up to the higher-level budgets as long as you select the "Add to Parents" box.
Once the budgets have been entered into the system you can make modifications to help you properly manage your staff and business.
The primary reasons for inputting budgets into the system are to manage your staffing levels each month and to ensure that you provide the correct amount of service to the client over the course of your engagement with them. Therefore, it becomes necessary to review the amount of the time budget that should be allocated to each month.
To account for this situation, simply overwrite the amount listed under "Agency Budget" on the appropriate line of the budget.
How do I budget for unbillable time? How do I handle time off? How do I handle new business time? How do I handle administrative time?
With these main categories, it’s possible to set up sub-budgets or job numbers for more detailed information. For example, under NB/Marketing you might set up a sub-budget for marketing and another for new business. Then, under marketing, set up job numbers for website development, web maintenance, speaking engagements, etc. Under new business you may want to set up job numbers for each major new business pitch. You will notice another box on the root budget line. This blue box allows you, at the end of the year, to make an exact copy of the budget from the previous year with the only change being that all the dates will be one year later. It will copy the root budget, all sub-budgets and all jobs attached to each budget will also be copied.
This is designed to help you easily prepare new budgets. You can then go in and make any changes you need to represent the budget for the new year.
As with clients and employees, you have the option of uploading job number information from an excel spreadsheet. Please follow the directions stated previously to do this.
If you want to input job numbers one at a time, or to add additional job numbers later, select the "Add Job" button. You will then be asked for the job number and job name. Both fields are alpha-numeric, so you can use virtually any system that works for you. Please make them something that is easily recognizable to your staff.
A budget can have multiple jobs, but a job can only point to one budget on a given date. In other words, the same job can be used for multiple budgets only if the dates covered by those budgets do not overlap.
Since a person’s potential billable time in a month may be affected by commitments to these unbillable categories, it is generally best to begin the SOW by inputting these amounts for each employee affected. Simply, select "Input by Employee", pick the employee, month and year from the appropriate drop down boxes and select "Show Data".
You will see a screen that will allow you to input time for that employee. If you want to input unbillable time, select "Internal Budget", then select the specific budget you want to allocate time to and then the number of hours you anticipate for that activity for the month. For example, if you know someone will be on vacation for a week and you have a seven-hour standard, you would select the budget you set up for vacation time and input 35 hours. Or, if you expect this person to spend 20 hours on a new business proposal, go to internal budget, select the specific budget you’ve set up for that pitch (or generic new business) and input 20 hours.
Once unbillable time has been input you can more accurately allocate billable time to client assignments. You can continue to input this time by employee, or you can input this time by client.
If you also want to input billable time by employee, just select the client and specific budget from the drop down boxes, input the hours and select "Save". As you make each entry, the total hours for the employee will be added. The total billable time for the employee will be compared to his or her billable target. This target is determined by the billable percentage you’ve set for the level or person, multiplied by the standard hours for your agency multiplied by the number of billable days in the month, based on your holiday schedule. Thus, a person’s target hours will vary from month to month based on the number of billable days.
The "Rate " column will reflect the employee’s billing rate for that client and the "Dollar Value" column will multiply the hours by the rate to determine the value of that employee’s time on that client.
While you’re inputting time for each employee, the system will also keep track of all time allocated to each client for all employees who’ve been allocated to that client. The "Total SOW" column will show the total amount of time allocated to that client by all employees and will compare that total to the "Client Budget". The budget coincides with the monthly total identified in the budget section of the program.
While it is possible to input the SOW by employee, as stated above, many agencies prefer to input the time by client. To do this, select the "Input by Client" button at the top and select the client, budget, month and year from the appropriate drop down boxes.
When you click " Show Data" a chart will appear that shows all the time allocated to that client for the month. It will multiply the number of hours for each employee by that employee’s rate and put the product of that calculation in the "Dollar Value" column. At the bottom of that column it will total the value of all hours allocated and compare that total to the monthly budget.
