Onboarding is accomplished in 3-1/2 Phases
Welcome and Thank You
Onboarding is accomplished in 3-1/2 Phases, which can take as long to implement as you are comfortable with. And you don’t have to implement all of them.
I highly recommend that you adopt Ochre one phase at a time to make the transition as simple as possible. In fact you may choose to stop or pause your onboarding after any phase.
Having said that, I should also point out that 80% of the benefits lie in the first two phases. But, Phase Three is where the real time savings reside - if you agree with me that Phase Three replaces your accounting system.
[Consider printing this webpage if you prefer to markup your progress.]
The 3-1/2 Phase Overview
These are the 3-1/2 onboarding Phases and what you do in each one.
Phase One - Timekeeping.
You will add your Projects, connect Phases to your Projects, add any other Staff, and start making time entries.
Phase One and a Half - Historical Data
You will consider how far back to go with adding time entries, and start making the entries. This is a ‘half phase’ because you can implement it anytime.
Phase Two - Tracking Design Budgets.
You will add Rates to your staff details, Budgets to your Project-Phases, and any Custom Billing Rates to Projects.
You will also set up Mileage, and Reimbursable Expenses if you want to use these features.
Finally and optionally, for each staff member you will enter an allowance for Paid Time Off [PTO] and a target for Billable Ratio.
Phase Three - Financial Management.
You will set up your Categories and add whatever historical data you feel that you want in Ochre.
[As you work through onboarding in Ochre, you might find that the Admin Reference Guide on the Admin page is a handy reference.]
Phase One - Timekeeping
The onboarding that is described in Phase One will have you ready to start timekeeping.
Phase One includes these tasks:
I suggest adding only the Projects that you are actively working on. Go to the Project Reports page, click the ‘Projects Page’ button. On the Projects page that opens, select the ‘New Project’ button. Complete a form for each Project. Only two pieces of information are critical right now - Project Name, and Client. Completing other information is not discouraged, but it can be added later without issue.
The app contains a project called ‘Internal’ which is used for your own non-billable “projects” - for general office time and for Paid Time Off. This pre-loaded project should not be renamed because it is used by the app.
A Project-Phase is a combination of a Project and a Phase that becomes a container for time and costs and is the same as you think of a Phase.
Three pieces of information are mandatory - select the name of the Project, select or add a Phase, and click the appropriate option under ‘Billable?’. Everything else can be updated later without extra effort.
YOUR PROJECTS ARE NOW SET UP - Staff are next.
Adding Staff (if any)
If you have employees or contract workers, the next step is to return to the Admin page and use the ‘Add New Staff’ button to add other Users/Staff. The people that you add will be able to access Ochre based on the User Role that you assign to them.
User Roles are a method of controlling access to the records saved in Ochre. Each main tab in the app’s main menu equates to a User Role. My suggested role in your organization is just that - a suggestion.
My Records - Level 1 - Everyone
Time - Level 2 - 'Job Captain' and above
Budgets - Level 3 - 'Project Architect' and above
Project Reports - Level 4 - 'Project Manager' and above
Expenses - Level 5 - bookkeeper
Admin - Admin - Principal or anyone needing access to everything
Each User should be assigned all the User Roles up to and including their highest User Role.
When adding staff, you need to assign a password. I suggest just using ‘password’ for simplicity. However make sure each staff member changes their password to something hard to guess. My favorite is three random words spelled using some numbers or special characters, e.g. P!nto p0nie5 d@ncing. Or better yet a password manager like 1Password.
Once more Users are added, return to the table of Staff and add their Labor, Charge and Billing Rates at the minimum so that time records include the cost.
That’s it. You have completed this phase, and you can begin making time entries.
Phase One and a Half - Historical Data
Now that you are ready to add time entries to your account it is time to consider what Historical Data that you want to add.
Historical Time Data is most helpful for active Project-Phases.
In descending order of value after active Project-Phases would be:
You may be tempted to go deeper into historical data than just current work. However, my advice is to skimp on historical data because every month it becomes less and less useful. And you can add historical data anytime if you realize it would be useful to have in Ochre.
Before committing to a plan, review this article on Historical Data.
Phase Two - Tracking Design Budgets
Phase Two adds the money dimension to your timekeeping data. You can get immediate and useful feedback about how your projects are doing by setting budgets. You can also track some additional things - Mileage, Reimbursable Expenses, PTO, and Billable Ratios. Here is how you set up each.
Key Feedback Features
Design Budgets - Rates
In order to track design budgets you must establish Rates for each staff member and yourself. On the Admin page go to the Staff table. The table of staff has columns for you to add three Rates: Labor, Charge, and Billing.
