Introducing Billing Integration: Effort Classes


4me® has started with an initiative to make it easier for MSPs (Managed Service Providers) to use the 4me data to generate invoices for their customers via an integration with their invoicing tool.  Next to the already existing possibility to relate effort classes to a timesheet, it is now also possible to relate effort classes to a specific service offering.  Before explaining what has changed exactly, it might be helpful to put this change into context.

Effort classes are typically used in the billing process to identify the type of activity that was performed and which amount should be billed to the customer.  Often, effort classes are combinations of the ‘who’ and ‘when’ of an activity performed.  Examples of effort classes are: ‘System Engineer – Non Billable’ or ‘Database Administrator – Billable Overtime Mondays thru Saturdays’.  The rates for these effort classes are defined in the billing system of an MSP, in the context of a contract with a customer.

In 4me, up to now, effort classes were only related to timesheets.  This way, the same set of effort classes are available for all the specialists of an organization.  These effort classes must be defined in the account of the timesheet and of the organizations (when using an account structure with a directory account, these effort classes are maintained at the level of the directory account).

For MSPs, the set of effort classes that should be made available should not depend on the organization to which a specialist belongs, but on the contract for which an activity was performed.  The context of the contract is given by the SLA with the customer and the effort class linked to the service offering.  So by allowing these effort classes to be linked to the appropriate service offering, they can be selected when relevant.  To relate effort classes to service offerings they must first be defined in the account of the service offerings (in a directory account structure, this is in a support domain account).

Effort classes service offerings
Effort classes related to a service offering

This new functionality is fully compatible with the already existing functionality.  It is even possible to define and link effort classes to time entries (in the directory account) and define and link effort classes to service offerings in one or more support domain accounts.  For the 4me platform to decide whether the effort classes of the timesheet of the organization or the effort classes related to a service offering should be shown, the
concept of a Billable SLA is introduced.  A billable SLA is an SLA that is linked to a service offering with effort classes.  When a specialist is registering time on a request, the 4me platform will check whether a billable SLA is active for the given request.  If so, the effort classes related to the service offering of the billable SLA are shown.  If no billable SLA is found, the effort classes that are linked to the timesheet of the organization of the specialist will be shown.

Effort class time entry

In the example above, the database administrator overrides the default effort class for ‘Normal Hours’ with that of ‘Overtime’.  The possibility to enter a start time, 09:00pm in this example, was already introduced earlier this year, as another enhancements to enable MSPs to invoice their customers based on work hours.