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Manage Assignments in BigTime Foresight

When professional services firms plan capacity, they can use assignments as a method for strategically allocating resources and teams to the right projects. Assignments help firms optimize resource utilization, meet client expectations, and ensure the successful completion of projects while considering factors like skills, availability, and workload. Effective assignment management is essential for the overall efficiency and profitability of professional services firms. In this article, you’ll learn about the various assignment types and statuses you’ll encounter in BigTime Foresight. 

Assignments vs. Allocations: Understanding the Differences

Assignment Types and Statuses in Foresight

When planning work for your team, you might not be 100 percent sure of your assignment decisions until you’re further along in your strategy forecasting. In that case, you’ll want to create draft assignments to get a sense for how your plans might impact a project going forward. 

This is why you can find three different, color-coded assignment statuses in Foresight:

Active assignment (in green): If you’re positive about an assignment, you can set its status to “Active” to confirm it. 

Reserved / Draft assignment (in yellow/white): You should set these assignment statuses when you are not sure about your decision or you want to create a test environment.

 

Here’s an example of how you could use the different assignment statuses. Let's assume that I have two teams and want to see which teams are better suited for a technical project. 

I create reserved assignments for the first team and draft assignments for the second team. Thanks to these filters, I can see my simulation with these drafts and reserved assignments in any report I create. I can also easily see how each team affects the project's budget and choose the most effective team.

What are my options for assigning a staffer to a project? 

Creating assignments depends on how you’ve planned your employees’ allocations and capacity. Therefore, we have five types of planning methods:

  • planning by capacity
  • planning by time frame
  • planning by weekday
  • weekday by capacity planning
  • no utilization

How do I manage bill rates for assignments?

Let’s say you have already planned the staffer's utilization and the number of hours he will work on a project. You can configure the financial data related to this work in the Bill Rate section. Here, you can set the amount your client(s) will pay for work done by that specific staffer.

Note: To manage bill rates, you must be granted financial access permissions in the USER RIGHTS screen in BigTime. If you do not see the Bill Rate screen in Foresight, please ask your System Administrator to grant appropriate permissions for access.

There are three aspects to good revenue planning: the project's time frame, staffer utilization (how much time they’ll spend on a given project), and bill rate.

Revenue Planning in Foresight in Assignment Form

General Section Utilization Bill Rate
What is the duration of your project? How many hours will the staffer work? How much revenue do you predict your project will generate?

The image below shows the BILL RATE tab in the Assignment settings. Here, you’ll see two rate fields:

  • Staffer's Bill Rate: where in the system the rate should come from, and
  • Rate: what specific rate do we want to assign for the staffer’s assignment?

Here's a breakdown of where precisely the rates come from and how they differ:

Bill Rates Types in BigTime

Basic Rate Common Rate Card Custom Rate
The rate in a Staffer’s Profile. A staffer can have one or multiple rates. The rate for the entire organization can be added to any staffer in any project. The rate in a particular project.

If the rates are taken from BigTime and are not configurable in Foresight, we can say that BigTime is the source of truth about rates and Foresight is the source of truth about project revenues.

Source of Truth 

BigTime Foresight ⬇ BigTime ⬇
Scheduled Revenue Bill Rates Amounts

 

I don't know yet to what extent I will utilize a staffer's working time on a project. How do I account for this when planning an assignment?

Although creating an assignment involves planning utilization, you do not need to know at the planning stage how much work time the project will require. In this situation, when creating an assignment, simply select “No utilization”. This will indicate the person's presence in the project, but not their level of   involvement. This option is intended to help you with your planning.

How and where can I change assignments?

You can edit an assignment in two places: in the CALENDAR window and in the assignment itself. You can shorten it, lengthen it, delete it, copy it, or find a replacement for the staffer it’s been assigned to.

Here’s how you make edits to assignments in the Calendar:

Here’s how you make edits in the assignment itself:

What do "reduce billable capacity" and “use leftover capacity” mean, and how do they determine calculations?

While editing the assignment you can choose two additional options - reduce billable capacity and use leftover capacity.

To explain how both options work, we’ll walk through an example. Let’s say we have an employee named Anna. Anna is a project manager, and we want to allocate time in her calendar for management meetings, teammate one-on-ones, and other internal activities. We plan the budget for these activities in advance for the entire year. We assign her to an internal, non-billable project, and assign her to work on this project for 20 hours a month. Even though the project isn’t billable, it still takes up hours of her calendar, and the work she’ll do is crucial to our firm’s success. When creating this internal assignment, check the “utilization affects billable capacity” checkbox. This will reduce her capacity (the amount of time that Jessica can devote to billable projects) by 20 hours each month. These 20 hours will be firmly logged into Jessica's calendar. 

Now, let’s say Anna will be working on a project for a client from March to May. If we log the assignment at 100 percent, the calendar will show Anna is overbooked for 20 hours each month. This is because we previously allocated 20 hours of her time to an internal, non-billable project. To avoid this, we should check “use leftover capacity” when creating assignments – essentially telling the calendar to “take what is left” of her capacity.

Watch the video below to learn more:

Can I create bulk assignments for the whole team?

Yes! The steps below will explain how to create bulk assignments from a specific project window.

First, click the PROJECTS tab in your navigation sidebar. Open your chosen project, and click on the TEAM tab.

Scroll down and click the SEARCH FOR TEAM MEMBERS button.

A pop-up window will appear with a list of all your staffers. Click the BULK SCHEDULING button at the top left corner of this window.

Then, select the team members you want to create an assignment for. You can either check the boxes next to specific team members, or click the SELECT ALL button to assign every team member on the first page of your list to an assignment. 

Note that the SELECT ALL button will only select staffers from the first page of your team member list. If your list is long and has multiple pages, click SELECT ALL (#) PEOPLE to select every team member on every page.

Click the SCHEDULE (X) SELECTED button.

Can I create an assignment without a person assigned to it?

Yes, this is what Demand is for. Read this article to learn more.

What does "background work" mean? 

Background work is a flag that you can set if you want to change how scheduled work from an assignment is calculated. Background work can either deduct or not deduct availability from peoples’ calendars. If you want to configure how it is calculated go to MY SETTINGS and scroll to the SCHEDULED UTILIZATION SETTINGS section. 

What happens if I need to change the Bill Rate on an Assignment in Foresight so I can see how an adjusted rate impacts a team member's future assignments?

Bill Rates on an Assignment can be adjusted at any time and will not impact the Rate that is being applied to the actual hours logged in BigTime. If there is already time tracked to a corresponding Assignment in Foresight, then the Bill Rate cannot be adjusted and the Bill Rate field will be disabled. We recommend you split the Assignment and create a new one in order to see a different Bill Rate for future scheduled hours.

What does "adjusting to time offs and public holidays" mean? 

It means that BigTime Foresight won't consider public holidays and/or vacations when calculating scheduled utilization levels

Can I connect assignments to an existing demand?

Yes, You can. You’ll find instructions on connecting assignments to existing demands in this article: FAQ: How To Connect Assignments To An Existing Demand?

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