Labor Rate: what the person receives per hour for their work. If they work hourly, use their pay per hour. If they are salaried, divide their annual salary by 2080 to arrive at a Labor Rate.
Charge Rate: what is charged to the project for each hour the person works on it. The Charge Rate includes the Labor Rate and an additional amount representing a proportional share of overhead expenses. Profit is not included. In other words the Charge Rate is equal to the Standard Billing Rate minus profit. In the case of a contract worker, the Labor Rate and the Charge Rate are the same.
Billing Rate: what is billed to the client for each hour spent on their project. The Billing Rate includes the Labor Rate, a proportional share of overhead expenses, plus profit.
This Architekwiki blog post describes a method for determining accurate Charge and Billing Rates.
Design Budgets are tracked by Project-Phase, and can be tracked by hours and by dollars. Hours Budgets are simply the number of hours that the Project-Phase is expected to take. The Dollar Budget is the Net Fee minus profit. So the Dollar Budget is the number of hours multiplied by the average Charge Rate.
The Hours Budget and the Dollars Budget are entered on the Project Reports page in the table of Project Budget Progress. The number of hours entered for the Project-Phase by staff is summed and displayed as ‘Hours JTD’ (Job-To-Date). The number of hours entered for the Project-Phase by each staff member is summed, then multiplied by their Charge Rate, and displayed as ‘Spent JTD’.
If you have entered a budgets, the percent completion is calculated for you.
Optional, but Handy, Tracking Features
You can have staff submit mileage and other reimbursable expenses. If you want to do this, go to the Staff table on the Admin table. By changing the ’No’ to ‘Yes’ in the “Submit Exp” column, that staff member will be able to submit mileage and reimbursable expenses by using the ‘More…forms, etc.’ button on the My Records page. See Mileage and Reimbursable Expenses below for prerequisites.
Before enabling Staff Expenses, make sure you have established Mileage Rates for your projects.
Based on your Mileage Rate information, two transactions are made automatically. First is an expense transaction. This will show that your organization owes your staff member for the miles driven. The second transaction is an income transaction that will show that your client owes your organization for the miles driven (if appropriate).
Mileage Rates are entered on the Projects page accessed from the Project Reports page by clicking the Projects Page button.
Similar to Mileage, once the Reimbursable Expenses Markup Factor has been set for each project, staff members can document any expenses that they pay on behalf of the firm or a project. Some examples might be tolls, parking, reprographics, permit fees.
Two transactions are made automatically as with Mileage.
The Reimbursable Expenses Markup Factors are entered on the Projects page accessed from the Project Reports page by clicking the Projects Page button.
Paid Time Off for each person is treated as a number of hours per year. There is a Project-Phase already in Ochre. The PTO allowance is entered on the Admin page in the Staff table.
The Billable Ratio is the percent of all hours spent that are billable. The Billable Ratio target is entered on the Admin page in the Staff table. Billable Ratios are a key determinant of profitability.
Phase Three - Bookkeeping
Setting up your app for Bookkeeping is unexpectedly easy. Adding Categories is the only task. Adding your income and expense transactions is very similar to adding a time entry. All Bookkeeping activity starts on the Expenses page.
Categories might be called ‘accounts’ in accounting software that you have used. You have a choice here of duplicating those accounts as Categories or simplifying things by re-thinking what you really need from your bookkeeping system. I recommend making your list of Categories as minimal as possible. My experience is that you rarely have a business need to consider Categories. Your major cost is time. Analyzing expenses by Category is a distraction from analyzing how you are using your time.
In Ochre Categories are used to group your transaction records to make sense of them for managing your business and your taxes.
All bookkeeping entries should get a Category. You set up your categories for income and expenses just once. Categories can be edited, but all existing transactions using the category will be affected. You can add a new category anytime.
To set up Categories you use the ‘Categories’ button on the Expenses page. The table shows all your Categories. The Add Category button opens a form where you can enter a new Category.
Ochre comes pre-populated with Categories. Some Categories are used by the system and should not be changed. You can rename any NON-SYSTEM Category or make it inactive to remove it from use.
Making transaction entries is very similar to making a time entry. On the Expenses page simply click the ‘Add Income’ or ‘Add Expense’ button and complete the form. Instructions are part of the page.
Making your Historical Data entries is all that remains. Review Phase One and a Half. You may want to go deeper on historical data than just current work. However, my advice is to skimp on historical bookkeeping data because every month it becomes less and less useful. And you can add historical data anytime if you realize it would be nice to have in Ochre.
I suggest the scope of Historical Bookkeeping Data be the current year’s data or Transactions for the past three to six months.
YOU HAVE COMPLETED ONBOARDING.