The rest of the chart will provide you with information regarding the total hours allocated for each employee across ALL accounts they’re assigned to. "Billable Hours" totals the billable hours on all client assignments. "Target Billable" identifies how many billable hours he or she should achieve based on the target percent for the level and the number of days in the month and compares the allocated to the target in the " Variance" column.
The next three columns – "Total Hours", "Target Total" and "Target Variance" – reflect the total hours allocated (billable and unbillable) and compares that total to the standard hours for the month.
In addition to the two sections that allow you to input time – by employee or by client – there are three other sections that will provide you with information you may need to monitor your business.
This is helpful when a new assignment comes in and you need to see who has available time. You will also note that you can narrow down the search by branch, which may help in finding a person with the right experience.
This section includes four sub-categories: Employee Hours, Employee Timesheets, Missing Time
Report and Tasks List.
The first sub-category, "Employee Hours", shows all time that's been published to the system. If you are looking for a specific entry, you can begin to type in any of the boxes at the top and the system will show you all entries with that sequence of letters or numbers.
"Track My Time" is a separate module of the program. If you are licensed to use this application, each employee can enter his or her time directly into the system without the need to upload through Excel. Instructions for use of this process are listed in the next section.
The "Employee Timesheets" tab allows the admin person in your agency to view all timesheets, enter time for employees or edit timesheets that have been submitted.
You will notice that in the box for each missing timesheet there is an envelope. If you click on the envelope the system will generate an email reminding the employee to submit his or her timesheet. You can modify the email it will send by going to "My Agency" and selecting "Agency Email".
Track My Time
If you are doing similar work each week you can click on the "Copy prior week" button. This will populate the clients, budgets, jobs and tasks you worked on the prior week. Since the number of hours will be different, it will not bring those into the new week. You can then edit the items on the timesheet to reflect the work done in the new week.
Finally, put the number of hours in the appropriate box depending on the day the work was done and hit enter. Alternatively, you can use the timer feature on the tracker.
Start the timer to keep track of your current task, and stop the timer when you are done. The time will be automatically entered into the current day for the open time sheet row.
You may save the timesheet at any time. However, a full-time employee cannot publish the timesheet until he has entered at least the standard hours for each day. At the bottom of the time sheet you will see a box that says "You do not have enough hours for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday".
For full-time employees, the system requires that you have at least the standard hours for each day the company is open. It allows you to input hours for weekends and holidays, but does not require any minimum for those days. But if the company is open, an employee must enter at least the standard hours for each day. The time sheet cannot be published and the time will not be in the system until these minimums are met.
For a part-time employee, the system will provide an alert when trying to publish a time sheet with less than the standard hours for that person. However, she can still publish the time sheet if her work is done for the week.
At the end of the month, you will be given an option to publish a mid-week timesheet, allowing you to enter time through the end of the month even if it occurs before Sunday. You will then get access to a second time sheet for the remaining days of the week that fall into the following month.
The report section is critically important to help you manage the business effectively. Each report is designed to provide important information you should monitor every month.
Basically, the total represents the amount of billable time you could generate if every employee hits his or her billable target and every hour was billed to clients at your standard rates.
You may have some discounted rates. Some employees may miss their target. And some billable time will be over-servicing, and therefore not billed thru to clients. Therefore, it’s important that your billing power is significantly higher than the revenue you need to be profitable. In most cases, your billing power should be at least 30-35% more than our revenue target.
The second column reflects the total hours worked by that employee over that period. If you are using the SAS time tracker, time sheets cannot be published until the daily standards are met, so no employee can have fewer than the standard hours for the period.
The "Total Unbillable hours" column highlights all unbillable hours worked by the employee. If you have set up any client jobs as unbillable, hours logged to those jobs will appear in the next column, "Client Unbillable hours".
The "Other Unbillable hours" column subtracts the client unbillable hours from the total unbillable hours. This total is broken down into specific categories on the right based on the root budgets you specified under "Internal Budget" in the budget section. We recommend limiting these to no more than 3-4 major categories. We specifically recommend NB/Marketing to cover all new business and marketing time, Admin to capture all other non-billable time and Vacation/Absence.
