The next section addresses the EcoSys Projects menu structure and provides an overview of the functionality provided by the menu selections.
Project Setup is used to create projects, maintain project attributes, snapshot project data, and close projects. It is also used to maintain project specific workflow and approval settings.
Project Setup is also used to designate if a project should be time-phased.
Project Structure Setup is used to develop and maintain the Project Structure within EcoSys Projects. This includes the hierarchy of Project Structures as well as attributes. One key attribute is the designation of Cost Control Levels (CCL).
For any given Project Structure with a CCL assignment, the following is allowable for that Project Structure:
Budget and Commitment costs can be assigned
Earned Value can be generated
Actuals costs can be assigned
Forecasted costs can be calculated
When a Project Structure is created, its path name, denoting the full hierarchy, is also created. A full Object Path ID is composed of the Project ID, any parent Object IDs, and ends with the ID of the Project Structure created. For example, PRJ-000004.7.1 is an example of a Project Structure whose ID is 1, whose parent is another Project Structure whose ID is 7, which in turn is a component of project PRJ-000004. These IDs are separated by a character called a Hierarchy Path Delimiter. This delimiter is established when the EcoSys system is created. Project and Project Structure names cannot include this delimiter as part of their name.
EcoSys Projects supports the creation of the following enterprise and/or project specific cost structures: Organization Breakdown Structure (OBS), Cost Breakdown Structure (CBS), and/or Alternate Breakdown Structure (ABS). The alternate structures functionality discussed here is used to develop and maintain project specific alternatives to the native project structure and/or the enterprise level alternate structures established within EcoSys Projects. This includes alternative hierarchies that can be used for rollup and reporting purposes.
If project specific alternate structures are not established, established enterprise-wide values will be available for the project. Alternate structure values may be assigned in the Project Structure Setup screen and are limited to Project Structures with a Cost Control Level assignment.
Alternate structures can be hierarchical or non-hierarchical. A Path ID will be created for each level of the alternate structure.
Project Risks supports the creation and maintenance of project risks.
The Portfolio Analysis Dashboard displays all portfolios and data specific to projects in a given portfolio. Drilldown functionality provides additional detail.
The Budgets screens provides access to establish, view and manage project budgets Commitments and the Project Budget Status are also accessed under this menu.
An essential component of project cost control is the establishment of a budget, which will eventually serve as an approved plan to measure actual against forecasted performance. While the budget often changes throughout the lifecycle of most projects, a best practice approach always ensures visibility into the budget and a carefully managed process to control budget changes.
The Original Budget approach incorporates two record types; budget header records, and budget detail records. Budget line items include date, quantity, hours, cost, and other specific details of the budget. Budget headers gather these line items together and allow for budget tracking and approval. The original budget for a project may consist of a single or multiple budget headers.
The Original Budget screens are used to establish, view, and approve project budgets within EcoSys Projects for those Project Structures with a CCL set to "Yes". Budget detail includes quantity, hours, cost, and other specific details of the budget. Budget detail is established for those Project Structures with a Cost Control Level assignment.
After the Original Budget values are established, the user may elect to time-phase budget data. If so, Time-Phase must be checked in the Projects > Project Setup – General tab, then the user can manually establish time-phase settings, then time-phase the budget using a series of controls and a workflow process. If the user establishes any line items with a "Manual" curve, the user must validate that the Original Budget Cost, Hours, and Quantity totals must match the Time-Phased totals. Tools are available to assist the user in the validation of balancing.
Once the budget details are present and time-phased, the budget may be submitted for approval. If the Project was set up for time-phasing, the Original Budget Cost, Hours, and Quantity totals must match the Time-Phased totals or the budget cannot be submitted. This approval process will follow the settings established Projects > Project Setup - Budget Admin. This may include multiple levels of approval. Once approved, the Original Budget, Current Budget, and Current Forecast are established. All subsequent changes to the Current Budget and Current Forecast will be performed using the Changes screens.
The Current Budget screens are used to view the Current Budget. In the Current Budget screens, the user may also re- time phase Current Budget Project Structures with a Back Loaded, Front-Loaded, Bell, or Linear curve.
In EcoSys Projects, the Original Budget is established in the Budgets screens. It is not impacted by budget changes approved via the change management process. The Current Budget is equal to the Original Budget plus any approved changes.
The Commitments screens used to establish and view Commitments (Purchase orders or Requisitions) within EcoSys Projects. Commitment line items include date, quantity, hours, cost, and other specific details that vary by organization.
Project Budget Status Dashboard
The Project Budget Status Dashboard provides visibility of the Original Budget, Current Budget, Commitments, pending and approved Changes, Current Forecast and Actuals. Drilldown functionality provides additional detail.
A well-defined change management system serves multiple purposes. It helps to ensure that all changes that do take place have been approved by authorized users. Also, it allows for all changes to be carefully tracked. Within the change management process, all changes to the Current Budget are easily tracked.
The Changes menu is used to manage updates to the project Current Budget and Current Forecast in EcoSys Projects. If Time-Phase is checked in the Projects > Project Setup – General tab and after Change Details have been created, Changes time-phased data, including the definition of Start Dates, End Dates, and Curves, must be established. Once complete, a project change is submitted for approval through the workflow process. If Change data was time-phased, the total Change Cost, Hours, and Quantities totals must match the Time-Phased totals. Tools are available to assist the user in the validation of balancing.
Once submitted, a project change follows the workflow established in Projects > Project Setup - Change Admin. If the Project is set up for time-phasing, the total Change Cost, Hours, and Quantity totals must match the Time-Phased totals or the budget cannot be submitted. This may include multiple levels of approval. Upon final approval, the change line items are copied to the Current Budget and/or Current Forecast based upon the change type.
