FAST Planner for IT (Software)
Publisher: Resource Management Systems, Inc.
Version 1.0, Add-on for Microsoft Excel
TIPS & HINTS
Tips and hints are answers to program use questions that are
likely to be of interest to many FAST Planner for IT users. Some are very basic; others are advanced.
They are organized as follows:
General Program Usage
Can I use Planner to estimate operating expenses for
personnel as well as project (capital) expenses? If yes, how do I do this?
Yes. Users who want to get a complete picture of their IT /
IS budget can use FAST Planner for both.
- You have probably noticed that the program frequently refers
to "Project/Activity". This reference was included in Planner because we
anticipated this need.
- (For our readers who are not familiar with
"capital" and "expense" budgeting, we suggest that you go to our
Learning Center where you will find information on capital budgeting in the Research
Center, in several of the Glossaries, the Tutorials and Briefs.)
- In Planner, the term "activity" refers to
recurring activities, e.g., PC support. Recurring activities are generally treated as
expense budget items. Personnel represent a large type of recurring cost.
- Develop your expense budget estimates through the same
process that you would for a one-time project.
- When you go to program Step 3. (Phases, Stages, and
- enter a single phase (use a descriptive term such as
"current staff resources")
- make the start date the first day of your organization's
fiscal year (a.k.a. "budget year") and the end date the last day of the fiscal
- If you expect to add personnel during the year, include a
second phase (e.g., "new hires"); make the start date the approximate date you
expect the new hires to start and the end date the last day of the fiscal year.
- When you go to program Step 4. (Direct Costs - Personnel):
- Enter the employee information the same way you would for a
- Depending upon your organization's policy concerning
personnel cost estimates, you may prepare your budget estimate based upon full year
salaries of all positions (current and new) or full year salaries for current employees
and part year salaries for those hired during the year.
- If the policy is full year salaries for all, then just enter
the title and quantity information the same way as you would for a project.
- If the policy is to include full year salaries for current
positions. and part year salaries for new positions you will need to enter titles with new
positions twice (once for current; once for new. E.g., if you have current employees with
the title "network engineer" and you will be hiring additional network engineers
later in the year, enter the title network engineer twice - once for the number of current
employees and once for those who will not be hired until later in the year).
- Enter the "Assign Resources To Phases/Stages (by %) as
- For the current positions, enter 100% under "1" for
your first phase
- For the new positions, enter 100% under "2" for the
- This will give you a solid estimate of your personnel budget
for the year. (Note: Planner estimates employee costs based upon the number of work days
in your fiscal year. This means that a current employee with a $100,000 salary will be
estimated at $100,385 because of the number of "work" days in a year.)
Planner allows users to make changes to program displays to
suit the particular conventions of their organization or to meet special reporting needs.
This option is available through the Main Menu by selecting "Customization".
Is there an easy way to include our logo in our Planner
- You can import your organization's logo through the
Customization option's "Recurring Information Maintenance" screen. Just click on
the "Import Logo" button and select the graphic file for your organization's
logo. Typically, these are in .bmp format.
We would like to be able to identify the support costs of
our legacy systems. Any suggestions?
- There a number of ways you might do this. One method would
be through your own project coding scheme. If you would like to include a specific
category within Planner, e.g. "Legacy System Support", you can change a default
"Strategic Category" or "Technology Work Category" in the
Customization menu's "Pick List Maintenance" screen. Then Legacy System Support
will always be one of your pick-list options.
When I first started using FAST Planner, I remember
seeing "pop-up" windows that explained terms such as "milestone",
"start and end date", etc. I don't see them anymore; can I get them back? They
could be helpful to our inexperienced planners.
- The windows that you are referring to are "Quick
Reference Windows" that automatically appear when a user goes to various Program
Steps. If they are no longer appearing, it is likely that someone deactivated them. To
reactivate them, simply select "active" in the "Quick Reference Window
Maintenance" screen for the windows you want.
Step 1. Boilerplate
How can I prepare a budget for a project that begins in the
middle of one year and ends part way into the next?
- FAST Planner is designed to estimate budgets on a 12-month
basis; that's how most budgets are prepared.
- To estimate a multi-year project (i.e., a project that has
work in more than one year) do the following:
- Enter the first fiscal year in which work on the project
will occur in the "Fiscal Year" field (you will create a separate project for
work that will be done in the second year).
- Select "New" in the "New/Continued"
field for the first project (you will select "continued" for the project work to
be scheduled in the second year).
- In this screen, the "Start Date" will be the
beginning of the project in the first year, and the "End Date" will be the
project's conclusion in the second year. (Later, when you get to Step 3, the start and end
dates refer to the start and end dates for the project in a single fiscal year. Thus, the
end date for the first project would be the last day of the fiscal year; the start date
for the second project would be the first day of the fiscal year.)
- You may use the same project number for both years; this
allows you to generate reports for either fiscal year's project cost estimates or the
total cost of both projects.
Step 2. Project/Activity Type
I have several projects that don't fit any of our standard
categories. I want to keep the default categories for most of our projects.
Step 2 allows you to "Enter Your Own Project/Activity
Type". Enter the unique categories for the projects here
Step 3. Phases/Stages And Milestones
There are no tips or hints for this right now; there will be
Step 4. Direct Costs - Personnel
Where should I enter the costs of consultants?
- There are two places that you can enter consultant costs. In
Step 3, enter the cost for individual consultants who are usually independent contractors
and your organization pays the consultant as an individual. When you are paying a
consulting firm, which in turn pays its employees, enter the information in Step 4 under
Step 5. Direct Costs - Non-Personnel
I see that software costs can be assigned to phases in one
of two ways; i.e. assign equally or by phase. Does it really matter how they are assigned?
- The answer depends upon how much information you have
available and whether or not the costs incurred in one phase vs. another is important to
you or your organization.
- For example, if you plan to purchase a large number of
software packages at one time, it would be useful to associate the costs with a particular
phase by assigning "100%" of the software costs to that phase. This will help
you, and others, see when the money will be spent in addition to the amount of money.
- If you just want to estimate the costs quickly or don't know
when the purchase would be made then simply enter "Y" in the "Assign
Equally" column. Planner will then automatically distribute the costs evenly across
Step 6. Indirect Costs
Should we bother including indirect costs; what it the
- In some organizations, indirect costs (e.g., administrative
overhead charges) are charged to the IT organization for routine services provided by
central organizations (e.g., personnel, legal, etc.). The amounts can be a significant
percentage of the IT organization's total budget.
- If project costs are to be recovered from the user groups
served, it is important to include these costs as part of the budget to be sure the IT
organization also recovers these costs.
I am a senior project manager in a large IT organization.
What would be a useful budget "package" for me to submit to the CIO?
- Consider a group of summary reports supported with some
detail. For example, you could submit the following to provide a balance of summary and
- CER 1000 (Summary) containing a list of your projects, their
project numbers and costs; this report provides a total project count and cost.
- FAST View - All is a one-page summary of key information for
each project - description, work schedule, and costs. Open each project and print from the
FAST View - All view.
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