The "Billable hours" column will provide the total of all hours billed to clients. The report will then divide these hours by the standard hours and put the billable percent in the "Actual Billable %" column. You should compare this percent to the "Target Billable %" column.
In the event you need a report for a client or an activity report that details the time spent on a specific client or job, you can use the "Worked Hours " report. This will allow you to generate a detailed or summary analysis of all time during a specified period.
This is the only report that pulls the information directly from the time sheets and will show time logged on the time sheets, even if they have not been published yet. This allows you to check the status of a project in the middle of a week.
The "Client Forecast" report will provide an overview of the current forecast, by month, for each engagement, as well as the actual time spent in any months up to that point. Based on current spending levels it will increase or decrease the remaining months in order to maintain the overall budget. If you need detail regarding the spending levels in any month you can click on the number in the actuals column and you will be taken directly to the "Employee Time by Client" report.
You will find a column for the total client budget and a second column for the total agency budget. Horizontally, each budget is represented by three rows. The forecast shows the agency budget as reflected on the budget page. The row titled "actual" shows how much time has been spent to date in blue. And the third row compares the two and shows the variance.
At the end of each month you should review this report. Simply click on the actual number, in blue, for the current month. This will generate a pop-up box showing you how much you were over or under. It offers three choices:
If you overspent in the current month but feel you will be able to recover the over-servicing during the remainder of the engagement, you would select the top option. This will lock in the current month spending and lower the remaining months proportionately so the client and agency budgets are the same. Conversely, if you under-spent for the month, selecting this option will increase subsequent months. In either case, the budget on the SOW for the following month will change to the new amount.
The bottom choice is used when you believe it will not be possible to recoup the overage. When you select this option, the remaining months will not be changed, so the overage will be reflected as a variance between the client budget (what you will be paid) and the agency budget (the amount of time you will spend).
The third option falls between these two choices. You may decide that some of the overage will be recovered, but not all. The middle choice is a slider that allows you to select any amount for the month.
You should also note that there is a button near the upper right that will allow you to compare what was spent in the month to either the agency budget or the SOW. Simply click on the button to change from one to another.
This report needs to be reviewed each month because the actions you take on this report may change the agency budget which, in turn, will affect the budget reflected in the SOW. If you decide to accept an overage without the possibility of recovery, the agency budget will be changed on all reports, the SOW and the budget pages.
There are several additional reports that will allow you to view information in greater detail.
The "Employee Allocation" report breaks down an employee's billable time in hours, percent of billable time and percent of standard for each client she worked on in the period.
First select "Create New Budgeting Model". It will then ask you to name the program and select the dates of the program. Next create an activity. This is an element of the program. Once you create the activity, so can budget time for it. You can budget time for a specific employee or you can budget time for a specific level, if you are not certain of which employee is available. You can then budget the time by hours or by percentage of time.
Once you have finished inputting time for that activity, you can repeat the process with future activities. The system will provide the details for each of the activities and create a total for the program, including the number of hours required for each person or level.
Override Hourly Rates
What if I we have different rates for a specific budget? What if I we have different rates for a specific client? What if I we have different rates for a specific task? What if I we have different rates for a specific employee level?
Under the section "My Agency" click on "Override Hourly Rates" and then select "Add Override Rate". After selecting the client, you can reset the rate by any, or all, of the drop down options.
For example, you can change a rate for all or one of the client's budgets or all or one job or all or one task. You can also have the change affect one employee or all employees or a single position or all positions.
There may be times when two instructions contradict one another. For example, you may set one instruction that sets the hourly rate for a specific account executive on a particular budget to $170 and another instruction that says anyone who does media monitoring (task) should bill at $125 regardless of level.
So, if that account executive logs time to media monitoring on that budget, what rate do you want to use? It’s your choice. You should drag and drop the instruction you want to use and place it above the other one. The system will use the rate that is higher on the list.