Project Change Status Dashboard
The Change Register Dashboard displays changes associated with the selected project. Bar charts and pie charts portray project change data in a graphical format. Drill-down functionality provides additional detail.
The Progress menu provides the capability to progress projects by posting actuals and generating Earned Value. The actuals functionality includes the capture of Staging Actuals and the posting of those actuals to production. It also accommodates the establishment of Estimated Actuals. Once production actuals are calculated, Earned Value can be generated, and project progress understood.
The Actuals screens are used to establish, view, and post actual line items within EcoSys Projects. Actual line items include date, quantity, hours, cost, and other specific details that vary by customer. Actual line items can be directly entered or imported. Once line items are reviewed, they may be posted to production.
Actual line items cannot be posted to a closed period in EcoSys Projects.
In addition to staging and production actual line items, the Actuals screens provides the ability to create and maintain Estimated Actuals. Estimated Actuals function similarly to accruals for Earned Value (EV) and Key Performance Indicator (KPI) calculations.
For example, at month end, a subcontractor provides a percent complete of 50% and has total cost to be invoiced of $100,000. However, this cost must be processed through the general ledger before it can be imported to EcoSys Projects. Using 50% as the EV but absent the $100,000 costs, calculating KPIs such as Cost Performance Indicator (CPI) will yield inaccurate results. A user may enter the $100,000 cost as an Estimated Cost, which will be included in the KPI calculations by EcoSys Projects.
The Earned Value screens are used to generate and analyze project specific performance data in EcoSys Projects. This includes establishment of a Progress Method for each Cost Control Level, then utilizing this progress method and applicable progress-method attributes to generate percent complete. Generation of the % Complete, Earned Hours, and Earned Cost is accomplished through use of this screens.
Productivity Analysis Dashboard
The Productivity Analysis Dashboard displays a variety of Earned Value costs and metrics. Charts portray Earned Value data in a graphical format. Drilldown functionality provides additional detail.
The EcoSys Projects Forecast screens are used to generate and view predictions of future costs based upon actual costs to-date and the methods defined by the user to calculate the forecast.
The Forecast screens are used to generate and analyze a new project forecast. This includes the population of Forecast attributes, the manipulation of this Forecast through assignment of a Forecast Method, and the submission of a project forecast change to achieve a new Current Forecast. If Time-Phase is checked in the Projects > Project Setup – General tab, Forecasts may be time-phased.
The user begins the forecasting process by validating the Forecast Methods and any data required to support the Forecast Methods. The New EAC and Forecast Variance is calculated and displayed after these attributes are saved.
After Forecast EAC has been validated, the user may elect to time-phase budget data. If so, Time-Phase must be checked in the Projects > Project Setup – General tab. Before time-phasing a project for the first time in a Project Period, the user should run the "Refresh Time-Phased Forecast" workflow action to refresh the screen with Current Forecast time-phased values. The user can then modify time-phase settings, update manual time-phased ETC values, and set the Balance Method determines how the current period’s variance (the difference between the Current Forecast and the Actuals) will be spread. They user may also set the Adjustment Method to determine how adjustments due to unexpected actuals or ETC adjustments are handled. The user can run the "Time-Phase Forecast" workflow action to re-time phase the forecast.
Once the forecast is as desired, a "Forecast Variance Change" can be created and submitted. The Submit Forecast Change workflow action creates a new "Forecast Variance Change" change header and generates line items by comparing the revised forecast to the Current Forecast. Following this submission, the new change follows the change approval process established for the project in Projects > Project Setup – Forecast Admin. Once approved, the Current Forecast will be updated to reflect the value of the Working Forecast, closing out the forecast update process.
Forecast Comparison Summary Dashboard
The Forecast Comparison Summary Dashboard uses the Project Structure to display a comparison of costs beginning with the Original Budget, moving to the Current Budget, Current Forecasts and Prior Forecasts. This data is portrayed in both a graphical and tabular format.
Reports and Dashboards
EcoSys Projects provides a robust and dynamic reporting engine that allows users to report on various types of data that exist in the application. Reports are used to display a snapshot of the financial situation at a moment in time and are a powerful tool for analysis as well as for review and maintaining financial control. Reports can be viewed, exported and/or printed depending on need. Dashboards are a means to dynamically review project data at a high level, and explore details as needed.
The User menu provides the User access to Settings and the User Dashboard as well as Batch Job and Email Logs.
User Settings allows the user to modify user-specific information including, but not limited to the following:
The number of recent items that should appear in the Recent Items list
The number of cells that may appear in the spreadsheet
he threshold for cells a spreadsheet may contain before the Show All option is turned off
The screen to display at login (Home Screen or Last Screen Visited)
Navigation mode (Tree or Top menu)
Batch Job Log
The Batch Job Log screen is where the user can view all the actions that have taken place in EcoSys Projects which are considered to run as batch jobs, tracking multiple actions simultaneously. The progress of these actions, or batch jobs, can be viewed here and any errors or skipped data will be easily recognized in the log that is generated while these jobs run. The user will be able to easily identify these items and take the appropriate actions to solve any problems which may have occurred.
Non-administrative users may view only their batch job logs. System Administrators can access all logs in the Batch Job Log
This screen is also used to track imports of data such as projects and codes, dates, or financial data for cost objects. Since there may be hundreds of projects or dates imported at any given time, the import processes can take several minutes up to an hour (depending on server configuration). During this time, the user may verify that the batch job has been initiated properly and can also check for any problems that could have occurred. The batch job log provides the user with vital information which helps in tackling these issues immediately, without having to wait for the batch jobs to finish.
The email log tracks and logs all emails sent via system actions.