3.5. Working with tasks

3.5.1. About tasks

A task is an activity that needs to be accomplished within a defined period of time. Fanurio uses tasks to help you manage work for your projects. Here's what you can record with a task:

  • Project: The project where you want to record the task. The project is mandatory as you can only record tasks on projects.

  • Name: The name of the task.

  • Description: A small description of what the task is about.

  • Reference [optional]: A reference number that you can use if your tasks are imported from other applications.

  • Category [optional]: A category that can help you organize your tasks.

  • Tags [optional]: A list of zero or more tags separated by commas. Tags can also help you organize tasks and they are more flexible than categories.

  • Estimated Time [optional]: How much time the task is expected to take.

  • Start Date: The date when the task has been started or will start (today by default).

  • Due Date [optional]: The date when the task is expected to be completed (the project due date by default if this field is visible, none otherwise).

  • Completed: Whether the task is completed or not.

  • Completed Date: The date when the task was completed.

  • Notes: Additional notes.

If a project is billable, tasks have a few more fields. Tasks from non-billable projects don't show these fields:

  • Billable: When checked, it indicates that the task is billable. Billable projects can have both billable and non-billable tasks.

  • Pricing: Specifies how the task is billed: in units or in hours. If a task is billed in units then Uninvoiced Quantity must be entered manually but if a task is billed by the hour the Uninvoiced Quantity is determined automatically from the billable time entries.

    If a task is billed by the hour, you can also specify how time is rounded to determine the Uninvoiced Quantity.

  • Uninvoiced Quantity: Indicates the quantity that can be invoiced for a task. Uninvoiced quantity can be discounted.

  • Price: The price per unit of whatever the task bills. Price can be discounted.

  • Taxes: Taxes applied to the task: None (for non-taxable tasks), Default (taxes specified by the parent invoice), or specific taxes.

    This field is visible if taxes are enabled at business level and the client is not exempt from taxes.

There are several ways you can create a task:

  1. Go to Business » New Task.

  2. Go to the Tasks view and use the New button.

  3. Open a project and go to the Tasks section. Then click the New button.

  4. When you create a time entry or when you start the timer, you can also create a new task. Just click the New link button.

Tip

Although you can create as many tasks as you want, you shouldn't create one each time you are working on something. Instead, create tasks only for the major activities of the project. Then add one or more time entries to each task to keep track when you've done that kind of work.

Let's say that you need to keep track of how much time you spend on the phone with the client for a certain project. Instead of creating a task each time you talk to him or her, you should create a single task and then add time to that task for each call.

By doing this, your project will contain several manageable tasks that have complete time logs.

3.5.2. Configuring optional fields

Because tasks have many fields and because not all fields are relevant to all users, you can hide optional fields that you don't use. Optional task fields are fields that can be hidden in the task windows (New Task or Edit Task). Here's how you can configure them:

  1. Create a new task (New Task) or edit an existing one (Edit Task).

  2. Click the Configure button from the bottom-left corner.

  3. Check the fields that you want to be visible and uncheck the ones that you want to hide.

  4. Click Done. Fanurio will update the task window to show only selected fields.

For instance, one of the optional fields is Reference. This field only makes sense if tasks recorded in Fanurio are imported from other systems. The Reference field allows you to connect a task in Fanurio with a task-like object from other systems.

A similar field is Estimated Time. Some people need to work a limited amount of time on a task and in this case the Estimated Time field is very useful because it can be used to determine the remaining time. Other people don't have a time limit and they can spend as much time as needed on a task, in this case the Estimated Time field is not useful and can be hidden.

3.5.3. Billing tasks

Tasks can be used to manage work but they can also be used to bill it. A task can be used to bill three hours of programming or ten pages of Greek text translated to Latin, it's up to you how you bill your work. Tasks can be billed in units or hours.

Here's how to specify the billing settings for a task:

  1. Check the Billable box.

  2. Choose whether the task is billed in units or in hours.

    • If a task is billed in units then you will have to manually enter the quantity in the Uninvoiced Quantity field.

