Astronaut - Mission Control Image by Angela Yuriko Smith from PixabayAprika has just announced the latest version of its PSA software. Mission Control 1.67 is available today for customers to upgrade their organisation. The release will automatically update sandboxes on January 13th and will roll out to production orgs on January 20th. Headlining the release is an Auto-assignment Wizard to improve the resource management functionality, and there are a wealth of other features in this release.

Those who follow Mission Control will note that the firm jumped from 1.65 to 1.67. This release was originally intended as 1.66, but a late update meant that the version numbering had to be updated. In other words, you didn’t miss a release, as 1.66 was never put into production. Enterprise Times also asked some questions of Colin Johnson, CEO Aprika about the release.

Resource Management focus

Resource Management for most professional services organisations is a major pain point. And for those without a solution conducted with spreadsheets. A new auto-assignment wizard delivers a new flexibility and time-saving feature for Mission Control users conducting the task of assigning roles within a project.

Users can opt to use the new wizard or complete assignments in the existing way. Using the wizard, users can opt to have the system allocate roles by skill levels of the employee. Or use the Master Team method, which allocates based on the amount of experience an individual has had with a role. The other factor which influences the assignment is the capacity of the person.

Colin Johnson, Co-Founder and CEO of Aprika
Colin Johnson, Co-Founder and CEO of Aprika

There is some weighting available in each of the two options. Within the Master Team assignment, resource managers can weight allocations between capacity and team duration. The Skills assignment weighting is more nuanced, with four factors: Skills Duration, Skill Proficiency, Enjoyment factor and Capacity. Currently, this is only a binary option between the two variants.

I asked Johnson whether customers would be able to use a weighting that combines both options. He replied, “Yes, we do plan on introducing a combination of both Skills and Teams. Like many of our new features that we release, we will be consulting with customers to understand how they’re using it and what enhancements they’d like to see in future iterations.”

Once run, the wizard presents a choice of resources for each assignment with a match factor. This enables the resource manager to quickly complete assignments. However, they can automatically complete assignments if they wish. I asked Johnson which method he would advise customers to start with and why.

Johnson replied, “We expect customers will primarily be using the Master Team method, and likely to use the ‘Recommend’ option rather than the ‘Auto Assign’ option. This provides them with the opportunity to sense-check the recommendations and make the final decision.”

While this feature impresses, there is still room for improvement. Currently, if resource managers want to learn more about the individuals concerned, they will have to switch to the scheduler or resource planner. Other applications will provide further information about resources by hovering over them or clicking on the names.

Aprika does intend to enhance the feature, though with Johnson adding, “As mentioned above, we will certainly be including a Team/Skill combination. I also expect we will expand the search methods to factor in other parameters beyond Team and Skill, such as Function and Rates.”

Another enhancement to resource management is the new Role Forecast conversion. Historically, role forecasts were used to soft book resources against an actual or potential project. The new feature enables users to turn those forecasts into Project Actions and confirm the allocation of resources at the same time. As the forecasts are converted, they also create a milestone against which the task is allocated; users are prompted to name this. There is also an audit trail so that users can see how the action was created and from which forecast.

Other enhancements

There are several other enhancements, some of which are more platform-related.

When a task or event is created within Mission Control from Salesforce, there is additional naming flexibility. Users can now opt to automatically add a custom prefix to the task or to remove it entirely. When events are created within Salesforce, not only the role owner is assigned, but other contributors can now also be assigned.

Johnson explained the reasoning behind this, saying, “The feature exists as it provides customers with a way of surfacing responsibility of particular project actions to their staff that may not have a Mission Control license, but have access to Salesforce. By creating Events, we enable customers to sync key actions on their Projects with their Calendars. The enhancements within this release have come at the request of customers.”

Some additional nuanced synchronisation changes mean that orphaned records within Salesforce are removed.

The update also includes several enhancements to Gantt Charts and Project status reports. Users can opt to send the project status reports on a different day for each client; the project stakeholders appendix can be optionally added to the distributed report as well.

On the platform side, Custom components can now support Record Types. Custom objects which will have a default record type when created can be altered to a different record type. It is also possible to import and export JSON files, to transfer a Project Plan from one Salesforce Org to another one. This enables users to create a project plan in the sandbox and then migrate it to production.

There are several other minor enhancements, including:

    • Role Object Enhancements
    • Manage Forecast Enhancements
    • Manage Availability Enhancements
    • Milestone Object Enhancements
    • Action Validation Rule

Enterprise Times: What does this mean

Usually, Mission Control releases this update in December, so it is a little later than usual. However, it does not disappoint with a major new feature, and some customers request updates that will please many. Also, like previous updates there is a roadmap to further improve the Auto-assignment wizard. As usual, Aprika will listen to customer feedback, and if the spring update does not include further improvements, then the summer one almost certainly will do. For customers wanting to see more information, the release notes are available.


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