Q. Do I have to use the job scheduling feature in Clients & Profits?
No. Job scheduling is a separate part of the production
and traffic system. It's optional, and can be started any
time. It may be more practical to use it to remember upcoming
deadlines and less for resource planning. Traditionally,
it's been very difficult to tightly schedule creatives in
the ad business. Unlike building airplanes, creatives don't
fit well into rigid work schedules. If you start slowly by
scheduling only key deadlines, you'll soon have a good idea
about how involved (and automated) you want job scheduling
Q. Do I have to schedule all jobs and tasks,
or can I only start with those for one client?
Since all jobs are scheduled independently, you have complete flexibility
over which jobs can be scheduled with Clients & Profits. In fact, since
job scheduling is so time-consuming, it's a good idea to use it for only
large, complex jobs with long time lines. You can always start small,
scheduling just a few important jobs, to see if it pays off for your shop.
Q. How do I start using Clients & Profits
First, start scheduling just the new jobs. Let the jobs already in
progress move through the shop as they always have, even if it's less than
organized. Scheduling helps you track each task's start and due dates
(including the exact time of day, if necessary), who is responsible for the task's completion,
and the production specifications that describe the work. Then familiarize your production and creative staff with the My > Weekly Task Planner so they can quickly see what work has been assigned to them on job schedules, as well as
the Work to Do reports which provide different looks at scheduled tasks.
Q. Should I schedule all tasks?
No. Only those job tasks that have important, can't-miss
deadlines should be scheduled first. Then the job's interim
deadlines should be scheduled to automate the daily and weekly
task planner and work to do reports for each staff member. Tasks that either
don't have deadlines, or have deadlines that aren't critical
to clients or to the staff, don't need to be scheduled.
Q. Why are our job schedules cluttered
with non-production tasks like Project Coordination, Copies,
and Stock Photography?
Someone has marked those estimate/billing tasks as "scheduling" tasks.
A task can be used for estimating/billing, scheduling, or
used for both. It's a setting in the Task Table that's customizable
for each task. Any task that is marked as "scheduling" will
appear on the job schedule. To keep tasks like Project Coordination
off the schedule, uncheck the "Scheduling" option in the
Task Table's Edit Task window. This setting can also be changed
on a specific task on the job ticket by double-clicking on
the task in the Job Tickets window then unchecking the "scheduling" option.
Q. How do I schedule a job's tasks?
From the Job Ticket window, click the Schedule link at the bottom. The Job Schedule
window opens, listing the job's production tasks. The job is scheduled by
entering, at a minimum, due dates and resources (staff member's initials) to each task. See also the Job Scheduling
section in the Clients & Profits online user guide. Also, a "how to" job
scheduling tutorial is available online.
Q. Our staff usually doesn't work on weekends.
Does that affect how I schedule tasks?
Yes. Make sure to check the Skip Saturdays and Skip Sundays checkboxes at the bottom of the schedule before entering any start or due dates on the schedule. Then, if you try to schedule a start or due date on a weekend, Clients &
Profits won't let you.
Q. When scheduling a job, how do I relay
instructions to staffers about their work?
Special Instructions, which are used to describe the work
to be done, and can be entered for each job task. If this task is double clicked on the My > Weekly Task Planner, the instructions can be seen. As well, they print
on production reports like the Job Schedule, Job Log, Production > Work
to Do, Snapshots > Production > Schedules/Work to Do, and My > Weekly Task Planner reports. Special Instructions are entered
into the Job Schedule window by selecting a task then by
clicking the Special Instructions button in the toolbar. Special Instructions
can also be entered from the Work to Do and Weekly Task Planners
windows by double-clicking on a job task.
Q. What's the purpose of the "step" numbers
(i.e., schedule sort) on a job schedule?
The "step" number is optional and determines the order in which the tasks are completed. They will override the default alphabetical sorting by task code. It's necessary to use step numbers when ballpark scheduling to properly set the order of task completion before the ballpark schedule sets the start and due dates for each task, which are based on the order of the tasks in the scheduling window. It is called the "sort on schedule " in the Task Table, and is copied to jobs when tasks
are added. They can also be assigned to each job task in
the Job Schedule window. Don't confuse this with the "Sort" field which is used to order tasks on the job ticket window and job ticket estimate.