    • If a task is billed in hours then the billable quantity is calculated automatically from the recorded time. You can also use a time rounding rule to indicate how time is converted in hours. See the next section for more details.

  3. Enter a unit of measure in the field next to the quantity field.

    By default, Fanurio uses unit for unit-based tasks and hours for hourly-rated tasks but you can enter any other unit of measure. For instance, if you have a task that bills a translation job you may want to use words as the unit of measure.

  4. Enter a price in the Price field.

Another way to specify the billing settings for a task is to use a billable task category. If a task uses a billable task category, the task will use the billing settings of its category by default.

The next section explains in detail what happens when a task is invoiced.

3.5.4. Billing a task multiple times

Tasks can be billed once or multiple times. If a task is billed multiple times, at some point it has both invoiced work and not yet invoiced work. To understand this better, let's consider the following example.

Example 1: Let's suppose that in January you started to work on a task called Consulting for one of your clients and this task is going to be finished in March. It's February 11 and you've already worked 10 hours in January and 2 hours this month. Since you are billing your clients each month, you need to bill her for the 10 hours from January. Once you create the invoice for January, the task Consulting will have both invoiced work (10 hours) and uninvoiced work (2 hours).

In order to help you see all this information, Fanurio has several fields.

  • Uninvoiced Quantity: Shows the quantity that can be invoiced but hasn't been invoiced yet.

    For the Consulting task, Uninvoiced Quantity is 12 hours before the task is invoiced and 2 hours after it is invoiced. When everything is invoiced for a task, this field is 0 (zero).

  • Invoiced Quantity: Shows the invoiced quantity or the sum of all invoiced quantities for that task.

    For the Consulting task, Invoiced Quantity is 0 hours before the task is invoiced and 10 hours after it is invoiced. When everything is invoiced for a task, this field shows the sum of all invoiced quantities.

  • Quantity: Invoiced Quantity + Uninvoiced Quantity

  • Uninvoiced Total: Price x Uninvoiced Quantity

    When everything is invoiced for a task, this field is 0 (zero) because Uninvoiced Quantity will then be 0.

  • Invoiced Total: Shows the total value of everything that was invoiced for the task.

    When everything is invoiced for a task, this field is equal to Total because Uninvoiced Total will be 0.

  • Total: Invoiced Total + Uninvoiced Total

Except for the Uninvoiced Quantity, Uninvoiced Total and Total fields, the other fields are not visible by default in the Tasks table. If you need to see them, just right click the header of one of the table columns and you can choose which columns are visible.

If you need to see the billing history of a task, all you have to do is edit it and go to the Billing History tab. This tab is displayed only when a task has been invoiced at least once. Also, if a task has been invoiced you can't change its Pricing attribute (you can't bill it once in hours and then in units) or make it non-billable.

The first example shows what happens when an hourly-rated task is billed. Here's a second example that shows what happens when a unit-based task is invoiced.

Example 2: Let's suppose you have a translation job and you need to translate 100 pages. In order to track time for this job and bill it, you create a task called Translation and mark it as billable. You set the pricing for the job in units and enter 100 in the Uninvoiced Quantity field. You also set a price and enter 'pages' in the unit of measure field. Please note that for unit-based tasks, the billable quantity has to be entered manually as opposed to hourly-rated tasks for which billable quantity is calculated automatically. When you invoice this task, Fanurio will create a service item to bill all 100 pages and it will set Uninvoiced Quantity for the task to 0. If you edit the service item to bill less pages, for instance 40 pages, then Fanurio will update the Uninvoiced Quantity for the task to contain the remaining pages, in this case 60 pages.

3.5.5. Billing a task at different rates

When you invoice a task, Fanurio actually creates a service item with the same billing settings in order to invoice it but this doesn't mean you can't use more than one rate to bill a task. To understand this better, let's consider the following example.

