A placeholder represents a resource demand on a project that is defined at the role level and can be used instead of allocating time to a team member until the resource demand is confirmed. Using placeholders enables high level planning without allocating a team member's time on projects in planning stages. Once a project is won, the placeholder can be updated to transfer the demand into an actual project allocation for a specific team member.
This article covers:
- Defining a placeholder
- Creating and managing placeholders
- Updating placeholder allocations to a resource
Defining a placeholder
What is a placeholder? A placeholder is defined as a resource demand on a project and is identified by a specific role and skillset. Placeholders are easily created once demand is identified and seamlessly transferred to a team member once the need is confirmed. Placeholders can be used to represent an individual or a team, with either being an expression of the total amount of hours needed for a specific role within a project. Placeholders are tentative, belong to projects, have no individual set working hours, and because they represent a statement of demand, they do not impact utilization and are not included in the Utilization report.
Creating and managing placeholders
Placeholders belong to a specific project and are created within a project's Timeline. They are identified by role and can represent need for an individual or an entire team.
To create a placeholder
- Open the project's Timeline.
- In the navigation bar on the left side, you will see 'Placeholders'. The value shown between the parenthesis indicates how many placeholders there are within the project.
- To add a new placeholder, hover over 'Placeholders' to display the '+'.
- Click on the '+' to open the 'Create Placeholder' window.
- As a placeholder is defined by a role, select the role for the placeholder in from the 'Role' dropdown.
- The 'Name' field will default to the role selected, but can be edited or renamed as needed.
- Adding 'Skills' is optional but may be beneficial when looking to staff the placeholder with an actual resource in the future. Skills are defined, ranked and categorized in the Admin panel and can be applied to resources to indicate a particular skillset, competency, level or ability.
- Adding 'Team' and 'Department' are optional but may be helpful references when assigning the placeholder to a specific resource in the future and can be used in filtering making it easier to review resourcing needs on a team or departmental level.
- Click 'Create'.
- Next, the 'Allocate' window will appear. You can create the placeholder allocation based on the full duration of the project, or customize the allocation based on the resourcing need here. You can also choose to skip this step and create allocations manually within Timeline.
Creating a placeholder allocation
Once the placeholder has been created, the demand or allocation must be defined. You can use the prompts to create the allocation immediately after creating the placeholder or you can skip and follow the details below to manually create the placeholder allocation.
To create a placeholder allocation
- In Timeline, click to expand Placeholders on the left side navigation and identify the placeholder you need to create the allocation for.
- Click into the timeline in the row for the placeholder, hold the mouse and drag across the timeline to display the purple bubble and release.
- The 'Allocate' window will appear where you define the duration and details of the allocation.
- Enter the date range for the duration of time the resource need is required.
- As placeholders do not have their own individually-defined working hours, the default company hours will be used for allocation purposes. You will see this value at the top of the '% of day' field on the top right.
- If you prefer to use Distribution to determine the allocation need, you can expand this section and enter a daily value, in hours.
- Add any additional information in the 'Notes' field.
- Once the allocation details are entered, click 'Allocate'.
- The placeholder's allocation will immediately appear in the timeline and will be depicted by a slightly lighter shade of color with a dotted line border.
Updating an existing placeholder allocation
There may be times where demand has changed and a placeholder's allocation needs to be updated or changed to reflect the new demand or resource need.
To edit or update an existing placeholder allocation
- Open the project's Timeline.
- Identify the placeholder and the allocation you need to update.
- Click on the allocation to open the 'Allocate' window.
- Enter the changes needed and click 'Save.'
You can also adjust a placeholder allocation from within the Timeline.
- To lengthen or shorten an allocation, click on either end of the allocation in the Timeline and drag to update the duration of the allocation.
- To change the start date of the allocation, click and hold the mouse while dragging then dropping the allocation to the new start date.
In addition, you can use the right mouse button to access the placeholder actions menu. Within the actions menu, you will find a variety of options.
- Assign to team member: Allows you to update the placeholder allocation to a team member.
- Right click on the placeholder and select 'Assign to team member'. This will open the 'Assign placeholder allocations' window.
- Choose the team member from the Assignee dropdown.
- Set the Allocation type: You can chose between hard or soft allocations depending on your resourcing needs or the probability the project will be won.
- Decide whether or not to retain the placeholder by selecting Keep empty placeholder after assigning all allocations. This may be helpful if you need to use the placeholder in the future.
- You can also opt to use the Find team member link to identify which resources you have available based on their role and overall availability.
- The placeholder allocation will disappear from the Timeline and appear as an actual allocation for the team member selected.
- Divide allocation: Use this feature to divide the original placeholder allocation.
- Right click on the placeholder and select 'Divide allocation' to open the Divide allocation window.
- Enter the number of hours or % by which to divide the allocation into two allocations or use '+ Divide further' as needed.
- Click Save.
- The original placeholder will adjust based on the division and one or more additional placeholders will appear on the Timeline.
- Split: Allows you to adjust an existing placeholder allocation into one or more allocations based on a particular time period within the original allocation. This feature is useful when the placeholder allocation needs to be split unevenly or where a portion of the allocation may be shorter than another. To split:
- Hover your mouse over the allocation, paying attention to the break in days as the split will occur based on the position of your mouse over the entire allocation.
