Aprika has unveiled the latest update to Mission Control, its PSA solution built on the Salesforce platform. Version 1.56 includes an updated Resource Management Wizard. This is one of the four updates that Aprika delivered for Mission Control during the year. According to Co-Founder and CEO Colin Johnson, whom Enterprise Times spoke to last year, the next is in April. The update also included several other enhancements.
Resource management top of mind for many
Improving Resource Management is one of the main challenges faced by Professional Services firms. They need to ensure that their consultants are used most effectively. Randy Mysliviec, MD of the RMI, says “field the right person with the right skills in the right place at the right time.” With COVID and lockdown, the “right place” may now be less important than in the right timezone.
The newly updated wizard is available from most locations a resource manager or project manager wants to access. That includes the project overview, the Gannt chart and the Action Pad. Users can either manually allocate a consultant to the action (task) owner or contributor, or use the wizard. If manually entering a name, the system dynamically suggests the appropriate person based on what has been typed, minimising keystrokes.
The wizard makes things much simpler though it appears that each resource must be looked for individually. The user can filter by team, skills and skill proficiency levels then enter the start date and duration of the proposed engagement. Mission Control presents a graphical representation of consultants matching the criteria and their availability across the duration. When a resource is allocated elsewhere, it is possible to drill down to see whether the consultant times are allocated to billable, non-billable or vacation time. It is also possible to see which projects they are allocated against. Once a consultant is identified, the user can drag and drop the consultant icon onto the action they are searching against.
For larger organisations, the system supports settings that will only show consultants with a specified percentage of availability for the task. It can also limit the number of consultants suggested. While the location is not one of the parameters available, this has become less important post-COVID.
New Checklist Item Manager
It is now possible to track hours at the checklist item level, both billable and non-billable. Users can now log their time against checklist items. This delivers a granularity within projects that several users have requested and Aprika have now delivered. Project managers can now determine whether they want Mission Control to automatically create/update/delete contributor records as they assign item owners to checklist items.
There is also a new Checklist Item Manager, this provides users with more efficient ways to create, view and update checklist items. Using this, project managers will increase efficiency as they create or amend project information.
Also affecting checklist is the new feature to customise the copying of an action page. Custom Clone allows the user to determine what sub-items of an action they wish to copy. It allows the user to determine whether to copy checklist items and contributors associated with an action.
There are enhancements to the scheduler. This includes the ability to add a scheduler widget anywhere in the Mission Control solution leverage the Lightning interface. The scheduler now supports the ability to view a period from one to twelve months on-screen. It can also display whether the view uses total hours scheduled, total hours remaining, projected hours remaining or total projected hours.
Timesheets have had several minor enhancements to improve usability. Users can select to view timesheets by week or month. They can also clone the previous weeks’ timesheet and then edit it, reducing the time taken to submit them significantly.
Mission Control supports the ability to create projects from opportunities within the CRM. This feature now enables users to set whether multiple products create a single milestone or one per product within the opportunity. Within the opportunity a project unit value can now be entered for each product object. This value is now transferred from the opportunity to the project as the unit of measure for the relevant milestone, such as hours scheduled. For example, if multiple sets of training are in the opportunity, the system can support whether this becomes a single milestone or multiple ones. Also, if the number of hours is included in the opportunity, these would be brought across into the project milestone.
Support for more complex billable rates is now supported. A user can now specify hourly rates per role, per skill and per project using the Manage Rates feature.
Mission Control also offers better Invoice PDF customisation, specifically around tax rates, and header and footer fields.
Other improvements include milestone type and action type filters in the Gant Chart. There are changes to the project planner, specifically around what is shown. Users can also create multiple milestones when they create a new project. This includes the deadline and budget for each milestone.
Enterprise Times: What does this mean
The new Resource Management wizard holds the most promise. It will enable project and resource managers to more efficiently allocate resources to projects. What is missing is the ability to suggest the mapping of resources to projects automatically. However, the base capability is now in place, and it will be interesting to see where Aprika takes it next.
Many of the new features are designed to increase the efficiency of project managers leveraging the solution. There are far more minor updates than mentioned above, and some of these may be what many customers have been waiting for.
They won’t have to wait long. The update is available now to download manually. On 23rd January Aprika will automatically push the upgrade to all Sandbox Orgs, and a week later on the 30th January, all Production Orgs will be updated.
The next update is due in April with Johnson noting that these will include a “lessons learned log, a retrospective concept, and a read-only element of the project detail for our customers to give access to their customers.”