Let's suppose you have a task called Consulting that must be billed using two different rates: regular hours are charged at $100/hour and overtime hours are charged at $150/hour. Because tasks can only be configured with one rate, you enter $100 in the Price field. At the end of the month, the task has 5 regular hours and 2 overtime hours. Here's what you need to do to bill the task in this case:

  1. Create an invoice.

  2. Add the task with all its time (7 hours) to the invoice. Fanurio will create a service item that bills 7 hours at $100/hour.

  3. Edit the service item and remove the 2 hours of overtime.

  4. Invoice the task again for the remaining 2 hours. Fanurio will create a service item that bills 2 hours at $100/hour.

  5. Edit the second service item and change its price to $150.

Now the invoice has two service items that bill the same task for both regular hours and overtime hours.

3.5.6. Marking invoiced tasks as completed

Tasks can be marked as completed either manually by editing them or automatically when they are invoiced.

Go to Business » My Business Details+Projects+Tasks to configure whether Fanurio marks invoiced tasks as completed. You can choose one of the following values:

  • Automatically: If a task is invoiced and its uninvoiced quantity is zero (in other words, there's nothing else to bill) then Fanurio will automatically mark it as completed. This setting makes sense if you bill your tasks only once. Let's consider the following example.

    You start working on a task. When you're done, you create an invoice to bill it and Fanurio automatically marks it as completed.

  • Prompt me: If a task is invoiced and its uninvoiced quantity is zero (in other words, there's nothing else to bill) then Fanurio will ask if you want to mark it as completed. This setting makes sense if you bill your tasks more than once. Let's consider the following example.

    In January, you start working on a task that will end in February. At the end of the first month, you bill this task and Fanurio asks you if you want to close it but because it's not done yet, you don't mark it as completed. The next month, the same thing happens but this time you mark it as completed.

  • Never: Nothing happens when a task is invoiced. It's up to you to mark tasks as completed when they're done. This is the default value.

Fanurio uses the following algorithm to calculate the completed date when configured to use the Automatically or Prompt me modes:

  • If the task has at least one time entry, it will use the end date of the last time entry. Time entries represent working sessions for a particular task so it makes sense to use the date of the last time entry to determine when the task ended. If there are no new time entries then the date of the last time entry is the date when the task ended.

  • If a task doesn't have any time entries then it will use the end date of the billing period.

  • If the billing period is undefined (all dates) then the completed date is set to now.

3.5.7. Rounding time for billable tasks

Unlike tasks billed in units where the quantity must be entered manually by the user, the quantity of hourly-rated tasks is calculated automatically by converting the total billable time to hours.

Let's suppose you have a billable task with two uninvoiced time entries (t1 = 16 minutes and t2 = 32 minutes). Here's how its quantity is calculated in three different cases:

  1. Time rounding is not enabled

    Quantity = 0:16 + 0:32 = 0:48 = 0.8 hours

  2. Time is rounded up to 15 minutes for the sum of all the time entries

    Quantity = round(0:16 + 0:32) = round(0:48) = 1:00 = 1.0 hours

  3. Time is rounded up to 15 minutes for each time entry

    Quantity = round(0:16) + round(0:32) = 0:30 + 0:45 = 1:15 = 1.25 hours

When creating a time rounding rule, you can also specify a minimum amount of time to bill. By default, the minimum field is set to 0 but you can change it to create rules like "round time to the nearest 15 minutes interval but bill at least 30 minutes".

Note: Fanurio uses the hour format (1:15) when dealing with time and the decimal format (1.25) when dealing with billable quantities.

The easiest way to round time for a task is to edit it and click the link next to hourly pricing option. However, if you use the same rounding rule for all the tasks of a project, you should set that as a default billing setting for that project.

If you use the same settings for all your projects then you can define a default time rounding rule under Business » My Business Details+Projects+Tasks that will be applied to all new projects you create after that. It will not alter the settings of existing projects or tasks. If you want the new rule to also be applied to existing projects and tasks, you will have to change them by hand.

