Expert help to get more from your software
We can help you adapt Asta Powerproject to meet specific needs of your business, such as giving advice on improving processes, creating templates or customising report formats into your corporate style.
Would you like project creation to be quicker and easier? Would you like Resources, Costs & Code Libraries already setup? Generic reporting views setup and easy to access?
If the answer to the above is yes, then you should consider a template. Our consultancy team has worked with many clients, who are looking for consistency, efficiency and ease of use, when it comes to creating new projects.
A template can be as simple or as complex as you need. No template can be a ‘one size fits all’ principle. This can be attributed to the fact that there are many different types of projects, all serving a unique purpose in their own right. Despite the fact that there is different type of projects, they will mostly all follow the same structure and contain the same key tasks.
Asta Powerproject has a list of extensive features, all of which can be customised for a template. For example:
1. Tasks: A template should only include deliverable Stages/Tasks that are generic to every project. You need to decide on the structure and how to organise different parts of the project into a coordinate whole. Task Pools will allow you to save ‘scopes of works’ such as those for a particular build type or house plan or any tasks that are grouped together under Summary bars (or in expanded tasks) to form phases of work in a project. These can then be copied through the programme to show repeated work or used as a starting point for creating new programmes.
2. Code Libraries: These are generally key to reporting or colouring bars to represent something relevant. If you use code libraries to report for example on Trades or Phases etc., it’s a good idea to standardise on code libraries and codes that are used on every project. If the tasks within the task pool are pre-defined with codes. This means you will have the ability to set-up views within your template that contain either filters or sorts based on these pre-defined codes.
As a business, you might be expected to have a set of standard generic reports that are run against each project. Setting up your code library and pre-defining codes in the task pool, will allow you to run pre-defined views with filters and sorts based on those codes.
For example, on every project the user may want to see a 6 week look ahead for a Painter. If you’re template tasks are pre-defined with a Painter code, then you can set up a view that already contains a 6-week time slice filter looking for a painter code library. This view would work every time a user creates a new project based on your template.
3. Views: A View is the method used for the software to remember screen settings. When saved the ‘view’ will remember if the Project View is opened or closed, it will remember the current column configuration within the spreadsheet. It will also remember the current settings or the Bar Chart, also the Date Zone and finally whether there are any Filters or Sorts running within the program. Putting all of this together a view is the ability to change all of these settings to a predefined set by only doing one click of the mouse. The software can have unlimited number of views saved.
Views are beneficial as they can be used for reporting or populating information quickly without having to set-up everything from scratch. For example, on every project that you produce, you may need to see a resource allocation histogram. Not every user of Asta Powerproject will know how to do this. Setting up a view with this type of histogram within a template, means it can be generated at a click of a button.
Once the project is underway, it might be passed around to different users and therefore they may have different responsibilities. One person may be responsible for project creation and another person is responsible for entering progress. Therefore, views are ideal for presenting users with just the information they need, making reporting standardised and simple to use. For example, you might have a user that simply inputs progress. Therefore, a view could just be setup to show the bar chart area, and percent complete column.
When creating a template or views within a template, you need to think about the appearance of the following areas:
- The Date zone – By default the date zone shows 4 rulers (Date lines) running across the top of the project, these are Year, Month, Week Start and Project Week Numbers (Elapsed Weeks). You may want to think about how you want to control the information that is displayed here
- Shading – Decide on types of shading that is displayed by default
- Gridlines – Which default gridlines to display by default
- Task Appearance – Whether you use the task default appearance or code library appearance by default
- The spreadsheet – The spreadsheet can be customised to display whatever project information you choose. Columns contain fields which read data from your project, end date, start date, percent complete and can be added, edited and deleted
The key questions to ask, when considering the type of views to have in a template are:
- What information does the end user need to see quickly but may not have the skills to produce it?
- What type of reports does the company need to see?
4. Calendars: You can create as many calendars as you need in a template. However, we would recommend that you try to restrict them and only create additional calendars should there be a strong business need to do so.
5. User Defined Fields (UDFS): It is always useful to pre-define your template with any commonly used User Defined fields. For example, does your company run any of the additional Asta macros that require UDFS set up in the project? Pre-defining these UDFS in the template, will allow the user to run the macros on every project without having to do this initial set up. It may worth considering whether you need additional fields for note taking etc. too, as this can also be set up using pre-defined UDFs in your company template.
6. Resources: Permanent resources are typically the people or equipment needed to carry out tasks. If you use a generic set of resources across all your projects, it’s is a good idea to set these up in the template. This not only keeps consistency across all projects but also enables you to link any pre-defined views to these resources. It also makes project creation quicker as the resources are already setup and available to allocate.
For example, you may want to set up a pre-defined view that has a histogram looking at a resource’s specific usage. If the resource is already setup, then the histogram can also be pre-defined to look at the resource. This means, once the project is underway and the resource has been allocated, you can then automatically access a view that shows you the resource usage. This is useful, if you have new users who are not experienced in creating resource allocation histograms and also saves time as you don’t need to repeat the same exercise for each project.
It is still beneficial to write a guide for your users explaining how the template works in terms of what the pre-defined views show, how the project is structured and the purpose of the code libraries etc. Remember, the purpose of a template is to make things simpler, quicker, keep consistency and reduce errors along with reducing the reworking of generic reports. Don’t fall into the trap of over complicating the template by adding too much detail!