- Once you have identified where the break will be, right click on the placeholder allocation and hover over Split. Three dots will appear indicating within the allocation to define where the split will be.
- Click Split.
- The placeholder allocation will now break into two allocations based on the position you chose before selecting Split.
- Duplicate: Use Duplicate to create an exact copy of the placeholder allocation. To duplicate a placeholder:
- Right click on the placeholder allocation and select 'Duplicate'.
- An exact copy will appear on the Timeline just below the original placeholder allocation.
- Delete: Use Delete to remove any unneeded placeholder allocations. Be cautious when deleting placeholder allocations, as you will not be prompted to confirm the selection; the action is final and cannot be undone. To delete:
- Right click on the placeholder allocation and select Delete.
- The allocation will immediately be removed from the Timeline.
Updating placeholder allocations to a team member
At some point in the project life cycle, you will need to replace the placeholders with the actual team members who will complete the work required. In some cases you might know upfront who will replace the placeholder and in other cases you may not and need to find the right person for the job. Both options, Assign to team member and Find available team member are available using the three dot icon on the placeholder or by using the right mouse button on the placeholder allocation. Additional actions available using the three dot icon are Edit placeholder, Duplicate placeholder and Delete placeholder.
Updating a placeholder allocation with a known team member
If you know the team member who will be staffing the placeholder allocation, you can transfer the allocation to that team member directly using Assign to team member.
To update an placeholder allocation with a known team member
- Identify the placeholder to transfer.
- Click the three dot icon next to the placeholder and select 'Assign to team member' or use the Assign button.
- In the Assign placeholder allocations window, select the placeholder allocation/s you are looking to staff. If you have more than one allocation for a single placeholder, all allocations will be listed at the top of this window. Select one, all or a combination of the allocations you need to assign.
- In the 'Assignee' dropdown select the team member to assign to the allocation.
- Matched will display team members with the same role as the placeholder.
- People will display all team members for the company.
- Determine if the allocation is hard or soft and set the Allocation type. To read more about the different allocation types, see Using soft and hard project allocations (Pro/Plus).
- If you want to retain the placeholder after assigning all allocations, tick the box for 'Keep empty placeholder after assigning all allocations'.
- Click 'Assign'.
- The placeholder will disappear from the timeline and now appear for the resource in Project Team.
Finding an available team member to update a placeholder allocation
There may be times where you are unsure which team member will staff a placeholder allocation and you need to find the right fit. By using Find available team member you can search for a team member based on suitability or by listing your team members alphabetically. Suitability is determined by the combination of a team member's role, skill, availability and Forecast's AI and is intended to provide you with the best possible staffing suggestions.
Using Find available team member also allows you to review possible placeholder staffing scenarios without committing the changes. Before saving any allocation changes, the placeholder allocation will appear as lightly shaded while the new allocation will appear under the team member selected in a darker shading. The heatmap will update to show the team member's utilization inclusive of the new allocation. Once you've determined the best fit to staff the placeholder, save and exit to commit the transfer of the placeholder allocation to the assigned team member. You also have the option to retain the placeholder for future use once the allocation has been transferred to a team member. Keeping placeholders for future may be helpful if you are planning projects around specific phases within the project or when you know the placeholder may be needed later in the project's planning process.
To find an available team member
- Identify the placeholder you want to staff and click the three dot icon next to the placeholder and select Find available person.
- The Find available team member page will open.
- Find available team member automatically filters your team members based on role and sorts team member suggestions based availability. The team member with the most availability will be listed first. This is indicated by the dropdown 'Sort by suitability' however you can adjust to sort alphabetically instead by changing the selection in the dropdown. Soft allocations are not included in the availability calculation as they are tentative and not actual project allocations.
- If you want to see all team members, not just those with the same role as the placeholder, click on the Filter button to clear the role selections. This will update the list of team members and display all team members. Alternatively, you can add filters to control the data displayed. Click on Filter to show the available filter options.
- You can also decide how the heatmap will display existing project allocations using the Exclude Allocations button. The default will be to show all allocations. To learn more about hard and soft allocations and how they are used, see Using soft and hard project allocations (Pro/Plus).
- Tick the box next to 'Hide soft allocations' to adjust the heatmap to display only hard allocations. This will allow you to view only actual project allocations by team member. As soft allocations are not used in the availability calculation, opting to show/hide them here is purely visual.
- Tick the box next to 'Hide hard allocations' to adjust the heatmap to display only soft allocations. This will allow you to see tentative allocations assigned to a team member, but that are not yet confirmed.
- If you wish to see all allocations, hard and soft, toggle off both options and the heatmap will display all team member allocations.
- When you have determined the right team member to staff the placeholder, click on 'Assign' to open the Assign placeholder allocations window.
- Confirm the placeholder allocations to assign at the top of the window and set the Allocation type and click 'Assign'. The allocation will now appear for the team member selected.
- Alternatively, you can click on a placeholder allocation and drag it down to the team member you want to assign to the allocation. If you decide the team member is not the right fit for the allocation, simply drag and drop the allocation back to the placeholder.
- Once you are happy with your staffing selections, commit the allocation changes by clicking Save and exit, or use Exit to disregard.