3.5.8. Understanding billable time precision

The precision method used to calculate billable time is a business setting that rarely (maybe never) needs to be changed. The current version uses exact precision by default but before version 3.1 the default was set to two-decimal precision. If you need to change this setting, go to Business » My Business Details+Projects+Tasks.

In order to calculate the value of billable time (e.g. 20 minutes), Fanurio converts it to a decimal number. To do this it can either use exact precision (0.333...3, unlimited number of decimals) or two-decimal precision (0.33, two decimals).

  • When using exact precision, the total is calculated accurately down to the penny but the number of hours may not always be a two-decimal number (0.333...3). If the number of hours has more than two decimals (0.333...3) then it may not be practical to print it on invoices and if the number is rounded to two decimals (0.33) it will not be accurate. That's why when using exact precision, time should be printed in hour format (00:20) and not in decimal format (0.333...3).

  • When using two-decimal precision, the number of hours is guaranteed to be a two-decimal number all the time (0.33). This type of precision is recommended if you need to print time on your invoices in decimal format. Since the number of hours is rounded to two decimals, the total will be larger or smaller depending on whether rounding is done up or down.

Let's see how the two precision methods influence the value of billable time for a task billed at a rate of $60/hour.

Table 3.4. Differences between exact precision and two-decimal precision when calculating billable time

Example Rate Billable Time Hours / Total (exact) Hours / Total (two-decimal) Difference (exact - two-decimal)
1 $60/hour 00:15 0.25 / $15.00 0.25 / $15.00 $0.00
2 $60/hour 00:20 0.333...3 / $20.00 0.33 / $19.80 $0.20
3 $60/hour 00:30 0.50 / $30.00 0.50 / $30.00 $0.00
4 $60/hour 00:40 0.666...6 / $40.00 0.67 / $40.20 -$0.20

Examples 1 and 3 show that if billable time converts to a number of hours with two decimals (0.25, 0.50), the two methods yield the same results so it's irrelvant which one is used. Examples 2 and 4 show the rounding differences between the two methods.

Choosing between the two methods may sound complicated and if it does, just go with the default option (exact precision). However, the best solution is to make this choice irrelevant by rounding time to 6, 15 or 30 minutes so that billable time always converts to a number of hours with two decimals.

3.5.9. Planning work with tasks

Although Fanurio has tasks like other project management applications, it doesn't have features like task dependencies, task hierarchies or Gantt charts. This helps us keep things simple and manageable. We are also counting on the fact that our users work on less complex projects that can be managed without such features.

Tasks have the following fields that can help you plan your work:

  • Start Date: The date when the task has been started or will start.

  • Due Date: The date when the task is expected to be completed.

  • Completed: Whether the task is completed or not.

  • Completed Date: The date when the task was completed.

Except for the Start Date field, the other fields are not visible by default in the Tasks table. We're assuming most projects created in Fanurio are simple projects that don't actually require any planning. If you need to see them, just right click the header of one of the table columns and you can choose which columns are visible.

The Tasks table has two filters that can help you plan your work better. The Status filter allows you to see completed, not completed or overdue tasks while the Due Date filter allows you to see tasks by their due date. For instance, you could use it to see all tasks that are due this week.

3.5.10. Tracking progress on tasks

Fanurio can track progress only if you specify a time estimate. The estimated time and the actual recorded time (the sum of all time entries) are used to calculate the progress and the remaining time.

Progress-related columns like Estimated Time, Remaining Time and Progress are not visible by default in the Tasks table. If you need to see them, just right click the header of one of the table columns and you can choose which columns are visible.

If the Estimated Time and Remaining Time columns are visible, Fanurio also shows their totals at the bottom of the Tasks table.

3.5.11. Using categories to organize tasks

Tasks can have an optional category (eg Design, Tech Support, etc) that can be used to organize them.

The list of task categories can be managed from Business » My Business Details+Projects+Tasks. Task categories can also be specified when a task is created or edited using the New link button.