Q. What's the difference between ballpark
scheduling and rescheduling tasks?
Both are accessed through the job schedule window's toolbar buttons. Ballpark scheduling is used to automatically assign start and due dates to the tasks, based on the job's start or due date, the lead time for each task, and the order of the tasks in the scheduling window. It's a quick way
of getting approximate due dates for tasks assuming a perfect sequential flow of the tasks (no parallel paths). Rescheduling
tasks automatically rearranges an existing job schedule when the job needs
to be either postponed or rushed. You can select only the tasks you want to reschedule, whose start and due dates will be adjusted based on the new start or due date for the job. Another option is to just re-ballpark schedule the job based on a new start or due date, which will ignore any finished tasks when rebuilding the schedule. Re-ballpark scheduling impacts all unfinished tasks, where when rescheduling you can choose exactly which tasks you want to reschedule. As well, if a parallel path schedule was created manually, always use the reschedule feature to automatically update the schedule, since it changes the start and due dates task by task based on the new start or due date entered in the reschedule window (bumps the start and due dates for each task equal to the bump in days of the new start or due date for the job), but if you re-ballpark schedule it will erase your parallel path schedule and create a sequential single path schedule for the unfinished task.
Q. How do I use ballpark scheduling?
Ballpark scheduling is used when a job is brand new. It creates a single path sequential schedule using
the tasks' lead times (i.e., the typical time each
task needs to be completed.), the start or due date of the job, and the order of the tasks in the scheduling window. So, make sure you change the order of the tasks using step numbers in the furthest left column if necessary. Lead times can be set up
in the Task Table, then copied to new jobs automatically,
but can be edited in the job's schedule window. The ballpark
option starts with either the job's start date or due date. Then task by task, in their sequential window order (can be changed by the "step" number), it calculates the start and due date for each task based on the task's lead time, creating a single path sequential schedule. Once the ballpark
schedule is created, its dates and other information can
be fine-tuned. Parallel path schedules must be created manually.
Q. How do I use rescheduling tasks?
Use the Reschedule Tasks option to update a job's schedule
when the job is either delayed or accelerated. If there are only a few tasks left to complete, it may be faster to adjust each task's start and due dates manually, instead of automatically via the rescheduling feature. Unlike the Ballpark
option, the Reschedule option keeps the existing intervals
between each task's start date and due date, ignoring the order of the tasks in the scheduling window. Essentially, it preserves
the schedule you initially created (critical if you manaully created a parallel path schedule). It then changes each task's start and due date
up or back depending on the job's new start date or due date assigned in the reschedule window. As well, you have the flexibility to choose exactly which tasks you want to reschedule, where ballpark scheduling will impact all unfinished tasks.
Q. Can I see the other jobs that a staffer
has been assigned while scheduling a job?
Yes. The pop-up Unfinished Tasks window lists unfinished tasks with due dates in the next five working days. This can be displayed while you're entering a job's schedule. This window
will help you determine the staffer's upcoming work load, then
decide whether or not they can handle the additional work
that you're about to give them. To see the staffer's scheduled
tasks, select a task in the Job Schedule window assigned to this person, then click
the "unfinished tasks for" link at the top of the schedule. It will insert initials into the link per the assigned resource on the selected task.
Q. How do I assign two (or more) staff
members to the same task?
Different people can be scheduled for the same job task by adding
sub-tasks. Sub-tasks are used exclusively for scheduling multiple start
dates, due dates, or staff members to a job task. A job task can have many
sub-tasks, which appear on job schedules, My > Task Planner, and work to do reports.
Sub-tasks have the same task code as the main task, and they aren't used
for billing. All of the hours worked on a sub-task are assigned to the main
job task. For more information on sub-tasks, see the Job Scheduling
section of the Clients & Profits user guide.
Q. Is there a quick way to update schedules
and print schedule reports for many jobs?
Yes. To update job schedules for many job tasks at one time, choose
Production > Work To Do. Make your selections, click Find, and the Work To
Do window will appear listing the found tasks. This window can be sorted and printed according to which column heading is selected. Highlight a single or multiple tasks, then click on the "Mark
as Finished" icon. These tasks are marked as finished and today's date is automatically entered as the tasks'
finished date. They will be removed from all scheduling reports from now on. Or,
you can double-click on individual tasks in this window to edit it's scheduling details. As for reports, the most commonly used is under Snapshots > Production > Schedules/Work to Do. This is not an interactive window like the Production > Work to Do window, rather a very flexible means to print scheduling reports.
