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Effort Tracking Scope

OpenSkills is a non-profit association of professional individuals. OpenSkills members generate income by providing services. Members may either work singly, or as a team. OpenSkills has members all over the world. While being able to create pan-global teams brings many benefits, project administration does become more complex.

The OpenSkills association is not party to contracts between members and their clients, or between members. The OpenSkills effort tracking system will not be required to track money.

Projects

Members structure their service delivery as a series of projects, where a project is a discrete body of work. Projects may have fixed start end end dates, or may be open-ended. Every project has a project leader. The project leader must be an OpenSkills member. Initially, the project leader is the member who created the project. Project leadership can be transferred from one member to another member with the agreement of both the outgoing and incoming project leader. Fiscal management of the project is the responsibility of the project leader.

Accounts

Each project is associated with an account. This is the entity that is funding the project. Any number of projects may be associated with an account.

Tasks

Stages are made up of tasks. Tasks are smaller discrete units of work that might be assigned to a particular member working on a project. A task must be named, and described to sufficient detail to allow the team member to complete it (a reference to a specification will suffice). Tasks may have specified start and end dates, but will default to a start date of the project start date and an open end date. Tasks can be broken down into smaller tasks: sub-tasks. Only leaf tasks (those without sub-tasks) may have resources assigned to them.

Roles

Tasks are performed by individuals with a given skill-set. These skill-sets are called roles. Rolls are defined as a number of skills (taken from the SkillsBase). A given role is local to a project, and may be common to a number of tasks.

The process of arriving at a project work breakdown and estimate is outside the scope of this project. Recording the results of that process, however, is a key part of the Effort Tracking system. The output from planning and estimating is the definition of a set of tasks, together with the role definitions associated with those tasks. Role definitions specify the kinds of work and effort valuation which may apply during a given project, and which may be applied to given tasks. The definition of a task will include the name, the anticipated duration and any hard start or end dates.

Team Members

Team members do not have to be OpenSkills members, but obviously this is preferred. All team members must be associated with one or more of the roles for the project.

Contracts

Team members are associated with roles under the terms of contracts or statements of work. It is the responsibility of the project manager to associate the team member with the role and record a reference to the contract. Contracts should specify whether the member will be working on a piecework or time & expenses basis, and at what rate (the rate would not be recorded in the Effort Tracking system). Contracts must be compatible with the respective role and associated tasks. A team member may be a number of contracts for a single project. This is because contracts can expire, or because different roles call for different terms.

Assignments

Team members may be assigned to tasks. Only the project leader can do this, and team members can only be assigned to tasks if they are associated with a corresponding project role. The assignment must be associated with the specific contract under which the assignment will be performed. An assignment may set constraints (e.g. duration constraints) in addition to those specified in the task. A task may be assigned to more than one team member.

Bookings

When effort is expended by a team member it is booked against a specific assignment. The nature of the assignment and its related contract determine if the booking should be for an amount of time or a piece or work.

It is desirable for all concerned that effort be tracked continuously. The project leader will be able to understand overall progress and direct help where needed. The client will receive accurate information on the progress of the project. The project leader will be able to invoice clients, and in turn pay project members.

Even for piecework assignments the number of hours effort should be recorded. This is to help the project leader to understand how work is progressing, and also to build up data about effort which may be used when estimating future tasks. Where there is a concrete deliverable associated with a booking, a reference should be provided at the time the booking is made.

Approvals

Bookings must be approved (signed off). Only the project leader can do this. The approval is an explicit acknowledgment that the project leader has seen and check the booking. This process gives the project leader insight into project progress (helps avoid nasty surprises). Approval also introduces a validation point where booking errors can be caught. The project lead should be able to easily see what work has been made available by a given team member. In particular, it must be possible to see what has been made available since the last booking approval for a given team member.

The tracking system should allow for the fact that clients may require some level of approval too.

System Accessibility

As OpenSkills members are spread around the world, the Effort Tracking system must be usable across the Internet. The system must be usable via any browser which supports HTML 4.01 Strict & CSS1 or greater. A security policy model must be defined and agreed to as part of the design of the OpenSkills effort tracking system. This should take into account the needs of the various users of the system from OpenSkills administrators, through project leaders and project team members to clients of OpenSkills.


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