Tasks can be searched or filtered by category in the Tasks view. Just click the small arrow icon from the search field to tell it that you want to search by category. Then type the name of the category that you want to search for.

3.5.12. Using tags to organize tasks

When creating or editing a task, you can associate one or more tags with it in the Tags field that have to be separated by commas (eg: tag1,tag2,tag3). Tags provide a simple way of recording additional information about a task like milestone name.

If you need to tag multiple tasks, go to the Tasks view and select them. Then right-click to display the contextual menu and select Edit Tags.

Once you have one or more tasks with tags, you can then filter them in the Tasks view. Just click the small arrow icon from the search field to tell it that you want to search by tags. Then type the name of the tag that you want to search for.

3.5.13. Searching and filtering tasks

To learn more about the tasks you record in Fanurio, go to the Tasks view and use the filters above the tasks table. The table will display only those tasks that match the selected filters. For instance, you could use these filters to see all active (not completed) or overdue tasks.

Tasks can be filtered by:

  • client status (any, active, not active),

  • project status (any, active, suspended, cancelled, finished),

  • status (any, completed, not completed, overdue),

  • due date,

  • billing status (any, billable, not billable) and

  • invoiced status (any, invoiced, uninvoiced).

    Please note that since tasks can be billed more than once, tasks displayed by the "invoiced" and "uninvoiced" filters may overlap. For instance a task that takes two months and was billed once, will be both "invoiced" (because it was billed once) and "uninvoiced" (because it has to be billed for the second month).

    • "Invoiced" will show all tasks that were invoiced but this doesn't mean some of them cannot be invoiced again.

    • "Uninvoiced" will show all tasks that may be invoiced but this doesn't mean they weren't already invoiced. By "may be invoiced" we mean new billable tasks or billable tasks with an uninvoiced quantity different from zero (i.e. they have something to bill).

Once you set these filters, the table footer will display totals for all visible tasks. The table can also be filtered using a search field that can search by:

  • name,

  • description,

  • category,

  • tags and

  • client;project.

The client;project option allows you to filter tasks by client, or project name.

If you have a client called Aristotle with a project called Rhetoric, just type Aristotle;Rhetoric and it will display this exact project. If you type Aristotle it will display all tasks for this client. The semicolon is very important as it helps Fanurio distinguish between fields.

3.5.14. Creating tasks reports

The previous section explains how you can filter or search the list of tasks so you can get a quick insight about your activities. However, if you need to use this information outside Fanurio you can either export the list of tasks as a CSV or Excel file or create a tasks report. Tasks reports are more flexible because they allow you to use a template to format data.

Tasks reports also allow you to see time and money details for a specific period of time, something that is not possible in the Tasks view. For instance, if a task starts in January and ends in March, a tasks report can show what happened on that task in terms of time and money in January and hide information from the other months.

Go to Reports » Tasks Report to create a report for your tasks. You can use the following filters to specify which tasks should be included in the report:

  • Projects specifies the projects included in the report.

  • Date specifies the date interval when tasks where active. A task is active since it starts (Start Date) until it ends (Completed Date).

  • Billing specifies whether the report should include billable or non-billable tasks.

  • Invoiced specifies whether the report should include invoiced or uninvoiced tasks. See this section for more details on how this filter works.

Fanurio comes with the following templates:

  • Tasks by Client and Project shows the time and money earned by each task from the selected projects in the specified date interval.

  • Tasks Progress by Client and Project displays the estimated time, the actual recorded time and the progress for the tasks included in the report.

If you need to create your own templates, please see this section to learn what placeholders you can use.

Note: Tasks reports evaluate how much your tasks are worth. They don't tell how much money you've made from invoicing your clients. Sometimes there can be a difference between the two. Suppose you have a project worth $1100 and you invoice it with a $100 discount for $1000. The report will tell you the project is worth $1100 but that's not how much you've asked for it. If you need to analyze your invoices, then you need to use sales reports.