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Projects have long been a part of the Manage platform, but are you utilizing them to their full potential? In this article, we’re taking a deep-dive into Projects. When and how to use them, and more importantly, how to automate parts of them.

Projects Vs Service Tickets

As a general rule of thumb, Projects for long term jobs such as Installation of hardware, migrations, onboarding/auditing and almost anything that originates from an opportunity. There is a great guide in ConnectWise University here.

Project Templates

For almost every project, I have a template that will include around 80% of the work required with detailed notes on what’s expected in each ticket from each member, with a budget. This allows for non-technical staff to schedule projects with ease on the Gantt chart.

To create Templates, head over to Projects > Project Templates

A screenshot of Project Templates within the Project module.

I’ve created various Project Types in Manage for Onboarding, Migrations, Installations, etc. Once you’ve named and created a template, head over to the Work Plan tab and start to create your phases and tickets.

Here’s a basic example of a PC Installation template

Screenshot detailing a basic PC Installation template within the Projects module

Within each of these tickets is detailed tasks of what the owner is expected to do in order to complete the ticket. For example –Ticket 1.1:

  • Install Adobe Reader
  • Install Google Chrome
  • Install RMM
  • Install AV
  • Upgrade to 1909

Tip!

In the Project Board Setup Table, ensure that you have a ‘Team’ created and members joined, without this created, you’ll have to manually add your team to each project and grant them a role. It will also help to autofill out the Project information when it’s created.

Project Status / Phase Status

You can create and set statuses for both the overall project and the phase. As most projects don’t run over a few weeks, I run most workflows on the Project itself rather than the phase. I’ve also created statuses for Awaiting 3rd party, awaiting parts and a few others to allow us to automate emails to relevant parties when things out of our control are being slowed down.

Status of Projects created in the Setup Tables

Tip!

If you’re creating a status that means you’ve halted work, make use of the ‘No Time Entry for this Status’. This forces your team to change the status back to something meaningful.

The status indicators are also a great way of seeing issues at a glance.

Automating Projects

One of my initial problems with Projects was that they simply got forgotten about. We constantly had to check in with people to see where they were up to, staff thought their part wasn’t ready to be completed yet as they had no notices that the previous phase/ticket was completed and so on. This is where we can utilize the following tools to automate parts of projects:

  • Auto Templates
  • Workflow Rules
  • Status Emails

Let’s get started!

Auto Templates

I’ve already discussed Auto Templates here. The same principles apply to Projects, allowing you to customize the Tasks that are associated with a specific ticket, depending on what Type, Subtype and Item you select.

Workflow Rules

These are by far the most powerful assistant within Projects. Think of them as your personal assistant who will check for something every 10 minutes for you until it happens. Here’s what I do:

Awaiting Hardware

When Projects are created and require hardware, we’ve got a workflow rule in place that checks for Projects awaiting hardware, waits for them to be received in the Procurement module and then changes the status to ‘Parts Arrived’ and then emails the Project Manager to let them know they’re able to schedule the project. Here’s an example of this workflow rule

Projects ready for scheduling Workflow Rule

Awaiting 3rd Parties

As an example, you’ve got a project for a broadband install and it will be up to 30 days until the ISP has provisioned the line. By simply changing the Project status to Awaiting 3rd Parties, our client gets emailed to let them know. This can be invaluable when it comes to keeping the client updated on your project. Here’s an example of this workflow rule

Projects showing Awaiting 3rd party workflow rule

Be sure to set the ‘To’ option in your email to ‘Contact for this item’ to email the client. Ensure that you’ve set up your HTML template so that your email looks professional.

Managing Projects

Here are some very useful workflow triggers that I use frequently, however, I use them individually.

  1. Actual hours are >= {value}% of budget – I set this to around 80% and have it email me to check in with the team. As an example, a 10 hour Project budget will alert me when 8 hours of actual time have been logged against the project.
  2. Project is in (Engineering Complete) phase – Once the project is completed from a technical aspect, this status is then changed by the engineer and management will then come in and check for any issues, confirm the client is happy and close off the project entirely, ready for invoicing.

Another common option for workflows is to have project statuses for invoicing, you can set workflow rules to alert you once the bill has been paid and then proceed to complete the job if this is how your business works.

Status Emails

As mentioned above, one of my biggest issues was technicians not knowing when previous parts of the project had been closed, I solved this with the Status email option. Head over to Setup Tables > Project Board > Statuses > Closed. Tick the box for Internal Contacts and create an email template, I have a simple HTML template with variables

Tip!

Some of the best variables are:
[projectname] [projectmanager] [companyname] [ticketowner]

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2 Comments

  • Gavin Stone, December 4, 2019 @ 8:37 pm Reply

    Great post! We recently started using Manage for projects and there is some useful stuff here. The most disappointing thing was discovering that you can’t set the predecessor structure up in the templates which seems to meant the logic of when each project should transition has to be added manually each time. All the tickets generating at once too was found to be “too much” for engineers. Not really tackled that problem yet.

    • Matthew, December 4, 2019 @ 10:16 pm Reply

      Hey Gav,

      That is a real annoyance with the lacking predecessor functionality. With regards to the tickets all being generated at once, The only way I have found to combat this is to create separate templates for each phase. This can become quite admin-intensive ensuring that when Phase 1 is closed, the phase 2 template is then added and assigned.

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