Q. What happens when a scheduled task
Nothing happens automatically. Instead, someone in the production
department (or a creative) needs to mark the task as finished. This can be
done in the Job Schedule window, the Work To Do window, My > Task Planner, or from the Update
Schedule window in time cards and time sheets. Finished tasks no longer
appear on production reports or on My > Task Planner. When a task is marked as finished, it is given a finished date, but this date can be modified if necessary. It uses this date to analyze on-time performance
(see Snapshots > Production > Analysis).
Q. Can Clients & Profits print a time
line that graphically illustrates the job's schedule?
Yes. The Job Ticket Timeline report is a Gaant-like chart that
graphically displays the start and due dates for the job's
tasks. The timeline report clearly illustrates the job's
work flow by showing the time between each task's start and
due dates as a solid bar. The timeline report is printed
by clicking the Timeline link at the bottom left of the job ticket window.
Q. What do all of the toolbar buttons
in the Job Schedule window do?
Many have already been explained above. You'll
find a complete description of these functions in the Job Scheduling
section of the Clients & Profits user guide.
Q. When would I use the scheduling calendar?
The Schedule Calendar provides two valuable functions: It
gives you an on-line calendar of the current year (and even
next year) to refer to as you work. And it has a drag-and-drop
capability that makes scheduling dates fast and easy. When
you see a date you need as a task's due date, simply mouse-click
on that date in the calendar, and hold until your cursor
turns into a hand. Then you can drag the date to the task's
due date field and drop it in. If you select a day that already
has scheduled tasks due, you'll see that information on the
calendar window, too.
Q. How can I tell if a staffer is too
busy to take on new work?
The Unfinished Tasks window lists next week's deadlines
for a selected staff member. It helps you balance a staffer's
work load by preventing too many deadlines from occurring
at once. To see the staffer's scheduled tasks for the next five working days, select a task
in the Job Schedule window assigned to this staffer, then click the Unfinished
Tasks link at the top of the schedule.
Q. What happens to unfinished tasks if
the job is closed?
First of all, the job probably won't be closed if it has
unfinished tasks. If the job shows unfinished tasks, they
probably are finished but haven't been updated with finished
dates (that's a common occurrence). If a job is closed with
unfinished tasks, they are automatically marked as "finished" by
Clients & Profits as a time-saver (though they are not given a finished date). You can also prevent
a job from being closed with unfinished tasks with a customizable
setting in Preferences > Jobs.
Q. What are the best schedule reports
to print for staff members who don't have access to Clients & Profits?
The Work To Do reports (which are printed from Snapshots > Production) are
the only reports most creatives need to track their unfinished tasks and
deadlines. A separate page is printed automatically for each staff member,
making the reports easy to distribute. Of course, it's still better to give
creatives access to Clients & Profits so they can review their own My > Weekly Task Planner. It's the only way they can look up
their own deadlines, production specs, and more (not to mention entering
their time online) while they work.
Q. Is there a difference between task
status and job status?
Yes, task status is independent of the job's production or billing status,
but uses the same codes from the Status Table. You can use them any way
that makes sense and seems useful. They don't have the same intelligence
as job status codes (for example, they don't trigger e-mail notifications
or prevent people from working on tasks). You can use task status for
tasks that require special attention or a quick turnaround. For example,
if a scheduling report is limited to a certain task status, like RUSH,
then it identifies only those tasks with the RUSH status. Other tasks may
fall within the due date range you enter, but because they aren't marked
as RUSH, they don't print on the report. (Choose Snapshots > Production >
Schedules/Work To Do, then limit the report by a task status and range of
Q. How can I evaluate whether or not our
deadlines are being met?
The On-Time Performance report, which is printed from Snapshots > Production,
compares how many tasks are finished early, on time, late,
and very late. The Missed Deadlines report focuses on only
tasks that are finished late -- how many days late for each
task and an average number of days for all tasks by resource,
AE/Team, or client. These reports can be printed every month
to evaluate the shop's progress (or lack of progress) in
meeting deadlines throughout the year.